Think of an Unsung Hero

I don’t know about you but I hate plot spoilers. For that reason, it hasn’t been possible to pay tribute to all who have contributed to my ‘Think of a…’ Fringe shows. However, I think it safe to give mention now to those that have helped provide the wow-factor in the previous two performances.

Francis Faux supplied the ‘secret choir’ that patiently sat through ‘Think of a Song’, awaiting their moment at the finale. This was an idea I had earlier on, then tried to ignore. However, like the impulse for the show itself, it just wouldn’t go away.

Spirited Sound

So, I asked Francis – just weeks before the performance – whether any of his choir, ‘Lucis’, would like to take part in an unusual event.  ‘I have a better idea’, he said; ‘use my students’. Which, it turns out, was a stroke of genius. They were not only open-minded enough to take this on. They were also talented enough to nail their parts at the first run through.

After that, it was just a question of trusting they would: a) show up on the night and b) have learned their parts. I needn’t have worried. They were astounding. The hairs stand up on the back of my neck just thinking about their wonderful, spirited sound. Don’t believe me? You can see the footage here:

Watch ‘Think of a Song’ now

Flair & Gusto

In ‘Think of a Sequel’ I had a different surprise up my sleeve. In that show, dancers were  hidden in among the audience. These sprang to life during the penultimate song, ‘Play’. Their task was to embody the song’s call-to-arms for the free-spirited. Which, of course, they did with flair and gusto.

Leading these were two long-term collaborators, Matt Cleary and Michelle Rochester. Matt works with pupils with severe learning difficulties. He is also a highly-respected performer and choreography. His recent collaborations have drawn on synaesthesia for their inspiration.

 Michelle heads the charity Make a Move. Through this, she tackles a whole range of mental and social issues using movement.

It’s not all just prancing about, you know…

Really Want to Know?…

So, who will be behind the scenes for this latest show? Well, I’d like to tell you but then I’d have to kill you. Alternatively, buy a ticket, come along and see for yourself. You’ll be glad you did.

Book Tickets

Tel: 01225 463362
Email: boxoffice@bathfestivals.org.uk

Tonight, Matthew, I’m Going to Be…

I saw an interview with Matthew Broderick yesterday, in which he was attempting to sell a West End show. He was finding it difficult to say why people should go, without giving too much away. I feel his pain.

Look at The Stars

Now, I’m not claiming that Think of a Conclusion will be full of Hollywood stars (Mr Broderick was already booked). However, I can guarantee a top evening’s entertainment, complete with songs, stories, surprises and… er… me!

I Want to Break Free

In a nutshell, this will be the ‘show beyond the show’. ‘Think of a Song’ looked at how we can break free from the shackles of our everyday, humdrum lives. ‘Think of a Sequel’ considered: having found our way into the moment, what should we do with it?…

Where Do We Go From Here?

Now, ‘Think of a Conclusion’ asks: where does it all end? Does it end? And – if so – what can we do about that right now? This show will raise a smile, a laugh, possibly a tear or two, a gasp, an ‘ooh’ and an ‘aaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhh’!

… Or my name’s not Matthew Broderick.

See you there.

May 29th, Old Theatre Royal Bath, 8pm

Book Tickets

So, What Do We Get This Time?

“In ‘Think of a Song, you left out the songs altogether… in ‘Think of a Sequel’ you had completely improvised songs… so, what are we going to get this time?”

Those were the words of my dear friend Jim, yesterday evening. We were in the pub, waiting to see the fabulous Arthur Smith’s show ‘Syd’. This, in case you don’t already know, was part of the Bath Comedy Festival. That is another of the terrific events we have every year in this fair city and it’s not too late to get along, if you have not already done so.

The One You Are All Waiting For…

Of course, the one you are really all waiting for is the Bath Fringe festival. This is the highlight of the year for any free-thinking, creative-living, novelty-devouring, arts-loving person. Of which, I know, you are one.

So, go on then, what’s going to be new about your show this year? I hear you ask. Well, quite simply, this time you will actually get to hear the songs in their original format. And how is that ‘Fringe’? I hear you ask (you do ask a lot of questions). Without giving too much away, the Fringe part comes with the theatrical setting and the -ahem – surprises.

No, I won’t spoil anything for you. But be assured, this will be a continuation of the deconstruction of what makes ‘a show’. So, once again, prepare to be: confronted with unusualness; challenged by broken taboos and discomfited by unexpected goings on.

Chiefly, though – as you well know by now – the key intention is to entertain. Not only that, but you will be uplifted, moved and – hopefully – inspired by what you see, hear and feel. Don’t believe me? Read the audience feedback from ‘Think of a Sequel’ (and that bit I didn’t write!).

See you there. Tickets are now on sale:

May 29th – Old Theatre Royal Bath – 8pm

Book Tickets

You Have Been Warned

I received an email from the Old Theatre Royal, in which they voiced their concerns about the forthcoming ‘Think of a Conclusion’. Why, you may wonder, should they be concerned?

Expect the Unexpected

Well, without giving too much away, let’s just say they were worried people may be confused by the unorthodox format of this year’s offering. I assured them that anyone who has been at a ‘Think of…’ performance before will be very much expecting the unexpected. But – just to be absolutely clear – here I am to provide a health warning:

WARNING: ELEMENTS OF ‘THINK OF A CONCLUSION’ MAY BE A LITTLE UNCONVENTIONAL AND CHALLENGING TO SEEKERS OF NORMALITY OR CERTAINTY.

Fringe Benefits

Frankly, if these two criteria are high on your priorities for choosing a suitable evening’s entertainment, I shouldn’t bother with anything labelled ‘Fringe’. I would go as far as to argue that the point of the Fringe is to provide a platform for performance of an extraordinary, challenging or risky nature.

Having said all that, should you choose to attend ‘Think of a Conclusion’ (and I sincerely hope you will), you will actually be rewarded with a higher quotient of songs in their original format than in either of the preceding shows. As before, these will be interwoven with a spoken narrative and laced with (SPOILER ALERT) surprise elements.

Provoke, Challenge, Entertain

If that’s not enough to whet your appetite, then I’m not sure what more I can add. Except to say that the evening will, once again, aim to provoke, challenge and – above all – entertain. Oh, and by the way: all has been squared with the venue management, whom – I must add – are always extremely accommodating and helpful.

Book Tickets

 

After the Curtain Comes Down

So, what does happen after the curtain comes down? When the show ends, is it the end? Or do the feelings, ideas and thoughts somehow live on?

A Bit Awkward

Ending anything can be an awkward affair. In fact, ending an awkward affair can be most uncomfortable of all (or so I’m told…). But why is that? Is it because we all harbour an innate fear of the big one?  Yes, I’m talking about death – let’s name and shame here. Is each goodbye a little prelude to the one nobody wants to discuss?

There are, of course, plenty of theories on what does happen after we leave this existence. Indeed, some are so attached to them they are prepared to kill those that have a different perspective. Which is kind of ironic, when you think about it.

Who Knows?

Well, it’s all fairly pointless really, since none of us can really know for sure. So, why not get on with the bit we do know about? It’s messy, frustrating, difficult, challenging, often depressing, enraging and more besides but maybe that’s the whole point. Maybe that’s what we’re here for; to run the gamut of all those feelings and emotions.

This next show will be attempting to explore all of that – and take you along for the ride. Or maybe the other way around. Maybe it’s you who will be taking me with you. If you’ve been to either of the ‘Think of…’ performances so far, you’ll know these things can never be for sure.

Everything is in Hand

Preparations are now well underway. The next posting will reveal a little more of what’s in store. But this will be a little tricky since – as you should now have come to expect – there may be  a surprise or two planned.

So, this could be  a little like a character actor from a new Bond movie sitting on the sofa with Graham Norton. Basically, not able to reveal anything at all.

Bet you can’t wait…

Book Tickets

Think of a Trilogy

It’s that time again. Spring has been, gone, come back again and is currently ‘losing its identity’ (as they like to say on the shipping forecast). Which can only mean one thing: it’s time to start looking forward, once more, to Bath’s Fringe Festival. The Fringe has provided a platform for some of my more outlandish ideas in recent times. And this year will be no exception…

The Story So Far

Kicking things off with the challenging (some might say ill-advised) ‘Think of a Song’ in 2017, we looked at what it means to be ‘in the moment’. The shared experience of prolonged silences was certainly not to everyone’s taste but few who were there could deny the experience will remain with them. This was followed last year by the similarly off-kilter ‘Think of a Sequel’, in which even the performers had no idea what to expect. Roughly speaking, the theme that time was ‘having found ourselves in the moment, what on earth do we do with it?’.

So What Now?

Well may you ask. And well may I try to avoid giving a straight answer. Given that ‘Think of a…’ has decided to become a trilogy, it only seems appropriate to end with  ‘Think of a Conclusion’.  Looking at endings in general – and the big one  specifically – we will explore my/our innate antipathy to finishing things off. Let us take solace in the notion that all things are cyclical and recognize that each ending ushers in a new beginning. Perhaps, then, our fears are misplaced. Maybe  we should concern ourselves more with the impact and influence we exert on those around us right now.

But It’s a Show, Right?

Quite so – not a lecture. All of the above will be delivered through the medium of story, song and the usual smattering of surprises along the way. As with the previous two shows, it will be an immersive experience and quite unlike anything else  you are likely to attend this Fringe.  ‘Think of a Conclusion’ will seek to challenge, entertain and inspire in equal measure. Whether it achieves these aims will depend very much on your participation. So, I’m counting on you…

Put it in Your Diary

Trust me, you won’t want to miss this one – so best get it in your diary/calendar/planner/personal organiser/or whatever right now.

May 29th – Old Theatre Royal Bath – 8pm

See you there!

Book Tickets

 

 

“Smashed It!”

These are some audience responses to ‘Think of a Sequel’. Thanks to all who came along for the premier performance in Bath. The nature of the show means that it cannot be repeated. However, it may be possible to find a way to take it on tour, using different musicians each night.

Audio from this performance is now available here:

Think of a Sequel Audio

Work is already underway for the last part in what has now become the ‘Think of…’ trilogy. This will be titled ‘Think of a Conclusion’ and is planned to take place at next year’s Bath Fringe Festival.

Watch this space!

Like a Beautiful Dream

“It was like a beautiful dream I didn’t want to wake up from”

Those were the lovely words of one audience member after last year’s ‘Think of a Song’.

In that show, I presented the audience with stories behind a series of songs but then… didn’t sing them. Instead, I played them through in my mind, creating silences that allowed space for each to form his or her own interpretation.

For ‘Think of a Sequel’, I’m handing the interpretation over to top-flight musicians Tony Orrell (drums) Veryan Weston (keys) and James Watts (reeds), each of whom is steeped in the art of improvisation. They won’t know the songs but will base their music on the stories I tell. I will then deliver a new version of each song, over the backing provided.

This will be a unique experiment, including anecdote, observation, improvisation and a couple of surprises along the way. It will (as all good Fringe shows should) be challenging but – above all – thoroughly entertaining.

And don’t take my word for it. Just ask Anjela (quoted above)!

See you there.

June 6th

8pm (doors 7:30)

Old Theatre Royal Bath

Meet The Team – No.4 Veryan Weston

Master improviser, composer, lecturer, award-winner – it’s possibly easier to ask “what hasn’t Veryan Weston done?”

 Veryan Weston moved to London from Cornwall in 1972 and began playing as a freelance jazz pianist as well as developing as an improvisor at the Little Theatre Club. He accepted a fellowship with the Digswell Arts Trust in Hertfordshire in 1975 who commissioned him to revise his book on piano improvisation which he was able to do through a subsidy from the Arts Council of Great Britain. During this time, he co-founded and composed for Stinky Winkles. With the group he was voted a ‘Young musician of 1979’ by the Greater London Arts Association and won three major awards in France, Spain and Poland.

Whilst at Digswell, he also collaborated with visual artists, giving exhibition/solo performances at the Victorian & Albert Museum (1979) with potter Liz Fritsch, and at Hammersmith Jazz Festival (1980) with visual artist Stephen Cochrane. During this period, he composed and performed music for a range of films and documentaries, most notably with Lol Coxhill for Derek Jarman’s Caravaggio (1985). This interest in music and media collaborations led to a degree course in Performance Art at Middlesex Polytechnic (now University) where he gained 1st class Honours, and in 1990 he was awarded a Masters in Music Composition from Goldsmith’s College, University of London. These qualifications then led to a brief period as a part-time lecturer at Bretton Hall and Middlesex University.

Throughout the 1980s and early 90s he worked primarily with the Eddie Prévost Quartet, Trevor Watts‘ Moiré Music and duets with Lol Coxhill and Phil Minton. He also worked in other ensemble projects with Minton, including ‘riverun’ the Phil Minton Quartet with John Butcher and Roger Turner. Major festivals have included Zurich, Berlin, Nicholsdorf, Karlsruhr, Warsaw, Wroklaw, San Sebastian, Bombay, Vancouver, St Etienne, Aukland, Nevers, Washington, Lille, Houston, Le Mans, Straasbourg and Victoriaville.

Recordings

1977 The joy of paranoia, Ogun OG 525. Lol Coxhill. Released on CD as Coxhill on Ogun.

1978, Digswell duets, Random Radar Records RRR 005. Lol Coxhill.

1978, Digswell duets 1978, Emanem 4052. Duo with Lol Coxhill.

1979, Opus 5, Blueprint 159CD. One minute of Stinky winkles on this Morgan Fisher compilation.

1981, Hysterical woman, Poljazz PSJ 94. Stinky winkles

1982/1986, Unexpected pleasures, Arc 05. Trevor Watts Moiré Music.

1983, Couscous, nato 157. Lol Coxhill.

1983, ContinuumMatchless 7/Matchless MRCD07. Eddie Prévost Quartet.

1985, The inimitable, nato DK 018 53039.2. Lol Coxhill.

1985, Continuum +, Matchless MRCD07. Eddie Prévost Quartet.

1985, Trevor Watts’ Moiré Music, Arc 02.

1986, Saalfelden encore, Cadillac SGC 1015. Trevor Watts Moiré Music Sextet.

1986, Underwater Carol, Matchless 12. Solo.

1988, With one voice, Arc 03. Trevor Watts’ Moiré Music.

1989, Druga godba, DG 007. Trevor Watts Moiré Music.

1991, AngelicA 91, CAICAI 001. Three pieces by ‘Ways’ + one trio.

1991, Songs from a prison diary, Leo CD LR 196.

1992, Ways, ITM 1420. Duo with Phil Minton.

1992, Ways past, ITM 1468. Duo with Phil Minton.

1995, AngelicA 1995, A1 007. Four pieces by Ways Past.

1996, Mouthful of ecstasy, Victo cd041. Phil Minton Quartet.

1996, Playing alone, Acta 9. Solo.

1997, Little movements, FMR CD Sampler 3. Veryan Weston Trio (one track on sampler CD).

1997/1999, Spectral soprano, Emanem 4204. One duo, one trio and one quartet with Lol Coxhill + track with London Improvisers Orchestra on compilation CD.

1997/1998, Abo bhayi, Nota Bene NBCD001. Ntshuks Bonga’s Tokolosho.

1998, Boundless, Emanem 4021. Duo with Lol Coxhill.

1998, Mercury concert, Emanem 4028. Weston/Edwards/Sanders.

1998, Concert, v., Matchless MRCD37. Prévost/Weston.

1998, Music on seven occasions, Meniscus MNSCS004. Three duos with John Butcher.

1998, Unearthed, 33 Records 33WM110 CD. Veryan Weston/Stu Butterfield/John Grieve/John Edwards.

1999/2000, Five shadows, Emanem 4048. Duo with Caroline Kraabel.

1999/2002, Ways out east, ways out west, Intakt CD 097. Minton/Weston.

2000, London gigs, Prominence PPRCD 4199. Duo with Enzo Rocco.

2000, The hearing continues…, Emanem 4203. London Improvisers Orchestra.

2000, Daybreak, Emanem 4059. Ian Smith.

2000, Musical Corr≡la(c)tivity, combined Book/CD. Rose/Weston duo on one track.

2000/01, And the world aint square, Red Note 9. 4 Walls.

2000/2001, Worms organising archdukes, Emanem 4074. Coxhill/Weston.

2001, 3 pianos, Emanem 4064. Beresford/Thomas/Weston.

2001, Freedom of the city 2001: large groups, Emanem 4206. London Improvisers Orchestra.

2001, Freedom of the city 2001: small groups, Emanem 4205.

2001, 6 dialogues, Emanem 4069. Watts/Weston duo.

2001, The All Angels concerts, Emanem 4209. Solo on compilation 2-CD.

2001, Out to launch, Emanem 4086. Lol Coxhill and the Unlaunched Orchestra.

2001, …..past, IDA 018. Minton/Weston.

2000-2002, Temperament, Emanem 4207. Rose/Weston duo.

2001/2005, Tunings & tunes, Hermes Discorbie HDCD011. Jon Rose/Veryan Weston.

2002, Allusions, Emanem 5001. Solo.

2002, Freedom of the city 2002: small groups, Emanem 4210.

2002, Freedom of the city 2002, Emanem 4090. London Improvisers Orchestra.

2002, For John Stevens, Emanem 4091. The Gathering.

2002/2003, Gateway to Vienna, Emanem 4214. Veryan Weston/John Edwards/Mark Sanders.

2003, Tessellations for Luthéal piano, Emanem 4095. Solo.

2003, Which side are you on, Red Note 11. 4Walls.

2003/2004, Responses, reproduction & reality: freedom of the city 2003-4, Emanem 4110. London Improvisers Orchestra.

2005, Freedom of the city 2005, Emanem 4216. In trio Hallett/Kraabel/Weston.

2006, Slur, Emanem 4140. Phil Minton Quartet.

2007, Unlocked, Emanem 4141. Trio of Uncertainty.

2007, In backward times, Emanem 5045. One trio track with Paul Rutherford, Marcio Mattos.

2007, Separately & together, Emanem 4219. London Improvisers Orchestra/Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra.

2007, Caetitu, Emanem 4149. Martin Blume/Yedo Gibson/Marcio Mattos/Veryan Weston.

2008, Playtime, Mass Producers MPCD01. Caroline Kraabel/Veryan Weston/Mark Sanders.

2009, Sol6, Red Note 15.

2009, Stops, psi 10.07. Tony Marsh.

2010, Different tessellations, Emanem 5015.

2010, Lio Leo Leon, psi 11.04. London Improvisers Orchestra.

2011, Haste, Emanem 5025. Veryan Weston/Ingrid Laubrock/Hannah Marshall.

2011, 5 more dialogues, Emanem 5017. Watts/Weston duo.

2011, Dialogues in two places, Hi 4 Head Records HFHCD010D. Watts/Weston duo.

2012, Hear now: a film by Mark French, FMRDVD5. Trevor Watts/Veryon Weston/Mark Sanders/John Edwards.

2014, Discoveries on tracker action organs, Emanem 5044. Solo.

2014, Tuning out: pieces for tracker-action organs and strings, Emanem 5207. Veryan Weston/Jon Rose/Hannah Marshall.

2013, At ad libitum, fortune 0057/007. Trevor Watts/Veryon Weston.

2015, Dialogues for Ornette!, FMR CD404-0915. Trevor Watts/Veryon Weston.

2017, Dialogues with strings, Fundacja Sluchaj FSR 09 2017. Trevor Watts/Veryan Weston/Alison Blunt/Hannah Marshall.

 Please remember to book your tickets to avoid disappointment… this will only happen once.

Book Tickets

Tel: 01225 463362
Email: boxoffice@bathfestivals.org.uk

Who ARE These People?

The Magic When Musicians First Meet…

You may or may not have grasped the fact that the musicians who will be accompanying me for Think of a Sequel – Tony Orrell, Paul Bradley, Veryan Weston & James Watts – will not have met before the show.

This means that everything you see and hear them do will be happening spontaneously, for the first – and only – time. Furthermore, I will not know what to expect from them and will need to respond in the moment to whatever backing they choose to provide.

“So, why do this?” you may ask. Well, it is generally the case that when musicians come together for the first time, they tend to – quite literally – sound one another out. Ideas are thrown up, licks are traded, stumbling blocks are laid. And often what ensues is quite magical; never to be repeated.

What then normally happens is the players will attempt to distil this into something that can be replicated on demand. But it can often lose some of its original edge, vibrancy and nuance in the process. So, what if we simply present those first impulses within a performance context?

Nobody really knows what will happen. But what I can tell you is that the particular group of musicians engaged for this show has the ability and experience to generate fabulous sonic landscapes, continually creating ideas whilst simultaneously making space for – and responding to – one another.

Framing this with ‘songs’ will provide context and necessary limitations, so that the output will not be allowed to became safe or samey. Each piece will be created as a response to a set of ideas and will then be further shaped by the application of lyrics and vocal lines to the musical back-drops provided. This will also enable the evening to have a narrative arc, which will take us all – performers and audience alike – on a journey of discovery.

The Fringe Festival provides a platform on which new and challenging ideas may be explore. The challenge for me is to do so in a way that is entertaining and inclusive. This is not intended as an exclusive exercise for sagely-nodding, free-jazz cognoscenti. Rather, it is hoped that all will come away from the show having had a thought-provoking and enjoyable, experience.

I do hope you will be able to come along. Without you, we are just a bunch of blokes (and, sorry, we are all blokes) making noise in an empty space. As highlighted in the first show (‘Think of a Song’), the audience is at least as important as the performers. So, I will need your help with that bit.

And please do spread the word. I guarantee we will have a memorable, exciting and fun evening together.

See you there.

Book Tickets

Tel: 01225 463362
Email: boxoffice@bathfestivals.org.uk