Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Poetic Dramaturgy: Neil Hilborn @ Edfringe 2017

Synergy Concerts and One Inch Badge present

The most watched poet of all time makes his UK debut

11:15pm 9th -15th August @New Town Theatre
12PM 21st – 27th August @Stand 3

With a debut sold out UK tour under his belt NEIL HILBORN makes his Edinburgh Festival Fringe debut August 2017. Neil Hilborn is the most watched poet of all-time with over 100m views online. He is the viral poet behind the internationally successful poems “O.C.D.”, “Joey” and “The Future” and is also the author of the Amazon Bestseller “Our Numbered Days”.

What was the inspiration for this performance?

This performance was inspired by my issues with my mental health. Many of my poems deal with mental illness, and with this show I wanted to find a way to put them together with storytelling and jokes. I’m trying to show my journey toward self-acceptance, but hopefully in a subtle, unpretentious manner.

Is performance still a good space for the public discussion of ideas?

I think it’s one of the best spaces we have. It’s easy to dismiss someone’s story when you have the distance of a TV or computer screen, but with live performance there is an actual, physical being in front of you. It’s difficult to ignore an idea when a performer embodies it in the real world. You can’t change the channel on someone standing on stage.

How did you become interested in making performance?

Being a performer kind of snuck up on me. I had been a writer since I was a small child, but I had never even considered reading any of my poems out loud until a friend introduced me to spoken word poetry and took me to a couple poetry slams. It just seemed like a cool way to think about poetry, so I wrote a couple performance-oriented poems and entered some competitions. I lost them all horribly, but I enjoyed the instant feedback I got from audiences and their energy, so I kept writing and kept coming back, and now it’s nine years later and somehow I’m a professional writer and performer. I'm still astounded that this is a job and that I get to have it.

Is there any particular approach to the making of the show?

I’ve been developing this show over the past couple years of touring, and the process has been pretty organic. I had certain poems and stories that I did every show in pretty much the same place, but I changed some poems out, moved them around, allowed myself to improvise and go on tangents, and I always paid attention to audience reaction with any new bit I was doing. I think of my set as though it were a combination of music and comedy: some poems I’m going to do every single show, but everything around them changes so that the show doesn’t feel stale and so that I seem invested in and surprised by every performance.

Does the show fit with your usual productions?

This show is my only production, so I would say yes, definitely, yes.

What do you hope that the audience will experience?

I try to hit a full range of emotions in my show, so I hope that I can make the audience ugly cry, then laugh until it’s uncomfortable, then cry a little more, and ultimately I hope they leave feeling inspired.

What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?

I don’t think I have a conscious strategy when it comes to audience experience. I design the set around a certain emotional arc so that the audience goes through joy and sadness intermittently, but beyond that I just pay attention to the audience’s reactions and energy when I’m in the room, and I try to give them more of what it feels like they want

Neil began writing and performing slam poetry whilst a sophomore at Macalaster College in St. Paul, Minnesota. He joined the college’s slam poetry team and in 2011 placed first in the College National Poetry Slam.

After graduating with honors in his Creative Writing degree Hilborn began performing with Button Poetry, a Minnesota collective that produces and distributes poetry in various formats, such as published books and YouTube videos.

In 2012 Neil toured the mid-west with Button Poetry’s The Good News Poetry Tour and self-published his first chapbook Clatter, which was re-published the following year by Button Poetry.

Having been diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder as a child, and later with bi-polar disorder while at university, Hilborn has often used his poetry as a means of therapy and of exploring the issues of his own mental health. In 2013, a video one such poem "O.C.D.” went viral, garnering millions of views across social media platforms. As of 2017 the video has garnered more than 62 million views and is the most watched slam poem on the internet.
Hilborn's second book, Our Numbered Days”, was released on May 14, 2015.
“Our Numbered Days” features some of Hilborn's most well known poetry, including "Joey" and "OCD" and has become an Amazon best-seller.

A Synergy Concerts & One Inch Badge presentation

@SynergyConcerts / @OneInchBadge / @Neilicorn / @New_TownTheatre / @TheStandComedyClub

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