Ever wondered what 360° sound is like?

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We sat down with Warsnare ahead of his live show at The Albany.

Ahead of Warsnare’s debut live show ‘Warchestra 360°’ at the Albany Theatre on November 24th we managed to catch up with Deptford’s Daniel Potter for a little chinwag!

 

Being a native South East Londoner, and holding your debut live with us at The Albany is a truly local affair. How does it feel to performing a show that must be very important to you so close to home?

 I have pretty much always lived in SE London.  I’ve studied here, I’ve partied here, organised gigs here, culturally, socially and politically it is such an incredible place.  I used to organise rock gigs here as a teenager, drum and bass nights as a slightly older teenager and as an adult I have organised concerts, electronic music raves and the Trailer TV which was a weekly electronic music broadcast/party in a disused lorry trailer next to the Deptford Creek where we previously used to interview artists, play their videos and have them perform to us and an enthusiastic audience inside the trailer.  Although very much under threat from gentrification there are loads of cool little venues that support independent music whether live or DJ’s.  We have incredible creative educational institutions very close by such as Goldsmiths and Trinity Laban that attract some of the most talented artists from around the world and smaller but equally as important music charities like The Midi Music Company that give incredible support to local emerging artists.  The Deptford X festival happened recently including some awesome sound installations very close to my house and there are lots of other events like this.  When organising a gig, I will always consider doing it locally first, the area is literally exploding with art and living on Deptford High Street I really feel like I am in the epicentre of it all and it is very inspiring.  I’ve been to some great gigs at the Albany over the years, I remember going to see theatre shows there as a child, it is also literally a stones throw from my house and I am working with local artists and lifelong friends on this project so it feels very special indeed!

 

Tell us a bit about some of the other live collaborators taking part in the performance?

 The musicians performing the album on the night include some very good lifelong friends of mine,  Charlie Stark and Vienna Shilling are great locals singer/songwriters who you need to check out for their own personal projects.  I’m privileged to be close to such talented singers and I can’t wait for you to hear their voices spatialised live on the 360° system.  Charlie Stark recently released an incredible EP called UFO. Check out his entertaining new UFO video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TAPfLYxE2pw).  Alison D’Souza and Tristan Horne are playing the string parts on Viola and Cello.  They actually recorded and co-wrote most of the string parts on the album itself so it is perfect to have them involved in the performance, as well as being top class professional musicians they bring some really creative ideas to the project and are able to do pretty much anything when it comes to string playing.  Ben Hartley will be playing the percussion parts,  I’ve taught music alongside him for a few years and always wanted to work with him in some sort of way and this seemed like the perfect opportunity.  He is a very diverse musician, he can improvise where needed and  recreate material from the album will precision accuracy too.  Vocalists Kate Tempest and Laura Lopes also feature on the album but unfortunately can’t make the gig as they’ll be abroad but we will be performing the tracks they are on and spatialising their studio vocals on the 360°.  As well as working closely with Tom from C&R to spatialise the album in 360 we have an extremely talented mixed media visual artist Jake Strickland producing some very interesting visuals where he’ll be hanging displays between the speakers surrounding the audience using Raspberry Pies.

 

 

For those of us who don’t know, can you explain what 3D sound is?

The term basically refers to audio technology that allows sound designers and composers create fully immersive sonic environments by placing and moving sound anywhere around 360 sphere. It is most often used in VR, video games and 360 video to construct realistic soundscapes. Most people will have experienced some form of surround sound at the cinema.

 

 

How are you using 3D audio in your live show?

I have been working with immersive audio specialists Call & Response at their ambisonic studio in South London to mix my stereo album into full 3D audio. If you think that most music people listen to is in stereo, so two loudspeakers or headphones. The mix engineer can place sound either to the left, right or centre of a stereo image.

For this gig we are going to have 29 loudspeakers arranged in a dome that is over 10 metre in diameter. This means I can place sound pretty much anywhere I want. It adds a whole new compositional layer. We’re also using live string players, percussion and keys. The live sound will also be moved around the sphere.

Warchestra 360 is the live performance version of Warsnare’s forthcoming album on Infinite Machine, out in Feb 2018.

 

Warsnare plays the Albany on Friday 24 November at 7.30pm. Book tickets here.


 

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What is a London frost fayre?

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Between the 16th and 19th centuries Britain suffered what has been dubbed the ‘Little Ice Age’ by the storytellers and ‘a modest cooling of the Northern Hemisphere’ by the experts. This bout of cold was caused by volcanic eruptions across the globe and touched many countries throughout Europe, but particularly Britain. Old Jack Frost settled in hard when winter came around during those years. In London, a shallower and wider Thames combined with a fat, saggy Old London Bridge caused ice to form on the river easily. In fact, the Thames frequently froze over – up to several feet thick in some places! Imagine if that happened now! The whole city would stand still, dumbfounded.

 

In fact that’s pretty close to what happened. Today, it would most likely cause chaos, but back then it caused celebration. All along the Thames, from London Bridge to Westminster, festivals called ‘frost fayres’ sprung up on the thick ice, where people from all over the city came together to share in the joy and hilarity of a frozen River Thames.

 

Invented by the ferrymen of the river who suddenly found themselves out of business and in need of money (they charged a small fee for access to the ice – we however believe fun should be free for everyone!), these fayres featured a variety of entertainment, including music, dancing, football, ice-skating, bowling, archery, bull-baiting, shopping, eating, drinking, singing and even, if you’ll believe it, fairground rides! On the Thames! There were performances of all kinds, as the fantastical event spawned even more fantastic spectacles. The famous Chipperfield’s Circus, which is still running to this day, began with performing animals on the frozen river in 1684.

 

As for refreshments, there were BBQ’s, mini-pubs and stalls that sprang up all over the ice selling spiced ale, wine, toffee apples, hot chocolate and freshly baked gingerbread. The disused boat sails and oars were used as props for tents that sold toys and all kinds of crafts. A printing company called Croom created small postcards on the ice that included the customer’s name, the date of the frost fayre and the slogan ‘Printed on the Ice’.

 

The whole affair was such a novelty that winters in London were associated with the fun of the fayres long after the river stopped freezing. A poem dedicated to the celebrations (reprinted below) is engraved under the southern end of Southwark Bridge. Although the ice will never come back, that doesn’t mean we can’t have as much fun as the people of London during the frosts of the Little Ice Age. Come to Deptford Lounge on Saturday December 2nd, 11-4pm, for Deptford’s very own frost fayre inspired Frost Fest, featuring live music, singing, dancing, storytelling, hot chocolates, spiced wine, craft workshops and lots more frosty, festive activities.

 

Check back for how to enter our special Frost Fest Elephant Competition!

 

Southwark Bridge poem:

Behold the Liquid Thames frozen o’re,

That lately Ships of mighty Burthen bore

The Watermen for want of Rowing Boats

Make use of Booths to get their Pence & Groats

Here you may see beef roasted on the spit

And for your money you may taste a bit

There you may print your name, tho cannot write

Cause num’d with cold: tis done with great delight

And lay it by that ages yet to come

May see what things upon the ice were done

 

Frost Fest is on at Deptford Lounge on Saturday 2nd of December from 11am till 4pm. This is a free event.

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Why we’re excited about Native Dancer

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We’re so excited to have you play with us at the Albany, what does it mean to you to perform in a local venue as a South London based band?

We’re so thrilled and excited to be a part of the festival and to be playing round the corner from where we all live is an amazing feeling. It’s such a big music scene full of life down here and I know The Albany does so much good work for the community so it definitely feels extra special to be a part of the London jazz Festival in this way.

 

This is the second time you’ve performed as part of the London Jazz festival, what do you think the festival means to jazz lovers in the city?

I think the festival gives an opportunity for jazz lovers to see a lot of high quality gigs in short space of time, and the vibe in the city is always really exciting during the festival, as a musician it’s great to be able to go out and know there will be a hang at most venues every night. Having said that gigs are  constantly happening all year round in london at underground venues, people should definitely look out for those and support the amazing music scene in this city.

 

Who’s your favourite jazz act of the moment?

Joe Wright. An absolutely incredible saxophone player, writer and instrument inventor, get to know.

 

If you guys were going to go out for a night in South London where would you go?

We love Bussey building in Peckham. They always put on amazing events and that’s actually where we launched our first EP a couple of years back!

 

What can people expect from a Native Dancer gig?

You can expect an honest, engaged  performance. We always try to get lost in the moment and keep some things very loose so both the audience and ourselves can feel connected and make the night feel special.

 

Native Dancer play the Albany on Saturday 11 November as part of the EFG London Jazz Festival, with support from Sawa-Manga. Doors are at 7.30pm. Tickets from £12.

Book here.

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Story Jam: Why do we need happy endings?

Everyone knows how the fairy tales end: They all lived happily ever after.

Yeah, right. But why should the princess marry the boring prince and not go off on an adventure of her own? The witch probably had a good point to make. And the youngest son had the advantage of learning from his siblings’ mistakes – he’s hardly a hero.  Happy ever afters are a lie.

In our cynical, post-post-modern world isn’t needing happy endings in stories twee, or childish or – worst of all possible crimes – naïve? But we do need them, and the darker the world gets, the more important they become.

We live in unsettled, upsetting times. Trump, Brexit, trigger fingers near nuclear buttons, glaciers sliding into warming oceans, big business triumphing over the communal good. The voices that are heard are not ours. We do not prevail. And it’s not just that there’s an orange maniac with his finger on the button, or the jumpiness that comes with the reality of being in a big city in anxious times. There are all the other things that shake us and shape us – our own private losses and worries. It all makes us sore at heart.

A story probes our sore hearts – does it hurt here? Here? How about here? – and then reminds our hearts how to feel whole and good.

So there are big, frightening things in the old stories. Everything fractures – parents do not love, home is far away, lovers betray, rulers rule badly, brothers and sisters are separated –all peace is stripped away. And then, after you’ve gone there, after you’ve felt how bad it can get, there is a climb back to justice, love and wholeness. They all live happily ever after.

But happy endings aren’t about sentimentality or some sickly-sweet Disney version of reality; the stories we tell – they’re about us. And the people in them,  they’re us. So we need to know that when the two older sons have failed, the third will succeed. In stories the world gets dismantled and the suspense and excitement comes from understanding it will be rebuilt. If it isn’t, then it’s not just unsatisfying, it’s unfair, unjust and makes us unhappy because we’ve lost all power to make things better.

The storytelling we do uses traditional, old stories. Not old-fashioned, old. And they’ve survived for all this time because they are important and relevant and they tell us things about ourselves and about ourselves in the world. They might be angry Kings instead of insane Presidents, or curses instead of man-made famines but they threaten the world and the people in it, just the same.

Cliff-hangers and shock endings are great, of course. A cliff hanger, a shock-horror screamer of a non-ending that leaves you yelping and gawping, is a lot of fun, and powerful. But only if everyone is in on the game. Then it’s a rewarding, tingling delight. And it can be an alarm rung close to your ear, a wake-up call to arms that says ‘it’ll only be OK if things change, if we do things differently from this.’

But a cliff hanger only works if the happy ending, that satisfying tying up, the breath of relief, is the rule that the cliff-hanger breaks.

Let’s have stories – legends, folktales, wonder tales, old stuff, new stuff-  with happy endings. Let us give ourselves the strength and courage to live and love and make our voices heard.

Of course, there’s a lot to be gained from a tragic ending too, but that, as they say, is another story…

Alys Torrance and Lucy Lill

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Story Jam is south London’s popular longstanding storytelling night. You can catch top tellers and songsters at Canada Water Theatre on Thursday 19th October and Thursday 7th December at 7.30pm and at the Albany on Thursday 7th November at 7.30pm. Each show features a different line-up and tales from every corner of the world.

 

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Canada Water Theatre meets Strictly Arts to talk about Freeman

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We are so excited to have Freeman with us at Canada Water Theatre. Can you tell us what it means to you as a piece of theatre?

We have been working on Freeman for close to two years now so it’s very important to us and it’s simply amazing the level of responses we have had from the audiences so far. We ventured in to making theatre to start conversations on topics that we felt were overlooked and were important to us. Freeman seems to be doing that and we couldn’t be prouder.

 

Why is it important to tell William Freeman’s story?

William Freeman’s story was a very clear point for us in the history of justice and race. A lot of what happens today has its roots in how people like William were treated in the 1800’s. It’s also a very important part of the history of mental health and its relationship with the justice system as he was the first American defendant to plead insanity in court.

 

If you could change one thing about the theatre industry, what would it be?

We would make it more diverse. If there were a greater number of playwrights, composers and directors from every sort of background we believe there would be a greater diversity at every level of the theatre, and no one would feel like it is an elitist pastime or something that they couldn’t connect to.

 

Can you describe Freeman in three words?

That’s a tough one… Our audiences have described it as: Provocative, Powerful and Poignant.

 

Why should audiences come and see it?

Because there’s no other show tackling the relationship between race, mental health and the justice system in the same way.

 

Freeman is on at Canada Water Theatre on Wednesday 18th October at 7.30pm.

Freeman Production image 2

 

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Not Bound Within – my journey so far by Naomi Cortes

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The Albany has continued to support my work as a Black female playwright and my latest work Not Bound Within will have its play reading in October for Black History Month.

Why be a writer?

I want to amplify, loud hail, create a battle cry for the unheard and the unseen. Those invisible beings who society has forgotten or overlooked. Those like me.

I look at the world around me and wonder how do women of colour continue? Every day is a battle to hold ourselves upright in a society that’s trying to push us over, flatten us and extinguish our fires. The world never tires of telling us we are irrelevant, unimportant and have no value. But we continue to blaze.

And I hear the fires of those women, their pain, their cries of anger when they are threatened, their frustration at being marginalised – and their endurance. And all of this I devote to my work. To my voice.

So, the story of Not Bound Within is about Venus, a young Black woman, in the middle of a crisis. She is fighting with the world and feels she is losing. She is in the darkest of places and we can all relate to this, because at some time in our lives we have been there. Those feelings of helplessness, vulnerability and loneliness are overwhelming. And in Venus’s intense state of mind, the Hottentot Venus – Saartjie Baartman appears. An African woman who was exhibited as a ’freak’ in the early 1800’s and who is an important historical character from Black British History whose legacy still resonates today.

What follows is a story of sexual degradation and economic exploitation, as these two women Venus and Saartjie battle with their pasts, present and their unknown futures.

Why choose theatre?

It chose me. As a mixed race child growing up in Gravesend, Kent with my devout church-going Jamaican mother I was painfully shy. I didn’t speak to anybody, didn’t look anybody in the eye and never spoke up. My mother took me to a Saturday morning drama class – hoping that I would find a little confidence, I suppose. When she came to collect me, she asked the tutor how I’d been. He explained that I hadn’t moved from the safety spot of hiding behind the red curtains for the whole of the class!

I discovered the world of theatre as a shy bully-fodder teenager, who tried to fit in and to my embarrassment and subsequent shame, didn’t succeed. My mother had moved us to London and when I was at Eltham Green School I began to find my voice. I was invited to join the Bob Hope Theatre, now known as Eltham Little Theatre, and performed in Bertolt Brecht’s The Caucasian Chalk Circle with Jude Law. We were as shy as each other. And I remember choosing drama as one of my GCSE options because I was fed up of being bullied, having very little confidence and wanting more. I guess I became fed up of hiding behind the red velvet curtains.

Finding an outlet for my voice is a huge part of this journey and my writing is central. Not Bound Within is a multi-layered encounter which demands to be placed centre stage. It is layered with intricate characters that delight and frustrate, poetic language which absorbs its audience into its cosmos and reveals fascinating themes which entertain, disturb and affect.

I write who I am and place it on stage. Reflected in my writing you see me, a complex and fascinating woman who chooses to exposes her vulnerabilities initially on the page and through collaboration onto the stage.

And then I sit back and watch my magic unfurl. The spell of an actor as she wrestles with the intricacies of poetry and decides to reveal the character’s vulnerabilities, the director’s conjuring as they imbue the themes with their knowledge and decide to take a chance.

And finally the audience. Who have chosen to not have an easy night of nice and gentle theatre but have entered into an agreement, a pact of exchanging, to sit for the duration and see where this fun fair ride takes them.

A genuine voice?

My writing has begun to develop a responsive audience who share with me their feeling of empowerment, seeing stories about Black women, written by a Black woman and performed by Black women in the theatre.

Over the years, I have heard the Black community say to me theatre is not for them and it’s so disheartening. Before she died, I took my mother to see James Baldwin’s, the Amen Corner at the National Theatre and she looked around at the audience and commented, saying how it was full of white people. I smiled and reassured her, saying there will be more on stage but welcome to my world. She loved the show. She joined in with the scripture quotations, the hymns and the Amen’s. But she was right, it was full of white people.

Many Black women feel alienated from the Arts and believe theatre is not for them. So, my work has to continue engaging all women of colour because they have told me they are desperate to see themselves on stage – desperate to see women from their own backgrounds telling their stories, desperate to be a voice which is heard in the theatre.

Our history is either erased or told by others and yet theatre is made for telling everybody’s story. That’s what I’m told and I believe it. My route to the stage was not conventional and for that, I feel slightly behind in the race. I was never any good at sports! We all know the cross-country stories. But I’m in this race forever. Theatre is my world. It is a craft I have developed and continue to share with others. As a writer and actor, a young actors director and drama educational specialist.

So, I must tell these stories because the audiences are there and are just waiting for my invitation!

Not Bound Within is at Canada Water Theatre on Wednesday 11 October, 7.30pm

Tickets are £5 and can be bought here.

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Story Jam: The tale of Phil Okwedy and The London Shanty Collective

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A man in a furry suit lead to October’s Story Jam. It’s not often you can say that! Earlier this year, alongside Kate and Ben from the Crick Crack Club, we made a Wild Concert at the Wellcome Collection. Choirs, storytellers, clanging bells, strange creatures roaming the audience – it was quite a night!

When one of the men performing that night as a (very) Wild Man told us he also sings in a shanty choir, our ears pricked up. And when the Albany asked us to do something for Black History Month we knew we could do something unique, right at the heart of our Reel & Unravel Season. We’ve invited Welsh Nigerian storyteller Phil Okwedy and The London Shanty Collective to tell the stories and sing the songs from our shared history: those who were bought, sold and sailed across the ocean, and the truth that binds us all. Let’s go to deep places together.

We hope you will come, we hope you will spread the word, tell your friends and bring them along to Canada Water. Please note Canada Water Theatre is in the modern Library building right beside Canada Water tube. Book Here

 

ROUGH CROSSINGS

Phil Okwedy and The London Shanty Collective

Thursday 19 October | 7.30pm

Canada Water Theatre, Canada Water Library

In the passage from life to death, it is seldom plain sailing and often the final destination is not what was bargained for. In stories of empire, the terrifying experience of the passage on the slave ship is known but largely ignored. Imagine, then, a story in which the suffering of the middle passage leads to the triumph of a final return home. A profound, reflective and powerful night of tales that are particular and universal.

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