‘Have – A – Word’ – Open Mic Night. (or adults that need to play)


Adults like to play just as much as children – that’s a fact. Whether their playful nature is unlocked by downing six pints of cider and singing karaoke, or taking children to the park and swinging on the swings while they watch. It can be hard to play joyously when bills are pressing, squashing creativity flat. Harder still when no-one wants to come out and play because they are too busy playing computer games. Playing can become more elusive if the ‘right’ time is being sought after, ‘I’ll just go shopping’ or ‘I’ll just phone my sister’ or ‘I’ll just look at Facebook’. Before you know it time has passed and no fun has been had at all. With all these thoughts in my head, I went to go and talk to my friend Sam. We both decided we needed to get out more and not just to the pub. Open Mics beckoned and in Bristol we are spoilt for choice, there are:

Open Mics for….

Comedy – Nimcompoop

Short stories – Stokes Croft Writers

True stories – Spark Bristol

Poetry and Music – Moving Voices

Poetry – Thunderbolt pub

To name a few, there are many more, in Bristol open mics come and go, ebb and flow. Some last for years, such as the ‘Halo’ open mic, which sadly came to an end last year.

I decided to brush off some of my work and get going but quickly became the Goldilocks of the scene. Some open mics were to big, some were too small, some were to quiet and some were too loud. The list of my complaints grew until I could not bear listening to myself any longer and I decided to set up my own open mic night. I went knocking at Sam’s door once more and we decided, if we had regular dates like once a month and had a commitment to host a night, we would have to turn up and come up with material to perform. So we did and ‘Have-A-Word’ was born. I booked the ‘Southbank Club’ in Bedminster and stand back with equal joy and terror coursing through my veins.

Sam and I agreed that it wouldn’t matter if it turned out to be just the two of us, as long as we turned up on the right dates with material to perform. Between us we have friends that are fools, clowns, writers, performers, dancers, musicians comedians and playful poets. A call went out across Bristol, for performers old and new. We were clear it was a space to try out new work, we would not have a hierarchy of performers, but a selection of brave and creative people. Artists that took play seriously.

It was genuinely surprising how fast four weeks can go by, when you have a regular event to mark time. It’s almost like a belated alarm clock that rings in super slow motion. As each month passed by I did have new work to perform or share for each open mic night. I felt truly inspired and honoured by the creative fools that joined me. What’s happened as time has ticked on, is I see the phrase ‘Your Vibe Attracts Your Tribe’ materialise and become a tangible force. It felt important to embrace creativity and support practising artists to come and take a risk. Competition is all well and good but connectivity is a transforming force.

We’ve taken a break for Summer and I asked performers that had taken part to give me a few words to say what they think of ‘Have-A-Word’.

‘If anyone wants to try out any (and I mean, any) kind of performance, and wants to perform in an excitable, generous, and loving crowd of fellow performers, go here.’

‘Thanks for creating such a warm space to expose my misery and offensive humour in!’

‘I’d like to say that it was so helpful to me to get honest constructive feedback, and to have the discipline of making a commitment to write something and to get up on stage and perform it.’

‘Thank you again for a wonderful night on Thursday. I’ve learned a lot from Have A Word and been introduced to some lovely talented people. The vibe you have created speaks volumes about the energy you bring to it. I think you’ve done an amazing job at creating a space to be free.’

Looking forward to starting again in the Autumn. 🙂


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