aldgate east


Some places remain undeniable hotspots for the culturati, and a visit to E1. is a rare treat, bringing back great memories of events and encounters. It was after a visit to The Whitechapel Gallery in the spring of 1991 that James and I first conjured the idea or forming a new theatre company. The crucial epiphany took place in Stan’s Cafe, of Greatorex St., now sadly gone – a casualty perhaps of the trendification of the Brick Lane area. Last week I met Jill Dowse at The Whitechapel to speculate on a future collaboration. We went for the obligatory Brick Lane curry (mine not good; a lesson in not being lured in by doorstep waiters) and thence walked to the People Show space in Bethnal Green, where Foursight co-performer Emilia and her company Strike a Chord were presenting a work-in-progress of their research into the West African refugee experience. The piece, entitled Flight of Hope, is at an early stage of development and I hope will go further. It is an experiment in using a musical vocabulary to narrativise the asylum process. For me though, the illustrative nature of the score doesn’t yet work and it has raised issues for me about how delicate the relationship between music and action is. Eg. Use and abuse of the ‘melodramatic’ (prescribing or counterpointing emotion through the use of music), creating dynamic interplay between sound and action.

I have these questions very much to mind as I stave off my jetlag (wide-eyed, early morning) in an altogether different Aldgate: I’m in a hilly suburb of Adelaide, South Australia, listening to an unfamiliar, yet spectacular dawn chorus. Here to remake Vesalius – and with Cheryl Pickering at the helm and Rick Chew reviving his Requiem score for 18 voices, the prospect is tantalizing. Last night I met the Board of their newly incorporated company, Various People Inc., together with the production team of Vesalius. An immense amount of hard work has gone into getting this far and every moment of  the next 3 weeks, jetlag permitting, will be relished.


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