Hard to believe it’s been three years since the LBT opened the doors of Queenie’s Coffee Shop. Located on the north side of the theatre building, this quaint little space is a lovely venue for delicious hot drinks, fresh soups and sandwiches and a range of cakes.
Not long after opening, Queenie’s soon became a space for members of the local arts community to meet up, for audiences to engage with actors in post-show discussions, for visual artists to have their work exhibited.
The warmth and intimacy of Queenie’s also made it the perfect space for scratch nights – otherwise known as sessions where writers / performers / poets / musicians can share new work with audiences and gather feedback on their creative process.
Chol Theatre, one of the resident companies at the LBT, was asked to launch these nights. Taking inspiration from America’s coffee house tradition, the sessions were dubbed Queenie’s Coffee House Nights.
In September 2013, I was invited to be the first Coffee House Night performer. At this point I had only nervously dabbled in spoken word performance. Keen to develop my poetry – and inspired / terrified by a performance deadline – I pieced together a series of poems to try out. The result was a one-woman poetry show called The Geography of Me, which I went on to tour to such places as my home country of Canada and the Edinburgh Fringe.
Since then, a huge range of artists from Huddersfield and beyond have come along to share their work, including A Firm of Poets, BigCharlie Poet, Bright Red Marker, Cheryl Martin, David Jarman, Fran Woodcock, Gareth Durasow, Henry Raby, Irna Qureshi, Jack Dixon, Jamie Scrutton, John Clarke, Jolene Rae Walsh, Laura Potts, Louise Fazackerley, Marina Poppa, Matt Panesh, Norah Hamill, Sameena Hussain, Talking Zebras, Theo Ayres…and the list keeps growing.
Established artists have tried out new ideas. New voices have come to share work for the first time. Audiences are always warm and the shop is always warm…though I reckon the tealights and hot drinks help with that!
Chol Theatre passed the torch to the LBT last spring and, lucky me, I’ve gone from having been the first performer to hosting these lovely nights. The format now features two to three guest performers and open mic spots.
Our next Coffee House Night is on Monday 7 March. Yup, right in the middle of the Huddersfield Literature Festival… so make sure to fit it in to your literary plans! Doors are at 7pm and it’s £3 entry. Our wonderful guests will be poets Winston Plowes and Sarah Thomasin, and musician James ‘Bar’ Bowen. If you fancy having a go at the open mic, drop me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I’ll add you to the list.
Also put Monday 9 May in your diary for our second Coffee House Night of the Spring season. We have fabulous poets Tony Walsh and Alix Alexandra travelling from afar (Manchester and Newcastle!) to wow us with their words.
For more info, visit www.thelbt.org/Queenies-Coffee-House-Nights-1