Back in Georgian times we got our news from poetry. Before newspapers, broadcasts or the internet, ballad sellers would hawk broadside ballads on street corners for a penny. Scandalous affairs, grisly crimes, and colourful characters were brought to life in rhyming verse long before the first tabloid was printed.
Luke Wright, winner of Best Spoken Word Performer at May’s 2021 Saboteur Awards, has based his 11th full length poetry show on these bawdy street ballads and brings it to Brighton's Komedia on Sunday 10 October.
Wright has rewritten the very best of these stories for the modern ear. Take a trip through Drury Lane gin shops with the Boxing Baroness; filch oysters by the dozen with celebrated gormandizer (glutton) Dando; and escape the Bull Ring with Jemmy the Rockman. Expect scandal, excess, and beautiful flawed humanity.
Luke says: ‘These days we associate the word ‘ballad’ with a kind of slow, syrupy song, but traditionally it meant a narrative poem or song. For hundreds of years ballads were the backbone of the average Briton’s cultural experience. By the 18th century the most gossipy, salacious news stories were written as ballads and sold in their thousands. Frankly, the quality of the verse was pretty awful, but the characters brilliant. In this show I’ve brought those characters to life by extending the ballads and giving their stories space to breathe.’
Luke Wright is one of Britain’s top stand-up poets. Flamboyant, political and riotously funny, Wright’s inventive shows are enjoyed by thousands of people across the world every year. He is the author of three full collections and three pamphlets of poetry, and three verse plays. He is the winner of a Fringe First, a Stage Award for Acting Excellence, and three Saboteur Awards.
He can regularly be seen as special guest at John Cooper Clarke shows and as MC for The Libertines (‘One of the greats. A poetic pugilist’ Carl Barât). He was recently dubbed ‘the bard of lockdown’ by The Daily Telegraph after his marathon stint of 100 consecutive nights of online shows.
Luke has received enthusiastic praise from poets as diverse as Simon Armitage, Ian McMillan and Patti Smith who congratulated him on his ‘Cool poems’.
The Ballad Seller will tour throughout 2021. Luke is also touring his third verse play The Remains of Logan Dankworth and his newest collection, Come! Come on! Meet me!.