rough for opera #13

THE DEATH OF KODAK | programme note and biogs


 Resonance Radio Orchestra (music)

Ed Baxter (libretto)

 presented by Resonance Radio Orchestra

 Resonance Radio Orchestra gratefully acknowledges support from PRS for Music Foundation (

 Ed Baxter (director/MD)  

 Rodney Earl Clarke (Rochester, New York)

Richard Scott (Eastman Kodak)

 Louise Goodwin (percussion)

Simon King (electric guitar)

Elo Masing (amplified violin)

Markus Sasse (bass guitar)

Milo Thesiger-Meacham (electric guitar)

Chris Weaver (electronics)

Founded by George Eastman in 1892, the renowned photographic film company Eastman Kodak filed for bankruptcy in 2012. The Death of Kodak imaginatively charts this tragic trajectory in terms of the apparent eclipse of analogue technology and the dissolution of identity in the digital era. The graphic score is drawn on digital camera flash units, projected on to the retinas of the individual musicians. The results are fluid, unpredictable and semi-improvised, suspended in biological real-time. The libretto, meantime, explores notions of accelerated social mobility and the compression of information in the era described by Friedrich Kittler as “the epoch of nonsense… our epoch.”

 The Resonance Radio Orchestra was formed by Ed Baxter and Chris Weaver in 2004 as a floating pool for radiophonic experimentation. Its various incarnations have included i.a. Sarah Angliss, Tam Dean Burn, Luke Fowler, John Paul Jones and Veryan Weston. The Death of Kodak continues the group’s exploration of a post-expressionist audio field which attempts simultaneously to address both the remote audience of the acousmatic radio transmission, and the physically present audience in the real-time environment.

 Librettist and musical director Ed Baxter (born 1960) was a BASCA Composer of the Year 2013. He has written numerous texts for performances by the Resonance Radio Orchestra, including Buddy Holly’s Suitcase, The Arthur Cravan Memorial Boxing Match and Score for Open Heart Surgery on Charlie Watts. He was a co-editor of The Works Of Thomas De Quincey and has also worked as a journalist, reviewer, and writer of numerous grant applications and several children’s books.

 Rodney Earl Clarke (Rochester)

 Rodney will kick off 2016 with an arena tour Best of Broadway singing hits including Stars Les Miserables, Music of the Night Phantom of the Opera and Love Changes Everything Aspects of Love with the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Keith Lockhart. Rodney is currently working (with pianist Christopher Gould) on his debut album, Some Enchanted Evening, which features songs from the  show which he created – a snapshot of an era of Musical Theatre on Broadway with music which has made an impact on us until this very day. At home with the music of 1940-1960 Broadway, Rodney has appeared in many shows including Carmen Jones at the Royal Festival Hall, London, Kismet at the English National Opera, Jude Kelly’s award winning production of Bernstein’s On the Town, Sondheim’s 80th Birthday Celebration Prom and The Broadway Sound BBC Prom with the John Wilson Orchestra. He also stars in Raymond Gubbay’s popular show _Crazy for Gershwin _which regularly tours the UK. Rodney recently starred alongside Denise Van Outen, Kimberley Walsh, Kerry Ellis, Michael Xavier and Michael Simkins playing the role of Big Daddy in the Cy Coleman, Dorothy Fields, Neil Simon musical Sweet Charity directed by Paul Foster, choreographed by Matt Flint with the ArtsEd Ensemble and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Richard Balcombe.

 **Louise Goodwin **(percussion)

Louise Goodwin is 22 and has recently graduated from the Royal College of Music, where she completed her Bachelor of Music degree with 1st Class Honours and was awarded the Queen Mother Rosebowl award for achievement. During her time there Louise studied with David Hockings, Sam Walton, Adrian Bending and Matt Perry. She is currently on trial for the Principle Percussion No. 3 job in the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, and is freelancing with professional orchestras in London. Louise has always been interested in chamber music, and in 2013 was selected to join the RCM’s flagship percussion quartet, ‘Pe’RCM.’ She has since toured abroad with the group, performing in venues such as Cadogan Hall, Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and the Royal College of Music. Louise has played with National Youth Orchestra, Halle Youth Orchestra and Liverpool Philharmonic Youth Orchestra, as well as the Royal College of Music Symphony Orchestra and chamber groups. She has been selected to take part in a number of orchestral academies, including with the London Sinfonietta Academy, the LSO Percussion and Timpani Academy and the RCM/ENO ‘Evolve’ scheme, working alongside members of the English National Opera.

 Simon King (electric guitar)

A member of the improvising trio Sound of the Sun, Simon King also plays electric guitar and composes in the instrumental band The Windsors; the song-focused avant-pop group Setsubun Bean Unit (with Japanese singer Atsuko Kamura); the theatrical/cabaret quartet Lotus Pedals (with Anglo-Chinese singer Seaming To); the out-rock band Snailhorn (with Karl Blake); and the radical “world music” group Empty Boat (with Dean Brodrick and Mônica Vasconcelos). He plays regularly in groups convened by Paddy Steer (of 808 State) and Jerry Dammers (of The Specials). Simon wrote, performed and produce the original sound track to “Frontline,” a series in development for the BBC written by Hester Schofield (3witches); and in live theatre realised the music for Box of Frogs, StumbleDanceCircus’s touring spectacular commissioned by the Unlimited programme, part of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad. Historically, Simon co-produced the debut album by Mozambiquan highlife group Massukos, was musical director for Del Casher (American guitarist and inventor of the wah-wah pedal), was a member of math-rock band Kenny Process Team, worked with dance troupe The Cholmondeleys, and was a founder member of the Ninja Tune signing Homelife.

 Elo Masing (violin)

Elo Masing is a composer of some local significance, mainly around the Clapton area in east London. An impresario on Chatsworth Road, she curates the figuratively and literally underground concert series “Uncharted Soundscapes” at Lumiere’s cocktail emporium as well as other events at various east London venues; and directs and manages clapTON ensemble. Masing’s artistic output is consistent in its inconsistency and coherent in its incoherence, with a portfolio career including occasional appearances as a drag king and a side-job as part-time zebra on Resonance104.4fm. Her motley artistic identities unite to serve the dark purpose of deliberately upsetting the world through brutally manipulating the violin, cello, electric guitar and other assorted instruments into becoming deviant serfs to her fearful vision: the total and utter end of all things conventional. She devotes her days to inventing techniques that haven’t been used on most traditional Western instruments before, finding body parts with which the said instruments haven’t been played yet, and upsetting performers by using strange new systems of notation.

 Markus Sasse  (bass guitar)

Having graduated in Composition for Film and Visual Media at the University of Sussex, Markus is now setting up his own music agency at the recording studio he jointly runs in Hastings “Yiayias.” Outside of his personal project, Bad Actor, Markus has worked with various bands from Brighton, including Kinnie The Explorer (notably on the Resonance FM stage at Camden Crawl 2014) and has produced and engineered a wide range of other acts.

 Richard Scott (Eastman Kodak)

Richard Scott was born in London in 1981 and was educated at The Royal College of Music, The Faber Academy and Goldsmiths College, London. His poetry has been published in Poetry Review, Poetry London, Magma, Wasafiri, Rialto and BUTT Magazines. Most recently Richard’s work has been included in The Poetry of Sex, a Penguin Anthology and In Protest: 150 Poems for Human Rights. Richard also has a poem in Best British Poetry 2014, a Salt Anthology, edited by Mark Ford. Richard has also won The Wasafiri New Writing Prize, been selected as a Jerwood/ Arvon Poetry Mentee and also been chosen as a member of The Aldeburgh Eight by The Poetry Trust. He was also commissioned to write a poem for The Southbank Centre last summer and the result, “Dog,” was made into a film by the filmmaker Kate Jessop and has been shown at The Southbank, The Ritzy and The ICA. Most recently Richard has been awarded a place on The Jerwood Opera Writing Programme by Aldeburgh Music and has also been awarded an Open Space Residency at Aldeburgh Music, collaborating with the cellist Alice Dixon and the sound artist Edwin Burdis. Richard also writes and presents a weekly radio show about opera and vocal music, entitled The Opera Hour, on Resonance FM. He has also written on poetry, opera and librettos for The Guardian, The Arts Desk, The Quietus and Poetry News.

 Milo Thesiger-Meacham (electric guitar)

Milo was born in London in 1997, and now lives in Kent. His exposure to experimental film and art at a young age meant that an impact was made early on, and ever since he has had an ever-evolving interest in creativity as a means of expression. Milo started writing short stories, which were accompanied by abstract drawings and paintings. With this, an attempt was made to visually capture the emotional content and inherent sentimentalism expressed in the writing. Through this partnership of different mediums, Milo then started to acknowledge the importance of sound and soundtracks in film. The work of Jaques Tati in particular had an impact on him, and meant that sound’s important role in the description of space, place and memory would go on to become central in his own work. His subsequent interest in audio art and his pairing of it with human sentimentalism has led him to centre his own speculative work around ambient sound and experimental music. Milo’s music is very emotionally intricate, and his is often the result of spontaneous recording and composition. Recently, Milo has worked with The Olympic Park on an event called ‘Art Moves’, and currently has a piece showing in an Open House exhibition in Faversham. He is currently working as a broadcast engineer at Resonance FM, and has a release planned for next year under the name Viewfound, with Shimmering Moods Records.

 Chris Weaver (electronics)

 BASCA Composer of the Year (Sonic Arts) in 2013, Chris Weaver is a sound artist, performer and composer, whose works and live performances range from Glastonbury Festival to The Wellcome Trust, from Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh, to Karachi and Dubai (where in 2014/15 with Fari Bradley he was New Media Artist in residence at Tashkeel gallery, participating in the International Symposium for Electronic Art). His practice gravitates towards the communal aspects of electronic music, whether in the actual production or in the composition itself. He has written for and performed with musicians as diverse as Otomo Yoshihide, DJ Sniff, Luke Fowler, Sarah Washington and John Paul Jones. In addition to solo activities, he is a founder member of the electro-acoustic ensemble Oscillatorial Binnage and notably works in the analogue tape duo Howlround (with Robin The Fog), whose fourth LP, Tales From The Black Tangle, was released in October.


RETURNS | programme note and biogs

Returns (20 mins, scenes)

 James Cave (composer)

Joshua Casteel (librettist)

libretto adapted by James Cave and Bethan Ellis from the original stage-play by Joshua Casteel

 David Gothard (director)

Jonathan Brigg (conductor)

 Teit Kanstrup (James)                          

James Cave (Mark)                                                        

CN Lester (Sgt Patrick)                                                

 Will Ozard (bass clarinet/clarinet)

Fontane Liang (harp)

Matt Redman (mandolin/oud/acoustic bass)

Zoe Craven (percussion)

John Cummins (violin)

Wei Wei Tan (viola)

Marta Tobar (cello)

 Joshua Casteel (1979-2012) was an Iraq veteran-turned-peace campaigner and playwright. His work attracted widespread attention, including performances at the Royal Court Theatre. Returns is based on Joshua’s own experience of post-traumatic stress, and revolves around the struggle of James (baritone) to organise his memories into a coherent narrative, hinging on the line “what was it like?” The other characters each represent aspects of James’ fragmented consciousness. This is the opening 20 minutes of a one-act opera which is in the very early stages of development. At this stage, staging, design and movement are minimal. Instead, in this version, we have focused on conveying the sound-world and psychology of the opera.

James Cave is a singer and composer based at the University of York, where he is currently studying for an AHRC-funded PhD in Composition. Recent projects include ‘Latrabjarg’, for the York Spring Festival, supported by the Terry Holmes Award, and ‘God’s Keyboard’, supported by the Sir Jack Lyons Award. He was Composer-in-Residence at the Banff Centre, Canada, in March 2015, and participated in the inaugural Banff World Music Residency.

David Gothard is the former artistic director of Riverside Studios where his pioneer work with Tadeusz Kantor, Miro, Shuji Tereyama and many others bridged performance and theatre with contemporary movement and the birth of Dance Umbrella. Performance there saw collaboration with Sol LeWitt, Rauschenberg, Clemente, Dan Graham, Bruce McLean, John Latham and the opening chapter of New Music. As a director he works between the Abbey Theatre in Dublin, Derry, Northern Ireland and the Writers Workshop in the University of Iowa. In London he is a guest speaker at the Slade and he teaches at Chelsea College of Art and the National Film School.

Joshua Casteel (1979-2012) served eight years in the US Army, including seven months as an interrogator and Arabic linguist in the Iraq War. He was honourably discharged as a conscientious objector and was an MFA graduate of the Iowa Nonfiction Writing and Playwriting Programs, and a graduate student of University of Chicago Divinity School. His plays have received staged readings at the Royal Court (UK), the Abbey Theatre (Dublin), and the McCarter Theatre (Princeton). A new edition of his ‘Letters from Abu Ghraib’ is forthcoming in 2016.

With thanks to the Joshua Casteel Foundation, Kristi Casteel, Naomi Wallace, and Marina Mahler for their support

ACCEPTANCE SPEECH | programme note and biogs

Acceptance Speech (20 mins, work in progress)

 Helen Noir (composer and concept)

La JohnJoseph, Helen Noir, Darrell Berry, Dickie Beau (text)

Darrell Berry (technical design and lighting)

Charlie Stock (additional composition)

 Helen Noir (singer/performer)

La JohnJoseph (siger/performer)

Charlie Stock (violist/performer)

Dickie Beau (video/performer)

 Acceptance Speech is a meditation on awards ceremonies, their conventions, absurdities and coded language. In many ways the pinnacle of modern entertainment they are also created largely to celebrate themselves. What do they really signify?

 For rough for opera, we are presenting scenes from what will eventually become a full length work. Exaggerated and distorted fragments of familiar moments build a theatrical space that feels both momentary and purgatorially persistent. Performers sing or speak only in the language of awards shows.

 A woman in evening dress moves across the stage towards the microphone, her progress excruciatingly slow – she can only take steps by repeatedly removing a shoe and placing it before herself. Magnified on screens, another performer cycles through winning, then graciously losing, her category. A third enters and leaves with great pomp and purpose but is prevented by the orchestra from ever fully explaining herself.  The opera’s music mixes live vocal looping, viola and pre-recorded cues.

 For this iteration of Acceptance Speech the devisers wanted particularly to experiment with low-cost but dramatic effects that could be controlled by the on-stage participants. Aware that rehearsal time in theatre would be limited, we explored the use of projection mapping with open source programmes and single frequency and laser lighting, allowing them to create detail and intricacy without relying on extensive tech time.

 Helen Noir (composer/text/performer)

Helen Noir is a singer, performer, DJ, composer and producer. Her unique skillset means is she is equally at home creating and producing dance music, writing and singing hypnotic vocal works or appearing on stage with London’s most innovative performance artists.  Helen has recently written soundtracks for the silent movies of forgotten superstar Alla Nazimova. This year she performed full length scores for ‘Camille’ and ‘Salomé’ at screenings in London & Tokyo. ‘Camille’ mixed live performance of chanson and Pergolesi with jazz versions of dance tracks. ‘Salomé’, shown recently at cult venue The Glory, blends skilfully-produced trap, trance and other electronic music with live vocal looping and dramatic operatic melodies.

Helen is a core member of the Theo Adams Company (with whom she was in residence at Robert Wilson’s Watermill Center and performed for Louis Vuitton in Tokyo). Working in ensemble or creating original solo work, she has also sung and performed with House of SOS, Scottee, Eat Your Heart Out and Nando Messias, performing at venues in Tokyo, at Edinburgh Festival, the ICA, Riverside Studios, Glastonbury, Dalston Superstore, Under Construction, the Royal Vauxhall Tavern and many others. She has been a featured vocalist on tracks for Jim Warboy and DJ’ed for Givenchy. Helen has produced video work with Darrell Berry and collaborated on ‘I’m Nothing, I’m Nobody’.

She is currently writing an original soundtrack for cult vampire classic ‘Daughters of Darkness’ for performance at the Hackney Picturehouse later this month.

  Darrell Berry (text, technical design, lighting)

Born in Tasmania, Darrell lives in East London. He is both a photographer and a technologist—Forbes says he coined the term ‘social media’ whilst working in Tokyo (1994).

His photos of the East End underground performance and clubbing scenes have been published internationally, by Vogue Italia, A Magazine, iD, and others. His work has been exhibited by both the ICA and V&A. A formalist of the floating world, he is inspired by the work of photographers such as Eikoh Hosoe, Shōmei Tōmatsu, Deborah Turbeville and Mike Brodie, and by the writings of art historian James Elkins. Recently, he’s found himself more often editing in Final Cut Pro than in Photoshop, which perhaps foreshadows a new direction in his work.

In the context of theatre, Darrell explores technologies and processes which bring ‘big effects’ to smaller stages, with constrained means. The use of video, projection mapping, keying and motion tracking to augment or to substitute for traditional lighting rigs and props, is generally considered a high-end option readily available only to well-heeled theatre companies. Darrell applies his technical experience to develop approaches through which a DIY mind-set, open-source software, and hand-crafted electronics can democratise virtual or augmented set design and staging.

Previous collaborations with Helen Noir, include the performance I am Nothing I am No One (for which they designed a bass-driven laser modulator), performed at the Edinburgh Fringe, and the exhibition videoMy Grief Is A Sea, shot solely with laser illumination.

His photographic portfolio site is

 LaJohnJoseph (performer)

La JohnJoseph is a writer and performer Dazed calls one of the “literary rebels you need to know.” Educated by the Christian Brothers in Liverpool, he lived in post-Thatcher council estate splendor until her early teens. She earned a BA in American Studies & Art History between King’s College London and the University of California, then an MA in Scenography from Central St Martins. A protégé of New York legend Penny Arcade, her performance work has taken him around the globe to prestigious venues including The Royal Opera House, San Francisco MoMA, Dixon Place (New York), the Southbank Centre, the Schwules Museum, the Bristol Old Vic, Bios (Athens), La Java (Paris) and the Museum of Contemporary Art (Rio de Janeiro)).

The author of five ensemble pieces, three solo plays and a libretto, his memoir play “Boy in a Dress” was critically acclaimed at the Edinburgh Fringe and enjoyed a sold-out UK tour (2013). In 2014 she played the Duchess of Malfi to overwhelmingly positive reviews, and performed at the private view for “David Bowie Is….” in Berlin, with his band Alexander Geist. “Everything Must Go”, her debut novel was nominated for a LAMBDA Literary award (best Trans Fiction). She is a contributing blogger for The Independent, The Guardian and The Huffington Post.


Charlie Stock (additional composition, viola)

Charlie is a London based viola player and performer. Having gained a BA Hons in world/ contemporary music at Dartington College of Arts she continued her studies at Trinity College of Music, London with a Postgraduate Diploma in Performance. 

She was a member of the award winning Bergonzi String Quartet for Six Years. 

As member of The contemporary Pop Orchestra ‘The Irrepressibles’ for seven years, she toured the world, including performances at The Barbican and The Queen Elizabeth Hall, London. 

Charlie also writes songs and music and has performed these with the London based collective “Principle Six”

She is a part of the Theo Adams Company, travelling with them to New York to Robert Wilson’s Watermill Centre, Japan to perform “Hotel” for Louis Vuitton and ‘Cry Out’ at the ICA, London. 

She has recorded and toured with many artists including Lana Del Rey in the U.K and Europe with performances on Jools Holland and Jonathan Ross, Rihanna on ITV and Bat For Lashes at Shepherds Bush Empire. She has also performed and recorded with Little Annie & Baby Dee, Olivia Chaney and is a member of the all singing/ Dancing Comedy String Quartet Graffiti Classics. 

 Dickie Beau (video performance)

London-based actor, physical performer and intrepid drag fabulist, Dickie Beau,is a postmodern cultural pickpocket, maverick theatre-maker and twisted video star;looting a range of performance traditions, from “low culture” to “high art”, in the creation of distinctive performance experiences.

Dickie has gained notoriety as a pioneer of “playback” performance: the uncanny embodiment (or “re-memberment”) of found sound – a style of performance that emerges from the drag tradition of lip synching.“Playback” positions the body as an archive, especially of the “missing” – re-visioning and playing back voices from the margins:  voices of figures we might not hear in the mainstream,  in ways that we might not be accustomed to hearing them.

Dickie draws on many performance traditions, including clowning, theatre, vaudeville, dance and mime, without being exclusive to one school’s rules. He merges the sensibility of contemporary culture with queer twists and informed echoes of the past.

 Increasingly combining his own original video and sound work with live performance,  he crosses over, stands at the edges, and lies in between conventions.  He has taken his work to a wide range of audiences in truly diverse settings: nightclubs, art galleries, cinemas, museums, theatres, fashion shows, festivals and online.