Writer, Poet and Filmmaker Lauren Kaye unveils her debut stage production I’m All In LIVE at Camden Fringe, 15th August 2018 taking place at Camden People’s Theatre. Bringing you her passionate, humorous and thought-provoking spoken word, with salacious references from food to jewellery.
Lauren chats to LondonTheatre1.com about her work and I’m All In.
Q: Where/when did writing poetry first start for you?
Lauren: When I was 7 yrs old at primary school, following an English lesson with a fascinating poetry Teacher from Australia, she made that lesson enjoyable. She had me loving the style, the skill, overall genre more than just what I read from children’s books and encouraged all of us to write our own poetry. I ended up writing one of the deepest things I had ever written to date, even at that young age. I continued doing it as a hobby since then.
Q: What inspired you to write ‘I’m All In’ poetry?
Lauren: An inspiration came from people’s gravitation towards my relationship and sexual poems. Those ones always resonated most with audiences and I noticed it becoming more of a demand for me to repeat, by some people who recognised me when I’d perform. The motivation to make I’m All In as a book was the anxiousness of just getting a book published.
It was taking me 3+ long years to publish my original manuscript because I was too passionate about it, which is the problem for many individuals when thinking more passionately as oppose to professionally when it comes to completing something personal to you. The passion, consequently the perfection of it kills time and leads to procrastination, past deadlines and dissatisfaction along the way. I was getting annoyed to put it politely and decided to go with my business aka my ‘profit product’ instead which randomly became a book of love poems, just for the sake of getting it done.
Initially, I didn’t want my first or second book to be a collation of love poems because I saw it as corny and predictable, especially for a female Poet (no disrespect to others that have taken that path). However, I needed to just get a book published asap and there you have it. The other inspiration of I’m All In as an overall project and my specific writing of the book was R&B music. As I had already made the business decision to approach it as a commercially profitable idea with it being based on love, I thought of approaching it like the making of a classic R&B album, most of which are typically about love, much like country music.
Like I was basically saying in the introduction of the book, I wanted to leave readers feeling hooked, emotional, sad, happy, hungry and horny. I wanted at least two poems from the book to have stanzas they’d remember in their head and their heart, and repeat aloud to themselves like when you hear a song that touches you. I just wanted readers to feel touched as well as entertained.
Albums I have in my personal collection, as well as Song Writers and Singers that I admire such as Donell Jones, Maxwell, Teena Marie, Anita Baker, Marsha Ambrosius, Mary J Blige, Prince, Smokey Robinson and Joe, inspired me a great deal to step up my game. Their songs and lyrics that stay in my mind or moved me in some way, inspired me to do the same for my audience. Entertaining is one thing, as it’s good but often short-lived however to make people feel, is another thing on its own. I wanted to make a feel-good book about the many different aspects that come into relationships at all stages. So nevertheless my passion still went into it through that aspect, which is why I wrote particular poems so passionately.
Q: How did the work evolve in its written form up to and including publication?
Lauren: Much quicker and smoother than expected. Most of the poems were pre-written I just had to edit and arrange them accordingly. There were 3-4 new poems that I had to write in order for the book to be complete as far as the content and variety was concerned. Those poems weren’t about anything that I had experienced first-hand so they took forever to write. It was amusing though and ended up being some of the most emotive poems I had ever written, Ruins and All to Myself ended up being far more impactful than expected.
Proofreading and editing was such headache because I was doing it without professional assistance and had to bring in someone else to help me proofread. Anyone can write a poem and perform it without much concern for grammar as it’s written for themselves really, but when you are writing for a professional product to be sold and read by the public you have to do things ‘to the book.’ This meant proofreading with a publishing mind which takes some adapting. That was a very time-consuming part of the evolution but made me a better Writer.
The cover design and printing of the book itself was a whole nother’ bowl of noodles! Designing was fun as the cover is very similar to how I drew the rough sketch, however, getting it to fit all the technical specifications for print and what have you was not fun. Self-publishing is no joke. Luckily for me I was prepared for it having been independent all my life between making films, videos, promoting events, designing flyers, posters and making greeting cards. Doing all of that prepared me for this, not to mention I thoroughly researched self-publishing beforehand. It takes patience, determination, access to technology and know-how. The know-how will develop on its own as long as you have the determination and patience.
The evolution of the final product in its published form was amazing for me. I absolutely love how the hardback copy turned out, I think it’s so beautiful and it reminds me of cherries! Anything that reminds me of nice food is a good thing in my book. Both versions of the book make me feel good, the content makes me and audiences feel good thus the aim of making a feel-good publication was achieved. I’m very proud of that.
Q: Can you tell us about the “live adaptation” of I’m All In?
Lauren: The live adaptation is something that I was developing a couple of years ago during my book tour. I wanted to make a play out of I’m All In as the poems already had their own stories that I saw had strong stage potential, I just needed to create a good narrative to connect them. I saw it as a musical and felt like I was creating a new genre since a poetry/spoken word musical was something I had not heard yet heard of. I love to be innovative that way. I know that many Poets have become Playwrights, and there must have been some plays featuring spoken word or Spoken Word Artists, however, I have not seen or heard of a poetry/spoken word musical or anything being done in the way that I had envisioned.
Considering that what I am going to be performing at Camden Fringe as the debut of the play will not be in the original format that I premeditated during my book tour, I may very well alter it to fit my original idea with the second or third production of it. The ‘remix’ per se.
Q: Pros and Cons of directing and performing I’m All In?
Lauren: I’m all up for spontaneity but the sudden chance to produce this play was awkward for me as the timing was helpful yet inconvenient as a Director. A Director/Producer who also needed to act in the play to save time and money. I felt conned trying to maximise on the few months given with too many hats to wear, too many ideas, creative sacrifices and so little time. I am one of those people who wish there were more hours in the day sometimes.
A huge pro is that I am getting back into directing even if it is in a different medium. Breaking into theatre was inevitable although I do miss directing in film and video, despite that I intentionally took time away from it. I was losing my passion, the passion never died but was dying out with all the industry nonsense that was turning me off year after year. Theatre turns me on so I am very happy to be reintroduced to directing and producing this way, which is all I ultimately wanted in this regard.
Another pro is that I am achieving my goal of adapting the book into a play and trying a new genre as desired. The pro to performing I’m All In regardless of it spreading me too thin is that my audience gets to hear poems as intended. They hear it directly from the source, from the Writer/Poet that will bring it justice. Old fans will be very pleased with that as will I on the long run.
The fact that I did this with the random opportunity to have it as part of a festival is invaluable. Such as the origins were intended, any Fringe is a good platform for independent Artists and Producers to promote themselves. Circumstances would have been a lot less opportune otherwise.
Q: How excited are you to have your first stage production?
Lauren: Very, as it has been a long-time coming as far as my ambitions go. Although, I would have preferred not to have been performing in my first stage production, not lead anyway and certainly not being the sole performer. The original idea was for me to put most of my focus behind directing, producing and writing, to then let the Actors perform for me. Life has its own way of going against your plans. Nevertheless, the excitement of finally getting into theatre is tremendous regardless. As is the excitement of being a part of a Fringe festival and even more so creating a vision that I’ve had in mind for a while. This is exciting and beneficial in so many ways.
Q: “You are your reputation” is a quote of yours… where would you and your reputation like to be in 10 years?
Lauren: I would like my reputation to be clean, pristine and in high regard of course. This would be as a businesswoman, as well as a creative individual. I always care to be thought of as a great Writer, I want that to be my legacy above all. In anything I do whether it is in theatre, film, poetry, publishing or merchandise, I want it to be of quality. The same way that I judge everything that I indulge in as a customer, user or audience member, I want it to be of quality and I, therefore, hold myself at the same standard.
I’d like for my work to be widely appreciated by fans first, critics second and for me to be proud of practically everything that I do. It’s important that I make decisions and products I am happy with as opposed to just pleasing others. All in all, as long as for the most part my customers and audience believe that I produce good work of talent, authenticity and quality that continues to improve as I progress professionally then it’s all good. I’ll be very much pleased with that from now till the day I die.
Q: Who should get along to see ‘I’m All In LIVE’?
Lauren: Everyone who loves poetry, spoken word, romantic comedies and anything Fringe. Even more so my fan base who always want to hear a poem of mine, specifically the sweet and sexy ones. Especially those who have been asking me if there is to be a spoken word version of the book, they were my main motivation into the making of this. During my book tour whenever I would sell books after a reading or performance, I often got told by someone that they would like to buy a CD just to hear the poems with my voice. More than one person has (politely) made it clear that they want a CD instead of the book which I respected and took into consideration.
“Your passion when you perform has no comparison” is what I’d often hear. Someone posted something similar to that regard as their review on Amazon UK which is sweet. So all you folk that have made those feelings clear of what you want from my future work, this is for you!
Presented by LK Productions
A live adaptation of Lauren Kaye’s poetry book ‘I’m All In.’ Narrating a love triangle told through her intimate and semi-biopic poems taken from her five-star rated collection. Lyrics and events that emote lust, loathe, love and loss as befittingly categorised in the book. Heavily influenced by 80’s ballads and 90’s slow jams, Lauren pours her heart out depicting the origins behind the manuscript with this intense, heart-wrenching yet comical theatre piece. This one-woman show is a stylised poetic play, full of adult humour and high emotions. Between the page and the stage, the content is nothing short of intrigue and passionate raw honesty.
Signed copies of the poetry book will be sold on the night.
This production contains strong language. 18+
Wed 15 Aug, 2018 7:15 pm