memoirs of an amnesiac


On this night, 12th April, twenty years ago, Stan’s Cafe premiered the company’s second full-scale piece of work, Memoirs of an Amnesiac, to a sizeable and appreciative audience at mac, Birmingham. The show was presented as part of “Towards the Millennium”, a ten-year Festival initiated by Simon Rattle (then Principal Conductor of the CBSO) as means of re-evaluating the cultural achievements of each decade of the 20th Century in the run up to the Millennium. For the “1992” programme, the decade 1910-1919 was celebrated – and by chance at that time James Yarker, Richard Chew and myself were  being seduced into the enigmatic world of Erik Satie in preparation for Memoirs. The premise of the show; through the cipher of lonesome office bureaucrat Eric Smith, Memoirs provides a tantalising glimpse into the composer’s bedsit, as imagined by a Satie obsessive. In reality Satie’s true residence, in the unfashionable Parisian neighbourhood of Arcueil, had reportedly never received a visitor. When friends arrived to sort through his possessions after his death, they found chaos. And beneath this chaos dozens of identical black umbrellas, several matching ‘velvet’ suits, two pianos (one upturned upon the other) and piles of unopened letters.


Our show Memoirs became an homage, but also a cautionary tale about the perils of hero worship. Insufficient to hold us off though, Satie continues to beguile and charm us. James has looked for opportunities for Stan’s Cafe to revive the old show as part of a retrospective and recently an opportunity has emerged for Various People to present some of the Satie canon in the context of the Adelaide Cabaret Festival this coming June. The Velvet Gentleman will be a collection of songs, sketches and scribbles illuminating some of the more obscure, playful and surreal fragments from Satie’s life and work.

link to ABC promo to Cabaret Festival


One Response to “memoirs of an amnesiac”

  1. 1 Andrew TC

    Excellent news – having thoroughly enjoyed the original at the ICA 20 years ago (as a 10yr old honest!) I look forward to a flavour of the same again – subject to being able to pump up the tyres on my Gymnopedie-mobile 😀

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