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If you missed the Scare Slam, never fear

Or if you were there, here’s your chance to relive it.

Context: on 25 November I performed at Blackshaw Theatre’s first ever Scare Slam, a spooky storytelling open mike night, like The Moth crossed with a night of ghost stories around the campfire.

Blackshaw recorded the event and tomorrow (Sunday 20 December) at 6pm GMT you can listen to me and all the other storytellers do our thing on Wandsworth Radio.

Wandsworth Radio is an online station, so you don’t need to be in Wandsworth or London or even (I think?) in the UK to tune in.

What you won’t get from the recording is the intimate Diogenes Clubbish atmosphere of the room above the Horse and Stables that night – or (Schenectady Six-Pack podcast alumnus and) compère Duncan Gates’ Tron-meets-Walpurgisnacht devil mask (from Wintercroft).

What you will get is a great mix of personal accounts of ab-natural encounters, readings from prose work (extracts and full pieces) and performance poetry. And me doing live spoken word without notes for the first time. Listen out for the tremor in my voice. It was scary for me at least!

I recommend listening with the lights off and the curtains drawn. Here’s hoping for a dark and stormy night on Sunday.


Be afraid: I’m storytelling at Blackshaw’s Scare Slam

Do something every day that scares you. Or if you don’t, make an exception on Wednesday 25 November.

My thing that scares me that day will be performing spooky spoken word (spooken word?) live, on stage, without notes, props or effects. Your thing should be coming along and letting me (and a freshly risen host of other performers) frighten your socks off.

The occasion is Blackshaw’s Scare Slam at the Horse and Stables pub in London (easy fleeing distance from Lambeth North and Waterloo stations). I’ve performed spoken word with Blackshaw before – I read William Hope Hodgson’s The Whistling Room as part of their Hallowe’en Tales event last year – but that was someone else’s story, and I had it written down in front of me. This time I’m challenging myself, not only to perform without notes, but not to write down the story I’m telling in any form. I don’t want this to be a prose story I’ve memorised (however roughly) – I want to try my hand at telling off the cuff.

Want to know the sort of thing you might be in for? Here’s a creepy story I wrote for Apex Magazine last year.

Helen Johnson devised the whole event to carry on the tradition of chilling stories for the chilly season, and I reckon it’ll be a (wintry) blast. Plus the whole thing is being recorded for broadcast on the Blackshaw Arts Hour, Blackshaw’s show on Wandsworth Radio – and will be preserved in the Blackshaw Arts Hour podcast feed. (I co-present the Blackshaw Arts Hour, and I was there when Helen pitched the idea of the Scare Slam, but on the night I’ll be judged by applause just like everyone else…)

If you feel like taking the stage yourself, you can either put your name down on the night open-mike style or sign up in advance (ie now!) by emailing helen@blackshawonline.com or tweeting @helenaimeej.

This Hallowe’en, let me read you a story

I’m doing a one-off, one-night-only candle-lit reading of William Hope Hodgson’s The Whistling Room in south London this Hallowe’en. Get your tickets here!

It’s on Thursday 30 October at The Selkirk, a nice roomy Tooting pub with real ale, Northern Line access and a nice spooky upstairs performance space. The same upstairs performance space, incidentally, where we staged the world premiere of Audience with the Ghost Finder last year.

Audience is based on William Hope Hodgson’s tales of Carnacki, the ghost finder. The Whistling Room is one of those. In fact, it’s the first one I ever came across, and a strong contender for my favourite of the nine (it’s got stiff competition in the form of The Hog).

So you can bet that I will spend this reading enthusiastically overplaying all my favourite bits and generally trying to make you, the audience, feel every bit of the ‘creep’ I felt on my first encounter with whatever the thing is that haunts Iastrae Castle. Or I would be overplaying if I wasn’t getting expert directorial assistance from Ellie Pitkin, she of Blackshaw Theatre, who also directed Audience.

That’s right! This won’t just be a bod in a room reading you a story. This is going to be theatre. Honestly, I thought the most I might get in terms of set dressing would be a big armchair (and as a lifelong fan of Masterpiece Monsterpiece Theatre, I would have been a-okay with that), but I got an email this week from Blackshaw’s costume designer asking for my measurements, and folks, I’m pretty sure that means I get a costume for this! And I have it on good authority there might be sound effects as well. Those of you of a sensitive disposition, consider yourselves warned.

As well as me, the night includes Fetch, a brand new spooky play by Duncan Gates. If you can’t make it to see me on the 30th, you can still make it to see Fetch on 31 October and 1 November. Duncan’s reading an MR James story after the play on the 31st, and there’s a party after the play on the 1st.

Here’s a short post by Ellie that tells you everything you need to know at a glance, without all the autobiographibabble.

Here’s where you buy tickets. You buy tickets now.