TENX9 | ‘Changing’
Black Box, Belfast • Wednesday 24 May 2017
By Ciara Conway
Oh what an occasion this night always turns out to be. Wednesday the 24th is my third Tenx9 visit and already I’m becoming acquainted with regular attendees and performers. However, what’s not remaining regular in any shape or form is the growing crowd the event continues to attract. I arrive about an hour in advance – what I consider to be plenty of time to get one of the much sought after candle-lit tables. I sit in the green room, order a beer, and begin to write as I calmly wait for the Black Box doors to open. A half an hour passes and to my horror, my peripheral detects the rapidly expanding queue on the street through the window. Horrified that my early arrival has all been for nothing, I chance my arm in asking behind the bar is there any way I can go in early and get a seat to take notes. Alas, the manager reports in earnest ‘Padraig won’t hold a seat for anyone’. I ditch the beer, join the queue and most unexpectedly get a table! But this is a warning to those coming next time, beware of the ever accumulating queue.
Greeted by dimmed lighting, flickering candles, and glimmering fairy lights Tenx9 presents its usual ambient self with its understated decor. Projected on stage is a looped video of Lynda Carter’s Diana Prince spinning round and changing into Wonder Woman. This invites eager audience anticipation of the night’s upcoming theme – ‘Change’. That said, perhaps a rotating Clark Kent would be better suited in this case due to the fact that all nine speakers are men. Paul and Padraig highlight that this has never happened before, and more importantly draw attention to the fact that of these nine speakers five are first time Tenx9 performers. This is at the core of Tenx9’s ethos: ordinary people telling ordinary stories that might never have been told before.
This month’s Tenx9 is in partnership with Northern Ireland Mental Health Arts and Film Festival. Melancholic yet uplifting is the tone in which some speakers discuss their relationships with mental health, such as Evan Bingham’s his relationship with Victor and Praxis, Malachai O’Doherty’s mother’s battle with depression, and Ivor Faulkner’s new found friendships through volunteering. Reflection, compassion and laughter is evoked across the stories, in Joe Nawaz’s suppressed act of collusion, Brian Ammon’s unrecipated first love due to fear, Richard O’Leary’s desperate need for a cup of cha, Paul Sloane’s life changing experience with tinder, Ciaran Moore’s encounter with absorbant armpit pads, and Paul Hutchinson’s lack of interest in lowering and raising union jacks.
The next Tenx9 is entitled ‘Snapshot’ and will take place on 28 June. In partnership with the Belfast Photo Festival, Paul and Padraig welcome real life stories based on a photograph of your choice which will be on display to the audience while you tell your story. Arrive in plenty of time keeping in mind the ever accumulating queue. On a closing note, and out of sheer solidarity with a fellow Corkonian in Belfast, I must mention Tenx9 regular Richard O’Leary who is speaking in The Sunflower on 16 June. If you’re free go along and check him out.