Shows K

KES! THE MUSICAL adapted from Barry Hines' classic novel A Kestrel For A Knave. Music & lyrics by Terry Davies; Book and additional lyrics by Lawrence Till Bolton Octagon - September 14, 1995 (season) SYNOPSIS The musical, set in a northern industrial town, follows the story Billy Southworth and his learning of life from the fate of his pet bird. When writing the music for any type of project a great deal of the work involved is done long before a note hits the page. And when the music has a dramatic role to play the same inevitable questions are always immediately waiting. Firstly, what dramatic and emotional effects should the music have? And secondly, within the forces available what style of writing would best suit the subject matter and deliver the goods? With these questions addressed, the way forward hopefully becomes clear. At least that's the theory. With Kes! Lawrence and I wanted the music's dramatic and emotional range to be as broad as that of Barry Hines' book. The music would need to depict the pressures of much of Billy's world and against them to highlight the intimacy and exhilaration of his moments with the kestrel hawk he loves. Another essential ingredient would be periods of lightness and humour. Beyond this, whenever Billy is on stage I was keen for the music to describe events from his point of view, so that an audience would undertake the journey at his side rather than follow it with any perspective. Later, a few exceptions evolved when other characters are allowed to indulge their own specific fantasies. Style is always a tricky one. We had always intended that the songs should be lyrical and accessible but with an edge that could be sharpened up as required. Amongst the stylistic possibilities for Kes! were a cocktail of late 60s pastiches (The Beatles, The Rolling Stones. Jethro Tull, Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band. etc) and folkbased melodies that might have been sung locally along with a flavour of colliery band music. Jud and the Librarian Jud (Chris Garner) and the Librarian (Julie Jupp) strut their stuff! (Photo by Ian T. Tilton) Happily. very soon after our initial work began the solution, for once, provided itself. I remembered writing a provisional song for Jim Cartwright's play The Rise and Fall of Little Voice a couple of years earlier which had been intended for an epilogue in which Jane Horrocks found herself "flying". Adjustments during rehearsals had resulted in alterations to the ending. Jane no longer flew and the song was cut. No lyric had been written for it. When I played the piece to Lawrence he was immediately very positive and the style question was solved at a stroke. The song now forms the core of the finale of Kes! This bit of luck occurred whilst we were settling on a provisional structure for the musical and taking decisions such as using the device of a girl's voice to represent Kes herself. Settling upon the make-up of the cast and band were also part of this process. We knew there would be five musicians and wanted them to be clearly visible in the auditorium. There can be balance problems between actors and musicians if not using an orchestra pit and if drums are involved, so it was the ideal chance to try something I've wanted to do for some time - write for an entirely non-acoustic band in a theatre. The MIDI technology involved has been around for some time but has seen little creative use in theatre work. MIDI is the system via which musicians send signals from otherwise silent instruments to the various