Outdated systems blocking creativity growth - CIF

Outdated systems blocking creativity growth - CIF

Growth in the creative industries is being stymied by government and policy bodies working by out-dated definitions, according to a report published today by the Cultural Industries Federation (CIF).

Pitzhanger to re-open after £12m restoration

Pitzhanger to re-open after £12m restoration

Pitzhanger Manor, the dream country home created for himself and his family by Sir John Soane, in his time England’s most celebrated architect, is to reopen in March after major restoration.  

TAITMAIL    Art, Larry, and how another Christmas saved the world

TAITMAIL Art, Larry, and how another Christmas saved the world

By Simon Tait

I’ll spare you another Brexit sermon, that can wait at least a week. Instead I can take advantage of the fact that today is December 7, the anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour, and make a connection with the extraordinary polymath Larry Holofcener, who died last year aged 91, Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill. 

‘Purity’ of boys’ voices – it’s Garrett v Bach Choir

‘Purity’ of boys’ voices – it’s Garrett v Bach Choir

Opera soprano Lesley Garrett’s call for an end to male-only choirs has been rebuffed by the head of one of the leading ensembles in the world, the Bach Choir.

New CEO for FACT

New CEO for FACT

FACT (Foundation for Art and Creative Technology) chooses Arts Catalyst's Nicola Triscott and new CEO

DEA BIRKETT Fifteen years ago, a museum visit changed my life

DEA BIRKETT Fifteen years ago, a museum visit changed my life

Last week we reported on the reopening of the V&A’s Cast Courts. Here, Dea Birkett recounts her own especial memory of them

Friends buy Burnley Empire for £1

Friends buy Burnley Empire for £1

The Victorian Burnley Empire has been saved by a friends group, days before it was due to go for auction.

Fitzwilliam’s gift of the Great Belzoni

Fitzwilliam’s gift of the Great Belzoni

The larger than life archaeologist, explorer and circus strong man known as the Great Belzoni is to adorn Cambridge’s Fitzwilliam Museum.

The smartphone Turner Prize

The smartphone Turner Prize

Charlotte Prodger has won this year’s Turner Prize for visual art with a 32-minute film shot on her smartphone.

Rogers to leave Birmingham REP

Rogers to leave Birmingham REP

Executive director steps down after 17 years

To all Dome-loving humans…

To all Dome-loving humans…

David Shrigley has created this limited edition print with proceeds from sales going towards the Build Brighton Dome community appeal.

How WWI enriched contemporary art

How WWI enriched contemporary art

More than 35m people, half the population, have engaged with the 14-18 NOW commemorations of the First World War, which has now ended after five years.

Ally Pally theatre reopens after 80 years

Ally Pally theatre reopens after 80 years

Alexandra Palace’s theatre and East Court reopened at the weekend after a £27m, three-year restoration project.

What's up in… Bristol

What's up in… Bristol

AI looks at what's coming up around the country – this week, the arts in Bristol. 

Bid to save Turner’s Thames view

Bid to save Turner’s Thames view

The government has mounted a campaign to save J M W Turner’s painting Walton Bridgesfor the nation by placing an export stop on it.

Victorian art world – recast by the V&A

Victorian art world – recast by the V&A

The Cast Courts at the V&A, two of the museum’s original 1850s galleries, have reopened after a seven year programme, restored and refurbished as they were 160 years ago.

Brexit: May's deal and the arts

Brexit: May's deal and the arts

The Prime Minister’s withdrawal agreement still leaves the arts and cultural industries in doubt about the future.

Rhian Harris takes over in Lakes

Rhian Harris takes over in Lakes

Rhian Harris, director of the V&A Museum of Childhood since 2008, is to be the new chief executive of Lakeland Arts.

What's Up In... Manchester & Salford

What's Up In... Manchester & Salford

In a new weekly feature AI looks at what's coming up around the country - starting with what's up in the arts in Manchester and Salford. 

Arts centre opens in Edinburgh observatory

Arts centre opens in Edinburgh observatory

A new contemporary arts centre, Collective, opens tomorrow, November 24, in one of Edinburgh’s most recognisable historic buildings.

All change at top of Oily Cart

All change at top of Oily Cart

Iconic children's theatre company Oily Cart has appointed Ellie Griffiths (right) as its new artistic director and Zoe Lally as its first executive director.

 Fight against climate change helps arts prosper

Fight against climate change helps arts prosper

Arts organisations are leading the way in sustaining the environment, according to a new report or Arts Council England, and benefitting financially as a result.

Silbert switch to Hampstead

Silbert switch to Hampstead

Birmingham Rep’s artistic director Roxana Silbert is moving to London’s Hampstead Theatre next year

Lost young Dickens found – in a trinket box

Lost young Dickens found – in a trinket box

A lost portrait of Charles Dickens at the age of 31 has been found, in a South African trinket box.

Lyric’s lyrical young music from Kate

MY STORY   The classically trained young musician Kate Marlais is to be the next Cameron Mackintosh resident composer at the Lyric Hammersmith

How did the residency come about, and what was the Musical Theatre Network’s role?

The residency is managed by Musical Theatre Network (MTN) and Mercury Musical Developments (MMD), and very generously funded by the Cameron Mackintosh Foundation. I’m always looking out for opportunities to write music for exciting people, places and things, so when MTN and MMD posted about the residency at the (super-cool) Lyric Theatre in July, I of course applied. As it was a residency, I knew that it’d be a role that could further and nurture my composing career as well. 

There were a few stages of application, including composing to brief as set by the Lyric, and a final interview in November. I was totally chuffed to find out I’d got it. I owe a lot to support networks like MTN and MMD - they are so crucial in helping to establish emerging voices in the arts.

You take up the appointment in March. What will it involve, how long is it for and how much of your time will it take?

I do! I’m excited. It’s an amazing opportunity to be musically involved in the range of work they do at the Lyric. It’ll include scoring music for plays, setting text to music, and developing my own musical theatre project; the exact timetable and projects that I’ll work on will be decided over the course of the year, but I expect to be based at the Lyric for a significant portion of 2018, depending on where my creative response is needed.

How much of your time will be spent working with children?

There’s so much going on for children at the Lyric, and I’m sure there’ll be musical projects or workshops for kids that I can work on. I love the high energy and whacky ideas that children can bring in to a room; I’m a big fan of that. I’m also going to be working with the Lyric Young Company - an ensemble of actors from 18-25 years old, led by director Anne-Louise Sarks - to create music for one of their shows. 

I grew up near the Lyric and saw loads of shows there as a kid which definitely formed my passion for the arts, and inspired me to get creative. I really admire the dedication that the Lyric has towards that.

Have you worked with the Lyric’s artistic director, Sean Holmes, before?

No I haven’t, but I’ve been following what Sean’s been doing at the Lyric - really exciting, progressive stuff - as a director and also as artistic director. Can’t wait to work with him.

You are classically trained, having studied at King’s College London and the Royal Academy of Music, but you will be working across musical genres. How difficult is it to do that?

Actually, that’s the thing I like doing most. I’ve always had a pretty eclectic taste in music -  the playlist on my phone is all over the shop. I try to absorb it all. It’s addictive - finding those hooks that reel you in, or moments where you can really hear the raw voice of that composer. What makes a piece of music appeal to me is essentially always the same, across any genre: it’s a connection. So, yeah, being able to tap in to lots of musical palettes is very handy, especially when composing for theatre where the imagination of it can take you anywhere, any time. There’ll always be a sense of classical discipline underpinning my music, but, more and more, I try to work on impulse and let my ear do the writing. It leads me to interesting, unusual places. 

Your award-winning work Here, written with Alex Young, is inspired by the Surrealist artist Kurt Schwitters. How did it come about?

We’d wanted to write something major together for ages, so we bounced some ideas around. We were each telling the other about an artist who had this incredible life story, and realised we were talking about the same person - Schwitters. He was a big character. As an artist, his main medium was collage, which immediately gave us a whole lot of dramatic and musical imagery. Our story is inspired by his final years as a German WW2 refugee living in Cumbria. We loved the idea of him being this out-of-place bohemian offset against a salt-of-the-earth Cumbrian farming community. It’s a cool musical language to explore too - folk, classical, with a dose of heady, distorted Weimar cabaret thrown in. We’ve actually taken the piece back into redevelopment this year to delve even deeper.

What can you say about your new musical with Alex, F**ked in Marrakech?

It’s a female-centric story about family - exploring generational divide, the confusing but fascinating current political climate, mental health - all set within the maze and haze of Marrakech. It’s funny, relevant and irreverent. We’ll be showing a bit of it at Theatre Royal Stratford East as part of BEAM:2018 in March.

You have worked with a variety of productions, from Frantic Assembly to the Royal Exchange. Is music in theatre changing?

I think it is. It feels like the lines are starting to blur, and definitive answers to that timely question “what is the difference between ‘musical theatre’ and ‘a play with music’?” are becoming harder to pin down. I’m all for not being confined to a category.

Frantic Assembly’s Fatherland at Manchester’s Royal Exchange was a perfect example of that. I worked on it, love it to bits, it has songs and text and movement, but can I define for you exactly what it is? No. And that’s great. When all creative elements work as one within a piece, you’re transported in to this complex, beautiful bubble. It then becomes an experience, not a genre, that you’re witnessing. Wow, I sound so art house right now. 

Have you got a project for the Lyric already?

At the moment I’m working on my own musical theatre project, exploring psychosis, self-image and the dream state. The music straddles synth pop, electronica and contemporary classical genres, and there’ll be integrated movement and design. I’m a very visual person, so I need to see everything there in my head before I start creating it fully. I’ll be developing it at the Lyric over the coming year, so let’s see what happens.

You are also an accomplished singer, having sung with the Bach Choir. Do you expect to continue with singing, or concentrate on creating musicals?

 

Oh I just love singing in choirs. It’s an amazing feeling. I sang the beautiful Passion works with the Bach Choir, and also used to sing with the National Youth Choir of Great Britain. I’ve been a performer - singer and actor - for over ten years, so it’s in my bones and I’ll of course do it again at some point. And maybe even in musicals I've written myself...watch this space! But I’ve been itching to focus on creating music and musicals from the other side of the table, and to totally submerge myself in it. And now is the time to do just that.

 

 

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