A Rallying Cry in the age of Trumpism

 

In the age of hashtag campaigns and online activism there’s still a place for taking to the streets en masse to shout about the change you want to see in the world.

 

This much was evident on Friday 13th July all over the UK. In London alone it’s estimated 250,000 people gathered to protest. Banners emblazoned with various sentiments, ‘You Suck at Golf’, ‘Orange is Not the New Black’, and of course, ‘Dump Trump’, were waved by a cacophony of people. One woman carried the banner ‘I Don’t Usually Do This’, as the crowd marched to Leicester Square. Spoken Word artists were part of the throng. Salena Godden had created her own version of Melania’s controversial jacket, ‘I Really Do Care Do You’, Godden’s version read. This varied gathering united by a shared horror with the shift toward Trumpism in contemporary politics. A cynical brand of politics which casts truth as irrelevant and scapegoats the already oppressed. A politics which injects chaos into the rules based order in the hope of creating… what? A dog eat dog world void of humanity? A world where only the rich and powerful survive? A Handmaid’s Tale inspired reality? The numerous people dressed in red robes and white cone hats, overtly referencing Margaret Atwood’s dystopia. In these bleak times of political chaos and confusion the protest was a moment of positivity, of people coming together to create a carnival of resistance. A public performance around a shared understanding that what’s happening in politics is not okay with the people. And though he remains America’s president, for now, there is something essential about the act of a public protest against him, opposing his presence in Britain.

 

Poetry and protest go hand in hand. When the world gets overwhelming people turn to poets to help us make sense of the seemingly senseless. In her Apples and Snakes: Blackbox video Joelle Taylor performs ‘Everything you Have Ever Lost’ a tirade against the forgotten and the inhumanity of late capitalism. “How silence was a song your enemy taught you”, Taylor says, a reminder of the importance of speaking out against oppression. Spoken Word artists and Apples and Snakes have a long history of being involved in protest movements and of platforming unheard voices. In the eighties Apples and Snakes poets were appearing at events in support of miners for example, ‘Melt Thatcher Down’. In the nineties Apples and Snakes ran an event called ‘Repeat that Beat!’ a benefit for the Advance Party who were actively campaigning against Tory changes to the Criminal Justice Bill which was seeking to criminalise and reduce citizens’ rights to protest. And now in 2018, our 35th year of existence, Apples and Snakes are preparing for Rallying Cry. An immersive spoken word theatre experience taking over Battersea Arts Centre 4-6 October. What’s been confirmed so far is Joelle Taylor, Hannah Silva, Roger Robinson, Chiedu Oraka and Francesca Beard are involved, a Spoken Word super group if ever there was one, Rob Watt associate at Headlong Theatre is directing. What they’re planning to create has been described as a protest, a call to arms, a rabble-rousing ruckus. In the age of Trumpism and the politics of hate, that seems vital.