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BWW Interview: Karen Cecilia of The Womxn Poetry/Storytellers Evening at Bar Bayeux


Storytellers and poets are back performing, thanks to playwright Karen Ceclia, at a Brooklyn bar with an outdoor space for social distancing.

BWW Interview: Karen Cecilia of The Womxn Poetry/Storytellers Evening at Bar Bayeux

Pangea is open for business, serving meals in a sidewalk cafe format. Don't Tell Mama has the same set up and they have sidewalk singing entertainment, as does their neighbor, Swing 46, where Fleur Seule plays regularly. Bit by bit, the music making small venue establishments of New York are coming back to life.

Small venue entertainment, though, is not restricted to music. The actors who who provide spoken word entertainment in the clubs, cabarets and coffee houses are still waiting to go back to work... except in Brooklyn, where acclaimed playwright Karen Cecilia has helmed a monthly live performance evening in a place called Bar Bayeux. The monthly event takes place in the backyard space of the establishment on the second Sunday of each month, providing performers a platform and audiences that are craving entertainment a socially distanced night out, fulfilling their personal needs while supporting artists and local businesses.

As a strong believer in spoken word shows in small venues, I reached out to Ms. Cecilia to discuss this program designed to highlight the works of Womxn and non-binary storytellers and performers of poetry.

This interview was conducted digitally and has been reproduced as received.

Karen you are a successful writer for the stage and screen who is currently standing in front of a microphone these days! Tell me about the live performance opportunity that is your focus during the health crisis that has stopped most live entertainment.

I knew people were starving for live entertainment. Everyone wants that connection between audience and performer. All the digital platforms are a good stand-in for the moment, but not a substitute for the real thing. But we all had to wait until the conditions were right to safely have it happen. So, I thought about open spaces and looked around for possibilities and all the potential areas around New York City that could be used. Then, I was at one of my local spots and they had this amazing backyard. I asked them about using the space and from there all the pieces fit together.

When did this series debut, and where & when can people find it?

This is our second time and it went so well for our debut, I decided to make a monthly event. The second Sunday of the month at 7pm.

We're in the backyard garden of Bar Bayeux 1066 Nostrand Ave. Brooklyn

These are changing times that come with a new verbiage. Please help our readers come into those times by explaining the words Womxn and Instersectional.

By using the X in womxn it is to means to recognise "women" to be inclusive of transgender, nonbinary, women of color and part of the LBGTQ+ community.

How was this series developed and was it your brainchild?

Poetry nights are not new, but I was looking for something to do that was live during this time that was a little more self-contained. I thought about the lack of poetry nights around and it fit well with this time. There are so many emotions about our current situation, and a poem can encompass that well, I believe.

As a person who usually sits behind a keyboard for their creating, how are you finding it, being up on the stage?

In the past, I was a performer but it has been many years so at first I felt out of practice. But now, I'm finding it fun and I think I'm finding my rhythm with hosting. I love supporting other artists and that's what drives me.

BWW Interview: Karen Cecilia of The Womxn Poetry/Storytellers Evening at Bar Bayeux Cabaret is defined as any entertainment that takes place where food and drink is served, and we at Broadway World Cabaret would like to see more spoken word cabaret integrated into the artform - do you think that grey line drawn between the storytelling/poetry communities and the nightclub industry can be eradicated to make the family of small venue performers more diverse?

I think all forms of entertainment have to rethink themselves and this time is an opportunity to do it. Venues will have to think of how to attract audiences in a new way and understand that the arts truly need to represent the world around them.

How is the lineup of performers put together for your evening? Do people email to get onto a list, or do they show up and sign up at the venue?

It is a combination of both. I have some performers who will be regulars, but I want to leave room for anyone who wants to jump up to the mic.

There are those who remain nervous about the coronavirus - what are the safety precautions being taken at the venue that can help mollify their concerns so they can come out and enjoy the work of these spoken word artists?

This venue has a limit on capacity so that everyone has their distance outside. You are also required to wear a mask if inside ordering a drink or using the facilities, while still maintaining distance.

The description you sent me of this series defines it as an evening of poetry and storytelling that supports women and non-binary storytellers. At this time when support, kindness, understanding and inclusion are more important than ever, how can we all be better allies and activists for our non-binary family members?

There are so many ways to be an ally, but the first place to start is leading with empathy. Once you have that, the ways to be an ally are all around.

Karen, assume I'm a person you've never met who is looking to reintegrate into society after being quarantined during coronavirus, and using your prowess with storytelling and words, instil in me a NEED to come see this Sunday's performance.

Who wouldn't want to see live entertainment in a space where there are safety measures being abided by? And come out for a cocktail in a garden space while performers are being empowered by their work.

Thank you so much for chatting with Broadway World Cabaret and helping us to broaden the range of talents and styles in the world of small venue performing. I really appreciate it!

The Womxn Poetry/Storytellers Evening

Bar Bayeux

1066 Nostrand Ave, Brooklyn

7pm, Sunday August 16th

BWW Interview: Karen Cecilia of The Womxn Poetry/Storytellers Evening at Bar Bayeux

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