It’s a fairly unique format. Every month, on the third Wednesday at the Kino-Teatr in St Leonards, three people take to the stage and share their passions for around 15 minutes each. But no-one knows the speakers, or the subjects, in advance of the night. So, like a blind date or three, you never know what you’re going to get. But the show, which started at the Kino-Teatr in May 2017, has gone from strength to strength and sells out month after month, making it the Kino’s most popular and successful regular show.

Tim B’vard
CREDIT: John Cole

From the French verb meaning ‘to chat’, for many ‘bavarders’, as audience members are affectionately called by the show’s creator and compere Tim B’vard, the show is a ‘not to be missed’ monthly event. The fact that the subjects are not revealed until the night demonstrates the audience’s broad open-mindedness – which creates an atmosphere of warmth, good humour and passion, qualities reflected by Tim B’vard. Much like the speakers, the audience is a wonderful mix of interested and interesting people.

Whilst the live show paused during Covid, Tim was invited to take it online by Isolation Station Hastings. In the five years since the show began, Tim estimates he has done around 50 shows with 150 ‘talks’. And what talks, and shows, they have been!

STUFFED BEASTS AND KAZOOS

Asked to single out his favourites, Tim makes the point that it is almost impossible as there have been so many stand-out passions shared over the years. Pressed on the point, Tim cites the following handful as being, in his opinion, wonderfully memorable ‘bavards’. Early on, in fact way back in 2018, Kanna Ingleson gave a fascinating talk about her love of taxidermy. So much did her talk surprise and captivate the audience that the following weekend she opened her house to bavarders and gave them a tour. Since then, Kanna has gone on to give 3 more talks, including one about her passion for crop circles and another about her love of mud larking. However, perhaps Kanna’s stand-out bavard, and one which those who were there that night will never forget, is when Kanna shared a story entitled ‘Uniboob’. Describing how she had undergone a mastectomy following a breast cancer diagnosis, Kanna described her journey and why she ultimately chose not to have reconstructive surgery.

More recently, Diana Scar-borough gave a fascinating bavard titled ‘The Sounds of Space’. Interspersing her talk with never before publicly heard NASA recordings, Diana gripped the audience with an incredible insight into the aliveness of space and the solar system, including the extraordinary sound made by some of the planets and a black hole!

Back in 2019, Tim Pilcher spoke of his love for and fascination with the James Bond theme, including the controversy that has surrounded its composition. But leaving that controversy aside, Tim finished his bavard by distributing over a hundred kazoos to the assembled bavarders who then proceeded to play the James Bond theme on kazoo. Surely a first! And if you were there, who could forget Sachi Kimura-Lawson’s passion for the alleged ancient art of Rumpology. An ology that is what you think it is, as like palms, apparently our bottoms hold
the secrets of our past, present and future.

Before coming up with the idea for the show, which Tim also puts on at the prestigious Towner in Eastbourne, Tim was a solicitor. Specialising in property litigation, Tim spent the best part of 30 years treading the boards in court rooms up and down the country. It is largely this experience which has made him such a relaxed and compelling host and storyteller. As Tim says, a packed out theatre is far less intimidating than a courtroom with a grumpy and cantankerous Judge! 

FINE TUNING THE NONSENSE

Over the years Tim has refined the show, adding elements that reflect his personality. Growing up, Tim loved shows such as ‘The Goodies’ and ‘I’m Sorry I’ll Read That Again’. This love of nonsense and passion for the absurd is evident in the games that he has devised and which form an intrinsic part of a night at The Bavard Bar.

One of the games is the ‘KP Lite’. Based on Tim’s experience of giving a Pecha Kucha talk, a brave volunteer takes the stage and speaks to six previously unseen images, each of which stay on the screen for just 15 seconds. The game is quite a challenge and requires a confident person to give it a go. But the results are often hilariously funny and the audience is always hugely appreciative of the boldness of any attempt.

Then there’s the ‘Oojah Kappivy’. Oojah Kappivvy is a former Hastings Old Town expression along the lines of ’thingummy bob’. Once again a brave volunteer steps up and gives Tim an unusual, but true, fact about themselves. In front of the audience, Tim offers the volunteer 2 bits of paper. One has the volunteer’s true fact written on it. The other has a ‘fact’ that Tim has made up. The volunteer picks one, reads it out, and then has to bluff the audience who question the volunteer as to the authenticity of the fact. So if the volunteer picks their true fact, they have to convince the audience that it’s false, but they can’t lie. Some of the facts that have turned out to be true over the years include Stephen Brown’s claim to have posed naked for a national calendar. Pictorial evidence was provided…

Another game is ‘Make it Stop’. Like a sort of dancing charades, the volunteer is given a set of wireless headphones and dances to a song that only the volunteer can hear, whilst the audience attempts to guess the song from the volunteer’s dance moves. The game may seem implausible, but the audience has a 100% success rate, correctly guessing every song that has been attempted, including ‘Sweet Caroline’, ‘All I want for Christmas’ and ‘Running up that Hill’. Then of course there is the infamous game of ‘Bohemia Road’. But no-one knows the rules to that. And there is a rolling ‘Caption Competition’ which runs throughout the night, inspiring some hilarious captions over the years.

BAV-ARTISTRY AND THE PIANO MAN

Other delightful touches that comprise a night at The Bavard Bar include Piano Man Dan and Bav-artistry. Local pianist Daniel Hewson is the only other person aside from Tim who knows the night’s bavards in advance. Before the show begins and during the two intervals, Dan plays songs themed loosely around those bavards to keep the audience entertained. And local artist Maria O’Neill sits amongst the audience skilfully drawing or painting the speakers whilst they talk.

Bev Francis by Maria O’Neill; Penny Pepper and Kev Towner by Cliff Crawford; Tessa Sambrook by Maria O’Neill

The show isn’t for everyone. A few people come away mystified and confused. But most people leave enlivened and enthralled, returning again and again. One of Tim’s favourite comments following a show came from a bavarder who said to him: “Thanks Tim, I loved the show. I don’t have a passion at the moment, but I’m going to get one so I can bavard about it.” So if you haven’t been, why not give it a try? According to many it’s a bit of a St Leonards institution.

The Bavard Bar is every third Wednesday at Kino-Teatr, St Leonards. Re-starting at Towner, Eastbourne in 2022.
For more details, please like and follow on social [email protected] or visit bavardbar.co.uk



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