[Photography by Andy Carroll]
This week, Arthur sat down with former Trent student, national playwright, musician, and spoken word champ, Charlie C Petch, who is back in Peterborough for a five-day performance stint of their primary theatre project, Mel Malarkey Get’s The Bum’s Rush, at the intimate Theatre on King. For the past few years Petch has toured all across Canada promoting and performing the multifaceted musical, theatrical, and spoken word production. This play is Petch’s first full-length spoken word Vaudeville play and is set in 1931.
While attending Trent in the Cultural Studies program, Petch was drawn to the theatre and was able to get a job as a technician at a number of different performance spots around the city. Petch started off at the Union initially before working as the house technician at the Gordon Best when it first opened, and then began working more seriously at Market Hall before leaving Peterborough to pursue a national spoken word tour.
Petch is now a member of the League of Canadian Poets and has toured across the country performing spoken word and poetry with the group which has allowed Petch to take their performances from Halifax to the west coast, and even pulling off a spur of the moment performance in Florida while visiting family on vacation.
When asked where they see Mel Malarkey going in the future, Petch pondered for a moment then spoke about their modest aspirations for the performance,
“I would like to enter into a number of different pride festivals, it’s definitely going to be in the Saskatoon Poetic Arts Festival in May, and it will also be going to Guelph in May, so just to continue touring and performing would be all I hope for the performance.”
Arthur asked Petch to deliver the “elevator pitch” of the show to gain a better idea of what to expect at the Theatre on King in the next couple of days, as the only hint Petch had given up until now was that the show has a “surprise ending”.
“It’s Mel’s last night in the Vagabond Theatre, set in 1931 and she has to sell it due to the depression but can’t bear to tell the audience. So she has all these ridiculous acts and then retreats into the backstage, which is on stage, to do some heartfelt goodbyes. These are the more poetic and dramatic moments because you can really see that she loves this place and does not want to transform it into something else.”
Petchs instrument of choice these days is one of the more obscure options available, the musical saw. This creative instrument is prevalent in their Mel Malarkey performance. The musical saw is also primary in the Mel Malarkey: Odes and Acts, which is a full-length album that encompasses almost the entire show. The album will be available for purchase at the each show this week with all melodies and instrumentals written and performed by Charlie Petch themself.
In addition to Mel Malarkey, Petch has a few side projects on the go including a monthly poetry slam circuit that travels all over Ontario entitled Hot Damn it’s a Queer Slam, touring for various different festivals, other full-length shows including one entitled The Man has Boobs which is a spoken word/ slam that is run completely by Petch. Peterborough’s own Niambi Leigh will be competing in the, Hot Damn it’s a Queer Slam championship on April 15th at Buddies and Bad Times Theatre in Toronto. The winner of this competition will travel with Petch to the international Capturing Fire Queer Summit and Slam in Washington D.C. this summer. The annual summit will feature spoken word poets from all over the world and raises awareness about Trans and Queer culture, and is primarily funded by the DC Commission of the Arts & Poets & Writers.
You can learn more about Charlie C Petch and their upcoming shows at their website, www.charliecpetch.com or follow them on twitter at @sawpoet to keep up with the latest shows and performances all over the country.