Thursday, 8 March 2018

Nene

I watched a tiny bit of breakfast news this morning and was horrified to see that Theresa May has got into bed with Saudi Arabia as part of her post-Brexit-let’s-make-Britain-great-again strategy. This strategy will, of course, see her doing similar deals with countless other countries in the world with ghastly human rights records.

I woke up yesterday with giant black smudges under my eyes. This morning, after only four hours’ sleep, I’ve progressed from fight victim to panda.

I was rather pleased to have turned the telly on, however, as I got to see Zoë Ball talking about her cycle ride from Blackpool to Brighton for Comic Relief. I’ve always liked Zoë Ball: she’s such a consummate professional, and seems to specialise in remembering people’s names. She also talked about the fact that she’s specifically fundraising for vulnerable men, and, in a world where men are increasingly demonised by women, I find that profoundly moving. Men are vulnerable too... Even on International Women’s day...

It’s been an insane week. Utterly manic. I’ve had rehearsals at Mountview from

10-5 every day, and major events every single evening, which have been followed by long evenings of writing into the very wee smalls. I am craving a lie in...

In the mid afternoon, Danny-Boy Carter and Nathan picked me up from Mountview and drove me up to Northampton. We were heading to the Derngate theatre to hear the premiere of my Nene composition. We popped into the rehearsal briefly to say hello to Beth and Peter, before heading to ASK pizza for a bit of food.

We were met at the theatre in the evening by Michael, Fiona and her Mum, Barbara. I was amazed by how many people in the audience seemed to recognise me as they came in. This was undoubtedly as a result of the film they recently screened about the piece on the BBC.

The performance was tremendous. They’d shifted half the seats in the auditorium back so that seven hundred or so performers could fit on the stage. It was an extraordinary sight.

I was interviewed by the presenter beforehand. I have no idea what I said, although I’m pretty sure I came across as endearingly clumsy. I also got a bit political about the need for music in schools. #GiveTheManAPlatform

I was hugely happy with the new sequences I’d written for the piece. The section evoking a ghostly hunt rampaging through Peterborough Abney, was particularly exciting and there were stunning solos by Zoë Eaves, who was singing the last poem written by Mary Queen of Scots on the banks of the river, and Freja Leveritt, who reprised her role singing the sad story of Molly. They were stationed in spot lights high in the roof of the building. But it was Michael Needle’s solo as a gay First World War soldier singing a folk lyric from Woodford which broke my heart. It broke my heart for many reasons, firstly because he took what he was singing very seriously, performing the music with great dignity and love, when he could have made it horribly tongue-in-cheek to show us all that he wasn’t necessarily feeling the emotions he was singing about. It was also very emotional to think that, when I was young Michael’s age, Clause 28 would actually have meant that it was illegal for a young male performer to sing a love song to another man within an educational framework.

I walked away feeling proud and immensely grateful to NMPAT for commissioning the piece, and for continuing with the extraordinary work they do in inspiring young musicians in an era where music has dropped to the bottom of everyone else’s agenda.

I drank two gin and tonics this evening. #alcoholic

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