You can support this new project at Crowdfunder. Please do.
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WHAT ON EARTH IS IT?
A steam-punk-neuropera on Flann O'Brien's absurdist masterpiece "The Third Policeman". Adapted, composed and directed by acclaimed musical absurdist Ergo Phizmiz ("A musical equivalent to Chris Morris" - BBC Radio 3), and performed by a cast of non-opera singers including comedians, writers and musicians. The Third Policeman will be a truly 21st century artwork, a steampunk odyssey through an absurdist hell.
The opera will be funny, disturbing, catchy and deeply in the spirit of Dada. Imagine an opera filtered through Frank Sidebottom and Vic Reeves, with music one-foot in Monteverdi and the other in Captain Beefheart.
THE THIRD POLICEMAN?
A classic of absurdist literature by Flann O'Brien. The story is very difficult to summarise, but concerns bicycles, policemen, wooden legs, hanging, pensioner murder, and a strange substance called Omnium. More detail on the novel can be found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Third_Policeman
TELL ME MORE ABOUT WHAT IT WILL SOUND LIKE?
This will not be inaccessible, screamy contemporary opera. It will be sang by people with real, untrained voices. If you'd like an idea of what the music will sound like, then put the following ingredients in a pot and stir until cooked:
Harpo Marx, Raymond Scott, Noel Coward, Claudio Monteverdi, Mechanical Music, Spike Jones, Erik Satie, The Velvet Underground, Miles Davis, Laurel & Hardy, Gamelan, John Cage, Can, Bagpipes,Kurt Schwitters, Timbaland, Lord Kitchener, Bruce Haack, Augustus Pablo, Johann Strauss, Thelonius Monk, Jacques Offenbach, Captain Beefheart, Mozart, Perez Prado.
If that doesn't make things clear enough, you could do worse than head to a page where you can download over 50 hours of free, Creative Commons licensed music by Ergo Phizmiz, at http://ergophizmiz.net/freemusicarchive.html
HOW WILL THE MUSIC BE PERFORMED?
Ergo Phizmiz doesn't have the opportunity or the inclination to write grand operas for orchestras. This opera's music will be performed by a mixture of pre-recorded sound, made from instruments, electronics, samples, and field-recordings, and on-stage instruments performed by the cast.
Some of the onstage instruments will be home-made, steampunk-ish, and absurd instruments, such as The Blibburblabbar, an instrument made out of a brass mouthpiece, a plastic tube, and a teapot, which you can see in a demonstration video here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rluEw_yGjRg , and can also see in action in a cover of Bon Jovi's "Livin' on a Prayer" here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LQ_3dca3XN0
WHAT WILL IT LOOK LIKE?
The performance will be a beautiful, multi-textured piece. Two masked performers will continually multi-role whilst two unmasked performers play the central protagonist and the bonkers natural philosopher De Selby throughout. The mise-en-scene will be created through projections onto a backcloth, made live via a camera pointing onto layered sheets of perspex onto which the scenery throughout will be created in miniature, in a style similar to the films of Russian animation genius Yuri Norstein.
HOW WILL IT BE PERFORMED?
The performance style will reference music-hall, early silent-comedy, and the extreme stylisation of Japanese Noh theatre. There will be slapstick humour, and choreographed dance. It will all be highly artificial, sometimes overblown, with allusions to the Theatre of the Absurd and traditional clowning.
NOT AN OPERA FOR RICH PEOPLE IN SMART SUITS.....
Ergo Phizmiz has been developing a way of writing and presenting operas that is entirely separate from the “high culture” usually associated with opera – trying to make opera that is the antithesis of the “rich man's opera”, bringing the artform to a wide audience and opening up the possibilities of the medium. We aim to help bring a new understanding of the medium by making new works to reinvent the genre, taking it completely out of the opera house, the world of excessive ticket prices, and removing opera from its place on the social-artistic hierarchy. This is a very personal mission for the composer, who wrote his first opera at 12 years old but has seldom been able to go and see any himself.
WHO IS INVOLVED?
The opera will be written, composed, and directed by Ergo Phizmiz. Designed by Martha Moopette. Performed by Erik Bumbledonk, Oblivian Substanshall, and Vulnavia Vanity. All the artists involved are definitions of "outsider artists" - we are all freelance and operate outside of the art and music industries that occasionally grasp onto us for a few minutes before losing grip again.
Each of the artists are multidisciplinary wilduns and vagabonds. Each of the four performers are all skilled musicians, singers, actors and comedians. Needless to say, none of them are "opera singers". Good.
Here are some video examples of the work of all the artists involved:
ERGO PHIZMIZ (writer, composer, director, performer)
MARTHA MOOPETTE (designer, consultant)
ERIK BUMBLEDONK (performer)
VULNAVIA VANITY (performer)
OBLIVIAN SUBSTANSHALL (performer)
WHERE WILL IT BE SHOWN?
The work has been offered a premiere at Tete-a-Tete: The Opera Festival in London in August 2011, with performances afterwards at ShutUp Comedy Club, Saltburn, UpItUp Records Liverpool, Bridport Literary Festival, and Soundart Radio, Dartington. It has been rejected Arts Council funding on rather spurious grounds.
CAN IT BE (GASP!) POPULAR?
The work has great potential for commercial and critical success, particularly because of heightened awareness of the original novel through it's inclusion in the TV series "Lost", which has brought the book to a new audience. The piece will be amusing, disturbing and highly original in presentation. The music will be melodic and innovative, full of earworms and fresher than this morning's baked bread.
Literary rights for the project have been arranged with A.M. Heath Ltd, who have agreed the rights for a 10% cut off box office takings.
WHERE WILL THE MONEY GO?
The money from this funding will go towards the following:
* Covering costs and living expenses for the participating artists during writing & production
* Materials for the design and construction of the mise-en-scene
* Rehearsal space
* Travelling expenses for artists to rehearsals and all performances
* Printing of press materials and marketing
LET'S SEE SOMETHING ELSE THEN....
Not convinced yet? Then you probably need to see Ergo Phizmiz's previous opera "The Mourning Show", about a demonic-attack on the radio DJ Chris Evans, leading to his premature death.
You can watch The Mourning Show at: http://vimeo.com/16337859
This opera uses techniques that will also be used in The Third Policeman, and also stars Erik Bumbledonk, who will play the lead in the new work, as Chris Evans.
You can also turn your eyes to Ergo Phizmiz's most recent work "Fulcanelli's Shoes", a semi-opera / performance about art, time-travel, alchemy, and so forth.
Watch "Fulcanelli's Shoes" at http://vimeo.com/20105017
AND WHAT, PRAY TELL, IS A NEUROPERA?
A Neuropera is a term to separate this kind of work from the social traditions of opera.
It stands for "New Experimental Underground Radical Opera"
It also stands for "Noisy Eccentric Uber Ropey Opera"
And also for "Nasty Exceptional Uppity Rabid Opera"
And finally for "Naughty Elegant Umptydumpty Raging Opera"
COME ALONG THEN....
We have a great creative team, the literary rights, and venues to perform the opera. The only thing we lack is the funds to make it happen. This is a big opportunity for all artists involved, and an even bigger opportunity to all audience members who will experience something that is absolutely unforgettable and unlike anything they have ever before witnessed.
You can support this new project at Crowdfunder. Please do.