Friday, 19 December 2008

25. Kings of England at Pilot Night No. 15

Good News!

Dad and I are back after a grueling lot of trains and buses to get to-and-from Birmingham for Pilot Night No. 15 (curated by Talking Birds) at the Custard Factory.
Sometimes it looked improbable - Dad had a very bad cough and had had two mainly sleepless night prior to the gig. I was thinking of calling it off but he insisted that it would be alright on the night and, I think its fair to say, he was right. He didn't cough once throughout the whole show (!) and was indeed on good form. His dance was probably the best it had been and most of his lines got big laughs from the audience, who seemed like a kindly and generous bunch. We got lots of people coming and saying nice things so all in all it was pretty rewarding. It was tiring though, and I found it a hard one to perform on that particular night. But Dad's can-do attitude impresses me continually. Mum said: "well, he always liked showing off", and I think now that its my job to give him opportunities to show off in ways that an audience can take heart from. I think we did that last night.
The Bristol-based performer Edward Rapley wrote a little post about us on his blog, which I quote in full:
Kings of England presented Where We Live & What We Live For, they are Simon (imagine Simon Munnery crossed with a razor blade) and his engaging father Peter. Very much in the tradition of live art performance, this direct and contemplative piece was my kind of work. I really did like it, but was that little bit that prevented me from really feeling like I got it, the world they created didn't include me.
In response I consider that the concept of family is inherently exclusive, in some ways, and with your family is a bit like showing a stranger your slides from your holiday, but I think that the exclusivity isn't wholly negative, although we can't be complacent about what we've made and probably need to re-think the points between particularity and generality. As a maker I would agree with Rapley in that I don't really get it all, but don't expect to. But there are a lot of intuitive decision-making which is a largely unexamined at this point (strange perhaps since I consider this a research project). More on this after some thinking.

Photos of The Show:

Dad's Big Dance.

Dad on the Bike.

In the Aeroplane Over The Sea.

...Talk About A Clear Blue Sea

Response to Applause

Photos of our Journey and Waiting:

Instructions for Wooden Bike Construction
Dad dismantling the bike, very early morning 18.12.08
Sandwich time for Dad, train: Stockport to Birmingham (mum made these - Tuna Mayonaisse)
Sandwich Foil and Clingfilm
Typical view-from-the-train from my camera
Bored Shitless in the dressing room, several hours before the show
Dad reading Birmingham Post or whatever the local rag is called, The Kitchen, Custard Factory, 6.15PM, 18.12.08

Pilot Night had a profesh stills photographer so we should be in receipt of some nice digital pix after Christmas & New Year.

Jaime Scowcroft

A special mention to my friend from primary school, Jaime Scowcroft, whom I drink with pretty regularly these days and whom, I am sure, is not a theatre / performance enthusiast as such. He drove down from Manchester after work to meet his brother (he lives in Brum) and see the show. And Just after I'd finished the show, he walked through the door to the bar. I couldn't believe I was seeing him, although this is exactly his style. Usually if he wants to go for a beer he texts me saying at 8.15 with: "Beer 8.30" or "we're in the pub, you coming?" A shame he missed the show but it is, indeed, the thought that counts. It was good to see him and the effort he made to come and see it is a compliment so thanks Jay. King of England.


Lastly, I should say that my personal highlight of Pilot Night 15 was Peter Fletcher's lecture "On Reflections on the Counting of Sneezes" was very very good, so if you ever get the chance to go and see him, do. A great writer, calm and understated performer, great piece.

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

24. Rehearsals for Custard Factory Gig

Two images of my Dad that I quite liked, from today's rehearsals for the Pilot Night gig at Custard Factory, this Thursday. The top one is of the handlebars of the superlightweight wooden bike that he and Mum built for the show. Re: the bottom picture, when I showed it to my Dad he said "My Dad had a crease in the back of his neck. Maybe you'll get one too." Went well today - looking forward to showing it again.

Simon. x

Sunday, 14 December 2008

23. Residency Confirmed at BAC / Ideas

Kings of England have a confirmed residency at Battersea Arts Centre in January (26th-31st) as part of their New Year, New Spaces initiative, which gives me space for a week and open doors on the last two days so that Audiences can see our process and a showing.

So I need some ideas. I have been working on some new texts for K of E, concerning decisive moments in our family's history, the things that escape ellipsis and make ot into the chronology.

How to leave or get left, and how to recover (the work has already begun to concern recoveries). And I want to show that some were possible, were achieved. But each recovery we make is miraculous, singular and exceptional, learnt from experience, so consequently it is hard to teach how-to-recover.

The 2008 scratch shows (BAC / You and Your Work 5 / Greenroom / Bluecoat / Custard Factory) concerned loss of memory. We performed to raise a question against the forgotten. So father sang for us "The Aeroplane Over The Sea", whistling in the wind.

But my interest is turning toward other, earlier recoveries. John Berger wrote something like (and I'll check this later): "the world of circumstance and contingency into which I had been born long ago". I can look at my father's life and see the proprieties, circumstances or contingent events that had to occur in order for the story, or the chronology, to be what is is. Were it not for ABC, no XYZ. And that chronology, at a certain point, permitted me.

From "Chapter 2": 1970.

The year sounds more recent that we might have initially supposed, although we are sure that the maths is accurate. Very well, grant us this moment, which, very well, elapsed in 1970. Forgetful of the precise date, so we elect April 17th.

* * *

There are thousands and thousands of songs we could pick, to sound out this moment, since the disappointment is of a very common type. And yet: it is singular, exquisitely and painfully so, so that his could never be like mine, and mine could never be like yours. And perhaps in this respect there is no need to debate particulars.

Top 5 All-Time Undisputed Best Breaking-Up-and-Getting- Over-It Songs (by Male American Recording Artists):

5. “Adieu False Heart” by Arthur Smith Band; 4. “Headless Horseman”, by The Microphones; “Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright” by Bob Dylan; 2. “Martha” by Tom Waits; 1. “It Doesn’t Matter any More” by Buddy Holly.

He doesn’t even like Buddy Holly, but these songs, they somehow are sufficient, useful, and for those of you in the audience with a broken heart, please, take instruction. These are the songs that you need.

Thursday, 11 December 2008

22. Dad Rehearsing for Choir

A common sight in our house, Dad rehearsing for choir on his space-age-looking Casio keyboard. I've been wanting to snap it for a while but never got around to it until today. the headphones are open-backed, which is annoying for other people if you're on a train or something, but it means that you can hear what he plays as you walk past him and usually he is singing something but often its the notes to the song not the words. It always gives me a bit of a pang to see him practice. He had piano lessons when he was a kid and hated them, apparently, but now, of course, regrets not keeping it up.

Other news is that I'm working on a new set of texts for the BAC and over the weekend Dad and I will begin rehearsing for our Custard Factory gig on the 18th.