A unique sound installation to amaze, a Royal ballet with a difference and what’s coming up at the Everyman and Playhouse as Getintothis’ Rick Leach ponders the sound of silence.
Silence is a rhythm too. So sang The Slits on In the Beginning There Was Rhythm.
I’ve been thinking about silence- or the absence of music at least- a fair bit recently. The value of silence.
This is a touch strange for someone who writes about music. For a site which has music at its core. Usually when I’m scribbling down the introduction to the monthly Arts Diary I’ll be listening to music at the same time. Usually whenever I’m writing I’m listening to music; or rather the music is there in the background in one shape or form.
But this month it’s slightly different. I’m trying a different approach. There’s no music, only silence.
Yet it’s impossible to have perfect silence. It’s late at night but I can hear the rumble of cars on the motorway, half a mile or so away. Even though it’s dark outside there’s a few birds making a noise; so much for a dawn chorus. I thought birds went to bed early.
Like any city, there’s the sound of sirens (fire, police, ambulance) as a constant refrain to be ignored. Something quite sadly irrelevant unless you’re directly involved.
Car doors slamming, voices up and down the street, the buzz of wasp-like scooters. Always noise. Never silence.
Two things made me think about silence and the noise that surrounds us all the time.
The first was listening to Erland Cooper’s enchanting Sule Skerry album for this months Albums Club, a record made with and underpinned by field recordings. Those ambient (truly ambient) sounds which fill the air but we hardly ever listen to.
In Cooper’s case his sounds are those of Orkney, the sea and the wind, rain and thunderstorms. Quite different to what I can hear now in the middle of Liverpool.
But the principle is the same. They are the sounds we don’t listen to. We might hear them but we don’t listen.
The other thing that made me write this without music was hearing the incredible sounds Serena Korda has come up with as detailed in our first choice below- where you can hear an extract incidentally should you so wish.
In this work Korda gives us the opportunity to listen to sounds rather than music. A subtle difference but one that we rarely take up. And to be honest, it’s just as interesting and more fascinating than most of the dross you can hear on Spotify, vinyl, cd or the radio.
So there’s no silence really. We search for silence but there’s always sounds. Sounds worth hearing.
As well as Korda’s work, this month we’ve got the Northern Ballet, a brilliant exhibition at TATE Liverpool, full and extensive details of a massive Autumn/Winter season at the Everyman and Playhouse as well as other gems.
Turn off your radio and read on.
Rick Leach, Arts Editor.
The Bell Tree
Speke Hall until July 28
Serena Korda works across performance, sound and sculpture to find and highlight ritual in the everyday, which is developed through encounters, conversations and the researching of abandoned histories.
Set in Speke Hall’s ancient woodlands and grounds, The Bell Tree draws on the hall’s hidden history Korda’s fascination in making sounds beyond human hearing audible is reflected in the soundscape that forms part of The Bell Tree.
The public commission is at Speke Hall, with a smaller element installed in Bluecoat‘s garden.
Following on from The Bell Tree Korda has launched a second sound work, Under the Rose at Speke Hall. This new work is inspired by the house itself, a tudor mansion adapted by the Victorians.
Under the Rose or ‘Sub Rosa’ means ‘in secret’ and references both the symbolism of the rose and how ceiling roses were often placed in locations indicating that secrecy needed to be upheld.
From priest holes for hiding Catholic clergy to eaves for servants to eavesdrop for their masters and mistresses this piece brings the architecture of listening in the house to life.
You can listen to an extract of Under the Rose here
Rembrandt in Print
Lady Lever Art Gallery
June 1-September 15
The Lady Lever Art Gallery will be showing Rembrandt in Print, a new exhibition presenting 50 of the finest etchings and drypoints by the world-famous Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1669), on loan from the celebrated collection of the Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford.
The exhibition has selected ‘the-best-of-the-best’ Rembrandt prints-none of which ever been displayed together and have been hand-picked to show the full scope of Rembrandt’s ability as a printer, in the year which also marks 350 years since the artists’ death, and Wirral’s Year of Culture.
Rembrandt is shown as an unrivalled storyteller through the selection of print works, dating from 1630 to the late 1650s. Widely hailed as the greatest painter of the Dutch Golden Age, he was also one of the most innovative and experimental printmakers of the 17th century.
Exhibition highlights include Rembrandt’s earliest known self-portrait dating from 1630, Rembrandt’s only still-life print, The Shell (1650) and iconic works such as The Three Trees (1643), The Windmill (1641) and three other intense self-portraits with their penetrating gaze.
Perhaps the most remarkable print on display is Christ Presented to the People (Ecce Homo) (1655), considered to be the pinnacle of Rembrandt’s printmaking; the Ashmolean’s print is one of only 8 first state impressions in existence in the world.
Xanthe Brooke, Curator of Art Galleries, National Museums Liverpool said: ‘This is an exemplary collection, and we are thrilled it is first being shown at the Lady Lever Art Gallery. Visitors to Rembrandt in Print will be able to see Rembrandt’s intense self-portraits, atmospheric landscapes, intimate family portraits, biblical stories and confronting nude studies. We hope people will enjoy this special exhibition’.
Trout Mask Replica
June 16 2.30pm – 4.30pm
An event at the Bluecoat marks 50 years to the day since the US release of Captain Beefheart and The Magic Band’s seminal album, Trout Mask Replica – a record which Getintothis recently celebrated in depth.
In an informal discussion event, Beefheart biographer Mike Barnes will talk about the significance of the record, which has divided opinion over the decades: a work of genius or a self-indulgent din, and its enduring legacy.
Artist Derek Tyman has researched the circumstances in which the record was developed, with the band holed up in a wooden house in Los Angeles for a long period. He will give an illustrated talk on Trout Mask House, his proposal to recreate the rehearsal room and a scale model of the house in Liverpool. Rare archival footage of the house from 1968/69 will also be screened.
Bluecoat Artistic Director Bryan Biggs chairs the event, which continues Bluecoat’s relationship to Beefheart, from his first ever exhibition of paintings at the venue in 1972 to a special weekend in 2017 that explored him as a ‘total artist’ who embraced music, art, writing and performance.
There’s a strong and continuing connection between Beefheart and Liverpool and this event promises to be a fascinating couple of hours.
June 14-November 10
In the first UK retrospective of the groundbreaking artist and activist’s work TATE Liverpool will be showing 85 pieces of Keith Haring’s art including paintings, sculptures and drawings.
Haring’s influence 30 years after his death continues to reverberate through popular culture and more. This is a chance to see something truly inspirational.
Northern Ballet/Cathy Marston
Picturehouse at FACT June 25 6.15pm
Something we’ve not featured very much recently for the Arts Diary, this June sees a live screening of a ballet at Picturehouse at FACT.
An expressive new work, created for Northern Ballet, tells the story of Queen Victoria from the perspective of her youngest daughter and lifelong companion, Princess Beatrice.
In a multi-layered narrative ballet, choreographer Cathy Marston (the acclaimed Jane Eyre, also for Northern Ballet) traces the life of the queen/wife/mother through chapters of passion and tragedy as Beatrice transcribes her mother’s intimate diaries.
Going back in time from Victoria’s deathbed, the princess relives her memories of her mother as a secluded widow before discovering her anew through her challenging relationship with her own mother, the Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld. Beatrice also discovers the truth about her parents’ marriage and her mother’s ambiguous relationship with John Brown as well as revisiting political events such as the Opium Wars and the Great Exhibition.
Liverpool Arab Arts Festival
Various venues July 5-14
We’ll be covering the UK’s premier annual Arab Arts Festival in more depth shortly but this is one event not to be missed.
Each year, Liverpool Arab Arts Festival brings a thrilling celebration of Arab culture to venues across the city and showcases the richness of Arab culture through a packed programme of visual art, music, dance, film, theatre, literature and special events.
One highlight amongst many others will be Yara Boustany‘s dance spectaculars ēvolvō & One Day + One Night Beirut on July 11 at the Unity Theatre. The magical ēvolvō follows a journey from the Lebanon mountains to the streets of Beirut, while One Day + One Night Beirut reflects everyday life in the city.
Liverpool Arab Arts Festival Chair, Mustapha Koriba, said: ‘This year’s theme “Shadow and Light” invites us to reflect on the Arab lived experience and how arts and culture can be a powerful tool to help us navigate the paths between all aspects of it.
So often Arab culture is presented in rigid ways, dominated by a single narrative, traditionally one of war, struggle or dispute. We continue to address this narrow perspective and instead find inspiration in the rich tapestry of Arab culture and the joy that new connections and exchanges of ideas can bring.’
Everyman and Playhouse Autumn/ Winter 2019/20 season
Featuring stage adaptations of literary classics and celebrated major feature films, as well as some huge names from the comedy scene, the season gives people the opportunity to enjoy the very best in theatre, art and comedy from Liverpool and across the UK.
Opening the season at the Playhouse from September 10-14 is Nigel Slater’s Toast – the stage adaptation of the food writer’s popular memoirs, given huge acclaim during its sold out run at Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2018. Telling stories from Slater’s childhood through tastes and smells he shares with his mother, Toast is a moving and evocative tale of love, loss and…toast.
Developing a close working relationship with international theatre producers Selladoor, their production of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein will join other Selladoor productions Amélie (Oct 14-19) and Little Miss Sunshine (Sept 24-28) at the Playhouse this autumn.
Directed by Rona Munro, the spine-chilling stage adaptation of Mary Shelley’s gothic masterpiece visits from November 11-16. This is the fourth production from Selladoor programmed this year, with Green Day musical American Idiot visiting in July.
Young Everyman Playhouse (YEP) return to the Everyman stage for the YEP Actors programme’s 21st production, as they present Road – Jim Cartwright’s remarkable debut play.
A story of desperation in Northern England, Young Everyman Playhouse will perform the production in their typically vibrant style from November 6-9.
As the theatre’s commitment to family work continues, a stage adaptation of writer Julia Donaldson’s Tabby McTat visits the Everyman from 10-12 October 10-12. The story follows Tabby McTat on a journey to find his long-lost best friend Fred. In 2020, a stage adaptation of Louis Sachar’s literary classic Holes visits the Playhouse from 24-28 March.
Celebrating his new collection of poetry, Roger McGough returns to Liverpool on a UK tour of his new work joinedupwriting. Exploring the human experience in all its shades of light and dark, McGough brings his signature wit, irreverence and vivacity to the Playhouse on Thursday November 7.
On at the Everyman for five nights, Keep. by Daniel Kitson visits from 17-21 September. Based around the objects in his home, Keep. is a new show about how much past the present should contain… and in short, the stuff in his house and the thoughts in his head.
As part of Liverpool Comedy Festival, a host of comedians will take to the stage at the Everyman. Sindhu Vee brings her show Sandhog (12 Sept) and Justin Moorhouse (12 Oct) performs Northern Joker.
Griff Rhys Jones presents an evening of hilarious true stories, riffs and observations with his show All Over The Place on September 14.
Musical-activist-comedians Jonny & The Baptists return to the Everyman with Love Liverpool & Hate Bastards on September 13, following their 2017 show Lefty Scum with Josie Long.
At the Playhouse, Adam Buxton will bring his brand of comedy to Liverpool on October 11 and Richard Herring hosts the RHLSTP podcast at the Playhouse on October 23.
Paying homage to the late great Morecambe and Wise, An Evening of Eric and Ern is on at the Playhouse on November 9, with renditions of the comedy duo’s greatest sketches.
Celebrating the music of the Windrush Generation, Rush sails into the Playhouse on October 10 , featuring the Ja Reggae Band playing ska, calypso, dancehall and more by favourites including Toots and the Maytals and Desmond Decker. This is the story of Reggae told through the words and music of those who made that incredible journey to the UK.
2019 season is completed with the Everyman’s famous Rock ‘n’ Roll panto, with regular writers Sarah A Nixon and Mark Chatterton turning their anarchic genius to Sleeping Beauty.
At the Playhouse, Christmas magic will be sprinkled across the city as Gemma Bodinetz directs Miracle on 34th Street: The Musical.
In 2020, the ghostly production Susan Hill’s The Woman in Black returns to the Playhouse to terrify audiences from January 27 to February 1 .
John Shuttleworth also returns to the Playhouse on January 25 with an evening of classic songs, and some new ones about his troublesome back in John Shuttleworth’s Back.
A world premiere of Jonathan Harvey’s (Canary, Beautiful Thing) new piece of writing Our Lady of Blundellsands, will be performed on the Everyman stage from Saturday 7 March to Saturday 28 March 2020, with tickets on sale from October.
Directed by Nick Bagnall, Our Lady of Blundellsands follows Sylvie Domingo, as her fantasy world begins to come crashing down around her.
Gemma Bodinetz, artistic director at the Everyman & Playhouse, said: ‘We are delighted to announce this rich programme featuring new work, new partnerships, old favourites and heaps of Christmas sparkle. We’ve seen a fabulous response to our musicals in recent seasons and we have a very exciting selection to choose from.
Across both venues through Christmas, we have two brilliant festive productions. Personally, I am thrilled to be directing Miracle on 34th Street the musical at The Playhouse. And of course, it wouldn’t be a Liverpool Christmas without the Everyman Rock ‘n’ Roll Panto!
Looking towards 2020, nothing is ever more satisfying than launching a world premiere of a new play, by a local writer. We are thrilled to be producing Our Lady of Blundellsands by much-loved and award-winning writer Jonathan Harvey.
Every choice has been made with our audience at its heart. We hope you agree.”