The art of bending words

Word catch: Word Bender curator Zana Kobayashi, left, with event performers Oliver Harlan, Alex Morris, Mel O'Dell and Kait Fenwick at The Lock-Up. Picture: Jim Kellar
Word catch: Word Bender curator Zana Kobayashi, left, with event performers Oliver Harlan, Alex Morris, Mel O'Dell and Kait Fenwick at The Lock-Up. Picture: Jim Kellar

The power of words in every form will be on show at The Lock-Up on Saturday and Sunday as the creative space hosts Word Bender, an extravaganza of spoken events and artforms.

“I want to punch people in the face with art,” said Word Bender curator Zana Kobayashi. “It’s got that party atmosphere.”

Beginning from 6pm on Saturday at The Lock-Up, 90 Hunter Street, in Newcastle’s East End, there will be a plethora of Newcastle-based performers, covering comedy, poetry, animation, projections, theatre, speech and every variation in between.

The show extends outside, with Zaytoona food truck and projections from Just Chuck.

Sunday’s follow-up, which is more family-orientated, begins at 2pm.

“We definitely try to cram as much as we can into two days as possible,” Kobayshi said. “The idea is for people to drift in and out of spaces, there will be a lot of performances. We want people to be moving around all the time. The spaces will be changing and shifting.”

Among the many highlights:

Comedian Ethan Andrews will write a one-hour show on the day, using stories from Saturday’s edition of the Newcastle Herald as source material.

Actor Jerry Ray will present an intimate one-on-one performance, I Know You.

Mel O’Dell will do a performance piece where the audience is invited to write lines of poetry which are then performed by her.

Kait Fenwick, a queer gender variant Novocastrian, will present poetry with a distinct Newcastle flavour.

The Palace multi media party crew will take over the main gallery on Saturday night with a visual feast alongside powerful disco beats.

Newcastle’s Word Hurl Anti-Slam takes on Maitland Verses Poets in a poetic boxing match like no other.

Oliver Harlan presents Detective Candy Harlan: Candyboi Detective, solving a crime over three hours.

Other performers include Laura Kebby in spoken word performance, Kate McDowell (poetry, film and animation), Tantrum Youth Arts, The Line publication crew, hip-hop peformer Pep-C, Caitlin Dempsey (Trying to sing a love song underwater), Chuck Grotte’s installation of coded letters, and Speech Night.

“We wanted to create a space for experimentation and playfulness,” Kobayashi said of Word Bender. “It speaks to The Lock-Up’s ethos of remaining a space of experimentation and growth.”

The husband and wife artists team of Jason Coulthard and Ann Snell will collaborate on a scroll listing words from the endangered Adnyamathanha language alongside their English translations.

Admission is free.