Wednesday, 10 September 2008

13. Kings of England Accepted to 'You and Your Work 5' at Easton Community Centre, Bristol, 3rd October

Good News!

Kings of England applied to 'You and Your Work 5' and have been successful. YAYW is a platform for performance and live art in Bristol run by Birgit Binder and Sylvia Rimat, the forthcoming platform, their fifth, will be held at Easton Community Centre, on the 2nd and 3rd of October.
Dad and I have been working on the BAC show and this Bristol gig will be substantially longer at 25 minutes. So we had better get cracking.

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

12. Research Trip to Auntie Doris's for Forthcoming Residency

This morning my Mum and Dad and I drove over to Liverpool to see my Auntie Doris. The visit was long overdue (I haven't seen her since Grandad's Funeral in January). As well as a social call it was a research session to plan a forthcoming residency at Lena Simic and Gary Anderson (TwoAddThree)'s Institute for the Art and Practice of Dissent at Home, run out of their Everton address.
Earlier this year I applied with a proposal called 'Several Stories', a two day residency using The Institute as a base to explore the streets on which my Grandma and Grandad lived, an act of mourning for some much-loved relatives. I was accepted and am due to undertake the residency next Monday and Tuesday (15th / 16th), prior to Kings of England's BAC show on the 18th. Not strictly a Kings project, the residency will nonetheless explore notions of family, time, the performance of memory and forgetting.
It was good to see Doris. She is now in her eighties, a widow. She survives her son John who died in 1991 in a road accident.
One thing I will always remember about her is that at Grandad's funeral she was the life of the party, quick to joke and smile, obviously sad but brave with it too. I was considered too young to go to John's funeral but Mum said she was exactly the same at his, too.
Said that not a day goes by that she and her friend Shirley don't think of him, meaning my Grandad. We looked though three albums, she said she got rid of the rest, that nobody was interested. And she said that Paul, her grandson, has got mad at her when she told him she has ripped up the photos. I said, as kindly as I could, that I would have been mad at her too. She showed us the three remaining albums, pictures of my mother aged 6, 9, 13, 16, that I had never seen before. She looked like a fierce child, or perhaps just impatient. But the photographs confirmed what I have always thought, that two lives might not be enough for her. We looked at the picture of Doris in her wedding dress, all the family around, and she said: "Everyone in that picture is dead except for the children. And me".
Visiting Grandad was a part of their weekly routine. He used to say "You girls been to any wild parties lately?" He'd say it every week. And Doris said "I'd say: Ollie, if only. Our wild parties were years ago", and she gave a little shimmy in her chair, reminding us that she is still a dancer. Then she said: "That's one thing I'll say about 'round here. You don't hear any parties. If there was one I'd probably knock on the door. Ask to come in".

Doris, thank-you. You made my day. x x

Sunday, 7 September 2008

11. Dylan's Christening.

This post is dedicated to my friend Dan, his Son Dylan, and Shane, their father and grandfather respectively. This morning at 9.25 I went along to St. George's to see Dylan Christened. Whether we believe or do not believe we sat and stood and sat and stood, trying to sing unfamiliar hymns, perhaps weakly. But it was a privilege to be there. I looked at the three of them together, and their wives and mothers, and I wanted that dedication, and sense of purpose, even that faith. What we saw today was something very old being renewed. Maybe you can call it religion or instead you might call it a sense of decency and goodwill or lovingkindness.

Afterwards, a few reunions. Old friends, old girlfriends. People who otherwise I wouldn't have seen month to month or even year-to-year. Paul, an electrical engineer, has two sons now; Matt, a recruitment consultant, has moved and is engaged. None of us said that much to each other but what we said was sufficient, because it suggested promises. Soon... more weddings, nights out, drunkenness, couplings, boredoms, arguments, laughing, shouting, things to be remembered and smiled over. Wiltshire, Wilks, Pegram, Dubajic, Bowes.

Friday, 5 September 2008

10. Rehearsal & Singsong

Re-drafted the text for the show today, and worked on a few movements and delivery. Dad used to do public speaking a lot for his job (Redundancy consultant, late eighties until late nineties), and its difficult to move out of that formal register into something softer, more intimate, but were getting there. We tried working in some singing today and it went well, even better than I expected. Dad sings in two choirs and has always had a good voice. His voice tires easily these days, and sometimes he surprises me by sounding old. But I have to say some of the best performances I have seen have been his choirs, exclusively over-sixties, belting out old classics. When I go and hear them sing I hear something lively and vital, and usually I consider it more exciting than a lot of the experimental performance I am obliged to see.
Anyway, despite being un-confident with a new song, Dad was in fine voice today. Mum was hovering by the door listening in and I could see that she was happy to hear us jamming. What we're doing is hardly perfect but I'm enjoying us both trying for something in common.

Thursday, 4 September 2008

9. Post-Rehearsal Discussion and Family Meal

Having rehearsed with Dad then re-read the notes for the show we chatted it through over dinner. Mum made a good meal, some kind of unnamed white fish, and veg, and the three of us talked about what the performance should say. Mum was a bit tired after a long rainy walk with her Thursday Walk friends today, but she still gave us a stiff critique. After Dinner, Dad got down on the floor and started showing her some of his positionings and movements we'd been working on. When he was moving around, I thought to myself: that's exactly why I wanted to make this work. The show may or may not be good but at least we're animating the family.

Since dinner I have been doing the half-drudging, half-fun stuff that performance-makers have to do, messaging London friends on Facebook, arse-ing around in the name of work. But today was a good day.

More soon.

8. First Rehearsal for BAC / A Belated Happy Birthday to Dad.

Dad and I have just finished our first rehearsal for the BAC in the conservatory at home. I say 'rehearsal' but it was more an extended conversation and script read-through, with illustrative examples. Dad seems comfortable with the material and we are negotiated what we will do physically. Certainly, this little scratch piece is text-based but ideally it should begin to bring physical movement into our practice.
Dad illustrated how he gets up from a sitting position, and the effort that it takes will bring a certain quality to anything he does on-stage. We have been talking over costume and ideas about how we might stage our different physical presences. Dad said that he was fine with his body but concerned about mine. Charming. But his 74 years notwithstanding, he is probably in better shape than I am.
* * *
And anyway, here's to his continuing good health! This is a belated "Happy Birthday" to my Dad. Last week he did indeed turn 74. I was away rehearsing with Hauser, but I got to sing "Happy Birthday" to him over the phone. Last saturday we went to the Royal for a couple of pints at the Fortnightly General Meeting. They had on a great Marble beer (1332) a Dunham Massey, so we were both happy. In Manchester yesterday, and having been paid for my labours, I picked up my Dad a belated birthday present, a copy of a choral work by William Byrd. Dad seemed pleased with the gift but every time I buy him a record (I always by him a record) he listens to it once and then put is in the garage with all the others but I am un-dissuaded about the importance of buying him more (if not new) music. Anyway, Happy Birthday, Dad!

(Dad gesticulates with the hands as he takes issue with something).

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

7. Kings of England at the BAC, Thursday 18th Sept, 7.15PM

Good News!

Dad and I have been accepted for a ten-minute slot at the Battersea Arts Centre's Freshly Scratched 'Family' themed weekend and will be performing on Thursday the 18th September. The event starts at 7.15PM sharp. We have been working to revise the 'Recent Falls' lecture over the last week or so and are looking forward to performing for a first time - together at least - in the Big Smoke. If you are skint, don't be deterred! It is a "pay-what-you-can" event.

Hope to see you there.

In the meantime, rehearsals start tomorrow, at 2.15PM, in the conservatory. Usually this is where Dad reads the paper and does the crossword. We can only hope that our rehearsal process will be similarly edifying.

K of E. x x x

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

6. Brother Returned Back

This post is a bit late but just a note to say that my brother got back to Canada safe & sound after his three-week visit. Living in an oil-rich province, he told us all about the oil industry, and his trucking business, driving dangerous goods. On many subjects he is an easy conversationalist, and is well informed about world politics, economics and such. On the last night he was here we got thoroughly drunk on Glenfiddich and I think he beat me in a few arguments concerning What is Wrong With the World, but... it kept me humble. He left as he arrived, almost a stranger, but that last night was a good one. I want to send his a copy of the Recent Falls lecture (extracts here), but I keep putting it off.

Maybe tomorrow.