Sandra Alland is a writer, filmmaker, performer and interdisciplinary artist. This is where they write and post photos, videos and recordings, sometimes. More info on Sandra at blissfultimes.ca
Sometimes there are those nights that are so very swell. Last night, I curated and Zorras hosted Clandestina at Toronto Women’s Bookstore. We had the most lovely crowd packing the place, and brill readings and performances. Special thanks to Victoria & Edan of TWB, and to Melannie Gayle (aka Trinity), Sarah Pinder and Dainty Smith for their moving, funny and generally excellent work. And a big Cachin! Cachan! Cachunga! for DJ pocaSangre, who kept us dancing into the wee hours.
Beautiful, beautiful vibes all round.
Hi friends and neighbours and long-lost loves,
It’s been a freaking age. Hmmmmm, where to start? I never finished telling you about Zorras’ tour in Canada last September and October, and now we’re in Canada again. Dear me. Since last October, we’ve been playing and teaching all over Scotland, and in Paris, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (which I at least showed you pictures of), Amsterdam and Rome. We celebrated four years of Zorras, we celebrated three years of our queer and trans cabaret Cachín Cachán Cachunga!, and we released a new EP called Doctor Says.
I want to write about nations, and not belonging to any, but I’m very sleepy right now. So instead I’ll just tell you about Berlin. I have photos in an upcoming show called Trans* Homo at Schwules Museum, running from August to November! Zorras also just found out that Entzaubert Queer DIY Film Festival will be screening our film, El Villano, at the beginning of August. We LOVE Entzaubert. Also, Zorras are on a free downloadable compilation from Riot Grrrl Berlin that you can find here. So much goodness in Berlin. But alas we are in North America, aka Turtle Island, seeking other goodnesses — for six months.
More news as it comes in. Sending you warmth (but not this Ontario heat-wave smog-induced warmth) wherever you are. xox
I’ve got a solo reading coming up at an exciting event curated by Graham Brodie. It’s on 26 January (the day after dear Rabbie turns 250-something). I’ll be reading mostly new stuff, from my project Naturally Speaking. More deets below:
26 January, 7:30pm
Canon’s Gait, High Street
In other news, Zorras are busy bees for February, and will be bringing you not one, but two (!) events, both sponsored by the brill Scottish Transgender Alliance.
1. Cachín Cachán Cachunga! queer & trans cabaret
Saturday, 11 February, 7pm-10:30pm
Wee Red Bar
Edinburgh College of Art, 74 Lauriston Place, Edinburgh
For LGBT history month, Zorras bring you our THIRD anniversary event!!
Featuring Performances by
Jacq Applebee, Dr. Carmilla, Nathan Gale, Glasgow Glam Bangers, CN Lester, Lily & Yamil, and Robert Softley. + Short Films by Ania Urbanowska & DJ stylings by Miss Leggy Pee
Hosted by Zorras
More information at http://www.blissfultimes.ca/cachin.htm
Access Info: The Wee Red Bar is fully wheelchair accessible. Films are subtitled in English. The event will be BSL interpreted.
2. Zorras’ Gender Diversity Arts Workshop & Performance Opportunity
Saturday, 25 February, 2pm-9pm
Oasis Youth Centre, Newall Terrace, Dumfries, Scotland
To participate in the FREE Workshop and dinner before the performance you need to register in advance. To just be in the audience for the performance from 7pm to 9pm there is no need to register in advance. Travel & childcare are covered within reason.
Workshop is free & taught by Zorras. For Trans People & Allies.
Evening Performance £3/2 featuring
+ those workshop participants who wish to perform
The Oasis Youth Centre is fully accessible.
Well, yes, I’m still updating you on the summer and autumn. It’s just that so much happened. Where did I leave off? Hmmm…. I think it was post Edinburgh Book Festival and pre-Canada. No! It was post-ConVersify and Cachín Cachán Cachunga! Argh, September is a blur.
So, Canada. Zorras took off for our first visit to Turtle Island sometime in mid-September. Shortly after landing we took an only-slightly tacky trip to Niagara Falls, then performed at the SUPERB Grey Borders Reading Series in Saint Catharines.
Highlights of the night were:
1. being piped in, which has never happened to us in five years in Scotland (sadly my father videotaped this but my camera broke. there will likely be many references to my camera breaking throughout this post. boo)
2. performing at the gorgeous Niagara Artists Centre (photo by Amanda Roth)
3. hearing Aisha Sasha John and Shannon Maguire for the first time
4. Y breaking in the wild drum kit my father built for her (photo by Amanda Roth)
5. meeting Eric Schmaltz, Phil Miletic and Lindsay Cahill
6. Y signing autographs in blood after playing “Head Games” without a pick.
That night we got dropped in Toronto, and the next day we did a live interview and performance for Facing Out at the brill Toronto Women’s Bookstore, with fantastic host Annemarie Shrouder. It was a blast, and I was thrilled to see so many old friends there.
(photo by Susy Alvarez)
Before the show, we also did an interview & video performance for the lovely Black Coffee Poet. You can check it out here.
After the show, a friend threw a wee party for us and we found out just how expensive booze and taxis have become in TO. (plus how long you have to wait for both). When we finally got there, the party was ace.
I think the next day we dropped by Word on the Street to visit a few indie presses. Then I was flying solo at Mutual Readings at The Secret Handshake. Hosted by bill bissett and David Bateman, it was quite the night. I read mostly new stuff, and was thrilled to hear Charlie Huisken, david tin mouth and a host of other writers. Sadly, my camera broke again. Someone lovely named Y was one of the first people to bother filming me reading — but it all got erased. Perhaps it’s for the best lol.
So then… are we still in September? Uh… yes! I remember. We then caught the train to Montreal. Ah, Montreal. What a city. And lucky us, some of our loveliest friends happen to live there so we got to spend five glorious days in hot hot weather — the first time I’ve been truly warm since 2007.
In Montreal, Zorras went on Vince Tinguely's wonderful radio show, then we did a benefit performance Vince organised at Casa del Popolo. The lovely Ariadna Battich joined us, too!
This was our first chance to collaborate with our multi-talented friend Gord Disley. He joined us onstage for our weird sound-poetry piece, “Able” — and it was magic! Check it out here (though I’m cheating because this is actually a different gig in Ottawa later and he’s playing guitar instead of bass guitar but I don’t have video of everything cuz…. my camera broke. So just pretend ok.)
Here is a picture of the real location (& you can even see Battich at her computer), taken by the amazing Samantha Bennett.
Okay, well, that’s only the beginning of the late-2011 update. Cuz then we went back to Toronto and on to Cobourg, Kingston, Ottawa, Birmingham & Liverpool. But those are stories for another day.
There are way too many things to tell you… Zorras have been going solid since July. I forget what July was, but I know it was something. I remember playing the wonderful jazz-heavy night, Click Clack Club. The rest is a blur. Oh, wait! I remember. It was BERLIN!! How could I ever forget Berlin???? (though it does explain the blur).
Zorras performed at Entzaubert Queer DIY Film Festival. It was uber-brilliant. Four days in the woods with radical queer and trans folk watching INCREDIBLE films (and they screened my short, Slippery). Then we got to perform outside on a very large stage, and it didn’t even rain on us.
(Zorras at Entzaubert in Berlin)
Then I produced An Edinburgh Zine & Small Press Fair at the (now so sadly departed) Forest Cafe. It was awesome. Also, because that wasn’t enough work, oh no, I curated a poetry event the same night, called Faceplant. Also cracking.
Then we performed at Inky Fingers, also at the lovely late Forest Cafe. Very fine.
Then we decided it was a great idea to go off to London on a mini-tour. Great times were had at Apples & Snakes, Wotever at Hot August Fringe (RVT), Well Furnished (a squat that got evicted the next day but has prevailed in a new space), Fox and the Teller's beautiful series in Abney Park Cemetery, and Sage & Time.
(Zorras in Abney Park Cemetery Chapel)
In London, we also paid our respects at Amy W’s home. And we met the inimitable musicianist Holly Hayes, and we just had to make a film (click on it) with her and the amazing Debra Duong, in 24 hours!
Dear gawd, are we still in August? Yes. So then we came home and read/performed at Edinburgh Book Festival with the lovely Words Per Minute folks. There was some Drama, on- and off-stage ;-) It was grand.
(Zorras at Edinburgh Book Festival, photo by Chris Scott, who incidentally was *not* involved in any drama, not him)
So then we decided, with persuasion from the brill Scottish Transgender Alliance, to produce the latest installment of our queer and trans cabaret, Cachin Cachan Cachunga! (someone tell me how to make Spanish & French accents on here or I will scream). It was Epic. We even got a wee article in The Skinny.
Then I agreed to be a chair on a panel for Lila Matsumoto's very cool poetry conference at University of Edinburgh, ConVersify — the very next day! No rest for the wicked, my mother always says. I didn’t know what a chair was really, but some lovely woman — who was desperate to find more work/talks by women and thought I was maybe giving a talk so approached me — ended up instructing me on the time-honoured position of Academic Time-Keeper. And no one sat on me, hahaha I kill myself.
The talks were good, though there was one guy discussing Irish pastoral and anti-pastoral who kinda lost me. Very specific references, you know? Anyway, we stayed on time and I dug the talks by Eva Ulrike Pirker and Ishaq Tijani (he discussed gender & poetry in Muslim Spain). Success.
Then that night Zorras performed at the ConVersify live poetry event. Nathan Gale joined us onstage. It was cool. Loads of great folks, including ShellSuit Massacre. We had a good gig, excellent tech at The Caves. Also it was sweet having the computer onstage with us. Smooth running. (Though there needed to be fewer shouty men and more shouty or unshouty women poets, sorry had to say it).
More things happened in September, a lot more, but we were in another country across the ocean so I’ll save that for another day. Phew.
It feels good to be back. Blogging, I mean, not so much in Edinburgh. Sorry, Edinburgh. Though thanks for being sunny, that was cool of you.