Clanger interview: Jess Green – poet, playwright and activist

This Friday, the Quarry Theatre plays host to Jess Green, a poet, playwright and workshop facilitator. Jess was the BBC Edinburgh Slam Champion 2018 and she reaches us, fresh from her successful run at the Edinburgh Festival.

Perhaps best known for her ‘Michael Gove’ poem which went viral in 2013, Jess is currently touring ‘A Self-help Guide to Being in Love with Jeremy Corbyn’ – a show for everyone interested in politics, regardless of their political affiliation.

The Bedford Independent spoke to Jess ahead of her performance at the Quarry (and before the Labour Party conference) and the first thing we wanted to know, was whether the show’s title had stood the test of time, given the turbulent fortunes of the eponymous leader…

“I came up with the title in January 2018 and I always knew it could be problematic,” confessed Jess.

“The show is about my love/hate relationship with the Labour party and it immediately subverts the expectations of the audience.

“Politics is moving so quickly at the moment that the show is constantly updated – it’s never the same twice. It certainly keeps me on my toes!”

The show is largely about politics, but tells the story of Jess in Edinburgh, on a mission to make Jeremy Corbyn aware of her show. Did she succeed? “You’ll have to come along and find out!”

Help Jess fill the Quarry Theatre this Friday…

As we’re in a period of unprecedented political uncertainty, it must be challenging to perform such topical political material.

“I’ve been doing the show for five months now,” said Jess. “I’m having to watch the news every day and sometimes it’s too overwhelming.

“I think about what’s been happening in politics over the week, and then balance that with the audiences’ capacity to hear about politics for an hour.

“Do I think we’re ever going to leave the EU? I genuinely don’t know, but since I found out that doctors and sensible people are stockpiling in preparation, I’ve been stockpiling for the last eight weeks.”

We asked Jess if she had seen a rise in popularity of spoken word and performance poetry?

“The genre has been enjoying the spotlight recently,” she said.“It’s being used more frequently in adverts, which broadens its appeal and brings it into the mainstream.”

So what can ticket-holders expect from Friday’s performance?

“There’s something for everyone,” said Jess. “The last show I did was in a Tory stronghold. There was even a Baron in the audience. He came up to me at the end to tell me he didn’t agree with it, but he’d loved it.”

A Self-help Guide to Being in Love with Jeremy Corbyn is at the Quarry Theatre on Friday 27 September at 7.30pm.

Tickets: £12.50 (concessions £10.50)

Editor of The Bedford Clanger, organiser behind BedPop, an events manager and a freelance copywriter

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