No Rules

Posted: June 4, 2012 in Uncategorized

This past Saturday was the No Rules Slam at the Merc. If Graeme gets me the info, I will do a full write-up over at the CapSlam blog, but here is the background etc. of my performance.

Over the past years I have read about No Rules slams put on in Vancouver and Toronto that really extend the medium and reach new levels of art and entertainment. The first one I really remember hearing about was Jill Binder doing a piece that involved powerpoint. Later I heard about the slam-within-a-slam in Toronto (I think Gypsy Eyes was responsible for that one).

We didn’t do that sort of thing in Ottawa.

Later I tried to think of what I would do if I were to try a No Rules piece. I decided I would do a parody of ‘Why Art?’ called ‘Why Beard?’ that would involve shaving off my beard on stage.

Now, you need to know one thing: Ruthanne LOVES the beard. More to the point, she has a thing for redheads and the beard kind of defines that, you know?

I told her (with no immediate opportunity to follow through) what I would do. Her response was ‘No. NO!’

I told her it would be most effective if SHE were the one to actually do the shaving. Her: ‘No way. NO WAY! I will divorce you!’ (she was laughing by the end. Kind of.) 🙂

Years passed. I told a couple of people my idea, but in a generally laughing way.

Last year somebody put on a No Rules Slam in Ottawa. I think it was during finals season and I had other things on my mind. I didn’t go. Loh El won by playing music with his piece (and then playing his guitar while the ‘decibel meter’ was deciding who got the most response. No Rules, remember?)

Still, no rules mostly meant music with poetry. Nothing too extreme.

This year, Loh El decided to host his own No Rules Slam. It was originally scheduled in May but when I asked if we could have the date for the VERSeOttawa Women’s Championship Qualifying Slam, he gave it up and asked me to find him a new date. We picked June 2nd.

I decided I would come and support his show since he was so good about being flexible on the date.

Then the CapSlam semi-finals happened and I was no longer competing. I needed something new to work on.

I said, what the hell? I’m going to do the No Rules Slam!

I decided to contact Danielle and Kevin and see if the Copper Conundrum could come and do the slam. Before they got back to me, I decided that if they DIDN’T want to do it, I would do the ‘Why Beard?’ thing. I told Ruthanne and while she protested at first she realized two things.

One: the beard would grow back
Two: the show would be EPIC!

I started kind of hoping that Danielle and/or Kevin couldn’t make it so I could do the beard thing… though I still wanted to work with them, as it is always fun. They were both in, so the beard bit was out.
Or maybe not!

I spoke to Loh El and told him that Copper Conundrum wanted to sign up… but that I also had something I wanted to do. He immediately said two things: NO RULES! And Danielle and I could EACH sign up. That way I could perform WITH Danielle in her spot and still have a spot of my own. I was a little… concerned that I would be taking someone’s spot, but in the end there were 14 poets signed up for 15 spots, so it was all good.

I told nobody. Ruthanne knew, obviously, and I had told Danielle and Kevin back when I thought I WASN’T doing it, but other than that – nobody. I started hyping it up on Facebook and such, letting people know this was a once in a lifetime thing. (Basically, I figured if I was going to do it, I wanted there to be a good crowd. There was.)

I rewrote ‘Why Art?’ and Ruthanne worked out the ‘choreography’. She was getting into it as much as I was! By the time the night came, I was almost sick with nerves. Not for the performance, but the fact that I knew I was going to HATE not having the beard. I mean… a lot. This all ties in to my self-confidence and I could feel my neck. I knew that losing the beard would expose what everyone knows but every reminder was a little stab… I am very overweight. 100 pounds overweight.
Oh well. I wanted to do this and I had to take the bad with the good.

The good won out.

The Copper Conundrum was drawn fairly early. There was already some epicness in the show and we did our part, with a trio plus guitar rendition of Danielle’s ‘Hallelujah’ poem. Not our best, but a lot of fun. We were a little off-synch and off-key (that was me) on the chorus, but the crowd got into it and sang along. (We ended up tying in third.)

A little later, my name was drawn. I set up a stool in front of the microphone after making room around me (for Ruthanne to walk around, but nobody knew that yet). Ruthanne went up behind the DJ booth and set up her gear (we had set up some stuff in advance, discretely), but there was no indication why she was up there. I could hear voices from the crowd that showed that anticipation was heightened. I heard Loh El say he was a little scared. 🙂

I started my poem. “I heard asked, Why Beard?”

People started to laugh. They were enjoying it, but they HAD to know there was more than a simple parody.
Then, as I got the line, “Is it Beard for Beard’s sake?” Ruthanne snapped out the barber’s cape and fastened it around my neck. Some people clicked in and started protesting, loudly. The cries of NO! and certain people looking like they were going to rush the stage made it ALL worthwhile. Prufrock and Sean O’Gorman looked like they were going to have a fit! When Ruthanne actually started cutting, Pruf was overcome and stormed out. 🙂 I really thought O’G was seconds away from trying to intercept the ‘killing’ blow.

As the poem progressed, more and more of the beard was gone, gone, gone. Cries from the audience included “She is taking your powers!” made me laugh because there WAS a Samson line in the poem, yet to come.
I wrapped up with “Why Beard? I guess I am going to have to start regrowing one.”
The crowd went nuts. It was awesome.

In the end I came second to an incredibly gutsy and powerful piece by Tammy Mackenzie (she totally deserved to win) and I now have a bare face that I can’t stand. At all. A razor will not be touching this face until it has all grown back.

It was worth it, though.

If you follow me on Facebook I am documenting The Return of Beard with day-by-day shots. Check it out. 

It is cold out here…

  1. ritallin says:

    Oh. My. Good. Frickin’. Lord. No. No. NO.

  2. […] Rather than put an explanation here, I think I will connect through to where I have already explained it. […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s