Recently he set off on a mission to create ‘a virtual choir & orchestra’ by travelling around the South West collecting a soundscape of over a 100 voices – here is his diary:
Monday 25th March
What an adventure! It’s such a lovely thing to say and do. What is an adventure? I would say it is something you’ve planned a little maybe but don’t quite know what the outcome will be. You have to live by your wits and improvise and be creative. You will have experiences you didn’t plan and make friends who were once strangers. Adventure is nerves mixed with the unknown, hope tinged with panic.
This week, I am about to go on a musical adventure across Cornwall and the South West of England. I will be hosting six workshops, sourcing audio from participants to create a virtual choir and orchestra. Using my loop station and Mac computer, I am going out into the forest to collect berries of sound. I will then use these ingredients to make something delicious. I hope. It is really exciting to collect the sounds before the show has started rehearsals. This show will be an adventure story. I am on my own adventure story now. Let’s start!
Tuesday 26th April
Martin and I drove to Sterts near Liskeard. and that was adventure like. Driving across epic terrain with the sun to our left. We got to the workshop. Our first one.
I was excited and felt confident in the soundscape collecting elements of the show. With the virtual choir side, recording different parts from different groups around the South West, I was slightly apprehensive as it was new ground for me. The group though of 14-16 year olds were so lovely and up for it. They were the best group to have for this first outing of this idea. They have given me confidence to carry on into the week. We drove back to Falmouth in the dark along the most circuitous, creepiest, mysterious route I have ever been on. Sleep tight.
Wednesday 27th April
“A journey into sound”
Four workshops today. Epic! The first one was in Penzance and was fantastic. I’ve got some great sounds from Penwith Academy and I can’t wait to put them into the show soundtrack. We stopped for lunch at Sainsbury’s cafe which used to be the Penzance helipad. I could sense the spirit of adventure from all the helicopters taking off over the years. And then my lunch arrived.
The last three workshops were in Falmouth with Keri’s drama group. Three age groups ranging from five to sixty five and it was brilliant. The groups really got behind the song and hopefully it will stick in the audiences heads long after they have watched it.
One child said this project was “a journey into sound”. Thanks mate.
Thursday 28th March
Water – Check
Vegan Sausage Roll – Check
Kendal Mint Cake – Check
So, Martin and I set off from Falmouth to beyond Cornwall for the furthest reaches of our journey: Gillingham in Dorset.
I live in Margate, which is near the Gillingham in Kent and only today did I find out there was a correct way to say both. I am not going to tell you, if you don’t know. You must find that yourself. The hard way. Through going there.
We came. We saw. We recorded.
Thirty students, all (or more than half) wanting to know more about sound and the different ways it can be manipulated and created. It was a two hour epic workshop and for the last half hour, I just put on a projector and got the students to make sounds to the videos I’d found on YouTube. My favourite was the inside of a stomach. Thirty children all going UUUUUURRRRRRGGGGGGGGHHHHHH!!! was great fun.
Friday 29th March
Yesterday, I think I peaked adventure wise by having a vegan sausage roll. And today was such an easy group at Roseland Academy. So talented and up for trying different games and ideas. I like to have a little structure in a workshop but then go off piste if the students are up for it. Martin and I were given a fantastic treat right at the beginning of the workshop as the school samba band played for us. We got a brilliant recording and there might now need to be a samba section in the show. Look out for it come the Summer.
In fact, look out for all of the sounds come the Summer. Know that 99% of them came from children and adults all across the South West. Being able to run this project has been so exciting for my development too. For the record, vegan sausage rolls are lovely. Just go for it.
Bicycles that turn human, humans who turn bicycle, an army of the one-legged, an invisible to the naked eye carved chest, a basement Eternity and a murder victim who comes back to life as a copper ….
These are just some of the elements that make up what has been described as the world’s first post-modern novel: The Third Policeman by Flann O’Brien.
Written by the Irishman, originally known as Brian O’Nolan, in 1939, it was rejected by his publisher and was finally printed in 1966 to much acclaim.
That O’Brien claimed the manuscript had been blown away, page by page, from the boot of his car tells you all you need to know about the man and his wonderfully skewed mind.
But how to adapt such a fantastical work for the stage? With great aplomb, no little genius and a lot of humour if the quite brilliant production by Miracle Theatre which is touring Cornwall until August 26, is anything to go by.
Writer/director Bill Scott and his gang of merry men and women are no strangers to messing with Cornish minds – witness the 2013 production of Beckett’s Waiting For Godot.
That was a brave one but staging the even more surreal Third Policeman could be viewed as commercial suicide. The fact that it has sold out all over the South West and has received glowing reviews from audiences, is testament to Miracle’s ingenious way with a story, no matter how out-there it is.
I saw it at St Mawes Castle last night – the majority of those around me were chuckling nay guffawing throughout. However, there were a few WTF stony faces, including a chap who kept looking around astonished at his fellow audience members as if he were the only sausage left on the barbecue. That’s theatre at its most delicious.
And talking of bangers, The Third Policeman is set in a sausage-shaped world where our “hero” is obsessed by philosopher de Selby, so much so she (in this case, “he” in the novel) wants to publish the definitive critique of the man. In order to raise the funds to get it published, she murders old man Mathers for his cash box in cahoots with publican Divney.
Thereon in things get strange. Very strange.
You can trace a direct lineage of the comedy of the absurd from The Third Policeman; through The Goons and Spike Milligan’s Q to Reeves and Mortimer, The League of Gentlemen and The Mighty Boosh.
There is a brilliantly obtuse moment in the second half (where things get really mind-melting) when a scene is repeated verbatim two-and-a-half times. It’s then you realise David Lynch must be a Flann fan.
None of this would work without the cast. Hannah Stephens holds the whole thing together in the central role of Nameless. With a nod and a wink, she’s almost one of us, bewildered and beguiled by what is happening around her.
Ben Dyson is in his element. Always one for a peculiar comedy turn, he brings a touch of the Pythons to Sergeant Pluck; as naturally funny an actor as you can find. Ben Kernow is his equal as Policeman MacCruikseen, a wonderfully bizarre creation, helped by the fact that he looks every inch the Irishman (it must have something to do with that Celtic surname).
Catherine Lake lends superb support as sinister Old Mathers and the completely bonkers Martine Finnucane, leader of the one-legged. The parping trombone soundtrack only heightens the madness.
This really is a marvellous production – designed with great imagination by Jude Munden – that has to be seen if only for its glorious lyricism.
To borrow an album title from fellow Irish arch-surrealists and obvious O’Brien fans, Stump, this show is most definitely “a fierce pancake”.
By LeeTrewhela Cornwall Live Wed 09 Aug 2017