The Roving Reporter: An Interview with Nib Crib's Jim Lipton
The Roving Reporter enjoys the West End Markets very much and is pleased to have the opportunity to take part in documenting the hard work of all the participants. Here is her interview with Jim Lupton of Nib Crib:
'I arrive for my interview with Jim Lupton at West Street's Nib Crib. The snug venue with a kitchen area at the rear, is incredibly cosy and feels like a large study. Its Victorian architecture and interior make it a welcoming, but serious space. I am immediately inspired to reread classic nineteenth century literature and write a bestseller; I am however quickly jolted out of this daydream as Jim's pleasant voice greets me.
"Hello, how are you?"
He smiles warmly and offers me a drink. I happily accept and we sit together at the large table in front of the window, with biscuits temptingly presented. I decline, but the decision is a difficult one. We chat and exchange pleasantries and we come to the subject of the West End Market; I congratulate him on the success of the stall and he beams. The stall was packed with books on a wide variety of topics and because of a new idea of Jim's, there was also a large dressing up box. This inspired many children to use their imaginations to dress up and role play while their parents or carers chose books.
I mention the brilliance of this idea to Jim and his eyes twinkle.
"Magenta Monocle's Magical Masquerade! It's an idea to help people to tell stories. We need lots of dressing up outfits for children and adults."
Jim explains that this idea is the basis for new projects over the summer. One is a recruitment held at the market on June 10th. The Grand Show will be held at the Picture Frame in August.
He plans to base a large part of the show on audience participation, but as I am learning from interviewing Jim and the other members of the team, a great deal of skill and work behind the scenes underpins the seemingly free flowing nature of their work with people. They each have a vested interest in nurturing people's talents and creating structures for that to happen. Jim is clearly very excited about this particular venture and the opportunities it will give to potential performers, both adults and children.
His enthusiasm is both palpable and contagious, another similarity he shares with colleagues Geoffrey North and Martin Palmer. Jim is obviously enormously proud of his colleagues and their dedication to the Nib Crib's frequent events. The ability to foster talent is another shared characteristic of the team. They have all mentioned the joy of witnessing the journey of a writer from a frequently shaky arrival at an event to being filled with pride at having delivered their own performance, sometimes so much so that they suddenly have an excess of material to share.
Jim offers a highly moving analogy about the thrill of watching someone perform their material for the first time. He compares it to the apprehension a person undergoes before experiencing a fairground ride for the first time.
"Nothing gives me greater pleasure than to see someone perform their work for the first time; it's like watching them being frightened to go on a rollercoaster and then want to do it again."
As he says this his posture changes from hunched shoulders to holding his head high, physically demonstrating the performer's change in body language. His empathy and admiration for new performers is clear, allowing him to consistently respond to their efforts with applause and sincere encouragement. This is obviously a motivating factor in his work at the Nib Crib and it prompts me to further question what has induced him to do so.
Jim's other life includes working for forty three hours a week, frequently at night and although he planned, originally to spend some of that time writing, he quickly discovered that fatigue affected his ability to do so. He enjoys writing about social issues and although he often lacks the time, his motivation remains strong. Clearly generous with time, he further explains that coming together with a common purpose is very rewarding, as is creating and reinforcing that purpose by encouraging others. It is a shared endeavour, where he is able to write and perform his own material, allowing him to have the same experience as the new performers and use the space at the Nib Crib in the same way. Bravo Jim, it is a fantastic concept.
Get Your Words Out is one such event held frequently at the Nib Crib, during which members can perform their own material or that of other performers. Warm welcome and applause are assured, as is discreet feedback if required. The members often find that the reassurance of friendly faces in a small venue is another attractive feature of the Nib Crib. Describing this, Jim is humorously, but accurately descriptive,
"Fourteen people and it's packed!"
Those inclined to visit the Nib Crib for its reduced audience potential may have also have another parallel with the team. Besides being less pressurised for members, it also means that fewer visitors are required for the unique blend of friendship, opportunity and entertainment to take place.
Returning to Jim's dedication to his work, Despite the challenges of running a literary collective while working a forty three hour week, he clearly loves his work at the Nib Crib. He has recently spent eighteen months delicately attempting to marry visual artforms with narrative in conjunction with the Good Things Collective and the Creative West End, involving the Agora project which regenerated alleyways and used them as performance spaces. This particular piece of work beautifully illustrates the working relationships between Martin, Jim and Geoffrey and the potential results.
Jim is also keen to allow others with similar interests to participate in such projects and happily mentions his respect for other creative outlets in the West End, including More Music. Unlike the Nib Crib, it is a large building. Asking Jim about future plans, he describes how such premises would allow members to experiment with lighting, camera work and painting sets; however, the current limits of space allow even greater ingenuity to occur, as any missing elements of the creative process are imperceptible to anyone. He pauses and reflects that there are many committee members whose tireless and selfless work is integral to performances given by the Nib Crib.
Jim's future project, involving the Canadian Zuppa Theatre company with the Nowhere Project and Lancaster Arts is also supported by the Creative West End. His role is likely to include writing, which is testament to his high level of literary skill and knowledge of Morecambe. Delivered as a community endeavour, Jim will doubtless inspire and nurture performers with his usual dedication and the Nowhere Project is likely to be an extremely interesting piece of work, regardless of the area through which it is experienced. Whether one is a performer, writer, scene painter or costume designer, there is a fascinating body of work to engage with and I feel Jim's input is highly likely to ensure its success.
Magenta Monocle's Magical Magisterium is a dress up tent featured at the Picture Frame at West End Gardens' More than a Market on 10th June and will be used as a backdrop for recruitment for the Grand Summer Show in August. He is clearly very excited about this and I find myself looking forward to hearing more about the process and certainly to seeing the production take place.
I prepare to draw the interview to a close, when Jim unexpectedly speaks,
"I have been so lucky to have such a wonderful bunch of friends. I must go right through the membership files and get in touch with them all."
It is touching that despite hopes to expand, Jim remains loyal to the membership of the Nib Crib and grateful for their friendship.
It seems that the wonderful organisation of the Nib Crib initiative makes it a very easy place to make sincere, empathic friends with strong senses of humour. It has been highly recommended by many people and Jim and his team are clearly widely held in the highest regard.'