The Scottish Opera


BH_MACBETH_POSTER.inddThings are hotting up for the cast of Macbeth (Verdi), the latest production from Blackheath Halls Opera. We’ve met and heard all the principals, and we’re firmly off the book and managing to move and sing at the same time, though getting up from kneeling (to various kings – we get through a few) and singing at the same time remains a challenge.

This year we are being directed by the talented Mr Chris Rolls, who has a wonderfully psychological interpretation of the action, which is as much surreal as supernatural.

I was very hesitant about doing the Opera this year – too busy – whole process over-shadowed by A’s broken leg last year – couldn’t get to grips with the music on the rather muddy recording I’ve got – but actually it’s a riot, the combination of Chris and our lovely Music Director Nick Jenkins is extremely harmonious and as always I’m enjoying myself hugely. And though I says it myself, we are going to be AWESOME.

Actually, with this opera – when you have jolly little parlour tunes for the assassins  (that would be us tenors and the basses), as we wait for Banquo, relishing our moment in the limelight (or darkness if you are going to be pedantic) you need to get psychological. Jeremy Sams’ translation of the Italian, which doesn’t bear much relation to the original Shakespeare anyway, is so delightfully bonkers that I actually laughed out loud the first time we sang through the assassins’ scene.

Tremble Banquo for your time is nigh
first you see a flash of steel – then you die.

Tremble Banquo, (meet your fate)
Tremble Banquo, (meet your fate)
Safe in silence we will wait…

So we have to work quite hard to find the inner callousness that would make us, as the assassins, think it was amusing – without the audience thinking so too.

On the subject of translation, Shakespeare’s version is magnificently pagan, whereas the Italian has everyone, especially the chorus, calling on god at every possible moment. I’m  not objecting particularly, as it’s a vengeful god we seem to have in mind, and the chorus get to sing some pretty powerful things (yes, he will be branded, branded as Cain was the first man to strike his brother dead). I seem to recall recounting a friend’s analysis of Verdi’s Requiem that it was church music as high opera, Macbeth seems to do the opposite, and bring religion to the dramatic performance. Most importantly we get to sing some absolutely cracking tunes, which after some of the fidgety bitty line here, line there, stuff we get to do as a chorus a lot of the time, is VERY welcome.

So final rehearsal before the Sitzprobe tonight, drop off costumes on Sunday on way to Sitzprobe, busy week of rehearsals next week finishing with two dress rehearsals at the weekend, then performances  Tuesday 9th, Wednesday 10th, Friday 12th and Sunday 14th July.

Well what are you waiting for?  Go and buy a ticket, we are waiting (in silence, safely) … with our knives…

© Cherry Potts 2013

Towersey countdown #SpreadtheWordThree


So, here’s the plan: Myself and two other hand chosen operatives will infiltrate the festival that has been held in Towersey, a small Oxfordshire village for years and years, and turn what has until now been a folk music event into a celebration of the spoken word.  Watches have been synchronised, and train timetables perused.  Our cover stories have been delivered to Paul “Shaz” Sherreard who will bamboozle the organisers with claims of earthiness and compellingness and other nessiness. The cunning plan involves Agent Rickshaw “David McGrath” going deep cover and actually camping, whilst I am considering fooling the late night audience by singing my stories. Oh yes, there is nothing we won’t stoop to in our mission to Spread the Word. (evil maniacal laughter).

Towersey-headerAh-hem. yes, so, what’s actually happening is that those nice people at Spread the Word have got us a gig at the Towersey Festival over the August Bank Holiday, where David McGrath (a fellow Arachne Press author), Esther Poyer (a poet) and me, otherwise known as #SpreadtheWordThree (I wasn’t making that bit up) will perform on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday in various venues at various times, and also run workshops to recruit new agents… I mean explore the joys of writing with the festival audience.

Actually I’m an inveterate folkie so I’m looking forward to the music! I hope the timing of our performances and workshops will allow me to listen to The Unthanks, Show of Hands, The Poozies and The Home Service, The Spooky Mens Chorale, and maybe galumph about to a Ceilidh band at some point.

Inspirations – Marvell and computers


mosaic glyphThe short story Mosaic of Air, (title story of my first collection and republished this coming September)  began life in a computer literacy class in the late 1980’s. I was bored, the class was going slowly, and I’d been given some BASIC code to play with.  I started to imagine what would happen if the computer really talked back. Cal appeared at my elbow and started footling about with her highly illegal sonic knife, and within a few minutes I knew everything about her – her schooling in sabotage, her stammer and her obsessions. Rhani and the McCarthys came later, and have (inevitably) somewhat taken over from Cal in later stories, but it was a big moment, that dull afternoon in Catford.

The title is from an Andrew Marvell poem and it should really be That Mosaic of the Air – a reference to music, which inspired Computer’s idea of appropriate ceremony.  I gave  Computer a personality but let her binary logic run riot. Consequently, inevitably, things do not turn out well.

You can pre-order a copy of the new paperback version of Mosaic of Air at a special £1 off pre-publication price here.

© Copyright Cherry Potts 2013

Interview at Cocktail Hour’s Bar Rag


 

mosaic glyphHere’s the link to my conversation with the very friendly Andy & Rev at Cocktail Hour. (Cocktail half-hour in this instance, but who’s counting?) A wide-ranging discussion encompassing spiders, cat fonts, learning to be funny, and setting up Arachne Press, as well as – you know – my actual writing, books and so on; together with me reading a snippet of Arachnë’s Daughters, which is in Mosaic of Air.

Interview today


I am being interviewed by The Cocktail Hour later today, an online chat show about books by lesbian authors. You can listen to a podcast at some point in the very near future. I’ve lined up a couple of shorter stories to read, and am considering which cocktail to have ready – to drink when I’ve finished.

The Queen’s Safety


My story The Queen’s Safety was read at Liars’ League last week.

For those of you not in the audience, you can read, listen or watch the story (performed by Greg Page) on the Liars’ League site soon, but in the meantime, the video is on YouTube.

.Cent Magazine


copyright Cherry Potts 2013
copyright Cherry Potts 2013

 .Cent Magazine  published my flash fiction, Is Nothing, in their Cornucopia edition under the Harvest theme. You have to sign up to read, but it doesn’t commit you to anything. Lovely illustration too.

This story came from running an exercise with a group at Swindon  Festival of Literature in 2012 –  in silence, just writing everything you can hear, but not interpreting it. Go back later and interpret what you have written any way you please. (So the creaking and groaning [of an unoiled hinge – the bit you don’t write down] might ultimately become the creak of a ship and the groan of …)  rather than do nothing while the group wrote, I joined in, and this was the result.