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2005

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The Clowns Magic Flute Tonight: Lola Blau  

The Clowns

Revival of Leoncavallo’s I Pagliacci (The Clowns) production for 6 singers and an orchestra of 4 with orchestral arrangement by Cameron Sinclair. 3-phase education residency with 12,000 school children from 74 schools in 9 London boroughs.

 

   
Participating Schools: ACS Cobham International School, Cobham, Surrey; Aldbury C/E Primary School, Tring, Herts: Alexandra Park Secondary School, Haringey; All Saints Primary School, Netheravon, Wilts; Ashley Primary School, Walton-on-Thames, Surrey; Aylward Secondary School, Enfield; Barnet Hill Primary School, Barnet; Bell Farm Primary School, Walton-on-Thames, Surrey; Bell Lane Primary School, Barnet; Brecknock Primary School, Camden; Brettenham Primary School, Enfield; Brockswood Primary School, Hemel Hempstead, Herts; Brookfield Primary School, Camden; Bruce Grove Primary School, Haringey; Brunswick Park Primary School, Barnet; Campsbourne Junior School, Haringey; Cardinal Newman Primary School, Walton-on-Thames, Surrey; Chandlers Field Primary School, West Molesley, Surrey; Chapmanslade Primary School, Westbury, Wilts; Chirton C/E Primary School, Devizes, Wilts; Christ Church Bentinck Primary School, Westminster; Christopher Hatton Primary School, Camden; Claremont Fan Court Primary School, Esher, Surrey; Cleves Primary School, Weybridge, Surrey; College Park Special School, Westminster; Coppetts Wood, Barnet; Cromer Road Primary School, Barnet; East Barnet Secondary School Barnet; Edward Wilson Primary School, Westminster; Eleanor Palmer Primary School, Camden; Fleecefield Primary School, Enfield; Fleet Primary School, Camden; George Street Primary School, Hemel Hempstead, Herts; Great Bedwyn Primary School, Marlborough, Wilts; Hardenhuish Secondary School Chippenham, Wilts; Hazelbury Infant School, Enfield; Hazelbury Junior School, Enfield; Highgate Wood Secondary School, Haringey; Hollickwood Primary School, Barnet; Holy Trinity C/E Primary School, Camden; Holy Trinity Primary School, Barnet; Hornsey School for Girls, Haringey; Ivy Lane Primary School, Chippenham, Wilts; Kentish Town Primary School, Camden; King’s Lodge Primary School, Chippenham, Wilts; Lancasterian Primary School, Haringey; Lyneham Junior School, Chippenham, Wilts; Manorside Primary School, Barnet; Martin Junior Primary School, Barnet; Martindale Primary School, Hemel Hempstead, Herts; Nightingale Primary School, Haringey; Oakthorpe Primary School, Enfield; Our Lady of Dolours Primary School, Westminster; Our Lady of Muswell Primary School, Haringey; Queen’s Crescent Primary School, Chippenham, Wilts; Raynham Primary School, Enfield; South Hill Primary School, Hemel Hempstead, Herts; St Albans C/E Primary School, Camden; St Albert the Great Primary School, Hemel Hempstead, Herts; St Andrews Primary School, Cobham, Surrey; St Anns C/E Primary School, Haringey; St Charles Borromeo Primary School, Weybridge, Surrey; St Cuthbert Mayne Primary School, Gadebridge, Herts; St Eugene de Mazenod Primary School, Camden; St George the Martyr Primary School, Camden; St James C/E Primary School, Haringey; St James CE Primary School, Weybridge, Surrey; St John and St James C/E Primary, Enfield; St Lawrence Primary School, West Molesley, Surrey; St Paul’s Primary School, Kings Langley, Herts; St Pauls RC Primary School, Thames Ditton, Surrey; St. Joseph’s Primary School, Barnet; Stamford Hill Primary School, Haringey; Tetherdown Primary School, Haringey; The George Ward Secondary School, Melksham, Wilts; The Hyde Primary School, Barnet; The Mead Primary School, Trowbridge, Wilts; Two Waters Primary School, Hemel Hempstead, Herts; Wessex Gardens Primary School, Barnet; West Lea Special School, Enfield; Westwood With Iford Primary School, Bradford on Avon, Wilts; Whitings Hill Primary School, Barnet; Wilbury Primary School, Enfield; Worton and Marston Primary School, Devizes, Wilts;
Cast Mark Holland (Tonio); Edmund Connelly (Silvio); Natalie Raybould, Alison Daniels (Nedda); Ronald Samm, Daniel Meades (Canio); Darren Fox (Beppe); Sarah Estill, Alison Daniels (Rosina).
Orchestra: Duncan Robertson (Piano); Helen Paskins (Clarinets); Kai Hoffmann (Horn); Vanessa Lucas-Smith (Cello).
Animateurs Jo Allitt, Patrick Davey (Drama Workshop Leaders); Lucy Algar (Art Workshop Leaders); Cameron Sinclair, Zara Nunn, Michael Roulston (Music Workshop Leaders).
Artistic Team Sian Edwards (Guest Conductor); Mark Tinkler (Director); Annabel Lee (Designer); Duncan Robertson (Music Director); Glen Snowdon (Choreographer); Eleanor Salter (Assistant Director).
Partners Barnet Excellence Cluster; Hertfordshire Music Service; Surrey County Arts; RC Sheriff Rosebriars Trust; Wiltshire Music Service.
Supporters Arts Council England; Xchanging; Sir William Boreman’s Foundation
Venues Old Town Hall Theatre, Hemel Hempstead, Herts; Millfield Theatre, Edmonton, London; Vera Fletcher Hall, Thames Ditton, Surrey; Wiltshire Music Centre, Bradford-upon Avon; Cochrane Theatre, London.

 

“This was a truly valuable experience for my Year 5 class, and the rest of the juniors who took part in the workshop; It has broadened the children’s horizons.  All schools should be offered this experience.”

Deputy Headteacher and Year 5 Teacher @ Netheravon All Saints Primary School, Wiltshire

“The hardest thing I tried was when I was out there acting to try and sing and not to smile at my mum or dad or laugh because I was so happy. Mark my words I’d love to do it again. I enjoyed it all there’s nothing to complain about.”

Danielle, Year 5, St. Albert the Great Primary School, Hemel Hempstead

“My favourite part was when Nedda kicked Pagliaccio on the bum and when we were onstage acting.”

Meryem, Year 3, Coppetts Wood Primary School, Barnet

“When we performed the play I was gobsmacked because I actually knew all of my words and where I was standing. I wish we could do a performance in Year Six.”

Thomas, 5C, Manorside Primary School, Barnet

“It was fantastic. All the staff have said that it’s the best ever workshop we’ve had in school.”

Music Coordinator, St. Andrews Primary School, Surrey

“Fantastic – money well spent.”

Headteacher, South Hill Primary School, Hemel Hempstead

“One of the most satisfying elements of the project was, I feel, the all-inclusive nature.  To see pupils who lack confidence within the classroom situation completely absorbed in the opera performances they were giving – being that Italian Villager, singing ‘Viva Pagliaccio’ – was great! It has, without doubt, done more for their confidence and personal development than one can possibly imagine. It is worth mentioning that the children from our school, who are members of the travelling community, are never permitted to participate in any events outside school. However, one such pupil’s enthusiasm was so great for the role that David had selected for her, that the travelling support team…gained permission from her family for her to attend the rehearsal and the matinee at the theatre! For the first time since she started school, she was able to be included in the extra-curricular activities of her peers. The positive effect it has had on her attitude to learning is still obvious a couple of weeks later”

Music Coordinator, St. Albert the Great Primary School, Hemel Hempstead

“The workshops were wonderful; dynamic and engaging. The children loved them.  The structure was well organised and logical. The warm-up was fun and relaxed the children, encouraging them to feel comfortable in that environment. Some of the younger children worried about the length but often forgot when they were participating. The leaders were very professional, approachable and enthusiastic, certainly encouraging the children to participate. The children from my group developed listening skills, a sense of musical discipline and working as a team.”

Year 3 Teacher, Oakthorpe Primary School, Enfield

“The workshops were well structured with clear objectives. The evaluation process was brilliant”

Year 4 Teacher, Bell Lane Primary School, Barnet


“I think as many schools as possible should benefit from these highly professional, entertaining (and educational!) performances!”

Music Teacher, Claremont Fan Court School, Surrey

“Brilliant for children – they were sorry when it finished! This has been one of the highlights of the year for us. Thank you.”

Headteacher, Lynham Junior School, Wiltshire

"With almost a quarter of a century of primary-age teaching behind her, music specialist Sarah Wickens is not an easy woman to impress. “The workshop was great fun – well structured and very well delivered. The guys that came to work with the children immediately established a great working rapport, and the way in which they supported and encouraged some of the quieter less forthcoming children was awe-inspiring”. But what impressed her most was EPOC’s all inclusive nature. “To see the academically less able pupils having the opportunity to shine was great. A couple of shy, retiring girls had a complete character change during the week”. The children’s response was universally positive."

Rhian Morgan Sept 2005. Music Teacher Magazine

"Bravo, the children shouted, Encore! The Mums in the playgrounds asked “What's been happening?” I don't think they could believe what they were seeing all these children laughing and singing. I explained what they had been doing and they were amazed the affect the experience had had on the children. I am a local Councilor and West Molesey is one of the most deprived areas in the Borough of Elmbridge and to experience something like this is great for the children, the majority of these children would never be exposed to the Arts of any kind unless it was presented to them at school"

Grandparent of participating child

 

To see pictures of this production click on the logo

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Magic Flute

 

   
Participating Schools: Barnes Cray, Primary, Bexley; Belvedere, Junior, Bexley; Business Academy, Primary, Bexley; Business Academy, Secondary, Bexley; Colyers, Primary, Bexley; Erith, Secondary, Bexley; Jubilee, Primary Bexley; Normandy Primary, Bexley; Northend Primary Bexley; Northumberland Heath Primary, Bexley; Northwood Primary, Bexley; Parkway, Primary, Bexley; Slade Green, Junior,, Bexley; St. Augustines of Canterbury CE Primary, Bexley; Brentfield Primary, Brent; Brecknock, Primary, Camden; Christ Church Primary, Camden; Eleanor Palmer Primary, Camden; Fleet, Primary, Camden; Gospel Oak, Primary, Camden; Hampstead Parochial Primary, Camden; Hawley Infants, Camden; Holy Trinity and St Silas Primary, Camden; Kentish Town Primary, Camden; Netley Primary, Camden; St Albans Primary, Camden; St George the Martyr Primary, Camden; Berger Primary, Hackney; Brook Community Primary, Hackney; Gayhurst Community Primary, Hackney; Mandeville Primary, Hackney; Our Lady & St Joseph Primary, Hackney; Parkwood, Primary, Hackney; Southwold Primary, Hackney; St John the Baptist CE Primary, Hackney; Nightingale Primary, Hackney; William Patten Primary, Haringey; Glenbrook Primary, Lambeth; Richard Atkins Primary, Lambeth; St Bede’s Infant, Lambeth; Stockwell Park Secondary School Annexe, Lambeth; Telferscot Primary, Lambeth; Edmund Waller Primary, Lewisham; John Stainer Primary, Lewisham; Monson Primary, Lewisham.
Cast Allison Bell (Queen of the Night); Caroline Childe (Pamina); Darren Fox (Tamino); Giles Davies (Papageno); Jane Harrington (Pamina); Julian Close (Sarastro); Kate Paterson (Queen of the Night, Papagenea); Merryn Gamba (Papagena); Mark Ashmore (Sarastro); Richard Edgar-Wilson (Tamino); Simon Thorpe (Papageno); Neil Kagan (Puppeteer).
Orchestra: Duncan Robertson (piano and accordion); Helen Paskins (Clarinets); Kai Hoffmann (Horn); Louise Chapman (Flute, Bassoon); Vanessa Lucas-Smith (Cello).
Animateurs Jo Allitt, Laura Hilliard (Drama Workshop Leaders); Lisa Viklund, Ruth Paton (Art Workshop Leaders); David Eaton (Pianist); Luke Green, Michael Roulston (Music Workshop Leaders).
Artistic Team Sian Edwards (Guest Conductor); Mark Tinkler (Director); Annabel Lee (Designer); Duncan Robertson (Music Director); Glen Snowdon (Choreographer); Sara Brodie (Assistant Director and choreographer).
Partners Hackney Music Service; Lewisham Education Arts Network; Southwark Excellence in Cities and Bexley Excellence Cluster; Milton Keynes Music Service; Surrey Music Service; and Milton Keynes City Orchestra.
Supporters The Sir John Cass Foundation, Peter Moores Foundation, Foyle Foundation, Xchanging
Venues Old Town Hall and West Herts College Theatre, Hemel Hempstead; the Cochrane Theatre; Hertfordshire Music Service; Broadway Theatre, Barking.

 

“Everybody said it was the most fantastic visit we have had in many years. We have been on a high all day! Thank you so much.”

R. Kirk, Deputy Head @ Rushey Green Primary School, Lewisham

“It was stunning! All the children and adults involved were thrilled by the high energy delivery, humour and of course excellent musicianship of the cast.”

Nicola Hadley, Music Specialist @ Yerbury Primary School, Islington

“This was the best afternoon session I have experienced – superb!”

Susan Murray, Head of Music @ Joseph Clarke Special School, Waltham Forest

“It was just BRILLIANT!! Very funny and interactive for everyone. It’s a fantastic approach to teaching opera! I will recommend this performance/project to other schools!!”

Marta Marino, Music Co-ordinator @ Tyssen Primary School

“I really loved the way you have incorporated children into high art – and hundreds of children at that! …… The auditorium was a hive of excited activity. I did not see a bored or disgruntled face, nor did I hear a single complaint from any child. They were loving it, and, importantly doing so naturally. With this kind of input, the future of opera as a genre is secured.”

Jennifer Lanipekun, Music Teacher @ Stockwell Park High School, Lambeth

“Very enjoyable. The sets [model boxes] looked beautiful.  The workshops were well structured with clear objectives. The evaluation process was brilliant”

Miss Sevani, Year 4 Teacher @ Bell Lane Primary School

“One of the most satisfying elements of the project was, I feel, the all-inclusive nature.  It has, without doubt, done more for their confidence and personal development than one can possibly imagine”

Sarah Wickens,  Music Coordinator @ St. Albert the Great Primary School, Hemel Hempstead

"This has been an amazing and wonderful privilege to be a part of. The children’s confidence, singing, playing of instruments, dancing, history, literacy, art – and the list could go on – have all benefited tremendously. My class had no interest in opera whatsoever and now actually like and enjoy it. Months after the production, the children still ask me if they can sing and dance. Of course I can’t refuse!"

Charlotte Boucher and Olivia Ward, Glenbrook Primary School, Lambeth

"All the boys expressed interest and inquired as to when the next workshop would take place. Even practising the songs they showed eagerness not normally present. There is a new confidence to do things in groups, which augers well for peer group activities in the classroom."

Teachers, Stockwell Park Annexe, Lambeth

“That was the best show in the whole world – better even than the coolest T.V.”

Pupil, Berger School, Hackney

"I was really grateful for taking part in the opera. Our school is so proud of us. I particularly enjoyed the animal show. Next time if you will have us again, we will be ready’. ‘My day at the opera was the best! I would love to come back next year to perform again. I enjoyed the UV lights because they make black things invisible’. “That was my first being to an opera and I would like to thank the teacher who taught us the songs and the people who cheered for us. I would like to do it again.”

Year 7 students, Stockwell Park Annexe, Lambeth

"I think The Magic Flute was EXCELLENT. The impact of our performance was great’. ‘I learnt that I am really good at singing and dancing and also I didn’t know that my class were really good at singing and dancing."

Year 5 students, St George the Martyr School, Camden

"I’ll never forget the show called The Magic Flute’. ‘I enjoyed everything, such as: seeing the characters, seeing the other children in other schools, seeing the theatre/the show and seeing the other schools’ performances’.  ‘The hardest thing I tried was to stand in front of a huge audience and sing loud. I enjoyed practising our songs and seeing the skeletons perform’. ‘There was no worst bit in it; I found it fantastic!’ ‘I will never forget Mark and his crew’."

Year 5 students, Mandeville School, Hackney

“Thank you 1,000,000,000 times for the great time I had at the theatre. It was a brilliant and memorable experience. My singing has improved a lot and my confidence has built up like a brick wall. The best part for me was going up in the lighting box – I would pay £100 to go there again!"

James,St. Mary’s School, Waltham Forest

“I’m writing to say how much fun I had – I’ve never done such good art work before!  I went backstage at the theatre and it was really dark and scary. When I watched the show it was really good, and I think everyone enjoyed it. The teachers were nearly crying.”

Vivian, St. Luke’s School, Tower Hamlets

“It was very enjoyable, especially when I got to work backstage. I got to set up the props and put them in the right boxes. It was great when we got a tour round the theatre because now I know all about the theatre and where to go. When I was backstage I saw all the actors come and go on and off stage. They were all sweating.”

Thomas, St. Mary’s School, Waltham Forest

“The workshop leaders let us work independently and trusted us to work by ourselves and produce a play. It was a once in a lifetime experience – I was in a real life West End theatre performing.”

Natalie,City of London Academy, Southwark

“Just a quick note to say how absolutely brilliant I thought that the EPOC work was at  Greenwich Theatre last week - I thought the show was great and the kids absolutely loved it throughout - the comments after the show were extraordinarily positive from the teachers and the children alike…. Thank you again though for bringing such lively and engaging education work to the venue.”

Lorna Rees, Education Manager, Greenwich Theatre, June 2004

"A very quick note to say thank you for the performance this evening. I found it truly magical, totally in the spirit of the piece, and inventive in so many ways. I still can’t work out how some of those effects worked! Is that the sort of thing pioneered by Svoboda in Prague? It is really quite breathtaking at times.
I also much enjoyed the orchestral playing. In my [limited] experience, these small groups can tend to be at a rather relentless mf – this was admirably varied dynamically. And among the very good vocal level was an account of the Pamina aria that you’d have been pleased to hear anywhere in the world – really outstanding."

David Syrus, Head of Music, Royal Opera House, Covent Garden

"Pocket Opera’s production is aimed particularly for children and as such incorporates many traditional pantomime values in a story admirably suited for such an adaptation. Annabel Lee design features a fantastic amount of UV puppetry which a great fun for the kids including menacing snakes, flying rockets and schools of fish in the sea. The story lends itself perfectly to the hiss-the-villain style. The performances were bold and brassy with a genial Simon Thorpe entertaining as the friendly Papageno."

Paul Vale, Review in Stage and Television Today

To see photos of EPOC’s Magic Flute Project click on the icon below

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Tonight: Lola Blau
Heute Abend: Lola Blau

 

   
Performers Morag McLaren (Lola Blau), Ian Mowatt (Stage Door Johnny)
Musicians Bruce O’Neill (piano, accordion, arranger), David Berry/Tom Ewins (double bass, tuba), Jez Wiles (percussion).
Partners HMR Productions, IMP.
Venue New End Theatre, Hampstead
Production Team Mark Tinkler (Director), Stephen Gregory (Costume Designer), Annabel Lee (Set Designer); Adam Carree (Lighting Designer); Glen Snowden (Choreographer); Marc Pilcher (Hair Design); Eleanor Salter (Assistant Director).

 

By Georg Kreisler, with an English Version by Don White. Performed at London’s New End Theatre January 7th-30th 2005

"The sexy chanteuse Morag McLaren stars as Lola Blau in this satirical cabaret-style exposé of the true nature of Austrian involvement in the persecution of the Jews during World War Two. Despite the subject matter, the writer Georg Kreisler has created an enjoyable show which certainly told me one or two things that I didn’t already know. Kreisler himself escaped from Vienna in the late 1930’s, pitching up in NY and Hollywood before his return to Vienna after the war, a path followed by his character Lola.
 
She bursts triumphantly onto the black-clad stage at Klub Simpl, Vienna, 21 years after she left, a penniless Jew, and now she has returned from Hollywood as a megastar. Then she takes us back 21 years to that same stage, and tells her story of lost love and new life with songs and snippets of dialogue. Set at a jaunty angle above the stage are two screens onto which are projected various grim facts, quotes and statistics, such as Hitler being given such a hero’s welcome in Vienna that people followed his car, dug up the dirt that his tyres had passed over, and then kept it and did who knows what with it.
 
McLaren is seductive, fatalistic and ironic. She is a great performer of this early 20th century German cabaret music, and the excellent on-stage band switch smartly between the different moods. There is a pianist who also plays the accordion, a bass player doubling on the tuba and a drummer who also provides weird whistling noises when required.
 
There are songs about sex, Mrs Schmidt who does nothing whilst the bad guys kill and destroy, and a sad but lovely little number about getting on with life in the face of misfortune. Great fun is the audition that Blau is forced to perform, going through American cliché after cliché plus an amazing array of star-spangled top hats and other headgear for the gratification of Herr Direktor.
 
Altogether in a different style is a spoof of a Mozart piano concerto which brings soprano virtuosity from McLaren as she names Hollywood stars whilst ascending and descending the devilish scale runs. Mozart is, of course, Austrian too."

Reviewed by Julia Hickman for Theatreworld Internet Magazine

"The New End Theatre, Hampstead, have started the New Year on a high with a magnificent and flawless production of Tonight: Lola Blau, the 'legendary' 1959 Vienna concert, starring Morag McLaren as Lola Blau. McLaren is outstanding and dazzling in her depiction of Lola Blau, the cabaret artist who was forced into exile by the Nazis in 1938 and who made an unexpected return to tour a series of concerts in Austria 21 years later.

Original music and lyrics by Georg Kreisler in an accessible English version by Don White tell her story in a series of Kurt Weill-style numbers. Each is particularly evocative, particularly at the end when she sings 'Frau Schmidt' to the Nazi bystanders, one of the meaningful lines being 'Mrs Schmidt did you close your eyes?' Steven Gregory's stunning costumes bring to mind the atmosphere of the time and add to the glamour that was Lola Blau. Mark Tinkler's fast-paced and cracking production hits all the right notes and ensures that not one minute of your concentration wavers. This is aided by two massive screens with electronic messages describing what happened to European Jews from the thirties onwards. It would, however, have been a good touch if at the end there had been a notice on the screen outlining what eventually became of Lola Blau. After all, Morag McLaren's sheer brilliance has made her someone you care about.  Electrifying."

Sharon Garfinkel. Rogues and vagabonds Theatre Website 2005

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