Loud Poets – Storytelling Centre

Produced by Loud Productions

Hosted by Kevin Mclean

Performed by Rick Dove, Imogen Stirling, Sarah Grant & Jack MacMillan

Rating: 5 out of 5.

From hidden hovels and bars & pubs to lakeside recitations to the finest courts – spoken word and poetry is not only an illustrative form of entertainment and expression but both a sword and shield for many. Loud Poets, an off-shoot of the always up to something Loud Productions, returns to their ancestral home of the Scottish Storytelling Centre for their initial in-person performance of 2022.

For years, each and every visit to Loud Poets erupts a sense of joy, intrigue and exhilaration from elated audiences – one which, tragically, petters out in the following days. Loud Poets possesses a tremendous presence and has done in the city for years, but the culture of the spoken word seems never to claim the position of its screen and stage siblings. We rarely experience elsewhere across the arts and culture scene – a celebration of spoken word and comradery which connects so directly with their audience. And then it fades, dips back until the next event. Well, nae mare.

In hosting, Kevin McLean is the regular spirit of the show, providing the much-missed levity and comradery the group are known. And while Dr. Katie Ailes is absent, her presence within the show lives on as fan-favourite Sarah Grant pops in with their best glad-rags and sparkles to cover. McLean may be here to introduce the poets and control the crowd, but it never feels forced, and instead, this is a communal experience true to form; loud and funnily, full of poetry. And it is always a treat to hear McLean perform, and kudos for their impromptu recitation of their ‘Hero’ inspired piece – a remarkably touching and digestible work that sets the tone justly.

To judge a Loud Poets performance is complex, given the ever-evolving nature and exchanging essence of the show’s line-up, but this recent performance at the Scottish Storytelling Centre to celebrate their birthday bash and launch their Creative Scotland funded touring programme is without distinction one of the finest, with a meld of humorous observational humour, profoundly insightful commentary, and an introduction to the openness and accessibility of this stagecraft.

At an end of the scale, with utterly enviable and defiant energy and personality, Jack Macmillan is the chaotic bounding brilliance of observational comedy, but be-not-fooled, this jesting is as equally capable and eloquent as the rest. A blend of bardic comedy and spoken word, there’s a bittersweetness to the words Macmillan conures – humourous, but speak volumes above the laughter.

And sharing this, filmmaker and poet Sarah Grant channels earthen humour, a distinctly Glaswegian vibe – and for once, that’s not an insult. Remarkably personal, and bringing a tear to the eye of any who may have lost an elder female relative recently, Grant’s charm is her accessibility and understanding of the construction of spoken word dynamics – concise, but rich in their storytelling. A trait extended across all the poets this evening.

Any familiar with Imogen Stirling’s work will be exceptionally ecstatic to hear extracts from her new work Love the Sinner, a compendium of pieces surrounding the denizens of vice the Seven Deadly Sins. And through hubris and self-deprecation, Stirling admits to the less than jovial nature of the poetry but when looking past the commentary and jabs at social constructs (particularly in the works of Lust Sloth), there is a master-weaving of narrative; fully fleshed and developed. And for those with a particularly favourite sin, there’s something for all within the pages of her book – an utter corker of a piece for the Weegies in the audience in the form of Greed.

And in welcoming Slam-Cham Rick Dove, Loud Poets continues its welcoming nature with the cycle of performers – and to say the audience was in for a treat, is the understatement of the evening. And while the works of MacMillan, Stirling & Grant have been exceptional, the raw and effortless charisma of Dove is eye-opening, engrossing, and a complete command of the space. An utter pleasure to witness, and a privilege to share in their craft.

Don’t let this be the usual high and low of spoken word. Take the opportunity Loud Poets opens for any budding speakers or writers, to not only produce their work but seek out the open nights and slam competitions across Scotland. Now with a touring show, Loud Poets is tearing up the landscape, bringing the ancient art to contemporary audiences – spreading mirth, giggles and talent along the way.

To check performance dates, commissions and any information relating to Loud Poets & I AM LOUD co, please check their website here.

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