FINGERPRINT

Composed and performed by The Shout

Directed by Emma Bernard

Designed by Katrina Lindsay

Martin George and Jimi Hendrix(s) perform Fingerprint

A cappella music theatre piece about the tension between individual identity and group identity (and therefore in some way about The Shout itself). The context is school, where many of the battles for individuality take place. The piece follows the performers through a school term – registration, assimilation, rules, illegal clothing problems, lessons, learning, failure to learn, insubordination and problematic individuality, bullying……, ending with a strange end-of-term entertainment.

 

A citizenship test: the choir sings the questions, Manickam Yogeswaran (Yoga), who is from Sri Lanka, is being examined. He sings from his normal repertoire before being required to sing the hymn Jerusalem. Everyone joins in, in an arrangement which eventually becomes a bhangra number.

 

A series of solos dictated by costume ends with Martin George, a veteran rock’n’roller, tie round head, as Hendrix, singing a solo version of Purple Haze, with guitar licks, a complete stage act. The choir tries to copy him, fails, starts a subversive classical arrangement of song; Martin baffled, gives up, goes to listen to the original version on his I-pod. We hear him singing, terribly out of tune.

 

Papers (sheet-music? exam questions?) are handed out. Everyone sits down studiously and starts to work. Isolation. The music starts tentatively with the human sounds of concentration. The singers make origami birds. Some are more skilful than others. In fact some people have tremendous problems with their pieces of paper. They throw the birds. The music soars.

 

Musically, the piece starts with the idea of an individual vocal imprint – the unique sound of a person’s spoken or sung voice - and develops through autobiography – stories and songs which define a person’s identity – to the idea of a group vocal identity.

 

Scores available on request

THE MARINERS

A musical with libretto developed by four women living with life-threatening illnesses, Glassine Greene, Jennie Humm, Muriel Kindler and Colette Waller

Lyrics developed by Chris Rawlence

Performed by Adey Grummet, Melanie Pappenheim, Rebecca Askew, Louise Schumacher and Pippa Markham.

Puppetry by Stephen Mottram

Watch extracts

 

Score available on request

 

ON THE RIM OF THE WORLD

Performed by a large adult chorus and an even larger children’s chorus

Libretto by Jehane Markham

Directed by Karen Gillingham

Designed by Becs Andrews and Matt Deeley

 
On The Rim Of The World performed by adult and child choruses

Jehane Markham and I started working together when our children were at Brookfield Primary School in Dartmouth Park, North London. We wrote pieces for children and parents to perform together. It was very important to us that it should be children and parents together. A utopian idea, quite difficult to realise. On The Rim of The World was born out of one of these pieces.

 

It’s about going to bed, and all that that implies. Bedtime, that, as a child, arrives when you’re absolutely not ready for it, when you’re in the middle of something totally absorbing and exciting, when you’re not even beginning to feel tired. And, as a parent, equally dreaded – the inevitable nagging, the sheer predictability of it all…..

 

And then it’s about sleep, and not being able to sleep. Perched on the edge of the night, open to the myriad strange sounds out there, some familiar, some mysterious, some comforting, some alarming. Lying awake, listening, imagining.

 

So, no sleep yet. And therefore schemes for getting to sleep – ditties and counting games. They don’t work that well. And lullabies. They don’t necessarily work either. So it’s you and your imagination, and it gets quite weird, and you begin to wonder what’s going on out there in the adult world. It’s exciting, it’s forbidden, it’s scary. In your imagination, you grow up.

 

On The Rim Of The World is a drama with two characters – a group of children and a group of parents. Occasionally we hear individual voices, but mostly we hear people singing together. A sense of everyone going through the same experience.

 

The band is like an expanded version of a circus band, heavy on the tuba, with touches of accordion and clarinet, not to mention bass clarinet, my favourite instrument. A drum kit that’s got bits missing. Saxes and brass. At times rough and raucous, at times smooth and enticing. Why a circus band? Because night-time life is like a circus. Chaotic, frisky, dangerous, seductive. Roll up, roll up, roll up.

 

Score available on request

A RING A LAMP A THING

With Melanie Pappenheim

Ableton Live Andrew MacDonnell

Sound Paul Arditti

Directed by James MacDonald

Designed by Soutra Gilmour

 

A Ring A Lamp A Thing is opera for one singer, the wonderful Melanie Pappenheim, and Ableton Live. (Ableton Live creates loops and transforms sound.) We’re using it here to make theatre music - as a way of multiplying the voice of one singer, so she can have a dialogue with herself, and transforming it, so she can become different people. In particular a genie. Because this is a three-wish kind of opera.

 

I came up with the idea of writing a piece for one singer and Ableton, partly as a reaction to having made a lot of pieces recently with hundreds of singers in, partly because the technology interests me, and partly because from a theatrical point of view I don’t really like a band either in the pit or on stage. I don’t like an orchestra in a pit because they’re not really there; and I don’t like an orchestra on stage because they are, and they’re distracting.

 

Caryl and I talked about how people make choices, not by reason but by a chaotic accumulation of impressions, and how by using the technology we could hear all these impressions at once; we talked about storytelling and becoming different characters by singing in several voices; we talked about nested stories and the 1001 Nights; we talked about singing in different voices because of being possessed. And all these ideas have made their way into the piece in some way.

 

HEY COME ON OUT

Performed by Streetwise Opera, George Ikiedashi, Dan Norman, Melanie Pappenheim

Directed by Iain Findlay

Consultant Emma Bernard

 

A film opera, based on a short story by Shinichi Hoshi.

 

A deep, deep hole appears in the ground just outside the city. What to do about it?

 

1 Investigations of the hole

 

Silent sky.

 

We pan down into the hole. There is a sound down there, quiet but audible, like the sound of an underground river.

 

Then we look up from inside the hole to see the caller.

 

Caller (long yodel):            

He-y, come on ou-t!

 

The Pebble-Dropper drops a pebble. The pebble falls. We see and hear the pebble falling.

 

2 Hole Hype

 

And then we’re outside the hole, and it’s busy there.

 

Chorus:

It’s a hole

It’s a fox hole

It’s a bear hole

Come on out!

 

It’s a sink hole

A hole made by a meteorite

A hole to the centre of the earth

A hole without a cause

A black hole

Come on out!

 

Reporter:

I’m here at the hole

The subject of intense speculation

Three miles, four miles, five miles deep

Say the scientists

A danger to our citizens

A danger to society

Say the council

 

Chorus and Reporter:

What is to be done with it?

 

Reporter:

The mayor speaks:

 

3 Fill the Hole

 

Mayor:

The hole must be filled.

 

Reporter and Chorus:

But how?

 

Mayor:

Fill the hole!

 

Contractor:

Give me the hole.

I’ll fill the hole for you.

Like a waiter filling a glass.

Like a dentist filling a tooth.

 

Chorus:

A man who knows his job.

A natural leader.

 

Reporter, Contractor, Mayor and Chorus:

The hole will be filled.

Society will be protected.

 

Mayor:

The job is yours.

 

4. Hole Promotion

 

Contractor and Marketing Department:

A fabulous hole.

A versatile hole.

An opportunity for all.

Together we’ll clean up the city.

Dump your waste.

Competitive rates.

 

Mayor:

I declare an amnesty.

Bring me your guns, your knives, your swords, your IEDs, your rotweilers.

Together we’ll rid our society of these evils.

 

Mayor, Contractor and Chorus:

Together we’ll clean up the city.

 

Contractor and Marketing Department:

Competitive rates.

 

(The dumping of waste)

 

 

5. Nuclear Waste Disposal

 

(Yellow barrels filled with nuclear waste arrive)

 

Chorus:

Ooooh.

 

Reporter and Chorus: Is it safe?

 

Nuclear Waste CEO:

No above-ground contamination for a thousand years.

 

Reporter and Chorus:

That’s not enough.

We need assurance.

Tell us it’s safe.

 

Nuclear Waste CEO:

We guarantee

No above-ground contamination.

100% safe.

 

Contractor and Nuclear Waste CEO:

We’ll share the profits.

We’ll invest in infrastructure.

Everyone will benefit.

 

Chorus:

100% safe.

 

(The barrels are dropped into the hole.)

 

Contractor, Nuclear Waste CEO, Mayor, Chorus:

Untold riches.

Regeneration. Growth. Prosperity.

No more boom and bust.

 

(A superhighway is built.)

 

 

6. Classified documents

 

(Classified documents are emptied into the hole)

 

Chorus: Documents. What’s in these documents?

 

Mayor:

Let’s loosen our ties to the past

And look to the future.

A new era of openness.

 

Reporter and Chorus:

Mr. Mayor. What’s in these documents? Tell us!

 

Mayor:

Read my lips.

A new era of openness.

A city founded on trust.

 

7. The Hole brings peace of mind.

 

Contractor and Marketing Department:

A fabulous hole.

A versatile hole.

An opportunity for all.

A hole that rids you of your nightmares

And makes your dreams come true.

Still plenty of space.

 

Mayor:

A city founded on trust.

A new era for all.

 

Reporter and Nuclear CEO:

Untold riches.

Regeneration. Growth. Prosperity.

 

(The disposal of emotionally difficult objects)

 

Solos:

(mobile phone) I can’t afford it.

(guitar) I never got the hang of it.

(credit card) It’s maxed out.

 

Chorus:

Loosening our ties to the past.

 

Solos:

(medals) I should never have joined up.

(bunch of flowers) She never turned up.

(CV) I made it all up.

 

Mayor and Chorus:

Loosening our ties to the past.

 

Solos:

(diary) Annus Horribilis!

(exercise books) The end of history!

(baby clothes) Done that!

 

Reporter, Mayor and Chorus:

Loosening our ties to the past.

Cleansing our souls.

 

Solos:

(an armful of ties) Thank you very much Auntie!

(a pile of dresses) She went off with my best friend.

(a pile of suits) He beat me up.

 

Simultaneous solos:

I bully my sister.

I steal from my father.

I lie to my mother.

I never see my son.

I want to be a woman.

I killed a man.

 

(An avalanche of objects is thrown in:

a wedding dress, an armful of parking tickets, a false leg, a pile of bills, boxes of cigarettes, bags of doughnuts, paintings, every CD by Whitney Houston, an ancient TV, a double bed, a car……..)

 

Reporter, Contractor, Mayor, Nuclear CEO and Chorus:

Loosening our ties to the past.

Cleansing our souls.

A new life.

 

(New buildings shoot up.)

 

8 A new world?

 

(A construction worker sits on a girder.)

 

from the sky: He-y, come on ou-t!

 

The air is suffused with a sound like the sound of an underground river.

 

A pebble falls past.

 

We pan upwards to the sky.

 

*

 

Score available on request

 

*

 

I’ve always been interested in working with groups of amateur singers, from extremely skilled choirs to ad hoc groups of mixed ability. This is partly because I’m drawn to a rough, energetic, slightly anarchic kind of choral sound, and partly because I’m interested in the social aspect of this kind of collaboration. Working with Streetwise is an extreme example of this work. It’s not easy and it’s sometimes frustrating, but, overall, it’s exceptionally worthwhile and rewarding. 

 

The politics of making work with people on the fringes of society is important to me, particularly if it’s possible to keep the quality high. And from a selfish point of view it gives me a chance to make political and satirical work whose sharpness is enhanced by the nature of the performing group (for example the casting of homeless people as politicians in Critical Mass). A typical Streetwise project has a very charged and complex emotional resonance. And of course it’s exceptionally satisfying to see the way that a project can transform the confidence and self-worth of the performers (not to say their singing skills).

 

ON OFF

Performed by Glyndebourne Youth Opera

Directed by Karen Gillingham

Designed by Rhiannon Newman-Brown

 

An opera for teenagers, with a very simple premise: the consequences of an electricity outage.

 

Watch a performance

 

1. Machine for living:

Prayer - Ritual dance - Electrical storm

Chorus:

Michael Faraday, James Clerk Maxwell, Thomas Edison, Nicolai Tesla……

ACDCACDCACDC…….

Live life electric

 

We plug in We log on We connect We worship

We plug in We talk We believe We worship

We plug in We watch We veg out We worship

We plug in We play We believe We worship

 

We’re downloading the update and

We’re uploading the data

We’re updating the download and

We’re upgrading the software

 

We plug in We make We do deals We worship

We plug in We shop We believe We worship

We plug in We clean We blow dry We worship

We plug in We cook We believe We worship

 

Solos:

(on mobile) Mum, I can’t get down for dinner, can you bring it up here?

Introducing the new mobile phone The Peach

Didn’t you get my e-mail? I cc’d you in

Tahir Square 4pm

etc.

 

Solo:

Feel the power

 

(The electricity cuts out)

 

2. The outage

(Low tech! Each episode is very short, about one minute. They’re like snapshots.)

 

Day 1.

(Note: ‘Day 1’ ‘Day 2’ etc announcements over PA, possibly suggesting that the whole thing is just a reality TV series….)

Stuck (in the tube, inside a lift, outside an office building etc.)

Chorus:

What’s going on?

Who cut the power?

Why doesn’t this door open?

How long have we been here?

Whose fault is this?

Why doesn’t the alarm work?

(Semi-chorus) How do we get out of here?

(Semi-chorus) How do we get into here?

Why doesn’t someone do something?

Why are there no announcements?

How long are we going to be here?

 

Announcement (through battery megaphone): Normal services will resume as soon as possible. There is no cause for panic.

 

Day 2.

Office meltdown blues

Chorus:                                                            Prophet:

No connection No signal No back-up            I have seen

No phone No fax No FTSE                                    Eternal darkness

No business No banking No bonus            The end is nigh

No copy No paste                                                Repent now

No kettle No tea

No life

 

Announcement (battery megaphone): The stock market is suspended. All bank accounts are frozen. Cash only. Soz.

 

Day 3.

It’s an out(r)age

Chorus:

It’s an outage, it’s an insult, it’s an outrage

We have the right to power

We’re so not deserving this

We have the outright innate right to power

It’s an outrage

Yes it is

 

Announcement (battery megaphone): Remaining on the streets is dangerous and contravenes security regulations. Return to your homes immediately.

 

Day 4.

Domestic bliss?

(Coping in a world without electricity: trying to suck up dust through a hoover that doesn’t work, trying to straighten your hair without straighteners, etc)

Solo: What shall we do with the rest of our lives?

Chorus: What shall we do?

Solo: Let’s play a board game.

Chorus: A board game.

Solo: I’ll go first! I’ve got a six!

Solo: You lucky thing!

Chorus: She’s a lucky thing

Solo: My turn next! Ooh I’m on a ladder!

Solo: You lucky thing!

Chorus: She’s a lucky thing

Solo: Oh no, a snake! What a disappointment!

Solo: Unlucky thing!

Chorus: She’s an unlucky thing

and so on and so on and so on

 

Day 5.

Quiet city

Sensitive person:                                                Everyone else:                                   

Quiet city                                                             I’m bored

Soft darkness                                                       I’m bored

Bright stars                                                           It’s so boring

The beauty of the night                                      I’m terminally bored

 

Day 6.

Torches

Chorus (to their battery torches):

You are my beacon

The one who gives me light

You are my beacon

The one who gives me hope

When times are hard

You are the one who’ll see me through

You’ll never run out on me

My ever-ready friend

 

(One of the batteries runs out)

Oh.

(The rest of the batteries go, in quick succession.

Someone produces a wind-up torch.)

 

(to the wind-up torch)

You are my beacon

The one who gives me light

You are my beacon

The one who gives me hope

With every turn you grow stronger

My eco-friendly friend

 

(Torch stops working)

 

Solo: It’s alright. Bulb’s gone.

 

Day 7.

Queues

Solo + Trio: The universe shrinks to the size of my town.

 

Chorus:                                                            Trio:

Queueing we’re just                                                Ghost town.

Queueing for what?                                                It’s a ghost town.

Queueing why are we

Queueing? We shouldn’t need to.

 

Solo:

The escalators are still, the malls are like morgues. It’s a ghost town.

The food rots on the shelves, there’s a terrible smell. It’s a ghost town.

 

Announcement (through bullhorn): Please stay in line. All our operatives are busy. You will be served as soon as possible.

 

Day 8.

Parliamentary Debate

Tory:  We unveil our manifesto for a green society. A far-reaching vision. A sustainable future. An easy conscience. Increased wealth. Opportunities for all.

Labour: Liar. False promises. Short termism. Covering up for the cuts.

Lib Dem: We support the policy. No we don't. We demand amendments. No we don't. Maybe we do. We are not teaboys. (Are we sure?)

Tory: We call a pause. Public consultation. Listening to the people.

Labour: U turn.

Lib Dem: Maybe.

 

Day 9.

A letter

Solo:

I write to you in earnest that you will accept my friend request on Facebook.

(to a pigeon) Fly my beauty fly; carry this far and wide, to those it requires.

 

Day 10.

Supermarket

Solo + Chorus:

Open the tills

Empty the shelves                                                Prophet:

Bring down the giants                                    Eternal darkness

Bring them down                                                The end is nigh

Tesco fall, Asda fall, Waitrose fall                        Repent

Everything must go!

 

It’s gone. Now what?

 

Day 11.

Planning consent

Keen people (semi-chorus):                        Nimbys (semi-chorus)

Let’s build a wind turbine                                    Not in my back yard!

Get planning consent                                    Eyesore! Earache!

We could save the planet                                    Birdkiller! Waste of space!

We could do opera again

Offshore?                                                            Eyesore!

Off-off-shore?                                                Eyesore!

Off-off-off-shore?                                                Eyesore!

 

Day 12.

Lament for a hairdryer.

Solo:

The air is stopped.

There is no movement.

Your breath has been stilled

And you are silent

Replaced by a towel.

 

Day 13.

Human electricity-generating machine

Solo: Give me a V

Chorus: V

Solo: Give me an O

Chorus: O

Solo: Give me an L

Chorus: L

Solo: Give me a T

Chorus: T

Solo: What does that spell?

Chorus (willing but perplexed): Er, volt.

Solo: Let’s light that lightbulb!

Chorus: OK. Let’s light that lightbulb.

 

Chorus (hocket):

Franklin                                    Faraday

plus                                           minus                                                           

bzzz                                           bzzz                                                           

fridge                                        freezer                                               

bill                                             gates           

 

Solo: Immortalise Maxwell! Prove Edison right!

 

Chorus: We’re trying to.           

 

Solo: You’ve got to light that lightbulb!                       

 

Prophet: The end is nigh.

 

Solo+Chorus: Shut up!

 

(The light bulb flickers on weakly…and goes out)

 

Day 14.

A new world?

Solo + Chorus:

We must return, we must go back.

What worked then can work now.

We must build a new world from clockwork and cogs.

The land will rejoice and we shall hear her cry.

We must free ourselves from the tyranny of the gadget.

 

(The power returns)

 

3. Machine for living (reprise).

(What have people learned from the experience of being without? Nothing.)

Chorus:

Result!

We plug in We log on We connect We worship

We plug in We talk We believe We worship

We plug in We watch We veg out We worship

We plug in We play We believe We worship

etc.

Live life electric

 

*

 

Score available on request