Monday, October 22, 2012

Confessions of a Portsmouth Book Fest 20 x 12 Reader

So after all the practice and work with the ReAuthoring Project it was my turn to give my 12 minute performance in Portsmouth City Library. I went through the exercises I learnt from Greg at the workshop while walking the dog this morning and I was feeling pretty good. I'd looked around the space earlier in the month and I'd decided to use the cafe. I thought people would already be sitting, some alone and most may be killing time. But when I got to the library a fellow 20 x 12 told me that a group of people were using the cafe to have an around the table discussion about politics. Crikey - I realised I didn't have a plan B.

The library staff were lovely, they had put out a table and one chair and wished me luck. They assured me I could use any part of the library, but there was no chairs to put out for an audience, what to do? I'd planned for time for a quick re read but instead I had to think fast. What would Greg do? There were lots of toddlers in the kids section, no good. The quiet area at the back? Of course no one would know you I was there. Then it hit me. Suppose I broke fire regulations and blocked the entrance and exit. People coming into the library and going out would be forced to stand for a few minutes. By this time other kind 20 x 12 authors who will be reading soon had popped along and we pulled some chairs out that would hopefully stop traffic. I do feel a little bad at putting the brakes on a passer by in a wheel chair, but when you need an audience what can you do?

I must admit I felt self conscious of being in my 'work' clothes but it was a case of nipping to Portsmouth in my lunch hour. No choice when you are self employed and looking for business? It helped and made me feel nervous having friendly faces in the audience. I decided to do it from memory and 'unaccustomed as I am to public speaking' lost my thread a little. Never the less I did it!

It was definitely a great experience. And now I am able to relax and enjoy the rest of the Portsmouth Book Fest without pressure.

After having my first go I would definitely do it completely different if I had to do it again. I think I would put up a few signs and maybe borrow the church's tea urn and offer free cups of tea in the quiet area at the back. Then maybe I could have jollied a few people along into being an audience. It would have worked so much better for the piece I was performing.

One thing for sure I don't think I would go back to traditional reading. And I'm much stronger after the experience.

I'd like to had a big thanks to all the people who came out to support me, I will be coming to see as many as I can.


  1. Sounds fantastic Charlotte. Very sorry I couldn't make it but I knew you'd be fab.

  2. I bet you were awesome! And well done for thinking on your feet!