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Bavard MC Tim Crook by Cliff Crawford https://cliffcrawfordart.co.uk/

The mind-expanding Bavard Bar

For over two years, the Bavard Bar has been bringing monthly entertainment and food for thought to the good folk of Hastings. Impressario Tim Crook talks to HOT’s Erica Smith about presentations, passion and oojakapivvies.

It’s hard to know which is the best sub-category of the HOT website under which to file ‘Bavard Bar’. Depending on the three speakers on any given night, the subjects will vary, but there will ususally be a mix of comedy, philosophy, a dash of tragedy or perhaps a mention of murder, music or mayhem. Whatever is on the bill, you can be guaranteed an entertaining and illuminating night out with a lot of laughs and a friendly and fascinating audience.

Hastings Borough Councillor Leah Levane spoke and sang about the 1917 French anti-war military strike – and got the audience to sing along in French!

Hastings Borough Councillor Leah Levane spoke and sang about the 1917 French anti-war military strike – and got the audience to sing along in French! Illustration by Andrew Harston

Like all the best entertainment, the format of Bavard Bar is simple but not predictable. Each night there will be three 15-minute presentations from speakers talking about a subject that they know and love. The identity of the speakers and their subjects is kept under wraps so you never know what you are going to open your mind to when you walk through the door of the Kino-Teatr. I have witnessed talks on Pythagorus, circuit-bending, Aubrey Beardsley, death and the ivory-billed woodpecker – and I’ve loved every single presentation. Most speakers use slides to illustrate their talks, but it’s never death by Powerpoint.

Before, in between and after the presentations, Tim is host with the most – lifting the energy in the room and bantering with the audience. The atmosphere is always genial and audience members are encouraged to volunteer to share the stage and undertake one of the Bavard Bar games like KP (a mini-Pecha Kucha where a cocksure audience member agrees to talk about six mystery slides for 15 seconds per slide); Bohemia Road (the Hastings’ equivalent of ‘Mornington Crescent’); or Oojakapivvy (where the audience has to guess whether a bare-faced volunteer is telling the truth or lying about an extraordinary personal experience).

Bavard Bar regular Kanna has spoken about crop circles, taxidermy and the ‘uni-boob’.

Bavard Bar regular Kanna has spoken about crop circles, taxidermy and the ‘uni-boob’. Illustration by Cliff Crawford

Whilst Tim heads up the Bavard Bar, he is definitely a team player – the evening would not be complete without the amazing Piano Man Dan – the only one who knows the subject matters of the talks in advance because he creates a playlist of relevant music for the night. There is also a trio of Bavard artists who draw the speakers and audience every night – Andrew Harston, Maria O’Neill and Cliff Crawford, plus media student Ed The Lens films the procedings which are uploaded to the Bavard Bar website.

It is no suprise that Tim’s background is in law – he’s a confident and charming Master of Ceremonies. When I asked him why he decided to start up the Bavard Bar he told me it was because he wanted to do something for pure pleasure. His inspiration was Brighton’s Catalyst Club run by Dave Bramwell, and now Tim and Dave work in parallel – recommending speakers to each other and helping out if a speaker is needed at short notice.

What does he look for in a potential Bavard speaker? “I always ask speakers to attend a Bavard night first, so they can guage the crowd. They don’t necessarily need much speaking experience but they must have a tangible passion for their subject.”

Why the Bavard Bar is such a successful night out is Tim’s tangible passion for his subject. Come along this Wednesday (or every third Wednesday of the month in Hastings or the first Thursday of the month in Eastbourne) and feel the passion. Tickets sell out fast – it’s recommended that you book yours in advance.

Piano Man Dan by Bavard artist Cliff Crawford https://cliffcrawfordart.co.uk/

Piano Man Dan by Bavard artist Cliff Crawford https://cliffcrawfordart.co.uk/

Posted 19:40 Sunday, Jul 14, 2019 In: Performance

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