'I think therefore I am.'  Descartes            'I AM THAT I AM.'  Exodus.3.        'I am what I am.'  La Cage aux Folles

28 December 2012

Anguish of 'The Choir'

On Thursday 13th December I attended a performance of The Choir written and directed by Errol Bray and after a devastatingly emotional performance I did manage to meet, thank and shake the hand of the playwright. We asked him about his inspiration and he said he was angry at institutionalised abuse way back in 1979. This is now a more commonly discussed problem, but Errol deftly captured the mood and essence way before many recognised it.
The wonderful and outstanding cast of talented young actors
Aaron Wilson as Paul
Christopher Batkin as David
Nick Barclay as Garry
Alexander Bayliss as Colin
Stephen Quinn as Michael
Johnny Legobye as Peter
Christos Mourtzakis as Andrew
The Choir as a play is riveting and dramatic. A friend said he felt gutted by the experience. Seven boys aged from 12 to under 16 (played by young adults) in a dormitory in an orphanage.They are too old now to be wanted or adopted and their only reason for existence is the choir, their soprano voices and each other. The boy in charge dishes out his love to the sexually eager children and the unseen authority are castrating the boys in a false attempt to maintain their voices. Cruelty from authority and each other, abuse by the system and a microcosm of a world reminiscent in some ways to the warped view of survival in Lord of the Flies. There is singing, there is pain and there is death. The ultimate end of a limited, abused and controlled life.
The Choir has been performed around the globe including in London, Yugoslavia  Washington  Sydney and here in Brisbane. See the photos from the programme above and others below.
From a Melbourne Production directed by my friend Robert Chuter for Fly On The Wall Theatre

Click here for my related Post on Eunuchs and Castrati

20 December 2012

Another Christmas

The revived Christmas page.
Australians for a Marriage Equality Christmas
from my city
Some special Christmas recordings by my dear friend Bogdan Mihai.
If you overdo it or get excited, do it with style.
 Always look your best. 
Something traditional and extraordinary. 
This extract (Jessye's Carol) is from my most treasured CD and DVD. Arranged and composed by Donald Fraser, this is the most glorious interpretation of  the songs of Christmas. The divine voice of Jesse Norman is guaranteed to envelop you with a warm glow of comfort and cover you in goose bumps. Several years ago Donald Fraser wrote to me after seeing comments I had made on my old web site about this spectacular recording that he composed. Recorded in 1988 it has become a constant and essential part of my Christmas for the decades ever since. 
Please play this.
There are more extracts on YouTube.
Jessye has always been my nomination for Empress of the World.

An Unusual Christmas tale below.
Nicholas and The Pickled Boys
from St Nicholas Cantata -Benjamin Britten
The choir sings of approaching travellers struggling along a wintry road seeking food in the city. Three women call for their missing boys, "Timothy, Mark, and John are gone." Upon reaching the inn, the travellers order a meal and invite Nicolas to join them. But Nicolas suddenly warns them not to touch the meat, for it is the flesh of the missing boys who have been killed by the butcher and pickled in salt. Before the eyes of the travellers, Nicolas calls the three boys back to life. They enter hand-in-hand, singing, "Alleluia." The choir joins them in praising God for the miracle. video below.

From the grand, spectacular, full on and thrilling 1965 recording of Joan Sutherland 'The Joy of Christmas'. This recording always blew people (ie drunk gay party boys) away at parties. All of Joan's carols are on YouTube.
The Spontaneous Christmas Truce of WWI
The Christmas truce of 1914, just 4 moths after the outbreak of war, was a remarkable phenomenon. Soldiers overcome with the spirit they missed laid down their arms and enemy met enemy between the trenches. There was for a time, genuine peace in No Man's Land. Though the Germans and British were the main participants, the French and Belgians took part as well. They came together talking and shaking hands with the very men they had been trying to kill a few hours before! It did not happen again in the war, but was not unique in history. Informal truces have often taken place over the centuries during long periods of fighting. There are numerous incidents in different wars on different continents of friendship between enemies visiting each others lines, drawing water at the same wells, playing football and sitting around the same campfire sharing their rations, smoking, drinking and playing cards. The Christmas truce of 1914 does not stand-alone, but is certainly the most notable example of its kind. Not only the ordinary soldier, but also NCOs and officers enthusiastically joined in as well. The truce, including photographs and letters from the troops made it into the newspapers from the moment news of it reached home. We should consider it an event to be treasured. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in his history of 1914 called the Christmas Truce "an amazing spectacle" and in a memorable description saluted it as "one human episode amid all the atrocities which have stained the memory of the war."
The stunning 2005 film about this.
Happy Christmas War is over

Not the best quality for this old clip, but how often do you get three of the greatest opera singers in the world singing a song by John and Yoko.  Well it has become one of the great traditional Christmas songs over the last  four decades.
 Written 1971.
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