Christopher Brett Bailey is a theatre-maker, performer AND musician based in London, UK.
‘this man is not subversive, he is a cunt’
– postcards from the gods
bands and poets and moviemakers and academics talk about their influences. we theatre-makers talk about how we will run workshops for inner city kids to help strengthen our grant applications. so, because rockstars leave prettier corpses, here’s a mixtape of influences who helped fire the woodchipper in the months that bore THIS IS HOW WE DIE.
glenn branca is a maverick genius under appreciated in this, his lifetime. there is no living artist in any medium i regard with more reverence.
and i know how autistic fanboy a statement that is.
but i mean it in full.
summer 2013 i had the honour of meeting the man and conversing at length while storms rages and tempers flared. a multi-story car park in peckham was host to the fraught staging of Branca’s newest noise-juggernaut guitar ensemble composition titled ‘twisting in space’. a muscular slab of rock hard dissonance, allegedly inspired by elvis presley and william burroughs.
here is a vid depicting one of his more succint but heady mixtures.
now here’s a motherfucker i was lucky enough to catch in the flesh long before i would understand their significance. like a child who serves tarantino his popcorn i sat side stage at a geroge carlin arena gig in halifax nova scotia circa 2002. it was an honour wasted on a youth to be in the presence of an artist of the rarest order – one who is at their creative peak but who is on the final furlong of their last lap.
most dudes peak in their 40’s, comedy stars even younger.
but carlin was different – he rolled with the punches, more bowie than stones.
he’s been a huge inspiration to me through the writing and editing stages of THIS IS HOW WE DIE and i want to share him with you here. most bristons don’t know him though americans of a certain age might recall him as the station patriarch on thomas the tank engine or the comedian who listed all the cuss words. but don’t be fooled – carlin was a brainbox of the highest order. literary and street-smart, vulgar yet urbane, carlin was a word wizard – whole slabs of texture and description in his prose and a muscular, rhythmic delivery – carlin was more poet or rockstar than populist standup comedian. if he were a poet or rockstar he’d have been a bukowski or a james brown. so, his persona was primed to ripen with age and so it did, never with more lucidity than in the video below.
if i could rep 40% of his vitality, craft or bravery with ⅓ of the material in the coming performances of THIS IS HOW WE DIE i will be over the figurative moon.
in the show blurb we name-check lenny bruce but in accuracy the reference should go to carlin. but marketing gets involved and reckons lenny bruce might approximate the idea but is gonna sell a couple of ticket cause of the hoffman connection.
here’s a thing that bears no formal resemblance to what i am doing but which i watch a dozen or so times during the writing process:
kind loves that have come to catch one of the many scratch performances towards THIS IS HOW WE DIE (thanks if that’s you) often noted that the piece was evocative of radio. and that makes me proud that it was noted. right from it’s earliest inception i viewed the material as built for radio, for voice, for a ‘behind glass’ form of communication. i mean the term talk radio is kind of an oxymoron, right? so the show perhaps has some of that distilled in it and so, my final two shoutouts are kind of takeaways for you to click on when you have more time. write em down:
97 Rock (96.9FM Buffalo New York) – my childhood radio station, the memory of which soundtracks much of my life.
Also, for variety I remember 97.7 HTZFM – a hard rock and metal station outta st. cataharines ontario – and Q107 – a commercial classic rock station beamed into my Mom’s house from Toronto, across the lake.
TALK RADIO – the second best oliver stone movie which translates eric bogosians career-making one-man stage play into a slick hollywood thriller.
back in november of 2013 i tested script sections at ovalhouse, london who went on to commission and partially fund THIS IS HOW WE DIE. the format for the night was a double bill, and you were paired broadly by theme. my week partner was university lecturer and bootworks conspirator andy roberts who was there to work up components of his ongoing project to stage comedy performance art essays on 1980’s action movies. so, tonally the pieces were a little divergent but thematically they were ying and yang.
or maybe ying and ying.
i have never understood how to use ying and yang in conversation.
on this here podcast andy and i discuss influences and biography with stop offs at violence in cinema and masculinity, the trash aesthetics of john waters and a tiny burp of insight on process. enjoy if you can:
year end , top 5s, 6s & 7s — Saturday, December 17, 2016
thank you 2016 ( ! )
performance / dance / theatre works that blow’d be away, in the order i saw em. i know some of these ppl in real life, and yes, their shows really were *that* good…
ALEJANDRA HERRERA SILVA – DOMESTIC LABOUR
MISH GRIGOR – THE TALK
FK ALEXANDER – CARS
IRA BRAND – BREAK YOURSELF
FIGS IN WIGS – OFTEN ONSTAGE
SLEEPWALK COLLECTIVE – DOMESTICA
IMPERMANENCE DANCE THEATRE – SEX BOX
albums released this year (or-late-late-last-year) that i’ve been spinning to death…
KURO – S/T
MATANA ROBERTS – COIN COIN CHAPTER 3: RIVER RUN THEE
VOLCANO THE BEAR – COMMENCING
CELLULAR CHAOS – DIAMOND TEETH CLENCHED
GLENN BRANCA – SYMPHONY 13
DEAD LIGHT – S/T
albums not released this year that i’ve spun to death just the same…
ALICE COOPER – LOVE IT TO DEATH
JOE MCPHEE & CHRIS CORSANO – SCRAPS AND SHADOWS
KENDRICK LAMAR – GOOD KID MAAD CITY
ALESSANDRO CORTINI – SONNO
books i’ve read all the way thru. none of which were published this year:
HENRY MILLER – TROPIC OF CANCER
LYDIA LUNCH – WILL WORK FOR DRUGS
ZOOT HORN ROLLO – LUNAR NOTES, MY CAPT BEEFHEART EXPERIENCE
KATHY ACKER – BURNING BOMBING OF AMERICA
RICHARD FOREMAN (ART + PERFORMANCE SERIES)
RAYMOND CHANDLER – LITTLE SISTER
live gigs, blissed-out in the front row. (a supremely good year) :
LYDIA LUNCH RETROVIRUS – o2 islington
JD ALLEN TRIO – london jazz fest
MERZBOW / THURSTON MOORE / MATS GUSTAFSSON / PANDI – st john’s church
JENNY HVAL – sydney fest
SPACE LADY – bethnal green working mens club
cloudfunding for a NEW SHOW… — Saturday, January 23, 2016
this month i am thrilled to announce that me and the team behind THIS IS HOW WE DIE have been green lit and thumbed up to make a brand now show. writing has begun, noise composition and dramaturgical black magic too. i’m aiming to make something that carries on some of the same concerns and aesthetics, and could sit comfortably alongside the old show, while exploring some new territories as well. for the sake of showmanship we’re keeping the exacts close to our bras right now but i can tell you that it’ll have a london premier and a few regional dates in the 10th month of this year.
funding has been harder this time around so we’re having to pass the hat to get us started. if you saw the last show and want to see another like it, or feel you owe me a favour, DO-DO have a look at our crowdfunder…
chris brett bailey action figure, THIS IS HOW WE DIE script, Moon Ate the Dark Vinyl LPs, USB tour movie, custom music mixtapes, experience gifts, one off artworks, performances in your house and much, much more!!
innerviews — Tuesday, November 3, 2015
THIS IS HOW WE DIE returns to London this month for 2 show at Bush’s RADAR festival (fri 13 & sat 14) and B SIDES AND RARITIES is at Shoreditch Town Hall the following week (sat 21). These are the last London airings scheduled for now, so if you haven’t caught ’em yet or want to come and hold me while I cry, I’d be all over having you there…!!!
On the last tour I did a heap of interviews and journalist questionnaires. Most were the usual “who are you and why should we care?” cut n pastes. But a handful stuck in my mind as beyond marketing speak, either going deeper into the show or in the case of this first one, being about something altogether more interesting and important than the show. reposting now for yr skimming pleasure… Xx.
Christopher Brett Bailey: Ask me again at the end
Posted on May 19, 2015
To mark the beginning of Dying Matters Awareness Week, Christopher Brett Bailey (creator of THIS IS HOW WE DIE) spoke to us in a frank and honest conversation about the end of his life.
WHAT TYPE OF CARE WOULD YOU LIKE TOWARDS THE END OF YOUR LIFE?
Right now I am tempted to say I’d like to be put out of my misery, that as soon as I experience any discomfort whatsoever or am a burden to anyone else that I be put down. But that’s easy to say when you’re young and you fear pain more than death. I expect over the next seventy years to become more comfortable with discomfort and humiliation and much less comfortable with death. Promise to ask me again at the end of my life, won’t you? Yeah, that’s it…there’s my real answer: I want the care that I say that I want when I get there. Same goes for lunch tomorrow… it’s too soon to say right now.
WHERE WOULD YOU LIKE TO DIE?
In the show I am assassinated on stage in front of a paying audience. I get a bullet in the back of the head by a lover. And there’s a part of my ego that would like to go that way. Doing what I loved and being loved from all sides.
WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE RESUSCITATED OR NOT?
If I’m drowning and there’s an attractive lifeguard to hand, then sure. If I have fallen under from something terminal, have a smile on my face or a look of calm acceptance, please leave me be.
WHAT KIND OF FUNERAL WOULD YOU LIKE TO HAVE?
I feel this is up to who misses me when I am gone and absolutely none of my business. It’s about me, not for me.
IF YOU HAVE ANY DEPENDENTS, WHO WOULD YOU WISH TO CARE FOR THEM?
Currently I have none so it’s hard to answer. I used to ask myself this question a lot when I was a kid – if both my parents died who would I live with? Most of the time I reckoned Pat and Dan Beauchamp of Grand Island New York would be a good option. They had two nice cats and an above ground swimming pool. So, I guess that’s my answer. If I have any dependents I’d like them to go to Pat and Dan Beauchamp of Grand Island New York – assuming Pat and Dan are still living when I go.
WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE AN ORGAN DONOR?
I don’t feel this should be optional. If there’s any good use for a body once life has left it, it should be put to use.
HOW WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE REMEMBERED?
I’d like to be paid attention to while I am still here. What you do when I am gone is not important to me. In fact, maybe I’d like to be forgotten instantly. That would keep mourning to a minimum and the rest of you will have enough to be thinking about, what with new technologies and wars and who to vote for, and what to do about population growth and so on.
WHAT WORRIES YOU MOST ABOUT BEING ILL AND DYING?
The discomfort, humiliation and possible burden to others of being ill. I would not like to be bathed by someone else or have my catheter changed unless I was sure they were getting a kick out of it. I definitely wouldn’t want to receive palliative care from someone who I knew was being paid for it – I have the same problem when a waitress smiles as she delivers the food… it’s just not genuine! As I mentioned above: the dying part is so far only conceptually disturbing, not viscerally disturbing. But I know that’s the arrogance of youth talking.
WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE YOUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY TO KNOW BEFORE YOU DIE?
If I die tomorrow they should know that for the last couple years I have been very fulfilled and content. And that none of the bad stuff I ever had was their fault, but most of the good stuff was. They should also know that my Sonic Youth vinyls have a pretty good resale value.
THIS IS HOW WE DIE is on at Circomedia, Portland Square from 22 – 24 May. Find out more here.
Hey. Tell us a bit about the show and how you made it?
Sure. Show is called THIS IS HOW WE DIE. It’s a monologue by me about sex and death and violence and anger and our pre-occupation with apocalypse. It’s got tricksy wordplay and buckets of blood. It’s funny, at least to me. It’s a joy to perform and it still scares me shitless to get up and do. It’s a pleasure to be bringing it back to Scotland. Never been to Glasgow before actually. What was the second half of the question?
How you made it? What was the process?
It was a writing process mostly. I kept two journals, writing one or two evenings a week for about 18 months. In one I wrote down all the creative ideas I had – jokes and stories, poems, staging ideas, bits of music, whatever. And in the other I just cleared out the gutters – did free writing. So when I had the opportunity to present a short scratch at a venue called the Basement in Brighton I started to turn whatever this was into a theatre show. I looked for patterns in the writing and found that a surprising amount of the creative ideas were mirrored by things written as journal entry. I guess cause there’s a pretty limited bandwidth of noise in my brain at any given time.
And then there was magically a show?
Ha. No. I um, started by compiling my favourite material into a single word document and performing it straight through as one speech. Lasted nearly 4 hours. And that was just the essentials. So, my friend Anne got involved who is a brilliant young Dramaturg from Germany, trained in Holland. And she helped me to edit it down to a more manageable length and the two of us worked closely with the lighting designer and…
Have you just realised you can’t say any more without giving something away?
So, on the flyer it says it’s a spoken word and storytelling show.
It probably shouldn’t. I mean, that’s not wholly inaccurate; it’s just a little misleading. In the writing I see three distinct strands – a story strand, a comedy strand and one that probably does borrow a bit from spoken word or performance poetry. I don’t see much connection to the contemporary British scene except that it’s happening on the same island at the same time. And nothing against those girls and guys – I have never seen Kate Tempest or Luke What’s-his-name, The Essex Lion guy, but, um, there’s some awesome people ploughing that field. Uh… Rob Auton, do you know him? Really psychedelic, a lot of heart. Whimsical but not annoying. His show The Face Show was one of the best hours of my 2014. And I love the two Hannah Walker / Chris Thorpe shows, of course. But those aren’t purely spoken word-y either. They have one foot in indie theatre.
Maybe THIS IS HOW WE DIE is a bit like that?
Well the writing in their shows is a lot better… I would kill for their turns of phrase! And their stuff is elegant and maybe that’s why I squirm whenever this show gets talked about like it’s poetry. It’s not. It’s a rant. But I guess there’s a form connection in that we both take forward facing, non-theatrical text and place it in a theatrical frame. But neither are spoken word, really. Like, I think a real spoken word show relies on authenticity – that it’s a real person up there, actually reading their poems and that those poems express what they actually think or feel. Either that or they’re written as sarcasm or something, but largely the contact with the audience is more truthful. I think the theatrical setup of my show – the lights, the comfy seats, the sacred code of turning your phone off and not being able to leave to buy a drink and come back in again – I think all that contributes to a fiction that allows me to slip in and out of characters and modes of performance, one of which maybe looks a bit like spoken word. Or more accurately beat poetry and sort of… scat rap.
Yeah, like poop.
I wondered if there might be some jazz scat in you…
Scoobee-doo-doo-poo-poo-poop-poop. Take it away Mingus..! (laughs) Uh… I actually didn’t mean scat. I meant acapella.
Right. Like some of it’s a rap vocal with no backing track? One long free-form verse?
Exactly! And rap is a huge influence. People always spot the Beat thing. Kerouac and Hunter Thompson – neither of which I’ve actually read that much or consciously drank in, but both of whom cast long shadows over the American road trip and the sex and drugs rite of passage, youth rebellion, you and me against the world – all those tasty cliches this show is playing with. But… um… Burroughs has been my favourite author since I was a kid or early teen and his voice is definitely in there. But people rarely see the rap thing. And I think it’s partly cause I’m white and partly cause the narrative skits in the show conjure a retro America – 50s, early 60s maybe. But definitely a pre-rap world. I hear a lot of Kanye West in it though! His last record, Yeezus, has been half of what I’ve listened to since the day it came out! And Saul Williams is in there for sure – couple people pick him out cause there’s a direct reference to him. And he conjures a sort of 60s/70s thing himself sometimes, even though he is screamingly late 90s in other ways. Industrial rap, I mean that’s properly turn of the century! But I think you hear some of the Beats in him and some Gil Scott and a little Patti Smith at times. And just going back to the form question a minute… Saul is largely thought of as a poet and MC but he mostly refers to himself as an actor. As an actor playing the part of a poet and MC. And I can relate a bit to that. Some nights I connect to the text very easily, some nights I have to trick myself into it. And that’s an actor’s process, I think. Cause at that point you are more concerned with the performance being good, the delivery, the effect, than with the material as written.
But it is written. The pages are in front of you. We never forget that it’s written down.
I guess that makes it a written word show, like, “why has he bothered to write all that shit down?”
And literature is obviously an influence.
I would never call the books I’ve read literature.
You are seated at a desk. And the monologue is read, not memorised.
I perform in a show by Andy Field from Forest Fringe called ZILLA! and it’s sort of a news report setup. Half the action takes place behind mics at a desk and I guess before then I’d never seen that done. Very bold move having a mostly static stage image. It’s a different temperature of show but it’s a similar density of language and I guess I owe him and that show a thank you for teaching me I didn’t need to be standing up, moving around or even making eye contact to hold an audience’s attention. But again this loops back to Burroughs. Writing-wise I never went back and looked at any Bill in detail but I think his is a stink cloud that surrounds mine, and when all the centenary stuff was being trumpeted around last year he was on my mind again. Seeing the Howard Brookner doc Burroughs: The Movie when it was re-released gave me the courage to commit to the desk-reading stage set up. There’s great footage of him reading selections of his books, touring around to punk clubs and cinemas, wherever, seated behind his actual writing desk from home. And he’s performing to a standing audience full of rock ‘n’ rollers! I thought, “Well you don’t have shit on him as a writer but the expectation will be lower cause at least your audience will be sitting down…”
Have you got any recommendations for people who are not up on William Burroughs?
Well, that movie is a great place to start. Excellent footage and a more loving portrayal than the Yony Leyser film (A Man Inside). Avoid that one til you love him already – it’s a real downer, focusses on the addiction too much. My favourite books of his are Exterminator, Naked Lunch and Wild Boys. Probably in that order. Oh and also, The Job, in which he interviews himself.
Didn’t Warhol also do that?
Warhol interviewed everybody!
Yeah, it was only fair. Like a self portrait in a way. Desk-wise there’s Spalding Gray, of course. He loved a desk. Any influence there?
Since the show came out people have often brought up Spalding Gray, who I’d not looked deep into. Vaguely remembered his suicide and knew that he did monologues in front of a projection screen but that’s about it. I recently read Swimming to Cambodia and a few pages of Sex and Death to the Age of 14, and really loved him. Man, has that fella got a way with a run on sentence! Ha… I’ve actually not watched any on YouTube cause I don’t want to be overly influenced by it. I don’t want to become any more similar. That could be superstition but until this tour is over I am trying not to soak up any impure influences. Tell you who I was thinking about recently that is totally out of fashion – Eric Bogosian. I remember studying him a bit at uni and loving his movie Talk Radio and I found online his one man show Sex Drugs and Rock ‘n’ Roll and it’s like The Scorpions or something… painfully 80s but really gosh damn good. I mean, it’s real acting, like character theatre stuff and way, way, way over the top… but I reckon there’d be a great show in finding a modern style in which you could smelt down all the ire and histrionics he’s got. Such flamboyance and such skill. It’s almost, like, pantomime villain over the top, but because it’s just him and the crowd the form is more naked, more accessible than if he were in a play-play.
Doesn’t Spalding Gray mention Bogosian in one of his pieces?
Yeah, that’s in Swimming to Cambodia. He holds him up as a good example of a cool artist, I think. Along with Whoopi Goldberg!
And on that note, Chris, I think we’ll say goodbye. Anything more to add?
Come to the show! Please. Print details beneath this… um… sentence. When you type it – you are typing it up? Listing details and what forths… And I’ll um, forward YouTube clickers for some of the stuff we talked about.
Festival Blogger Gemma Hirst talks to the creator and performer of THIS IS HOW WE DIE about what the attraction is to dark theatre.
What was the inspiration behind This Is How We Die?
The show is a lightning speed monologue, equal parts story, poem, and comedy rant. It’s pulpy and beat-ish in style, talks about violence, sex, death, apocalypse, paranoia and taboo amongst other lusty topics. A more introspective riff in the show is about language itself. I’m not entirely sure where this part comes from but I’ll give it a stab…
My Aunt Thelma is a very verbal woman but not in any high falutin’ way. It ain’t diamond when she opens her mouth. It’s plain speaking, homely wit and a joy in the simple pleasures of language: pun, alliteration, the pull back and reveal. She is also the Scrabble champion of Canada. I realised only recently that my interest in words must come, in part, from my childhood affection for her. I remember how she was a hoot to hear talk and how an afternoon together her vocab would rub off on me… Opening my ears to the peculiarities of how we communicate and the absurdity that we do it at all… why do I say this or that instead of this or that? Why do I say this or that at all? Am I actually trying to communicate something or am I just making noise because god carved a hole in the front of my face?
As a teenager I moved around a lot and in one school particularly did not fit in. There was a violent element present in the school and being small, new and long-haired, I found myself at the mercy of the school bullies. Being no use at fisticuffs then or now, I fast developed a skill for talking my way out of a duel: mostly using humour to throw them off their guard. All comedy is about knowing your audience and needless to say the tough kids in my school had the toughest sense of humour. If you’re about to get your head dunked in a toilet, toilet humour is your only lifeline.
Your performance has been described as pitch-black humour and nightmarish prose, what is it about this style of dark theatre that you like?
It wasn’t a conscious effort to invoke a certain style to have a particular effect… it grew organically out of the topics I wanted to write about and the things I grew up loving. Those two tags are kind of marketing buzzwords designed to signal to a potential audience whether or not the show is for them (and act as a warning to deter people who would hate it!). Live theatre is one of the least genre lead art forms we have: people often turn up solely because a show is on in their town. And while I’d love as many people to come to the show, you can’t make a show with “whoever might turn up” in mind. If you do it will be boring and nobody will like it. So… this show is steeped in all the things I grew up in love with, and will appeal most to people who like those things too. A non-exhaustive list would include: beat poetry and American underground lit, rock music, punk and metal, rap, pop art, x rated humour, horror and b movies, etc. etc. etc.
Is there enough theatre like this in the industry?
I don’t really think of what I do as existing in an industry. Of course I know it does, but I find that a depressing way to look at it. I think all creative artists (whether they make theatre shows or plates) should make exactly the thing they have in their hearts to the best of their ability. The best shows are the ones that feel completely personal to the artist performing it. Like, ONLY that person could have done that thing. So long as every show stays completely true to itself, each artist true to her or his influences, and we all work hard to make every show as good as it can be, then most shows will be good and most of them will not be too much alike.
As an audience member I don’t crave shows exactly like mine, I crave shows that are as good as they can be at whatever it is they are doing!
You have written and are going to perform in How We Die, how have you found this process creatively as an artist? Did you experience any obstacles?
It was a total thrill to write it and is an absolute rush to perform. I had never written anything very substantial before but I had been dreaming up a monologue for myself for a few years. The process of getting it on paper was sometimes hard work and there was plenty of writer’s block and belly aching along the way, (oh and I sure had doubts: is this any good? are people going to hate it? why am i doing this again?) A lot of time went into redrafting and reformatting – probably more time than a more experienced writer would need! But it was a fun obstacle because I really wanted to do it, to prove to myself that I could. And night by night there’s a challenge to perform the show well – some nights it’s good chemistry, some nights it’s not – but that’s present in every theatre show and this is by far the most fun I’ve had onstage… plus is the only gig where I get to say “fingered” in the first 10 seconds!
What can the audience expect from your show?
There will be gore, silliness and pretentiousness in almost equal measure. There will also be noise, sweat and veins popping in my forehead. I will probably drink a glass of water when my throat is itchy. After the show I’ll have at least one beer in the bar and it’d be a pleasure to meet you, should you choose to say hi. We will also need a recommendation of a good (cheap) restaurant open late that would ideally cater for vegans. I’m just saying what’s on my mind now… Does that answer the question?
You have quite an impressive curriculum vitae when it comes to theatre, for any young artist out there who wants to have a career in the arts, do you have any advice for them?
Well that’s an awful nice thing to say! *blushes*
To be real with you, I feel I’m still very much figuring it out as I’m only recently making exactly the kind of thing I want to make and am still struggling to make the rent each month… So, I’m not sure that I feel I have enough authority to give good advice. But if I was forced, for example at gun point (or at the point of any life threatening weapon) to deliver a “Wear Sunscreen” style speech to a crowd of young creative’s it might go something like this…
Do exactly what YOU want to do and do it as well and as often as you can.
You will suck most days. That’s okay.
One day you will come across something you could get good at. Do it again tomorrow
And the day after that.
Until you rule at it.
When you think you rule at it: you don’t.
So do it again tomorrow.
So long as it makes you happy.
Don’t pander to an audience
or your teachers
or your friends.
Especially not your teachers.
Don’t rip off your peers.
Or resent them when they are better than you.
Art is not a science… quality is in the mind of the audience.
Do you love what you do? What you made? Is it perfect to you?
If yes, you’re done.
If not, keep tinkering.
Take that thing you love and send it out into the world
as often as you can.
Learn which parts of it need to be presented “perfect”
and which can be presented “however the fuck it happens on the day”
Be prepared for people to hate it
Be prepared for it not to pay
Is it still beautiful to you?
If so, make the parts people hate about it LOUDER and see if they don’t hate it LESS
Make it the extreme version of itself and see if it isn’t BETTER
Start asking everyone your meet how they make their money
(nobody really knows how this happens cause there’s no formula for it)
and take the good advice.
If somebody is reticent to tell you how they make their money they probably get it from their parents.
If you are getting money from your parents be honest about that and be the first to buy the beers.
Some will have bar jobs forever, some will live off their parents, some will figure out how to make their artwork pay.
Are you prepared to sacrifice your Time, your Pride or your Comfort?
Make piece with that
and stop worrying about the money part.
Return to the top and repeat.
If somebody tells you something useful take it as good advice.
If somebody tells you something not useful tell them to pound sand,
me and this advice included…!
This Is How We Die is on Saturday 3rd October at 7pm
w e a k l i n g s . . . — Wednesday, September 30, 2015
writing this to you now from a tech rehearsal as a team of awesome A/V and LX type people busily work to create a sound and light spectacular on all sides. it’s the final hurdles of Chris Goode’s new show WEAKLINGS, which premiers at Fierce Festival next Wednesday. it’s a mega ambitious show so we’re all super excited and a little bit shitting bricks.
here’s the lowdown:
Dennis Cooper* is a “cult” american author of transgressive gay fiction and poetry. needless to say he is totally awesome and a quite a bit up my street. since 2005 he has published a daily blog, playing host to an online community of fans, misfits and badasses. one of those is/was UK theatre mega-brain and super nice dude Chris Goode. Chris has adapted parts of the blog for the stage, wrapped it in a murky fictional narrative and sprinkled it with nods to the art, music and culture that Cooper and his fans enthuse about over at the blog. the result is an itchy, nocturnal ensemble theatre piece w/ a bespoke soundscore (Scanner) and a sumptuous lighting design (Katherine Williams). upstaging me in the cast are fearless new pals Karen Christopher (ex Goat Island), Nick Finnegan and Craig Hamilton (both Ponyboy Curtis).
if you’re anywhere near these towns it’d be a gas to have you in the crowd…
Fierce Festival (Warwick Arts Centre): 7th and 8th October
Axis Arts Centre, Crewe: 29th October
Theatre in the Mill, Bradford: 30th October
if you’re new to Dennis Cooper here’s a few links to wrap your eyes around:
as you’re surfing this site i assume you’re already read up on Mr. Chris Goode. in case not i thoroughly recommend his monologue Men In The Cities as one of my favourite shows of recent memory. not sure if it’s touring again soon, but the text is great on it’s own and works real well in book form… why not hit up oberon books and chow down on that?
Love from us from here.
* on the first day i suggested to Chris G that we might do a show about Alice Cooper instead and he (perhaps wisely) disagreed. Here’s a blast of 70s shock rock for those of us too young to know better: the other Coop!
MOON ATE THE DARK II… out now!! — Sunday, July 12, 2015
ecstatic to see MOON ATE THE DARK 2 finally released last week! our darling pals at sonic pieces have handmade a gorgeous design and packaging. it’s out now on cd ala cart or with a reissue of MOON ATE THE DARK 1 (2012) on 2 x cd or 2 x vinyl. ltd to runs of 350 – 450 each. purchasing links are here-ish: SONIC PIECES DOT COM ***
early reviews have been super generous. most have noted a lighter, more optimistic tone to the record. ironic given how much tougher the making process was the second time round (cliche cliche). we’re currently doing a lengthy interview/dissection of our thoughts on the record for a nice irish blogger. will try to remember to post that when it’s out. meanwhile you can read what the online noisenik press are saying here and here…and here if you read german.
and here’s the one that’s getting a bit of playlist love: VENTRICLES
and here’s the one my dad likes best. he called it a “swirling dervish of a song” and said the album really picked up there… shame it’s the last track!!: LO
…live? my theatre commitments and anna’s relocation to the middle of everywhere has meant touring for the foreseeable will be tricky, but we hope to return to both studio and stage in due course…
in related noise:
ANNA is nearly done on a collab album with bf ED HAMILTON out sometime this year. keep an eye on her at THIS LINK.
i am about to remount my 2011 no wave guitar experiment THIS MACHINE WON’T KILL FASCISTS BUT IT MIGHT GET YOU LAID. it’s on at LATITUDE FESTIVAL ((and available for touring after that…))
***when/if records have sold out at the label and you can’t find any online, you can likely pick up a copy by dropping me a line: email@example.com
in no particular order… — Friday, March 6, 2015
from end of the month me n my cronies will be dragging TIHWD up and down this island, bringing tinnitus and paper cuts to every hall and hole that’ll have us. meanwhile the capital hosts a clutch of shows you’d be a fool to miss.
this weekend: FOREST FRINGE AT THE PLACE – i’ll be catching peter m (ft nick anderson) + gillie kleiman, but the whole damn thing look class. LOOK
i’ve said it before and i’ll say it again: when i grow up i want to make work like SLEEPWALK COLLECTIVE. catch em doing their old hit “…The Sirens. The Sirens” March 10 – 14 at Thtr Deli, 119 Farringdon Rd. (www.mingbeast.com) and sneak-peeking a newbie “ACTRESS” May 5 – 9 at The Yard, Hackney Whack.
several o my highlights from last summer back in action with juicy london runs. go go go go go…!!
sometime stage partner IRA BRAND is whipping up a new solo for Ovalhouse. it’d be gossip for me to tell you too much about it at this stage so i won’t say anything except that when she told me her ‘plan sofar’ last weekend i punched the air until i broke the wind. make it with the dates: Wednesday 1st – Saturday 4th April 2015 / 7.30pm
Oh and the Yard Theatre have this killer season of double bills on from a few weeks from now til a few more weeks from now. Justabout every one has somebody bitchin’ on so, ya know, hole up there for the entirety? Click the link for all the details but features Project O, Odd Comic, Drunken Chorus, Lucy Hutson, Chris Goode’s new band “ponyboy curtis”, the infamous Luther & Bockelson (on UK soil for the first time) + many mores.LIINNKK!
NIGEL & LOUISE’S BASEMENT GROTTO!!! — Saturday, December 13, 2014
SHUNT legends and persuasive friends NIGEL AND LOUISE invited me to put together a lineup for their LATE NIGHT XMAS GROTTO series at Shoreditch Town Hall. I’ve never curated anything before so my ego was fondled and I sure couldn’t resist the image of my perverted friends and heroes throwing ugly shapes in a space designed for children’s entertainment. So here we go…
The result is a patchwork of mavericks and idiots, iconoclasts and fools, from across Theatre, Live Art, Cabaret and Music. Consider it an office xmas party for people who hate people.
19th & 20th DEC / 8pm til 1am . . .
live music headliners :
B L U R T
…’situationist’ post-punk legends, purveyors of squalling sax and minimalist grooves, genuinely one of my favourite live bands on the planet! Do not fucking miss this!
if you don’t know em already check em out at the following lynx…
DJs for dancing, chin scratching and sounds of continuity:
LUCAS VON (20th)
NICOLAS HEISO KORT (19th)
Tickets and venue info available from the following link. Spread the word dear thing and hope to see yr ass there!!: http://shoreditchtownhall.com/theatre-performance/whats-on/event/basement-grotto-late-nights
night watch \m/ — Saturday, June 14, 2014
cambridge junction’s non-stop 24 hr performance festival has arrived. there’ll be bands in the foyer, installations in the toilets, theatre shows in the afternoon, durational work all day, body art in the wee hours, drinks in our bellies and a bunch of strangers snuggling down in an indoor yurt…
here’s an interview i did with Ella Walker of Cambridge News as part of the promo trail to get you there…
Motor-mouthed spoken word artist, performer and musician Christopher Brett Bailey:
How would you describe your show, This Is How We Die?
It’s a dense and vicious theatrical monologue that weaves grotesque imagery, absurdist storytelling and comedic opinion pieces to explore our fixation on apocalypse, violence and death. With lots of sex jokes along the way.
What are your best reasons for staying up all night?
As a kid the sleepover was the highlight of the week. We used to go to Bill Pupo’s house to watch late night TV and listen to his older brother’s metal albums. One time Jay Read (the undisputed class clown) was so funny that a kid I won’t name pissed his sleeping bag and another time somebody brought one of those magazines. So reason number one has gotta be escaping the long arm of the parents. But I am a real believer in the night. I don’t sleep that good these days and often enjoy being the only one awake. Or feeling that feeling anyhow. Here’s a bunch more reasons:
2) The radio is better through the night.
3) The morning will come no matter what and this needing 8 hours sleep business isn’t true for everyone.
4) The phone doesn’t ring, no emails come and there will be no knock on the door. It’s not that I don’t love you but the world is too goddamn loud.
5) People of my skin tone are not good friends with the sun.
6) If you are having a conversation at that time of night it is likely worth having.
7) I write best at night (see reason 4).
8) It’s just cool. Okay?
What do you want people to take from the show? Is it as morbid as the title suggests?
It is every bit as morbid as the title suggests. Possibly more so. But there’s humour and pleasure in it and depending on how you view the world there may even be hope. What people take from the show is up to them and there is no right answer. But of course I want them to love it. I mean, not all of them… where would the fun be in that?
Christopher Brett Bailey is a Canadian theatre maker, performer and musician who has established quite a name for himself both as a solo performer and as a collaborator. I chatted to Chris ahead of his performances of “THIS IS HOW WE DIE” at Night Watch Festival at the Junction, Cambridge and at Ovalhouse.
Hi Chris, where are you right now and what’s the view from your nearest window?
At my desk, SE13 5AP. The window behind me looks out onto an overgrown flowerbed and cigarette butts. The cat was on the windowsill a few moments ago, yowling like a fool. Somebody must have let him in the front door.
You’re on a road trip, and you can only take one book, one CD and one type of food. What do you take?
Beef jerky is the best food for a road trip. Keeps your salt levels high and it’s intensive to chew which creates pleasant breaks in the conversation. Though I wouldn’t want to go more than 2 or 3 days with only beef jerky to eat, so I am going to picture burrito stands and ‘pick your own strawberries’ patches every few miles. As a kid I would read in the backseat with the window down to stave off car-sickness. so I hope you don’t mind an open window. If it’s a long trip I might suggest something long, complicated and funny (Illuminatus! Trilogy, Infinite Jest, Catch 22) or perhaps, if the trip is to be basically endless, it’d be tactical to bring the Oxford English Dictionary which would not only turn boredom into self-betterment but would provide ample material to quiz each other on while driving through boring landscapes. Now, I dunno what kinda sounds you dig but I’m enjoying the new Swans album (which is at least as long as the average road trip) and I’ve got this boxed set of gamelan music that I’ve been meaning to get around to… Either of those appeal? If we get sick of those we could always pick up Dad Rock Classics from the service station or truck stop. Or maybe if we spoke nice to the proprietor of the next burrito stand they’d let us trade our CDs for the mariachi music they’re playing. I’ve just re-read the question and realized you aren’t even coming on this trip. That sucks. Why not? What else have you got going on?
You gave us an excerpt of this show as a work in progress at the Junction last year. How has the project developed since?
The section I performed that night is called ‘The Gas Station Incident’ and it is still in the current draft. I have twice tried to cut it but it just keeps crawling back! Other than being four times longer now and no longer solely about blasphemy, the overall piece has grown quite organically from the extract that you saw and now contains chapters extending that story in either direction alongside more poetic sections and hunks that almost resemble comedic opinion pieces. One feedback form from the that Cambridge performance suggested that my use of Rolling Stones’ ‘Monkey Man’ as exit music was the *only good thing about it* but I am sorry to say that has actually been cut now in favour of live musicians playing none of the notes that are in that song. Apologies to whoever wrote that form….something tells me they weren’t coming back for seconds anyhow!
Tell us about how we will feel when we watch “THIS IS HOW WE DIE”?
I have tried to make the show I wish existed. A lot of people start with an agenda or a concept, and I didn’t do that. I just wrote in a straight line, everything I wanted to say to an audience and edited it down after the fact. There are parts I consider funny and parts I consider sad, parts that are sincere and parts that are flippant. And in collaging those contradictory strands together I am trying to provide a murky, complex journey that doesn’t necessarily provide catharsis or closure in the expected way. So, having only performed the finish piece once before I’m not yet ready to say what an audience’s emotional trajectory will be like through the piece but I kinda can’t wait to find out…
Where do you get your inspiration from? Are your stories ever based on personal experiences?
So far my only flirtation with autobiography has been We Hope That You’re Happy (Why Would We Lie?) – a show that I co-wrote with my friends Made In China. In it we trade memories – some true, some false – and the audience is often left wondering which is which. In fact, the central conceit (that myself and the other performer, Jessica Latowicki, are childhood best friends who have reconciled in order to perform the show) has fooled friends and family who have known us long enough to know better. My solo writing so far inhabits a much more overtly fantastical space – a sort of cartoon hell-scape that owes as much to dreams, films, music and novels as it does to my actual waking life. There are so many tangible traces of other media in this piece that I have to acknowledge pop culture as my primary source of inspiration, but now that the ink on the script is beginning to dry I am starting to see coded references to personal events, memories and dreams in it, that I wasn’t consciously aware were there. Increasingly I find I am writing fast and impulsively, from the subconscious, and the true meaning of things is only clear to me after the fact.
How do you go about starting a collaboration?
Some collaborations arise out of invitation and others out of friendship. I have never secured a job through formal audition or interview process. Perhaps that says something about me. Or perhaps that’s just this scene. I guess in more conventional theatre that infrastructure is still present. Does that answer your question? Coffee. Most collaborations start with coffee.
Who have you collaborated with for this show?
For Night Watch and the Ovalhouse run (17 – 21 June) the show is capped off with a musical finale featuring Alicia Turner, Apollo (The Irrepressibles) and George Percy, who is also the righthand man in my electric guitar project. Lighting design was done in collaboration with the formidable Sherry Coenen and thanks to the generosity of Arts Council England I am thrilled to announce Beckie Darlington as producer. But the most crucial collaborator on the project is a formidable German dramaturg called Anne Rieger. She has a sharp eye, a razor tongue and a closet full of vintage dresses. Love and thanks to all of those people for their infinite patience!
Do you prefer performing alone or with others?
Solo performance is a pretty new frontier for me. Most of my experience is in small groups and though I fully expected the sensation of performing alone to be different, I wasn’t prepared for just how much more work it is! Goddamn, you don’t get a second to breathe! Really makes me appreciate how much work my colleagues in other shows must be doing cause I am not used to putting nearly this much effort in!
How is music important in the show?
Well, music is a pretty big part of my life and possibly the biggest part of my cultural diet. These days I am into all sorts of stuff and mostly make very un-rock music, but as a young kid growing up in North America I was really into 60s and 70s rock. In that part of the world radio is a commercial enterprise and nostalgia is big business so consequently every town has a station that mostly plays Aerosmith and Blue Oyster Cult… from my bedroom window I could get 4 or 5 of these stations on a clear night! These are still the sounds that soundtrack my subconscious and have had untold impact on this show – not just the music but the gonzo on air personalities, the preposterous advertising, the almost corporate rebellion of the whole thing.
Also, there’s a strand in the show that builds on Lenny Bruce’s vision of language as purely sonic phenomena – that any word could have any meaning therefore stripping language of it’s ability to hurt. In these sections the script gets lathered up into a torrent that moves past storytelling into a more visceral use of words, leaning heavily on rhythm and tonalilty in a way that has aspects of beat poetry and rap. Both of which have their own musicological connotations of course.
Who else would you recommend we go and see at Night Watch and why?
Ahh shit man…there’s lots of stuff that kicks big ass on this bill! I am honoured and terrified to be in such good company… Particular recommendations would be Sleepwalk Collective and Nigel and Louise, both of whom are there with itchy, nocturnal pieces perfect for the vibe of the festival. Not sure what the GETINTHEBACKOFTHEVAN crew are bringing to the table but I loved their last show. Likewise Kim Noble Will Die was one of my favourite things ever so I’ll be curious to see what he is up to… and Live Art Lock In is presenting some great people so I’ll have to chill in there with a cocktail or three!
As a student I was honoured to be among the last young performers lucky enough to be taught by the infamous Ken Campbell. For those who remember Ken I am certain no introduction could do him justice and for those that also met him it almost goes without saying…meeting him changed my life. For the uninitiated, the bullet points would go something like this: theatre director / performer / writer and world-class champion of the weird. Staged projects so outlandish they almost seem fake: the world’s longest play (The Warp, 22hrs +), Macbeth translated into Pidgin English, a play with live orchestra staged under water in a Liverpool swimming bath, a stage version of Hitchiker’s Guide with audience on hovercraft, a traveling barroom stunt show that saw live ferrets stuffed down actors trousers and nails hammered up noses. Plus tv documentaries on the paranormal, improvisational shows, children’s plays (including the brilliant Old King Cole and Skungpoonery!) and a series of one-man monologues that pioneered the space between performance art and standup comedy. But perhaps most legendary is ILLUMINATUS! … A 9hr adaptation of the anarchist sci-fi / conspiracy theory novels by Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson, which featured 200+ characters and over 50 stage sets! It was produced on a shoestring with most of the team working only for the love of the material (one of the cast jokes that it was unofficially subsidised by the dole) but played to rabid houses on a tiny stage at the Liverpool School of Language, Dream and Pun (!) before being chosen to open the National Theatre’s Cottesloe Space in ’77. Probably the punkest thing to happen on the Thames that year…
So, as an enthusiast with only archive footage to stoke my fire I was floored today to hear that Ken’s daughter Daisy has been working towards the staging of a sort-of sequel. Titled COSMIC TRIGGER and also based on writings by Robert Anton Wilson, the piece will function as a tribute to the work of both KC and RAW and will no doubt be a near genius piece of it’s own. Of course they need cash to pull it off, so if Campbell touched your life or you’re a RAW fan via another avenue or ya know, maybe you just hate money…
Less than a week to go before the finished version of THIS IS HOW WE DIE is unveiled at Norfolk and Norwich Festival. Train tickets and Travelodge have been booked, instruments re-strung…so there’s just one job left: to type up all the rewrites, edits and notes that have been made by hand since November…