We chat to the organiser of London’s WORD IN TRANSIT spoken word night


As we all know, people don’t talk on the tube. Opening your mouth to do anything other than yawn or chew gum is completely frowned upon. To utter a sound, especially to someone else that you don’t know completely verboten. And to stand up and address an entire carriage – well, you should be kicked off immediately, your London rights revoked, and your head on a spike as a warning. WORD IN TRANSIT challenges that. An underground spoken word event, it will consist of various performances occuring in between each tube stop on the Piccadilly Line starting from Finsbury park all the way to Cockfosters.

Organiser and curator Campbell McConnell is currently seeking artists for the project. They are looking for work that addresses the banality of the 9 to 5, the hellishness of the daily commute and the crippling cost of London transport. Forms include spoken word, interactive performance, digital media, and sound based work.

Curious about the project, I chatted with Campbell to find out more.

Can you tell me more about your work, and the variety of forms it takes?

My work is not restricted to one medium. My ideas can take on any art form such as found objects and digital information, spoken word, mixed media, performance, sound and video. The work is often interested in gaining an immediate response from an audience. More recently performance is something I have taken to as it gives a very instant and rewarding response.

People don’t talk on the tube. Is that why you’re doing this?

Word in Transit is an chance for artists who want to perform outside of a white space gallery context, or any other traditional performance space. The tube seems to me to be a space where you are simply transported from one destination to the next. But I don’t see why we can’t take advantage of this perhaps unused time. This time is often spent reflecting on your life or reading a book. Instead maybe a more interactive shared experience would release some tension from our busy nine to five London commute.

Does this section of the Piccadilly line have any specific meaning or resonance for you?

This section of the Piccadilly line is most definitely a place for people who have to commute a long way into London. For people who don’t know what is going on, it will be something they can tell there husband or wife about at dinner after a hard day’s work.

How did you get permission and funding. Or is this more guerilla activity?

It is very much an Underground event. We will be abiding by the laws of the tube. There will be no anti-social behaviour or alcohol consumption. The time of the event will be at a time where the carriage is at its most empty. A considerate, polite, and discrete event!

What are your thoughts on the 9-5, commuting, and transport costs?

Travel costs are always on the rise, and the cost of the tube is crippling for people who live and work in London. It’s been in the news recently that the possibility of people being paid to commute with jobs that involve lots of traveling from one place to the next. But personally I would rather ride my bike.

Do you think people will be entertained, enraged, amused or confused by the performances?

It depends on the people the performances and the time in which the event is held. I am looking forward to seeing what kind of outcome Word in Transit will have on your average every day commuter.

Me too.

You can apply for a slot at WORD IN TRANSIT until Saturday 11th March here

Filed under: Written & Spoken Word