Breaking Ground Berlin: A New British Con_Text


8pm, Thursday 16 November 2017

Mehringdamm 61
10961 Berlin, Germany

Tickets €5 / 4

From the page to the screen, from words to music, from static books to active movement … a group of innovative and diverse British writers re-imagine readings for the 21st century in a special one-off show. Taking their own writing as a starting point, their performances utilise film, photography, technology, music and audioscapes to create thought-provoking multi-dimensional experiences. Join pioneering performance poet Francesca Beard, the 2016-17 Young Peoples Laureate of London Caleb Femi, award-winning poet Rishi Dastidar and bestselling author Xiaolu Guo as they come together for one night only to take literature to a whole new level.

Breaking Ground: On Film

Between the readings films are being shown made by writers to accompany their work, to enhance it’s impact and add extra dimensions. A collaboration between Karen McCarthy Woolf and a dancer interpreting her poem Morbleu; a selection of Johny Pitts‘s arresting images documenting the Afro-European experience backed by Congo-Belgian musician Baloji; and the premiere of Bidisha‘s first film An Impossible Poison. Find more information here. 

The Performances

Francesca Beard created a script from her poetry and shows, performed in tandem with German actor Denis Abrahams. With the audience experience at the centre, the performance contains many conversational elements and improvisations, along with specially curated audio and visual backing.
Rishi Dastidar gives the second ever public performance (and the first internationally) of his long-form poem Ticker Tape. Beginning with a filmed reading of the prologue by Francesca Beard and followed by Rishi performing the rest of it live, it is accompanied by a slideshow of images in the style of a Japanese PechaKucha (chit-chat) presentation.

Caleb Femi created a performance around four poems, accompanied by a soundscape/soundtrack and a video film specially produced to accompany the reading. Denis Abrahams provides a performance of one of Caleb’s poems in German translation.

Xiaolu Guo’s presentation that introduces many of the elements in her work: being a writer of colour in the UK and Germany (she is a some-time resident of Berlin), being an immigrant to the West, being Chinese. This is read against a projected slideshow of her photographs which relate to the themes and the historical timeline of her experience of the movements of her life and creative work as a writer and filmmaker.

This Breaking Ground tour event is in partnership with’ Lettrétage, sponsored by Arts Council England. 

See more on the Lettretage website here:

Francesca Beard is a London-based, Malaysian-born writer who has been called ‘The Queen of British performance poetry’ by London Metro. She performs and workshops across the UK and represents the best of British live literature around the world with the British Council. She’s been poet in residence at The Barbican, the BBC White City, The Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace, Kingston Library, the Natural History Museum and The Metropolitan Police and written for The Royal Court, The Young Vic and BBC Radios 3 and 4. Her first solo show, Chinese Whispers, produced by Apples and Snakes, was ground-breaking in its approach to performance poetry as a cross-arts form. She is currently working on a new one woman show, How to Survive a Post-Truth / Twitter @FrancescaBeard

Rishi Dastidar’s poetry has appeared in the Financial Times and Tate Modern amongst others. His work has featured in the anthologies Adventures in Form (Penned in the Margins) and Ten: The New Wave (Bloodaxe). His debut collection Ticker-tape is published by Nine Arches Press. In 2016 he was commissioned by the BBC to write and perform a poem for National Poetry Day. He was a runner-up in the 2011 Cardiff International Poetry Competition and the 2014 Troubadour International Poetry Prize; in 2016 was long-listed in the UK’s National Poetry Competition. A fellow of The Complete Works, he is a consulting editor at The Rialto magazine and a member of Malika’s Poetry Kitchen collective. He is chair of literature organisation Spread The Word and teaches for the Poetry School. Twitter @BetaRish

Caleb Femi is the 2016-17 Young People’s Laureate for London and an English teacher, filmmaker, photographer and schools workshop leader. Caleb’s poetry commissions include the Tate Modern, The Royal Society for Literature and The Guardian. He has read at many London venues; he also opened up for Lianne La Havas and has performed at festivals including Latitude, Ed Fringe, Boomtown, Lovebox and Greenbelt. Caleb won the Roundhouse Poetry and Genesis Poetry Slams and is currently working on a debut pamphlet. As a filmmaker, he has released two documentaries, What Did Love Taste Like In The 70s? and Heartbreak & Grime, to good international reception, which has led him to give talks and panel discussions on the topic of grime music, Road culture and masculinity. / Twitter @CalebFemi5

Xiaolu Guo is a writer, academic and filmmaker. Her most notable novels are A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers (Orange Prize for Fiction nomination) and Village of Stone as well as a short story collection, Lovers in the Age of Indifference. Her recent novel, I Am China, was longlisted for the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction. Guo’s feature films include How is Your Fish Today (Sundance), UFO in her Eyes (TIFF), Once Upon a Time Proletarian (Venice) and She a Chinese, which won the Golden Leopard Award at 2009 Locarno Film Festival. Her memoir Once Upon a Time in the East was just out (Penguin Random House, 2017). She was a named as a 2013 Granta Best Young British Novelist and lives in Berlin and London. / Twitter @XiaoluGuo