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Vera Chok

Guest writer

Personal Brief

Vera is a gentle and lovely disruptor. verachok.org

Artists on your radar, shout them out!

Monica Gaga - powerhouse Monica is a British-born black African queer improviser. Not only incredibly funny and full of heart on stage, but generously supports young performers, especially women of colour. She's gorgeous like the sun and she's going to be all over the UK comedy scene before you know it.

Sophie Cameron - once called the filthiest poet as if that's an insult, her piece on Charles and Camilla was graphic but achingly romantic. Deliciously doleful and razor smart.

Grace Followheart - actor, entrepreneur and advocate for working-class performers. Another generous soul who is not only an incredible actor, singer, dancer and arts educator, but one who is keeping the door open for others to benefit from all the immense wall-smashing she's done.

Charles Adrian - performance maker. Disclaimer: he's one of my best pals and collaborators but there's a reason for that. Everything he makes - live performances, podcasts, videos, written word - is exquisite. I am particularly interested in his new line of enquiry into performance improvisation.

Which is your number one location - and what's it best for?

Victoria Park. Not the bit with the Pavillion Cafe. The other, bigger, quieter bit. It contains, amongst other things:
- The Baroness Burdett Coutts Drinking Fountain which opened to the public in 1862. Built to provide fresh drinking water to the poor of East London - they didn't have any before! They also got to experience drinking from silverware, and rest by the pools surrounding the fountain. Lovely to watch dogs try and spolsh through, great reflective light in the water at sunrise and dusk, and a quiet spot.
- Poop corner. What happens at Poop Corner stays in Poop Corner.

'Getting creative', what's it all about?

Smashing through the temptation to stay in hiding under covers. Shaking off paralysis from knowing about crushing world events. Planting joyful, hopeful seeds in unexpected places and in people you encounter, wherever you go, through conversations and open, generous gestures of connection.

Your Life, Right Now - what's the soundtrack?

Anything by 이날치 Lee Nalchi. They fuse Korean traditional folk singing with rock. Wicked bass lines and incredible vocals. Makes me feel like taking up more space.

What is your idea of a jolly good time?

On Halloween, or any other random time, jumping on the train to Southend-on-Sea with friends to ride Southend Pier Ghost Train, using your eye liner to paint spiders on faces of random strangers, impromptu disco dancing to Radio Essex being blasted from speakers at amusement park Adventure Island, then eating hot chips with mayonnaise on the C2C back to central London.

What happened the last time you were a complete disgrace?

That would imply I regret what I did?!

I accidentally scared my audience into thinking they were in the middle of a mini-race riot. Oopsie! I was performing at one of Paula Varjack's fab poetry anti-slams (the worst but most entertaining poet wins), and in true disruptor style, I used my platform to poke holes in establishment everything. I had plants in the audience hurling racial abuse at my act as an experiment to see how the real audience would react. It ceased being funny, and the scorekeeper broke character to ask "What the f*ck was that?!". I did not win the UK championship with my piece, My White Boyfriend Is Better Than Yours but it was great to experience bombing on stage. I did win third place so...with a few tweaks...who wants a taste?


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