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  • Hannah Swings

Performing in August

During the last term of school last year, I put performing (and I guess, writing) on pause for a while. I was acting Head of Art with exhibitions to curate, trips to co-ordinate, exams to mark, and lessons to plan and I had to, for once in my life, be mature and prioritise. It was important. I knew that my brain wouldn't stop making metaphors at 3am that I woke up to and had to write down. I made the decision and stayed away.

I was aware that I was missing out, so vowed that this summer I would rekindle writing and performing. I made sure that - on my first abroad holiday in three years - I read ('The House of Silk' by Anthony Horowitz and 'Slade House' by David Mitchell; half of 'Revolutionary Road' by Richard Yates) because I find it highly hypocritical to call yourself a writer and not read.

I came home relaxed and freckled and ready to write again.

I came home to this performance diary:

Summer Performance Dates

10th August: Charlie Hill's 'Walking Backward's' Launch @ Cherry Reds, Birmingham

12th August: Project Birmingham Takeover @ The Old Crown, Birmingham

20th August: OXJAM Fundraiser @ Box Brownie Coffee Shop, Stratford Upon Avon

1st September: Postcard Poetry Workshop @ mac Birmingham

1st September: Case Bailey's 'Waiting at Bloomsbury Park' @ Waterstones Birmingham

5th September: Headliner at Stirchley Speaks @ Artefact, Stirchley

12th September: Whats The Word? Launch, RJJZ Jazz Bar, Livery Street

24th September: Culture Catwalk for Birmingham Weekender, Bullring Birmingham

29th September: Word Wise #13, Maypole bar, Derby

4th October: Supporting Jasmine Gardosi, Upstairs at The Western, Leicester

10th August: Charlie Hill's 'Walking Backward's' Launch @ Cherry Reds, Birmingham​

Baby face knees and a handheld mic
A friend's window with my postcard in
Ready to perform


I haven't performed any prose before (I'm a playwright and poet, first and foremost) but when Charlie (a good friend from my MA) invited me to read at his pamphlet launch alongside some fantastic published writers, I couldn't say no. Things I realised during this experience:

1. My knees look like babies' faces when photographed. 2. It's really tricky to hold a mic and turn a page at the same time.

3. It's important, even if the work is not meant to be ready aloud, to still hear how it sounds in the air. We spoke before we wrote, remember. 4. Writers make the best audiences, and book swaps are fab if you have zero funds but still want the whole contents of the merch table.

Find Charlie's work and more about his brilliance here:

12th August: Project Birmingham Takeover @ The Old Crown, Birmingham


I couldn't make the actual event due to sudden ill health, but Instagram stories saved my sour face from missing out. After performing at a Project Birmingham x Shanty Town event a few months previous, I was asked for poetry extracts to be printed onto the labels that accompany Project Birmingham's 'Key[s] to the City', celebrating Birmingham's rich art community in exciting events and collabs, investing in this incredible city. They're great, they work incredibly hard and their events are professional, creative and inclusive. For more info, go to: or search on FB/Ig/Twitter etc. Here, Project Birmingham took over The Old Crown (the oldest and one of the coolest pub in Brum, FYI) and filled it with good vibes and great beats.

20th August: OXJAM Fundraiser @ Box Brownie Coffee Shop, Stratford Upon Avon


Considering my wardrobe is made up of charity shop hauls, there was no way I was going to pass up the opportunity to help raise money for a good cause. With my fiercely loyal family in the audience, the incredible Case Bailey [@MrCaseyBailey,, and more on him in my next blog post!] on the same set, and 2/3 of Brum on Tour (including a hoard of snacks, of course) in attendance, this living room sized gig promised to be intimate but still full of energy. This was my longest set to date (25 minutes), and included some humorous pre-amble that led to my parents stealing the spotlight and the audience learning close to too-much about my personal life.

All performers, Molly Lambert, Lucy Morris, Mary Odbert, Kathryn Dobbie and of course, Case Bailey, created a melting pot of tender story telling, political commentary and raw narratives that kept the café packed full of audience, some who couldn't even see the show but stayed for the sounds.

Well done to the lovely Tanya De Lange and Jenna Owen for organising and hosting, and thanks to Box Brownie for staying open way past closing time on a Sunday.

August provided the first stepping stone back into the world of words. But with a new school year, and with it, more extra responsibilities, would it be possible to maintain a busy performance schedule and have time for writing?

[Check out my next blog post for September's antics...]

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