Tuesday, 30 March 2010
INTERVIEW: Kat Francois | Performance Poet, Writer, Playwright & Comedienne
Short. Sharp. Facts!
Name: Kat Francois
Birthplace: At home, on the stairs, before the ambulance made it, Mablethorpe Road, Fulham, London
Lives: West London
Poetry Debut: Weekend Arts College , when I was really young. First time, very emotional but liberating and wonderful experience.
Awards: BBC3 TV Slam (1st person to win a televised Slam) and World Slam Championships 2005, in Rotterdam, head to head against Poets from all over the world.
ONiT! is excited to see that you're on the line up for Love…Sex…Sensuality…, the forthcoming celebration of all things sensual. We’d love to hear your answers on the following:
Can you tell us how you got involved in this exciting new show?
I was recommended to the organisers, as I host my own show, Word4Word at the Theatre Royal Stratford East.
How long have you been performing Poetry/Spoken Word?
I’m going to really show my age now! I believe I am in my 10th year of performing and my sixth year of doing this on a professional basis. Teaching poetry in the day, performing at night, hosting shows, etc, so yeah, six years since I decided to do this full time.
Who would you cite as your influences?
People around me, my Mum, my upbringing, my people, my black people, the things that we go through on a daily basis, our struggles, triumphs, our successes, they motivate me. The Colour Purple by Alice Walker, an amazing book, one of the first I read as a youngster, which blew me away. A recent book and film, Precious written by Sapphire, which I watched a long time ago. The young people I work with, who keep me on my toes, who challenge, motivate and inspire me, and make me want to get up in the morning and teach, pass on my inspiration for words. I’m also influenced by how my life has been fulfilled, by poetry, writing books, writing plays and performing, I’m a happier person for it.
How would you describe your style as a Performance Artist?
Depends on what mood you get me in! I can be very intense, dealing with some very intense and challenging subjects. I can be comedic, and very funny. I’m a Gemini, I think I very much have a split personality, so it depends when you catch me, what mood I’m in, as to what you’re going to get. But I like to think that I always give high energy performance and give all of myself.
In order to fully love and appreciate the love of another, we know that you must first love yourself. How would you define self-love?
Treating yourself good and doing what you have to do for yourself to make sure you can look after everyone else around you. Recognising when you’re in relationships; personal or otherwise, that are negative, or as Oprah likes to say, that are toxic, it’s important to recognise that. Also, do things in your life that make you happy; there are lots of things that I do, but two that I do, just for me. I run, just for me – that’s about no body else. I like to put on my trainers and get out and run.
Just about to do my 2nd marathon, I completed an 18 mile run the other day, it’s really important that I do things that I like. I also ride a little Vespa, but there are a lot of people around me that aren’t too impressed about that, my Mum, my partner, but it’s something that I do just for me, for Kat. I love riding it, especially when the weather is warm, it is just amazing, that speed, being out in the open. I think that’s why I like running too, being out in the open. I love the elements, not too cold, not too much rain. To me, that’s what self-love is, doing things that pleases yourself, that are selfless, not selfish.
What can the audience expect from you on the night?
Kat in all her full and utter glory! I will be hosting, holding the night together, and introducing fantastic acts. So they can expect a high energy host, who will keep them entertained, who’s going to make them laugh, but also who is going to open their eyes to a few things!
Is there a particular piece you are looking forward to performing at ‘Love…Sex…Sensuality…’?
Yes! I’m not going to give away all of my secrets yet… but I’m working on a very special piece at the moment that I will perform on the evening.
Which poem/film/song says 'Love...Sex...Sensuality…' to you?
Oh gosh… erm… Love Jones cos it has the poetry in it, so that for me is a love film. Things like Love & Basketball, but I don’t really watch too many soppy films though, I’m not really a romantic, romantic person when it comes to films like that!
Complete these sentences:
Love is... the ability to give of yourself unconditionally, but also the ability take without being too selfish
Sex is... total freedom, abandonment, comfortability, expression of sexuality, without inhibitions, uncomfortableness or self-consciousness.
Sensuality... the right to express yourself, whether it’s through food, music or poetry and show the best of yourself. Whether that’s dressing up in some funky, sexy underwear, massage, feeding your partner with fruit, whatever that is, sensuality is expressing that side of you and not being afraid to do that. Men can be sensual too.
What other performances/projects do you have coming up?
A tour called The All Stars with people like Crisis, Kate Tempest and Charlie Dark, which will be touring the country in the coming months. I’ll be at the Latitude Festival this year, also hosting again at the Glastonbury Festival. I’m also working on publishing as a small publishing press, focusing on publishing a few peoples works, as well as my own collection including a collection for young people as well as a second adult collection.
I’m working on securing some funding for my new one woman play ‘Raising Lazarus’ which is a play about West Indian soldiers who came over to fight for England in the First World War. Not forgetting Word4Word, every third Sunday of the month. Building up Intimates, really trying to create an intimate space at the Poetry Café, for poets to come, perform and converse with the audience, because we don’t always get a chance to do that. Really looking to break into the Comedy market during the year or so, I’m really interested in developing that side of my personality. Working more with music too, and take some singing lessons, because I really can’t sing! I’m looking to work with music a little more and put poetry to music.
*Join Kat Francois as she's interviewed by Vanessa Walters on the Colourful Life radio show, this Thursday 1st April at 12:00 noon GMT. Log on via: http://www.colourfulradio.com/ or on DAB Radio*
You can see and hear Kat Francois Host and Perform live, at Love…Sex…Sensuality… on Saturday 24th April.
Tickets: Limited early bird tickets available now at the following outlets, priced £8, £10 thereafter
Supertone Records (Brixton) 020 7737 7761 | Everbody’s Music (Tottenham) 020 8802 0146 | Maestro Records (Peckham) 020 7635 7299 | Dub Vendor (Clapham) 020 7233 3757 | Hawkeye Records (Harlesden) 020 8961 0866
Further info: 07984 628 070
Press/Media info: 07790 443 834 | 07958 327 811 | firstname.lastname@example.org