• The Palace That Joan Built

Brimfield, Mel and Herbert, Gwyneth, 2016, Show, Exhibition or Event, The Palace That Joan Built

Abstract or Description:

Commissioned by Art on The Underground and Theatre Royal Stratford East, the project was co-authored with composer Gwyneth Herbert, and based on an exploration of the life, work and politics of radical socialist theatre director Joan Littlewood, with particular focus on her unrealised Fun Palace scheme. The outcomes of the project were centered around production of an episodic musical documentary film in the form of a ‘collision montage’ Living Newspaper, installed in the mezzanine at Stratford Station as part of an architecturally scaled installation for 21 months. Elements included:
- An album of 8 collaboratively composed songs, the basis of a 4-hour rolling launch performance on the central concourse of Stratford Station with 40-piece brass band (East London Brass), community choir of 20 (Upbeat) and Herbert’s own 5-piece ensemble. Other screenings and theatrical performances of the work took place at the Picturehouse Cinema Stratford and Theatre Royal Stratford East as part of the national celebrations surrounding the centenary of Littlewood’s birth.
- Development of a sprawling pseudo-archive of fictional Theatre Workshop and Fun Palace ‘documents’ and material, including posters and staged theatre stills of fictional productions produced in response to an extensive series of carefully structured workshops for community groups, echoing Littlewood’s passionate ideological commitment to the co-operative sharing of ideas, skills and creativity and was also the basis of a publication designed by Fraser Muggeridge Studios. An additional 8-day workshop was commissioned by the National Theatre Studio and Live Art Development Agency towards the production process involving musicians, actors, visual artists and theatre makers in a collaborative exploration of Littlewood’s actor training techniques.
- Scripted vignettes featuring Dickie Beau (winner of the Samuel Beckett Trust Theatre Award) appearing variously as the Archive in the guise of characters including Joan Littlewood, King Lear, Noel Coward, Vsevolod Meyerhold and a chorus of Eisenstein peasants, slum dwellers and Hunger Marchers.

ContributionNameRCA ID
ActorBeau, Dickiedickie@dickiebeau.com
ComposerHiggs, Paulphiggs@phiggs.co.uk
PerformerSaville, Ianian@redmagic.org.uk
The Palace That Joan BuiltLondon, UK02 Oct 2014 - 13 July 2016Other event
Subjects: Creative Arts and Design > W100 Fine Art > W190 Fine Art not elsewhere classified
School or Centre: School of Arts & Humanities
Copyright Holders: Mel Brimfield, Gwyneth Herbert, Art on The Underground
Funders: Art on The Underground (Transport for London)
Date Deposited: 05 Apr 2017 14:14
Last Modified: 25 Jan 2021 17:49
URI: https://researchonline.rca.ac.uk/id/eprint/2754
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