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- Perspectives on Literary and Linguistic Theory Part 2 Linguistic Theory
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- Perspectives in Literary and Linguistic Theory Part 1. Critical Theory.
- Poem of the Month 2016-2020
- Tom and Harry
- Margery Kempe
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- The Merchant of Bristol (my 4th poetry collection)...
- Britain's Dreaming (my 3rd poetry collection) - Fr...
- Poem of the Month 2007-2015
- A Job To Remember
- The Merchant of Lynn's Tale
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January 20, 2014
Cromwell’s Talking Head, a dramatic monologue by Gareth Calway. Lively rehearsed reading in the horrible history genre aimed at the naughty kid in all of us. But it's all true - Cromwell the king-killer really was dug up from his 'royal' grave at the Restoration and his head stuck on a traitor's pole for 25 years. Cromwell’s severed head tells his ghastly story of civil war and regicide to a modern grave robber. You’ll laugh your head off!
Cromwell's Talking Head by Norfolk author Gareth Calway Oliver Cromwell’s House, 29 St Mary’s St, Ely CB7 4HF - Thursday, January 30, 2014. Ticket info 01353 662062 www.olivercromwellshouse.co.uk East Cambridgeshire Tourist Office says, "Join us on the anniversary of Cromwell’s grisly exhumation for a guided tour of his former home followed by a lively reading of a dramatic monologue. Hear the real story of what happened to the great man’s beheaded corpse. 2 pm. £7.50 includes glass of Cromwell cider."
Cromwell’s Talking Head plus, a dramatic monologue by Gareth Calway. Cromwell’s horrible history told by his severed head! Includes a bonus talk on the Siege of Lynn, 1643. Two gigs:
The Gin Trap, Ringstead, Norfolk, Friday 31 January. £5. Starts 7.30. Ticket info 01485 571828 www.garethcalway.co.uk
Great Massingham Social Club, Norfolk, Monday 3 February. £5. Members free. Starts 7.30. Ticket info 01485 571828 www.garethcalway.co.uk
Filled the 'Folkpot' room at Great Massingham with the artistic and intellectual flower of West Norfolk (3 pictured of 23 present). Expert questions after the talk - a real debate with real people engaged with the issues - in a fun atmosphere and lots of naughty kid laughter during the monologue. A splendid time had by all and a small party to follow - not bad for a cold Monday night in February!
Jurnet's Bar, Wensum Lodge, Wednesday 5 February 9.30 pm. Donation box only. Bar. Info 01485 571828. (as part of regular 8 pm-10.30 pm Storytelling event run by Dave Tong www.theyarnsmithofnorwich.com)
New territory - in the history-burdened bowels of the big city among ye guild of dedicated storytellers and with Cromwell comically at odds with the set theme of the evening - dragon tales (from all cultures, Nordic, Japanese, Beowulf etc) - but you could hear a pun drop in the silence. I sportingly contributed an impassioned Worm to the first half - dramatic verse done as one man theatre is not quite storytelling either. Had some generous feedback though.
News Release from East Cambridgeshire District Council 21 January
What did happen to Oliver Cromwell’s body?
This January, Oliver Cromwell House will be the place to learn about what really happened to the former Lord Protector’s beheaded corpse.
‘Cromwell’s Talking Head’ on Thursday 30 January at 2pm, visitors to the tourist venue will be taken on a guided tour of the House followed by a dramatic monologue from Norfolk author Gareth Calway.
Gareth will explain how the body was buried in the manner of a king only to be exhumed after the Restoaration to be hung, drawn and quartered with the head put on the traitor’s pole over Westminister Hall for 25 years.
The mystery of what happened next is then told in vivd detail as Cromwell’s remains were hidden in various locations, presented at freaks shows and became the source of a terrible curse before finally being laid to rest at Sideny Sussex College in Cambridge.
Tracey Harding, Team Leader Tourism and Town Centre Services at East Cambridgeshire District Council, said: “It is wonderful to have Gareth Calway come back to tell his fascinating monologue of what happened to Oliver Cromwell’s corpse after it was exhumed during the reign of Charles II. What adds to the colour of the talk is knowing it is all based as far as possible on historical fact – it reminds us all that we have much to learn from the behaviour of our ancestors.”
Tickets are priced at £7.50 includes which includes a glass of Cromwell cider. For more information call 01353 662062 or visit www.visitely.org.uk.
Notes for editors
For further information contact Tony Taylorson in the Communications Team on 01223 699285.
PRESS RELEASE JANUARY 20 2014.
'Cromwell's Talking Head' is a lively rehearsed reading of 25 minutes, with a bit of Celtic drum. It was the first ever spoken word hosted by Ely Folk Festival last August (picture attached), officially judged as 'wonderful' and went down well in a hot marquee to eighty plus people.
It is in the horrible history genre and aimed at the naughty kid in all of us. But it's all true - Cromwell the king-killer really was dug up from his 'royal' grave at the Restoration, hung, drawn, quartered and his head stuck on a traitor's pole for 25 years. After centuries of adventures in freaks shows and dodgy museums, bits nicked by trophy hunters, and carrying a legendary curse, the head was authenticated by cranial detectives and in 1960 secretly buried at his old college in Cambridge University. Secretly in case drunken royalist students dig him up again! In the monologue, the head tells the ghastly story and the story of the Civil War to a young grave robber who has dug up more than he bargained for. It's funny, informative and not that comfortable for royal ears. You’ll laugh your head off!
PRESS RELEASE Jan 15 2014
CROMWELL’S TALKING HEAD RETURNS TO OLIVER CROMWELL’S HOUSE
As Head of State, Oliver, emulating his Tudor ancestor Thomas, oversaw an English Revolution centuries ahead of his time and raised English prestige abroad to its highest level between Agincourt and Trafalgar (400 years). Yet within three years of ‘royal’ burial, he was disgraced and spat upon. Only in Victorian times was there a national revival of respect/campaign for a statue outside the Parliament he did so much to advance. (Queen Victoria refused assent.) Gareth’s monologue has been described as "A triumph of narration and vocal colour" (Radio drama reviews) and as an "Interesting and lively new take on Cromwell" (Cromwell House) Surprising facts about Oliver – like his tolerance – will emerge. Cromwell’s Talking Head has a twice-yearly residency at Oliver Cromwell’s house marking Oliver’s posthumous execution (Jan 30) and ‘lucky day’ (Sep 3.)
An exciting partnership with ex-Mayor of Lynn and now deputy lord lieutenant of Norfolk Dr Paul Richards (author of the documentary history of King’s Lynn) is planned for next September 3 at Marriott’s Warehouse. This partnership will combine Calway’s monologue with some context from Dr Richards about Cromwell’s securing of King’s Lynn for the Parliamentary cause in 1643, against the intrigues of Thomas Gurlyn, Dr Richards’ mayoral predecessor – and a covert royalist - at that time. Meanwhile, at Ringstead and Massingham, Cromwell’s Talking Head is preceded by the author’s own talk on The Siege of Lynn 1643.
http://www.edp24.co.uk/norfolk-life/norfolk-history/17_jurnet_s_house_1_214362 Fascinating history of this house. Owned by Jews until the latter's expulsion from England for 400 years until - yes - Cromwell welcomed them back. Later owned by the famous Pastons. Dripping with history and atmosphere.
The Siege of Lynn 1643. Feature article published in the Eastern Daily Press Friday 24 January
The Siege of Lynn 1643
Less Puritan than Yarmouth or Norwich and with more active Cavaliers in its backwoods, King’s Lynn was the only place in Norfolk where Civil War blood was shed or gunfire heard. And if the Earl of Newcastle’s Royalist force had relieved the town, it might have turned war and country king-wards.
The Siege of 1643 is the whole war in microcosm: Cavalier audacity; Parliamentary accountability; a divided populace (tending to Parliament) above all united in devout wish for harvest, trade, peace over plunder, billeting, destruction.
And introducing one Colonel Cromwell, typically chastising his then superiors to greater efforts. ‘If I could speak words to pierce your hearts with the sense of our and your condition, I would… If somewhat be not done …you will see Newcastle’s army march up into your bowels.’
And an explosive September 3, ominous date of all Cromwell’s decisive victories, and his death.
Both of Lynn’s two MPs supported Parliament. Yet ‘Lynn Regis’ bears the (temporary) distinction – or stigma - of being the only Royalist town in Eastern England.
Charles I needed a strong fleet: the Civil War was partly triggered by his levies of Ship Money on a reluctant population. Losing London to Parliament was a blunder; losing the East-based navy began to seem like fecklessness. So he needed Lynn: chief exporter of the region’s corn; favoured port of entry to the eastern counties and import-supplier to ten counties (and London).
Parliament grasped this vital strategic importance of Lynn as a gateway between Royalist North and Parliamentary East and South. It instructed the town to keep armed men on its walls and by January 1642 gunpowder had been stored at Market Cross, St Anne’s Fort, Trinity Hall and Red Mount.
The Parliament-tending corporation prepared defences and sent out for an engineer to repair those walls. Drawbridges were set up at the east and south gates. Ironically, all of this would be seized by Royalists and used against the Parliamentary army in 1643.
The Royalist gentry of west Norfolk put pressure on Charles I sympathisers in the corporation. In spring 1643, Cromwell rushed from subduing mild Royalist unrest at Lowestoft to order the Mayor of Lynn to arrest ‘13 local gentlemen’ regarded as threats, orders duly carried out in May. They managed to escape – or were allowed to while sympathisers within the corporation, including the covertly Royalist Mayor, looked the other way.
Enter the dashing Hamon L’Estrange of Hunstanton Hall, a sexagenarian Cavalier living in the grand style with expensive tastes; expensive sons running up debts; eighteen servants (including a falconer and a fool) and a black marble floor in his stables. Supported by Sir Richard Hovell of Hillington and the Morduants of Massingham - encouraged by the Yelvertons of Rougham and the Pastons at Appleton - he now led a Town Hall coup, declaring himself on 13 August ‘governor of Lynn for the king’.
The borough’s two MPs, John Percival and Thomas Toll, were put under house arrest.
Parliament’s Eastern Association appointed the Earl of Manchester to retake the town and was scorned by the royalist press as having ‘as much hope of Heaven’s gate as to enter Lynn.’ The Puritans, as always, took this rebuke at its Word. Cromwell and Manchester lambasted the committees of the Eastern Association for ‘more arms, more troops, more supplies.’ Trust in God and keep your powder dry.
A siege brewed. An August entry in the record of the civic authorities notes that ‘a great company of strangers are now come to the Burgh’ and must be resisted. The 8000 strong Eastern Association army blockaded Lynn on land. Warwick’s Roundhead warships patrolled the Wash: only one Royalist ship carrying vital supplies sneaked through to the town, using fake signals and being fired on by blank rounds as part of a well-worked deception.
Ironically, the strong fortifications and well-equipped garrison established by Parliament now stood firm against it, ordnance turned towards land rather than sea by ‘strangers’ from west Norfolk. Were they loyalists or traitors?
To one besieging Roundhead captain they were a ‘wicked crew… enemies to God and Parliament …malignants and recusants…’ bankrolled by L’Estrange (who faced possible financial ruin if his enemies controlled Norfolk) with ‘a thousand pounds out of his own purse’ and (whose) ungodly strength... (‘1200 muskets, 500 barrels of gunpowder with bullet unanswerable, and three or four troops of horse…’) was only beatable because they were ‘cowardly Cavaliers’ without ‘the strength of the Lord.’
Cromwell ordered a new battery of cannon to move into position at West Lynn, his last local action before galloping north with a (siege-weakening) detachment of horse and dragoons for a pre-emptive strike at Newcastle.
The hope was to bombard the town – or rather a west Norfolk gentry who had seized leadership of its citizens - into submission, without the need of an assault.
One ‘eighteen pound’ cannonball notoriously smashed through the west window of St Margaret’s on Sunday September 3, ‘took the middle pillar a great part of, and broke it in a hundred pieces, dispersing them all over the church.’ ‘The people departed in a most confused manner….some leaving their hats, some their books, and some their scarves.’
Shot and granados flew daily into Tuesday Market Place, causing few casualties but much psychological damage. Houses and property were damaged and abandoned and the shrieks of women and children carried well beyond the town walls: a war of terror.
Death counts vary. One contemporary account suggests ‘above eighty … on both sides’ though parish registers record just two soldiers buried at St Margaret’s during the weeks of the siege and one at St Nicholas’s.
Routes south and east and fresh water supplies from the Gaywood River to the north were cut off. Manchester was within musket shot by September 7th.
The garrison dug in and waited for Newcastle. He never came. It made gallant sallies out: attempting to capture ‘3-400 beefs’ bound for Setchey Market; burning an almshouse known as the Hospital in the nearby village of Gaywood to prevent besiegers taking up quarters there, and meeting every summons to surrender with Cavalier bravado.
Meanwhile the local economy choked and the town feared ruin, even destruction. Boats for a river assault, ladders for scaling the walls and a force of 8000 men were all in place. Despite the derring do-and-die-hard-ism among some Royalists, when Manchester sent word that women and children should be sent out of the town - prior to a general assault on 16 September - an honourable surrender was agreed ‘not as fearing the taking of the town but to avoid the effusion of blood.’ The gun barrage over the sluggish Ouse ceased, sudden silence informing villages and farms to east and west the siege was over.
Or almost. A grumbling appendix of garrison offence required one further show of force– along with a farcical (though to Manchester’s rustic soldiery, dismaying) ‘two hour wrangle at the gate, in the darkness of the summer night’ amid harrowing cries of ‘Give fire!’ Men died in the confusion.
Next day, Manchester’s troops marched into Tuesday Market Place through streets lined only with women and established his HQ at the house of deposed MP Thomas Toll (who had escaped house-arrest several days earlier though a window.) The Earl ordered a thanksgiving service for the peaceful end of the siege, and sermons for the townspeople each morning.
Royalist arms were seized; leaders arrested. After a parley lasting many hours, and a pause for dinner, Hamon L’Estrange was held liable for all damages caused and his estates and property in west Norfolk sequestrated. His gamble on the fortunes of war miscarried, though he was still able to divide a considerable estate between his sons on his death in the Cromwellian England of 1653. The ‘gentlemen strangers’ were told to leave town, though keeping their horses, swords and pistols. A general amnesty was agreed and Lynn’s Parliament-tending, make-trade-not-war townspeople got their desired end.
For the next year, until the war moved west and south on the growing Parliament tide, Lynn became the front line garrison-town of the Eastern Association and major munitions store of Parliament forces.
Sources: RW Ketton-Cremer ‘Norfolk In The Civil War’; P. Richards ‘King’s Lynn’; Susan Yaxley ‘The Siege of King’s Lynn’.
Gareth Calway’s winter tour of ‘Cromwell’s Talking Head’ (a dramatic monologue by Cromwell’s severed head) comes to Oliver Cromwell’s House, Ely, Jan 30 2 pm (info 01353 662062), The Gin Trap Inn, Ringstead,* Jan 31, 7.30 pm; Great Massingham Social Club,* Feb 3, 7.30 pm and Jurnet’s Bar, Norwich, Feb 5, 9.30 pm (info 01485 571828) * = includes a talk on The Siege of Lynn.
January 15, 2014
Fr Peter Rollins
Pilgrimage and the Port of Lynn
Marriott’s Warehouse Sunday 27 October
Fr Rollins wore his office lightly for this well-attended and captivating talk, joshing late arrivals across a creaky Warehouse floor ‘Catholics - always late for Mass!’ - and, over the clangour of someone’s mobile, ‘if that’s the Pope, I’m unavailable.’
Celtic Lynn, meaning ‘lake’ or ‘pool’, attracted visitors to its magical lowland confluence of water, sky and earth: like a sacred Blackpool.
The Walsingham connection began after the Norman lady Richeldis de Faverches, inspired by a vision of the Virgin Mary there in 1061, built a replica of the Holy House, hence England’s Nazareth.
Pilgrims arrived by sea in Lynn Episcopacy (Bishop’s Lynn) with its skyline of five imposing friaries and giant harbourside Cross before staying at the ‘motorway service stations’ of the age - the monasteries – and flourishing Inns along the marathon walk to Walsingham. Rollins explained that Church-licenced, uniformed pilgrims did not always behave in a penitential manner, and ‘football crowd’ Ave Maria chants drew complaints. The unworldly and disorientated (many from overseas) were also mercilessly fleeced by locals.
The entire industry stopped in 1537 (until 1897) with Thomas Cromwell’s concerns: to maintain Henry VIII’s financial independence (by ‘acquiring’ monastic wealth) and end idolatry associated with holy sites. This change was brutally enforced and the 12 plumbers, masons and others (concerned for their livelihoods as much as their Faith) who reopened Richeldis’s shrine were hanged, drawn and quartered, two in Lynn. No others tried.
A fascinating insight.The Bricks of Burston
Fakenham Community Centre
100 years ago, the parson of Burston, Norfolk, drove Annie and Tom Higdon out of his county school and started the longest strike in trade union history.
The set is a convincing Edwardian classroom with attention focused on the nondescript door. In a fine moment of theatre, the audience realises the three compellingly-acted characters are trapped together in limbo.
Annie and Tom’s relationship is explored best through the story of the strike itself, which pitches dynamic chapel egalitarianism against landowning establishment and church.
Tom is a born fighter, defeating the parson (who runs the village) in a local election; Annie just wants to teach and fears to alienate their patron.
Their marital rows are as convincing as their shared belief that every child, however low-born (Tom himself is labourer’s son) deserves an education to make dreams come true, not just a training for servitude.
The NUT advises Annie to smile in court. The children strike on her behalf. Workers from all over the world send money and bricks to build an alternative school.
Alex Helm’s parson is a study of unctuous complacency challenged by a changing society and a gradual agonising self-awareness that he hates his own God.
EDP Reviews are print only so I reproduce them here.
Rich Hall. King’s Lynn Corn Exchange. Wednesday 15 May.
There was a midweek stir about King’s Lynn as American stand up king of cuss Rich Hall drew a near-capacity crowd. Hall is not as barbed as some TV comedy stars – his jokes at the expense of the audience’s town were balanced with an expressed affection for Norfolk, if not for the London he has chosen to live, the Essex he says America started out from or the next town on his tour. Armed only with words - including an F word that became part of the rhythm of his delivery - he held this audience for over two hours, often making them the butt of his jokes, when he wasn’t bringing up to date Wilde’s quip that ‘We have everything in common with America nowadays, except of course language ’ with observations on armed US schoolteachers, English cobblers cutting keys and buttoned-up Englishmen not showing their appreciation. This audience showed it with chortles, claps, cheery heckling and whistles.
And then there were guitars: had Rich gone pop? No, though his strum-n-growl improvisations of audience stories– even persuading Nigel in row 2 to propose to Ellie!- added variety. And he did finish the evening singing a searing satire on Dylan.
KIng's Lynn Festival 2013
Laura van der Heijden (cello) and the European Union Chamber Orchestra, St Nicholas’s Chapel, King’s Lynn.
Apt that this King’s Lynn Festival concert began with the work of a 16-year-old prodigy, Mozart, as another, winner of BBC Young Musician 2012, was the star of several pieces, notably Haydn’s Cello Concerto No 1 in C Major. Early Mozart and Haydn is sometimes dismissed as ‘decorative’ – technically gifted but lacking the personal expression and mature emotion of later works - but you may as well accuse the air of heaven on a July evening of lacking gravity. And in any case, the beautiful adagio of the Cello Concerto held heart-strung emotion which the soloist handled with sublime ease before showing her mastery of the fraught final movement. Bridge of Sighs for solo cello and strings composed by Tom Waits, another (relative) youngster, present in this audience, carried a gentle breath of his workplace - St John’s College, Cambridge - into the warmest air St Nicholas’s can have known for many a summer, the work’s accessible modernity aided by its homage to a Monteverdi madrigal. To finish, the elegiac melodies of Grieg and dancing airs of Respighi left the audience charmed. Gareth Calway
Courtney Pine. Corn Exchange, King’s Lynn.
The musical diversity at this year’s King’s Lynn Festival is extraordinary – distinguished orchestras and conductors, bright new stars of classical music and, with Courtney Pine and his six piece band, a surprising new take on modern jazz
Jazz musicians always look cool. These guys looked Jamaican-cool. And as the dreadlocked Pine explains, it is the exciting rhythms, warmth and joyous improvisation of Jamaica that drives them. Led up, down and all over the scales by Pine’s soprano sax and EWI, the tight fusions of drums, steel drums, dual guitars and stripped-down bass take us on a helter-skelter of meringue, ska, mento, calypso and freestyle. ‘What is that tune?’ Pine enquires, ‘accidentally’ finding Take Five - though we were never allowed to stay in the comfort zone of a standard tune for long.
The virtuosity of each player also emerges in breathtaking solos – generously framed for the audience in dumb show of respect by the ever-genial Pine.
It is music as interaction that interests him most, dance music for the heart and this two-thirds capacity crowd joyfully responded throughout. By the end, it was on its feet, clapping, singing, making its own festival. Gareth Calway
The Benyounes Quartet. Town Hall, King’s Lynn.
These dynamic and elegant young players, judged best performers at the International Sador Vegh String Quartet Competition in Budapest and in receipt of four other prizes in 2012 including Best interpretation of Bartok, got the King’s Lynn Festival programme of coffee concerts off to an impressive start. Three recalls to the stage by a capacity Monday morning audience continuing to exclaim its approval as it filed out down the antique steps speaks for itself.
After paying its respects to the teenage Schubert’s String Quartet in E Flat major, the group tackled a new work by Tim Watts - present in this audience –inspired by a poem by Sylvia Plath. They daringly reversed Plath’s technique, successfully turning her crisp musical metaphors into actual music.
The intense closeness of the ensemble playing was evident to both eye and ear throughout and nowhere more than in the Slavonic folk tunes and dance rhythms of Dvorak’s String Quartet in E Flat. In each movement, the young players explored something fresh , tender or exuberant, or all at once, flowing seamlessly from fast polka rhythms through lyrical andante to joyous melody and showing a collective mastery of all.
Blazin’ Fiddles. Guildhall , King’s Lynn
‘We’ll start with a shet of reels from Setland.’ Not an easy sentence for a Highlander to say in a heat this traditional six-piece fiddle, guitar and keyboard band grinned about throughout – mentioning hot tubs and cocoa as their interval treat - but belied all evening by the fluency of the playing.
This King’s Lynn Festival event drew a different capacity crowd from those at the classical music and modern jazz concerts and it applauded the full range of Highland and Island stories, from jumping rhythms calling to the feet to the Jacobite lament and other pieces truly touching the heart. Each player - except the keyboard player who let his foregrounded syncopating rhythms and bearded smile do the talking - had a distinct tartan story to tell in spoken introductions then on a fiddle, redolent of late nights reeling towards dawn.
The solo virtuosity and ensemble of fiddles, keyboard and the acoustic guitar, thrashed with a rhythmic folk subtlety often lost as a lead instrument in amplified rock, had us clapping and jigging to this ceilidh-in-seats, in the truly warmed-up second half. A festival of British diversity in all its glory. Gareth Calway.
You look Familiar! The Familiars at Folkspot
FAIRPORT JUST KEEP ON ROCKING
p.32 EDP Monday 17 February
Princess Theatre, Hunstanton
Fairport are The Great Revisiters: old songs, grand old venues, grey longhaired audiences mirroring those onstage. The tour album By Popular Request (2012) revisits 45 years of fan-voted masterpieces. Tonight’s audience revisits young, gifted, wild 1967, proud to have been there.
Fairport wear their instrumental virtuosity like their motley clothes – casually: musicians not rock-stars.
Sole original member Simon Nicol denies Fairport ‘beat a drum for folk-rock’ - ‘we absorb some folk tradition’ into rock. But rock is heritage now too - vintage Sandy Denny and Richard Thompson songs are highlights.
Fairport also re-invent via sell-out evergreen winter tours (this is their 30th in a row); showcases for new acts (Edwina Hayes, a singer worthy of Sandy); their Cropredy festival and a host of new songs in which their creative phoenix burns on:
A billion dollar mandolin
Won’t play a bluegrass tune.
An unwanted novelty was Peggy, Fairport’s stage-clown bassist, chatting out front pre-show nursing a bandaged hand. Surely a joke? But Fairport have a long tradition of replacing the irreplaceable: Pegg Jnr impressively deputised, though hearts lifted when Andy-capped Dad grinned onstage for vocal duties.
The ensemble playing is, as always, vibrant, creative, soaring. And everyone sings.
See also: Fairport in a storm. http://garethcalway.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/fairport-on-ice-in-north-sea.html">interview with Fairport Convention's Dave Pegg http://www.lynnnews.co.uk/what-s-on/lifestyle-leisure/dave-pegg-heading-back-to-norfolk-this-summer-we-always-look-forward-to-our-hunstanton-gigs-1-5951558
Jesus Christ Superstar
KLODS. Guildhall, King’s Lynn
The iconoclastic 1969 rock opera is recharged with contemporary energy, the hippy apostles re-imagined as anti-capitalist indignados of 2011. Peter Yates’ agitated Judas is Parka and booted against Jesus’s dazzling crown-of-thorn T shirt ‘summer of love’ and Sara-Jane Brennock’s heart-singing, free-loving, it-will-end-in-tears Mary Magdalene. The overture’s witty montage of celebrity Jesus counter-culture newspaper stories is an inspired touch. The music drives the production, an amplified heartbeat of fervour, sorrow, agony and passion over the exuberant hippy-Mama choruses. Always tricky to ‘play God’ – James Golder does it handsomely from idealist youth to crucifying experience. Peter is sung with piercing beauty; Simon with conviction. Judas, Rice’s alternative human antagonist in Peter’s stead, sings from a broken heart throughout and storms the gates of heaven with the show hit Jesus Christ Superstar, in which he post-suicidally emerges in a hell-tongued Rolling Stones T shirt and bomber jacket, amid dancing flames. The dark-glassed Sanhedrin is ‘wickedly’ costumed and sung, Caiaphas bass and dominitrix Priest awesome. The theatrical set pieces – Judas’s suicide, Jesus’s flogging and crucifixion, are lit, directed and played brilliantly. There is not a false step or note in this sexy all-singing all-dancing operatic triumph.
The latest- SHARP Sedgeford Historical Archaeolgical Research Project 2014 season-here
http://garethcalway.blogspot.co.uk/2013/09/historic-gem-set-for-bright-future-my.html (EDP but only online via my blog)