Goldfish Bowl is an exciting new collaboration between The Paper Birds and former Young People’s Laureate for London, Caleb Femi. This thrilling combination of spoken word, theatre, music and breath-taking illustration, will run at Battersea Arts Centre from the 30th May – 16th June.
This relatable and highly relevant show will explore Caleb Femi’s life alongside stories that matter here and now in modern Britain. At 18 years old, recovering from a gunshot wound, Femi sat in a hospital bed reading Frankenstein. Goldfish Bowl tells the story as to how and why this book, and this moment in his past, changed his future.
We caught up with Jemma McDonnell from The Paper Birds to find out more.
Goldfish Bowl is coming to Battersea Arts Centre, what can you tell us about it?
It’s a show made with three incredible artists: Spoken Word artist Caleb Femi, Rapper/DJ/Producer Lex Amor and Illustrator Olivia Twist. It’s about Caleb’s life growing up and in particular, how when recovering in hospital from a gunshot wound he read Frankenstein and the impact the book had on him.
How did The Paper Birds get involved?
I met Caleb three years ago when I went to The Roundhouse Poetry Slam final and saw him perform his poetry. I asked Caleb if he might be interested in making a show with us because I thought he had such a distinctive, political and honest voice. We asked Olivia and Lex to join us for a week of research and development, and we soon realised that the three of them were a bit of a dream team.
What’s it been like working with former Young People’s Laureate Caleb Femi?
Caleb is extraordinary. He is intelligent, humorous, brave and honest and it has been a pleasure working with him. We have learnt a great deal from each other over the last 3 years. His poems still blow me away every time I hear them.
How do The Paper Birds support young people in the theatre?
The Paper Birds have a large and thriving education and outreach program. But for this show in particular it felt important that the show could speak to young people. As a former teacher we had spoken with Caleb at length about the pressures put on teachers and students, the curriculum, what we are and are not teaching young people. Goldfish Bowl speaks very openly and honestly to young audiences, there is no patronising or dumbing down the difficult themes that the show deals with and that seems to really resonate and appeal to young audiences.
Tell us how music is incorporated in to Goldfish Bowl?
Lex Amor is an incredible artist, she sings, raps and produces her own music. In the show Lex creates the musical backdrop to the stories Caleb is telling, sometimes this is fast paced grime and other times it is just Lex singing unaccompanied.
What would you say to anyone thinking of coming to see Goldfish Bowl?
Do it. This show and these amazing artists are worth an hour of your time.
Photo credit Camilla Greenwell