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Springboard Festival is up and running!

Poetry - John Bernard

Springboard Festival, The Criterion Theatre, Coventry from 25 March to Saturday 1 April.

Review by Barbara Goulden.

It's up and running. The Criterion Theatre's eight-day Springboard Festival in Earlsdon aims to showcase just some of the extraordinary drama, music, poetry and art currently being developed in the city and throughout Warwickshire.

The ambitious festival opened on Saturday night (March 25) with people like Stoke Aldermoor-born poet and rapper John Bernard who early in the evening performed his thought-provoking work on stage before later collaborating with professional musicians Derek Nisbet, Simon Chalk and Amy Kakoura who as The Sonoplasts are about to release an album of "folk noir" later this week.

All the music on The Sonoplasts' new album is written by Derek (of Talking Birds fame) and hauntingly sung by Amy with Simon on violin. But the trio took a break from their new playlist to provide a soundtrack for two of John's poems captivating the whole audience and drawing us in with some rhythmic clapping.

The Sonoplasts

Having said that I was among those still recovering from Leonie Slater's stunning, truly shocking performance in the short drama Small Hours, written by Lucy Kirkwood and carrying its own mental health warning.

Everyone in the theatre knew we were watching an agonising truth acted out on stage, knowing it happened in real life, as an exhausted mother does everything she can to block out the sounds of her wailing baby.

Performed by Leonie Slater

By the end I certainly wasn't the only woman trembling in the foyer; several of us asking "why?" we had to see this particular truth on stage; others believing it was a reality that had to be told with no holds barred. One man near me, deciding it was the best thing he'd seen in a long time.

No doubt for those with post-natal depression it could trigger unwanted thoughts and memories. Personally, while I admired Leonie for her skill and nerve, I couldn't help wishing I'd stepped out into the bar for that particular 30 minutes.

But this opening night had so much more to offer. Like poet Cassandra O Floresca whose poem Exotic was performed by Criterion member, Talya Rajagukguk - her rant against the name often applied to bi-racial girls which is by no means seen as a compliment.

Dangermouse - aka Scott Healy

Lightening the mood was "Dangermouse" - aka Scott Healy - winner of Coventry's Positive Images poetry competition whose work goes something like this:

"Questing suspense

Mixing metaphor with common sense

Surreal with a dash of intense

And Often confuses observations for content..."

What a start to this event! If there are still tickets left I'll be back tomorrow night.


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