Bibi June is a member of In To The Works, a Glasgow based spoken word theatre company, who are currently performing The 900 Club up at the Edinburgh Fringe. LGBTQ Arts’ Amie Taylor sent a few questions over to Bibi to find out more about this piece.
Amie: Tell us a little about you and an artist and how you came to do what you do…
Bibi: My background is in performance poetry: I started performing in dingy basement bars in Glasgow, at open mics and any event that would have me. It was a hobby at first, a fun creative thing to do with my time while I was studying. In my final year, I got a residency for artists of colour in Scotland with the Workers Theatre which allowed me to work on longer work, and it gave me the confidence to pursue poetry as a career. I started working with three other Scottish poets, and we’ve been collaborating since, eventually starting our own spoken word theatre company ‘In The Works’. I now work as a spoken word producer and artist, which is not something I ever expected to be able to do or say, so I feel incredibly lucky to get to do it.
Amie: Tell us about your show, what is it about…
Bibi: ‘The 900 Club’ is about a young group of friends who went through a major loss together, but couldn’t actually go through it together. Five years later, they meet up on the 900 bus between Glasgow and Edinburgh to reprise their old camping trip in memory of their deceased friend, which is where the show begins. They laugh and fight, share memories and open up about long buried secrets. At its core, it’s a story about found family, and the things that tear us apart if we don’t take care of ourselves and each other. We’re poets, so it’s a theatre piece written as performance poetry. Kind of like Shakespeare, if there’d been busses back then!
Amie: What inspired it?
Bibi: After the first show we did together finished up, we had a meeting about what we’d do next. We all wrote down what we were interested in writing about. Because we write our shows collaboratively, it’s important we find something we all care about, and can bring some nuance to from our own experiences. Grief was the major overlapping theme, and because of who we are that quickly became a story about queer grief and friendship.
Amie: What do you hope people will take away from watching?
Bibi: It was really important to us to bring nuance to the conversation around grief and suicide. Mental illness can make people behave in incredibly cruel and mean ways- it’s a reason, but not an excuse. The complexity of our relationship with a person doesn’t just disappear when they die. We wanted to renegotiate how we are allowed to remember the dead- the good and the bad, the beautiful and the ugly. If we are only going to remember people as saints, we might as well be remembering someone else entirely. We hope people come away from the show feeling okay to find their own path through grief.
Amie: Describe the show in 6 words…
Bibi: Breakfast club meets the 900 Megabus
Amie: What is your experience of the fringe so far?
Bibi: Because we’re local, the Fringe just kind of… happens, on our doorstep. I live in Glasgow, so whenever it becomes a bit overwhelming, I escape home to sleep in my own bed. We’re also only doing a 5 day run, to not tire ourselves out too much. So for us, it’s mostly been a month where our English friends (finally) come up to Scotland and we get to see their cool art and hang out!
The 900 Club runs at The Edinburgh Fringe until 24th Aug 2019, (V203) 18:15, Book Now.