I am in the crew of the new production of Britten’s Billy Budd at the Royal Opera House, but a bit of personal history links me to the creative gestation of the piece. Maybe. Anyway, it’s an interesting story, worth sharing. It goes like this (with apologies for some serious name-dropping…) Continue reading
Martin’s ground-breaking Scrap and Scratch Opera was devised in the 1980s to mount large-scale community events. Performances were created in six hours from scratch with costumes and props made from scrap materials for up to 350 children and professionals – including celebrities such as Stewart Copeland, Dame Evelyn Glennie, and the cast of Les Miserables.
More recently, with friends and colleagues he devised a community version of Dylan Thomas’ Under Milk Wood, reading Voice One, and has researched an illustrated lecture based on his artist father’s life and war diary.
Scrap Operas video (1989-90).
This is a newly edited 15 minute guide to the process of creating a piece for up to 250 performers in 6 hours flat, from scratch and from scrap.
You will see children with performers such as Rosie Ashe, Andrew Shore, Stewart Copeland, Evelyn Glennie, Jonathan Dove and Bill Oddie get stuck into French Revolution and Rainforest events.
Martin’s father, Edmund Nelson (1910-2007), was a portrait painter; he painted among others the historian G M Trevelyan, the writers E M Forster and G B Shaw, and the cricketer C B Fry.
There were many diaries kept during the long convoy journeys of World War Two, but his is exceptional for being illustrated with charming line drawings throughout. It is in the Imperial War Museum archive. The diaries were subject to censorship, but interpreting the sketches allowed Martin, with expert assistance, to track down the details of the convoy.
The community version of this “play for voices” was the opening event for both these community libraries, after they had been closed by Camden Council. We recreated a 1950’s radio studio; the audience provided sound effects and a number of the smaller parts.