Does the world need another blog? No. Am I writing one? Yes. Are you reading it? So it would seem. So on we go…
I’m starting a theatre company. In my head I’ve been doing this for about 10 years. When I started bringing performers together to try out ideas for a musical about Aesop’s Fables in about 2002, this is what I was feeling. And when we found the right collaborators and those initial ideas became the delightful smash-hit family musical The Mouse Queen at Little Angel Theatre a couple of years later, I was feeling it even more. The feeling, I now realise, was just the same feeling that I’d had all the years I’d spent forming and playing in bands.
And one of the ways I found of keeping the Mouse Queen company going was in forming a band with Jim and Hannah, my two fellow musicians in the show. Our band, Soup, was a dream for me: a literate, left-field trio of accordion, cello and ukulele singing sweet, sometimes questionable harmonies and willing to boldly go to the furthest recesses of inner space in search of something absurd to sing about. But the band was doomed. Our great friend Jim was dying of cancer and, while writing funny songs about death was as good a way as any of dealing with it, it wasn’t going to stop it happening. We made an album, The Night of the Long Spoons, in Jim’s last few weeks, of which we’re very proud. And then I wasn’t in a band anymore.
But I needed to be. I’ve worked on lots of shows since The Mouse Queen, usually with one or two or three of these same artists, and I’ve loved it. How lucky I am to be able to spend afternoons worrying about how to make a shadow sing or what rhymes with cauliflower. And to be paid for it (loosely speaking). I love to collaborate. And you can do that serially, making new artistic relationships all the time, but it’s not quite the being-in-a-band feeling that I seem to crave.
So, I’m nailing my colours to the mast. My next musical, The Adventures of Thunder and Coal, will be under the banner of a new company, Nonesuch Theatre. It’s the story of the mice that live down in the London Underground – and the human commuters travelling their own inner tunnels up above. It’s an adult piece this time, with some darkness and much comedy. We’ve got Steve Tiplady, Master of Shadows, (who directed Mouse Queen) on board as co-director. We’ve got Hannah Marshall, loose-cannon-cello-lady extraordinaire, on strings and other weird vibrations. Ruth Calkin, who inhabited Tilly the Mouse at Hampstead and Unicorn and did some amazing turns in the version of The Tempest that I worked on with RSC and Little Angel earlier this year, is bringing her impressive range of musical and theatrical skills to the party. And we have the brilliant partnership of two (very different) visual/media artists who have been with the project from the beginning, Jennie Pedley and Zsuzsa Kohan. The show is not fully cast and is still evolving, so there’ll be more to tell you (whoever you are) as we go on.
We also have a producer, Chris Williams, pushing us along as we head towards our first full performances at Little Angel Theatre at the beginning of May 2012. He’s getting us to do all the social-network-awareness-raising we can. So here I am, blogging my little heart out. And there are you, reading. Perhaps.
Here are all the links you could wish for:
And, if you’re feeling generous, you can show your support for our first show over at:
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This is the beginning of the story of Nonesuch.