WHAT ANNOYS – DELIGHTS – AND IS OFTEN UNEXPLAINED.
What is ANNOYING me this week?
What is DELIGHTING me this week?
THE WALL – TAMWORTH
THE WALL – FLOYDIAN SLIP
SOME OF MY DOINGS:
Silence and Darkness fell upon the stage
Where kindred souls had danced and played
The story was told of the Desolate “Pink”
To leave the outside world to Think !
Lead Singer Floydian Slip
Mark’s words capture the real essence of what we did last week and now find ourselves trying to navigate those Empty Spaces that now surround us.
The Wall at Tamworth Assembly Rooms ran for three performances last week to sell out audiences, audiences that were taken by surprise and left with a lasting memory of a performance that captured the spirit of the times and made people think. One of the placards in the show read OCCUPY YOUR MIND; I think we have occupied many people’s minds not only with the themes, but also with what a small group of enthusiastic, committed talents in our communities can achieve.
Several quotes from the people who saw the show left us realising that we had done something special, something that had made a difference.
“Wow, I did not expect that, a cracking night”
“This should be playing to bigger audiences, on bigger stages”
“I have seen shows in the West End, that were not as good as that”
“beaming with pride and respect for your accomplishment of the Pink Floyd show what a visceral experience. Luke as Pink began so oppressed and ended up like a Shakespearean tragedy. The transformation was affecting”
“.if Orwell was at the Pink Floyd show in Tamworth Assembly Rooms he would have shook the organisers hands and said good job”
“Roger Waters would be proud of what was performed tonight”
“This was a brave thing to attempt and how well it worked”
“I want to be part of the next show you do, I wish I had been in this one”
“You have set the bar for community arts projects; people are going to have to up their game”
Simon Quinn’s version of THE WALL differs from Roger Waters original as Simon explores both the Darkside and the Lightside of lives in today’s communities.
Set on a fictitious housing estate somewhere in the West Midlands, The opening sees The Tramp (Played by Steve Jones), as the drunken wise man who tells it as it is, but then gets lost in his own demons that means no one listens to him.
We find Pink (played by Luke Comley and his gang The Dark Side terrorising the estate with antisocial behaviour racism and violence. The first act explains why Pink) has taken this path. He lost his Father in the War in Afghanistan, he has two Mothers in his head, and either would have caused him to lose his way. The first is the over-protective mother, lost in her own mourning and keeping her husbands heroism alive. The Second with her string of boyfriends who sees Pink as blighting her life. Then there is the Education System, represented by the teacher (Played by Gareth Pugh), a system that failed him, tied up with League tables that leave no place for teachers to deal with individual needs and creativity. We see Pink in dysfunctional relationships which the community, the gang and his lovers. All these become the metaphoric bricks from which Pink builds the wall.
The second act starts with a tableau of voices that haunt Pink’s head, picking up the themes of the first act. The story then proceeds with the Gangs attempts to bring Pink back, they bring him gifts that are important to him, they show their respect, but they get no response. They then inspect him like the media pulling apart a celebrity finding nothing in the darkness; they try to explore his mind with flashlights only to have them reflected back as Pink tries to defend his self imposed isolation. The gang finally see they have lost him and call for the doctor who tranquilises him. Pink slumped in an almost comatic state as the Band play Comfortably Numb which saw a seminal moment at the Friday performance when Mark Peterson came forward to rest his arms over Luke’s shoulders as the voice and body of Pink melded in an empathetic show of subdued pain. As Pink revives he finds a final revitalisation leading to the uprising of the Darkside, underpinned by the footage of the riots of last year, followed by the challenge of the residents as Pink becomes not just a disaffected youth, but represents bankers and financers whose actions ruined the world economy. As Pink realises the vile error of his ways and is found guilty as charged when put on trial. So the Wall is torn down.
Themes of feigned disability, corrupt practices, failure of governments and the obsession with Celebrity culture interspersed with the Cult of Me are all explored to show how society disintegrates and our young people create their own futures as disaffected individuals with cracked values and no ambition, find their way into the world.
The scenes are built through physical theatre at its very best. Choreographed by Ami Radcliffe, who drove the dancers from the stunningly brilliant Tamworth Youth Dance Company and The Wall Contemporary Dance Group along with the cast from the community, to push themselves, to create uncompromising action sculptures in her relentless dedication to achieving perfection. Her toughness and constant assertion that they could achieve the highest standards paid off as the cast took ownership of the piece. This was matched by the equal toughness of Simon’s direction of the actors in the hours of rehearsals and workshops. Simon had the vision in the first place, he knew what this represented and how it should be delivered. No excuses were acceptable, both Ami and Simon could deliver the parts themselves and so raised the level of expectation. I have much respect for them as masters of their individual crafts and in the process of developing this production I have gained so much knowledge and experience from working along side them.
Mixed in with the theatre and the music was my contribution of poems and films, often expressing the lightside, with the good Mums of Tamworth, or reinforcing the messages with the poems of Antony Owen and my own Thin Ice.
Floydian Slip delivered the Pink Floyd sound, nailing every riff, melody and vocal with accomplished precision. Very tight and accurate in their performance, that saw fantastic drive rhythm section of Simon Hall on Bass and Wayne Bolland on Drums providing the foundation for the brilliance of Gaz Bedford on Keys and the Guitars of Andy Ashley and Phil Wright. Mark Peterson’s wonderful vocal performance telling this austere tale with all the expression of a true storyteller.
Floydian Slip are not only the UK’s no 1 Pink Floyd tribute act they are in my eyes the best anywhere, sure there are others out there, some who play arena’s, they can all I am sure create the authentic sound of the Floyd. But would any of the others have taken six months out from gigging to focus on delivering the excellence of THE WALL that they did. Would any of the others have become a cohesive part of a team of creative people who invested sweat and graft, physical effort and creative thought and a total belief in what we were doing, that this meant something special and would make people think, this really would make a difference. I am not sure they would. Floydian Slip did, they are now part of the Tamworth Community, part of its history.
OTHER GREAT CONTRIBUTIONS.
I should mention also the contributions of Two Gates Primary School who delivered Brick in the Wall pt2 with a natural talent to charm. Luke, Steve and Gareth all of whom had never acted before took to their roles with an enthusiasm to challenge themselves to deliver performances that would have been the pride of professional actors with many years experience.
It is true that Luke has lived the role of Pink since he got it in March, often being seen around town in his signature great coat.
Also Tamworth Voices, ten of whom joined the production for the Thursday and Friday performances adding an extra dimension to the sound filling the Assembly rooms with a rich blend of melodic beauty.
Full credit must also be given to the tech crew of Jem McCauley, Jock Ross, Ron Pyle and Andy Palmer whose control of sound and light was perfect and to Rachel and Emma Smith who managed the props and costumes ensuring everything was in the right place at the right time.
The other film maker Sean Miller produced some stunning footage of the National Memorial Arboretum and Lichfield Day Care Centres as the jury at the trial.
South Staffordshire College made the giant puppet of the Teacher and the large hypodermic needle along with the two backdrops of the graffitied wall, all too fantastic effect.
AN ARTS TEAM WITH BOTTLE.
I will finish with praise for the Arts Team as Tamworth Borough Council, Elanor Thompson, Laura Hastilow and Hannah McKenzie who produced the production. Firstly for sharing the vision and being brave enough to take up Simon’s idea. Secondly for trusting us to deliver even though at time I am not sure they saw how all of the parts would come together. Finally for their support and encouragement.
This was an uncompromised, gritty piece of real theatre, although it did have a good outcome, it did not suggest a happy ending. The plight of the characters remains unexplained as does Roger Waters characters. Lives were portrayed within a framework of real and relevant themes. The audience were not left with a feel good factor, but with something to think about, which is where I came in with Mark’s quote.
I tweeted on Wednesday night that Tamworth had rocked like no town ever had before, that something really special had happened and that the world was a better place for it, I genuinely believe that that is true.
PHOTOCREDITS – Floydian Slip and Andy Palmer.
If you missed the show then you can get a flavour here
For reviews and interview on the Production use the following links.
Interview with Simon
Interview with Mal
First Night Review from Gary Longden
First Night Review from James Longden
Last Night Review from Rae Gee
Floydian Slip can be found at: