Sunday, 3 July 2016

Brexit the Opera

I have cabin fever. I have sat on my arse on the sofa all day watching Wimbledon. My back hurts and I want to have a purpose in life again. I have sat doing very little for far too much of this year. It. Must. Stop.

I have been a-debating on Facebook. I don't really know why I post stuff on social media. I'm just preaching to the converted. Today's major bug bear has been with the people who are currently trying to claim that marching against Brexit is somehow undemocratic because a democratic process suggested we leave Europe. Surely one of the very cornerstones of democracy is demonstration? Both words surely have the same Greek origin: demos, meaning people? If the Suffragettes had gone along with the will of the people would we have votes for women? Come on! I am no more ready to accept Brexit now than I was before the vote happened.

But enough about Brexit. I've been typing nonsense about it all day.

I was very excited to learn that our wedding was broadcast on Finnish TV today. I had a very lovely tweet from a lady with a beautiful smile called Veera telling me as much. I can't really imagine what the Fins will make of the vox pops featured in the film with party leaders who no longer exist, however. I found it hugely distasteful that the decision was made, without our consent, to put messages in the show from Milliband and Clegg - particularly as they placed them over the top of one of my songs! When I watch that moment in the film, I cringe. I didn't actually much like any of the messages of support from famous people except those from people who actually know us. Sure, it was kind of fun in a campy sort of way that Olivia Newton John sent us a message, and you could argue that the majority were actually sending messages to the whole LGBT community, but politics and celebrity is a deeply transient world, and I knew instinctively that the inclusion of those messages would instantly date the film.  Love is universal and timeless. People always talk to me about the duet that our mothers performed. No-one knew the song, or our mothers before the show was aired, and yet he impact that it had was remarkable.

Speaking of musicals, I was very touched to read an open letter to Sir Cameron Mackintosh sent by one of the 2014 cast of Brass. Nate, who wrote it, played a part which no longer exists in the piece, and this year is performing in the lead in one of the NYMT's other shows, Spring Awakening, but, on Friday, as everyone was talking about the Battle of the Somme, he took the moment to suggest to Cameron (and one assumes anyone else who read the open letter) that he might like to see the 2016 production of Brass. It was a beautiful letter, which I will quote in full, because I found it very moving. He is a singular and remarkably mature young man who I have no doubt will go far in our industry. This is what his letter says:

Dear Sir Cameron,

I write to you as a young person with a passion for musical theatre. I am 17, and, until a few years ago, knew very little about The Great War. I did however know the entire score of Les Miserables and a great deal about the French Revolution!

100 years ago today, 19,240 brave young soldiers were killed as they went over the top at the Battle of the Somme. In 2014 I was privileged to be an original cast member with the National Youth Music Theatre in Benjamin Till's musical Brass which told the story of the Leeds Pals and the Barnbow Lassies. For the first time in my life I understood the significance of the Great War and the importance of the words Lest We Forget. I visited the Somme and stood where they stood, I commemorated the young soldier my character was named after, I connected with the men who never lived to have the opportunities I have. I will not forget.

Like every other Musical Theatre student I have seen pretty much everything there is to see. I eat, sleep, breathe music. Like every other Musical Theatre student I can't wait for you to bring Hamilton to our shores next year. The next generation of Musical Theatre goers will embrace the story of America's Foundling Father Alexander Hamilton in the same way we embraced Les Miserables. I would like to thank you for the wonderful musical that has shaped my future.

I would also like to invite you to come and see Brass at the Hackney Empire this summer. I am not in the cast this year but I will be in the audience supporting this incredible piece of theatre that tells the moving story of the Battle of the Somme through Benjamin Till's beautiful and haunting score. I think it is time we celebrate and commemorate our own history and share this amazing story so that my generation will understand how vital it is that we never forget.

Thank you so much

Writing this out in full now seems to have temporarily broken the writers' block I have been suffering from for the last few months. For the first time in a long time I am going to take myself to the piano to do some writing. And no, I am not going off to write Brexit the Opera!

1 comment:

  1. If you write something please God make it hummable.