The train that is the Victoria Spoken Word Festival rolled into the Intrepid Theatre Club last night for the “Awesome Shit Showcase”. While the name does call into mind a travelling museum displaying the many and varied wonders which may result from a high-fiber diet, it was actually a two-hour display of artistic ability by some of Canada’s most talented spoken word artists. For the curious, the name is a tribute to the Awesome Shit Club, one of the VSWF sponsors.
Crammed into the dark and airless environs of the Intrepid Theatre Club I was uncomfortable in the extreme but eager to see the performances to come. As a stranger to this scene and one deeply suspicious of artists, I had nearly fled Thursday’s “Tongues of Fire” event in terror after learning that the average performance was going to last five minutes.
That attitude changed as the artists took the stage – I found myself engaged, sometimes engrossed, and tonight I was pleased to hear that the Awe Shit Show would allot a full ten minutes to each performer.
The additional time allowed the poets more freedom to explore their themes and that, in turn, allowed their personalities to emerge more than they had the previous night; some artists who I at first saw as one-dimensional became far more complex.
Ryefield Ford, whose work I had failed to connect with the previous night, drew me in with his dialogue between a man and his personal demons. I don’t pretend to understand everything that he gets up to on-stage but I admire his fearlessness and ability to draw laughs, seemingly without trying.
I thoroughly enjoyed the rhythmic performance of a Vancouver-based artist whose name I am probably about to misspell: Jai’Aquarian. I have seen his name written several ways, including Jai’quarian and JAIAquarian, so the only thing I am sure of is that he is not Jamiroquai. However you spell his name, he is a talented artist who challenged the audience to move and his unflinching piece about an estranged son quieted the room.