Sunday, 30 September 2007

Liverpool: Centre of the Creative Universe?; Gone With the Wind

Liverpool: Centre of the Creative Universe?

Firstly let me declare that I have nothing against Liverpool, I have been there (for the theatre) several times and enjoyed myself. It is not my favourite English City (as a true born Londoner I count the capital as a nation unto itself, and above all other municipalities). If I had to list my favourites, Sheffield and Manchester would be higher than good old Liverpool, but I don’t in anyway dislike it (I say this again, as Liverpudlians are know to be, shall we say, defensive?).

Anyway, in the Sunday Time ‘Culture’ magazine today (and in other publications this weekend) the North West Tourist Board and the Liverpool European Capital of Culture 2008 people have taken out a full page advertisement extolling the virtues and attraction of the fair city during its cultural fiesta next year. All well and good, I am all for regional arts, and UK cultural life should not rest wholly in London (I am delighted at the state of regional theatre in 2007 as compared with a decade earlier, there is so much excellent work being done. I just can’t get out, and don’t have the money, to see it all, though I do try my best).
Anyway, the problem for me came when I read the following:

Liverpool [is] the Centre of the Creative Universe’

No, sorry, but Liverpool may just about be the creative centre of its region (on account of pop music, which I have very little knowledge about, but I’m told Liverpool is important somehow, apart from the obvious Beetles), though I would say for current creativity, and not past glories, Madchester is way ahead.

The second stupid quote, almost comedy gold is:

we call it liveable culture- culture that is ‘always on’.’

Liveable culture? Are you serious?! What idiotic council think tank though that one up. We speak English in this country, though you might think that bullshit is taking over as the official language.

I also have to say that the line up so far announced is not exactly setting my pulse racing. Liverpool- The Musical and some rather depressing serious music pieces, as well as a one off Macca concert (with other Liverpool greats apparently). No thanks, I’m not travelling for any of it, unlike the inaugural Manchester International Festival in July just gone. Sure the ‘serious’ music (Britten’s War Requiem and a new Tavener requiem about ‘reconcile[ing] the worlds warring religions through music and contemplation of the final journey that we all share’. I for one had no idea that the Christians, Jews, Buddhists and Hindus were at war! Sounds like a wonderful evening out. Plus the Berliner Phil and a new lyric tale for two voices by Martin Crimp based on the Pied Piper of Hamlin. My hear leaps!) will be of a great standard, and I’d probably catch some of it if it were happening in London, but I think these serious pieces are one off performances and are solemn and grave, thereby giving credibility to the whole city of culture event.

P.S: Apologies for my jokey asides, I like serious music, it’s just that a ‘serious’ (po faced) Tavener and a Crimp piece (will the Pied Piper be wearing a catheter?) are not my idea of a jolly night out.

Frankly My Dear, I Don’t Give a Damn

Also in today’s Culture is another notable advert. This one is for the forthcoming stage musical version of Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind, adapted and directed by Sir Trevor Nunn with music, book and lyric by Margaret Martin (who she? More later….). Opening in April 2008 at the less than lovely New London Theatre with a top price of £60 and bottom of £27.50 (plus between £1.50 and £2.50 booking fee), plus a £10 reduction during previews (thanks!).

This advert annoys me, the website is fine, basic details are given, but the booking is not open (on the web anyway, the See Tickets site draws a total blank) but is advertised as booking now (or the details of bookings are given anyway, and a booking link on the show website also draws a blank). If you’re going to do a specific ad that has booking details etc, not just a general hype generator, then you should have the booking system sorted, up and running.

As for the identity of the composer and lyricist, Margaret Martin is a doctor and author of childbirth books:

‘Author of book, music and lyrics, Gone With the Wind is Dr. Martin’s first play’

Hmmm, her first ‘play’ is being put on in the West End with top whack ticket prices, no out of town try out and directed by Sir Trevor Nunn?

Now I’m not saying that people who have not been composers all of their lives can’t write musicals, in fact I’m a great believer in people learning themselves throughout life and doing exciting things at any age (and that you can do a day job, but be a creative person too!). But I would expect a first time composer to have a slightly less grandiose introduction to the business. It has the slight whiff of a vanity project (Behind The Iron Mask anyone?), but come April I’ll be sitting in the £17.50 (plus booking fee) cheap preview seats and I’ll find out. As will we all on 23rd April 2008, when the critics will have their say. I can’t wait, I want to make my booking now…


Anonymous said...

How unfortunate that the same internet that has the potential to do so much also give tossers like you a voice.

Anonymous said...

you start out saying how pleased you are that culture exists outside the capital and then proceed to slate Liverpool for doing something to celebrate its culture. wtf?

The book title is not a self agrandising statement, its a quote from allen ginsberg. I'm surprised such a cultured fellow as yourself isn't familiar with it.

Anonymous said...


Watford - The Worlds End. Now thats a book you want to think about writing, as it seems the inner sanctums of the M25 are the be all and end all of cultural life and times.

Whats the matter, too grim up norf for ya?

Sean said...

As usual the nameless (and single) idiots bully people into submission.

I actually have been out of London several time in the last couple of months alone, but I can't help it if the majority of work is here, or that I live here. I also see work on tour from around the country at various London venues (just I've been a bit busy and not able to post of late).

What are you fab cultural credentials then?,,2017647,00.html

Don't bother to reply with abuse, next time I'll just delete it.