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Zena Edwards

Cece’s Speakeasy

Zena Edwards, poet and performer, reads a text into a microphone.

Zena Edwards by James Allan Photography 2018

As global temperatures rise, the quality and quantity of our crops decreases. In the not-so-distant future, coffee bean production will halt – caffeine will become extinct. By 2050 there will be no more chocolate.

Step forward in time and enter Cece’s, an underground speakeasy where words and jazz collide. Indulge in the forbidden delights of an espresso martini or devour a hot chocolate whilst taking in the live entertainment.

Cece’s Speakeasy is an immersive poetic experience, drawing on the history of speakeasies and 18th coffee houses as places for political discussion and trade and reminiscent of 1930s prohibition bars as a law-defying space bringing people from all races together. Spoken word artists and jazz musicians will collaborate to create new works that explore climate justice, the impact of climate change on the global south and inspire hope and action.

Cece’s Speakeasy is directed by Zena Edwards – poet and climate activist, produced by Apples and Snakes – England’s leading spoken word organisation, in partnership with UK Jazz tastemakers, Jazz re:freshed and with additional support from the PRS Foundation, Open Fund and Cockayne.

About the artist

Artistic Director Zena Edwards is a writer, poet, performer, singer, radical arts educator and creative director of Verse in Dialog – an arts and public engagement organisation dedicated to championing the arts for positive change. She is also known for her polemic voice, speaking on panels for climate change and creative campaigning for equality and equitable rights.
Zena uses song, movement and global influences as a jump-off for her words. Edwards’ fuses traditional African-instrumentation (the Kalimba and Kora) and new technology to create soundtracks for her poems and stories, producing a body of work that reaches culturally and generationally diverse audiences on an international level.
As a live performance director, Zena was the first woman director at Redbridge Arts collaborating with rising star choreographer Botis Seva, and devised and directed “Climate of Fear” for award winning Manchester Contact’s Young Creatives for the Flying Solo Festival 2016.

Musical Director Nathaniel Cross is a trombonist, arranger, composer and educator described by Rolling Stone as ‘…the Quincy Jones of Catford.’ At the forefront of London’s jazz scene, he regularly collaborates with Moses Boyd, Zara McFarlane and Theon Cross. A member of Tomorrow’s Warriors Jazz Orchestra and Jazz Jamaica, he has played and arranged with artists including Solange Knowles, Stormzy, BBC Concert Orchestra, and the Southbank Sinfonia.

About the organisation

Apples and Snakes is England’s leading organisation for poetry and spoken word, with an international reputation for producing engaging and transformative work. Since 1982, the organisation has advocated for artistic and social change through the power of the spoken word, working with artists including Billy Bragg, Jenny Eclair, Phil Jupitus and Jackie Kay. And more recently, Caleb Femi, Roger Robinson, Yomi Sode, Lemn Sissay, Francesca Beard, Malika Booker, Zena Edwards, Inua Ellams, Kate Tempest, Charlie Dark and Polarbear.
applesandsnakes.org

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