Monday, 12 November 2018

Blimey

...And breathe! It’s 11am, and I’m still in bed after a fiendishly busy and exhausting week. Today is my first lie-in for what seems an age, and I decided to wake up naturally to see how tired I actually was.

There is something rather special about being awoken by sunlight. I could feel it on my face, streaming through the windows, and when I opened my eyes I was almost blinded by dusty shafts of light.

It has been a hugely successful week, but one which has moved so quickly I’ve barely been able to drink anything in.

The house is a mess, largely because the sitting room has now been re-plastered and we don’t know whether we can expect someone to come in and paint the walls, so all of our belongings are stacked up in piles in our bedroom, like some terrible scene from one of those programmes about recidivist hoarders.

This week saw the opening of my production of Brass at the Bernie Grant Arts Centre in Seven Sisters. Having seen a weekend of shows, I’m pinning my colours to the mast and saying I would like as many people to come along as possible. It’s two whole years since the last fully-staged production of Brass, so please don’t simply imagine you’ll catch it when it’s on again. I can’t believe I will have many opportunities to direct the show again, so this genuinely is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

It is a stunning production. It looks wonderful. The cast are absolutely amazing. The band sound great. What we’ve created is both life-affirming and deeply moving. Audiences weep openly. I can’t tell you how proud I am of everyone who has had involvement in the show. I have a wonderful family around me of hard-working, dedicated, kind, talented people, all of whom seem to genuinely love the show. The good folk of Mountview have treated me like a prince. It has been one of the happiest periods of my entire life. So, in short, you now have a week to see the fruits of our labours. Please come.

Whilst we toiled away in tech and dress rehearsals for Brass, the production of the same musical at the Union Theatre opened and started busily collecting reviews. It’s done brilliantly. From what I can gather it’s received nothing but four and five star reviews. The quotes have been quite astounding. Michael Arditti in the Express said, "Till's rich, melodious score, its influences, ranging from Marie Lloyd to Vaughan Williams, powerfully conveys the fervour, horror and heartbreak both in the trenches and at home."

BritishTheatre.com wrote “The raison d’etre for this version of the story is the powerful and beautiful music that threads throughout as a conduit for truth and depth of emotions. Till has written a score that pulses with musicality and shines from the opening bravura phrases.”

The musical theatre review went one step further and stated “Benjamin Till has created one of the finest ever pieces of British musical theatre.”

All good.

To add a comic level to the proceedings, whilst the two productions of Brass have been bursting onto the London scene, my 100 Faces Film was premiered, officially last night at the wonderful Phoenix Theatre, literally just up the road from me in Finchley, and unofficially at the opening Gala for the UK Jewish Film Festival on the giant screen at the BFI on the South Bank last Thursday. It is a huge treat to see the film as it was designed to be watched, and a little strange, because so much of my work has been for telly, so I’m used to seeing everything on a smaller screen.

100 Faces seems to have been going down as well as Brass. There have been lots of tears. Lots of laughter. Lots of people telling me it’s made them proud to be Jewish. Perhaps the nicest comment came today from one of the 100 faces:

“I feel a new sense of 'jewish' energy today and feel creative and buzzing.”

Exactly as it should be.

Apologies for the radio silence over the last week. I promise to write more often!

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