rough for opera #7

MANSPANGLED | programme notes and biogs


Edward Henderson (music)

Lavinia Murray (libretto)

Barbara Wojtczak (director)

presented by Bastard Assignments

Nick Haverson (Man)

Cameron Smith (cello)

Louis Archer (tenor saxophone)

Tim Cape (percussion chorus)

Florence Eves (percussion chorus)

Edward Henderson (percussion chorus)

Paul McGuire (percussion chorus)

Caitlin Rowley (percussion chorus)


Manspangled is a one-man spoken opera. It is a stream of consciousness directed at the audience: an insight into a battered mind, railing against a broken world.

  The music is comprised of a series of actions. The chorus continuously play combs, emery boards, bubbles and bubble wrap. The cello has a 7 minute glissando, the saxophone has a series of words and the instruction to play them on any high note. These actions are repeated with fixed gaps. The speaker’s action is simply the script.

  Edward Henderson is a London based composer studying for an Mmus in composition under Paul Newland at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance where he holds both the Beatrice Taylor and TCL scholarships. His compositional practice encompasses aleatoricism, found sound and improvisation alongside more traditional notations.

  He is a member of the composers’ collective Bastard Assignments and regularly contributes work to their shows in south London.

  Edward runs and regularly performs with two inclusive community choirs for the not-for-profit organisation Certitude. He is also an improvising rehearsal pianist at The Place.

  Edward Henderson is a London based composer studying for an MMus in composition at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance where he holds both the Beatrice Taylor and TCL scholarships. His practice encompasses aleatoricism, found sound and improvisation alongside more traditional notations. He runs two inclusive community choirs.

Lavinia Murray is an award-winning writer, animator/cartoonist and performer. She trained as a clown at Blackpool Circus and as a robotic dancer/mime with Annie Stainer and New York artiste Topo. She also trained as a storyteller with Ben Haggarty. Her latest play for BBC Radio 4 has just been nominated for the Peter Tinniswood Prize. She has also written for opera.

Barbara Wojtczak has worked for the State Opera in Poznan, the Warsaw chamber opera, and has served as assistant director to David Pountney for the new production of “Prince Igor” at the Hamburg Opera in 2012. In 2013 she completed work experience at the Royal Opera in Covent Garden in the costume department. Barbara has completed both Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in literature and opera studies with highest honors at the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan, Poland, and has undertaken coursework at Birckbeck University in London.

Timothy Cape Born in Donegal, Ireland and graduated from TrinityLaban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, London (with teachers such as Andrew Poppy, Ed Jessen, Deirdre Gribbin and Dominic Murcott) ; Timothy Cape is a performer and composer whose influences range from Progressive Rock, Jazz, and Contemporary music to Literature, Theatre and Dance. 

Recently his music has developed a theatrical edge, blending text, gesture and lighting to create musical experiences inspired by the work of Samuel Beckett, George Aphergis, Thierry de Mey and Robert Ashley. 

  Fred Feeney is a musician, composer and teacher living and working in London. After coming into music through jazz, he has, over the past few years, adopted new styles of ordering sounds, and now composes and plays music that sometimes sounds like Ryoji Ikeda, Bon Iver and Taylor Swift.

  Nick Haverson trained at LAMDA. His Theatre credits include:Too Clever By Half (Royal Exchange,Manchester,Told by an Idiot), Ben Hur (Watermill Newbury); The Devil and Mr.Punch, Improbable (Philadelphia USA/ Barbican UK), ‘1984’(Northern Broadsides); Low Pay, Don’t Pay (Salisbury Playhouse); The Lost Voice (Southbank Centre); The Venetian Twins (Bolton Octagon); Ruby Moon (Northern stage), Satyagraha (Improbable at London Coliseum/Metropolitan Opera House, NY), Theatre Of Blood (Improbable at The National Theatre); The Hanging Man (Improbable US tour & Sydney Opera House); And The Horse He Rode In On, Beauty & The Beast (Told by an Idiot), The Pirates of Penzance (Orange Tree, Richmond), The Solid Gold Cadillac (Garrick); By Jeeves (Duke of York /Lyric); The Magic Carpet (Lyric Hammersmith) ; Comic Potential, Bolt From The Blue, Musical Jigsaw Play, Fool to Yourself, Love Songs for Shopkeepers & Figuring Things (Stephen Joseph, Scarborough) ; Bouncers & Up’ n’ Under , The Pro’s, the Cons and a Screw(Derby Playhouse) ; Big Trouble in the Little Bedroom (Hull Truck) ; Amadeus, Four Knights in Knaresborough, Romeo and Juliet, Outside Edge, Sweeney Todd & Buddy’s Song (New Vic, Newcastle-under- Lyme); Relatively Speaking(Tour/Yvonne Arnaud, Guildford); Little Shop of Horrors, A Family Affair, A Mad World My Masters (New Wolsey, Ipswich); Nevilles’ Island (Coventry Belgrade/Worcester Swan ); Blood Brothers ( Frankfurt ).

  TV credits include: Tales from the Old Bailey; The Mimic; Thank God You’re Here (series); Ashes to Ashes; Spooks ; New Tricks ; Casualty ; Head over Heels (series,for which he also recorded the title song ); Murder Rooms -The Dark Beginnings Of Sherlock Holmes; Sunday ; A Fatal Inversion ; Last Days of Ashenden ; The Bill ; Redemption ; Devices and Desires ; Absolutely True ; Wyrd sisters ( The Worst Witch 2).

  Films include: Tim Burton’s Sweeney Todd; Hilary & Jackie ; Susie Gold ; Sherman( short ) ; The Tales of Despereaux (cartoon),Gullivers Travels; Gli Zii (short). The new Muppet movie( to be released 2014)

  Nick has voiced a number of cartoon series including ‘Santa’s Apprentice’, ‘Hairy Scary’, ‘Rocketboy’, ‘Zap High’and the title role in “Ratman”.

    Paul McGuire (b. 1988) is a Dublin-born composer based in London. He is fascinated by the grain of sound and the interactivity between real and recorded sound. He investigates the acoustic, timbral and technical characteristics of musical instruments, beyond a usage of extended techniques in order to focus his practice on sounds that one wouldn’t normally associate with such instruments. He is also interested in low fidelity audio production, and he takes full advantage of sampling and looping technologies, building dense textures of sound from on-the-fly home recordings.

  Paul earned a B.A. (Hons.) in Music from Trinity College Dublin, where he specialised in composition under Donnacha Dennehy and Sean Reed and pursued further composition studies at Brunel University London, where he worked with Jennifer Walshe and Christopher Fox. He is currently studying for a PhD in Composition at Brunel with Jennifer Walshe, funded by the 2012 Elizabeth Maconchy Composition Fellowship Award.

  In February 2013, Paul won the Pablo Wendel – Performance Electrics International Composition Competition for his piece Marshes (2013), written for mass guitar ensemble. He was one of five international composers chosen to take part in a composition workshop and master class with Marcos Balter for II Bienal Música Hoje in Curitiba, Brazil, in August 2013, for which he was commissioned by Stuttgart’s ensemble to write Mantle (2013) for piano trio. He was one of seven international composers chosen to attend Bang on a Can’s 2011 Summer Music Festival where he worked with David Lang, Julia Wolfe and Michael Gordon. A self-taught multi-instrumentalist, Paul has performed with a number of rock groups, one of which (Halves) he played a number of shows with at South by South-West in Austin, Texas in 2010. His compositions have been performed by various ensembles including ensemble, OSG (Open Source Guitars), Con-Tempo String Quartet, turnEnsemble and Node Ensemble, and he often performs his own work autonomously or with others.

  Caitlin Rowley is an Australian composer whose music has received performances around the world, including at festivals in Australia, Norway and the UK, and has been broadcast on national radio in Australia. She is an Associate Artist represented by the Australian Music Centre. Caitlin’s music often draws on the visual arts as a path to exploring musical ideas, either writing pieces based around the ideas and works of artists including Kandinsky and Cy Twombly, or through the creation of mixed-media artworks as part of the composition process. Caitlin has studied composition in both Australia and the UK, her teachers including Peter Sculthorpe, Tansy Davies and Stephen Montague. She is in her final year of the Master of Fine Arts in Composition programme at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, where she is currently studying with Errollyn Wallen. Her early musical training was as a flautist and choral singer and while she is principally a composer, she has performed for Bastard Assignments both on flute and as a singer. This is her debut performance playing the comb.

  Bastard Assiginments is a cross-arts collective based in London. They are five ambitious and experimental young composers committed to creating arts events in unusual spaces. They have been awarded Sound and Music funding for three, contrasting events in January, February and March 2014  

STRANGE EXILES | programme notes and biogs

Strange Exiles (20 mins)

  David Merriman (music and libretto)

  Jen Hazel Woman 1

Catilin McMillan Woman 2

Blake Askew Man 1

James Irving  Man 2

Chris Hatton Clarinet, Bass Clarinet, Alto Saxophone

David Merriman Piano

Emily Rose Simons Projections Operator


  One of the little-known consequences of Cold War paranoia in the United States was the impact it had on the lives of its queer citizens. Victory for the U.S. in the Cold War, according to the new order, depended on its ability to promote an aggressively ‘masculine’, unimpeachably heterosexual image of itself in all its dealings: thus, the era which saw the emergence of visible gay rights organisations in numerous cities also saw unprecedented levels of hostility and suspicion levied at homosexuals from politicians and the media. This so-called ‘Lavender Scare’ created a particular tension in the lives of LGBT State Department employees, who had to endure a witch hunt conducted by their own government.

  Tonight, we are presenting three scenes from Strange Exiles – ‘Four Views Of Washington’, ‘Projections’, and ‘Era Of Good Feelings’ – which represent the beginnings of my journey to fully realise this subject as music-drama.

  David Merriman is a London-based composer, lyricist, musical-director and répétiteur. Originally from Swansea, he read Music at St Catherine’s College, Oxford, studying composition with Martyn Harry. He subsequently earned a Masters in Composition at the University of Bristol, where he studied with Michael Ellison, and served as a contributing composer and performer for the 2012 Bristol Contemporary Music Venture and the After Dark opera showcase. As a musical-director, he has worked with organisations in London, Bristol, Oxford and Swansea, and served as a Music Theatre Intern at the Royal Central School Of Speech And Drama during the 2012-13 academic year.

        Blake Askew (Man 1): Blake was seen last year at the Union Theatre in their award nominated production of Call Me Madam as Senator Gallagher which drew rave reviews from the press. Other theatre includes: Borachio in Much Ado About Nothing (Drayton Arms); Yepikodov in The Cherry Orchard (White Bear); Puck in A Midsummer Nights Dream (UK national tour and Open Air, inc. The Swan Theatre, Churchill Theatre and Norwich Playhouse); Mr Rushworth in Mansfield Park; Ensemble in Inherit The Wind (Old Vic); Henry Higgins in Pygmalion (German national tour); James Vane in The Picture Of Dorian Gray (Civic Theatre, Johannesburg).

Musicals: Captain Abernathy in HMS Headwind – “A Feast of Snacks” (Kings Head); Baron Von Gunsburg in Ballet Russes (Rosemary Branch Theatre); Aidan McTell in The Secrets Of Life And Love (world premiere); Rabbit in Winnie The Pooh (Civic Theatre Complex, Johannesburg). Opera: Cherubino in The Marriage Of Figaro, Leon in La Mere Cupable (‘The Figaro Trilogies’, Arcola Theatre); Chorus in Cosi Fan Tutti (Starlight Opera UK).

  Chris Hatton (Clarinet, Bass Clarinet, Alto Sax):

Chris Hatton is a highly sought after London based woodwind specialist who recently graduated from Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music & Dance, gaining a First Class BMus (Hons) degree.

  For many years now, Chris has been in demand as both a soloist and ensemble player. He has performed in many prestigious venues across the UK and Europe and has won numerous awards for his performances including the Wilfred Hambleton clarinet prize, the Harold Clarke Woodwind competition and the Havering Young Musician of the year competition.

  Recent highlights have included the world premiere of Stephen Mcneff’s opera entitled The Secret Garden, Southwark Playhouse’s critically acclaimed production of Jason Robert Brown’s Parade and touring Poland, performing Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem.

  As well as being a busy performer, Chris has a passion for education, and teaches hundreds of young people across East London on a weekly basis. He is looking forward to a busy 2014 and will be embarking upon a Masters Degree at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama in September.

  Jen Hazel (Woman 1) Jennifer Hazel trained in Music at the University of New Hampshire where she received a BA in Flute and Singing and received her MA with distinction in Acting Musical Theatre from the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in London.  Previous performing credits include The Rape of Lucretia,UlyssesSweeney ToddThe Just So StoriesThe Magic Flute, and Pirates of Penzance.  A composer and music director as well, her original theatre and dance scores have been heard in places such as the Edinburgh Fringe, Mimetic Festival and Resolutions Festival at The Place in London.  In addition to regular performing and teaching in London, Ms Hazel also works as an artist with Oval House Theatre’s Demonstrate programme for young people with special needs.

  James Irving (Man 2):

James Irving studied Music at Durham University before receiving his M.A. in Music Theatre from The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. Theatre and Music appearances include: Matt Hucklebee – The Fantasticks (Jermyn Street Theatre), West End at the Fringe (Edinburgh Fringe), Sylvester Cloud – Flahooley (Lost Musical, Sadler’s Wells), Tom – Gay’s the Word (Finborough Theatre), Side by Side (Edinburgh Fringe), L’Enfant et let Sortileges (Barbican Theatre), Peter – Blue Remembered Hills (E.M.Forster Theatre), War Games (Royal Institute of Music), Patience (Buxton Opera House). James also appears regularly as a principal baritone for Grim’s Dyke Opera. Recording credits include: Gay’s the Word – Revival cast album (Jay Records), Grim’s Dyke – Summer Festival recordings.

  Caitlin McMillan (Woman 2) Caitlin McMillan is an actress and singer currently training with Fourth Monkey Theatre Company on their one year rep course. Caitlin is a graduate of Oxford University where her credits included The Mikado, Rent, The Importance of Being Earnest, and the OUDS Edinburgh tour of Machinal. Her previous Musical Theatre credits include Nancy in Oliver!, and Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady at Preston Charter Theatre. She is a member of rock band Two Way Mirror and holds a London College of Music Diploma in musical theatre singing.

    Emily Rose Simons (Projections Operator):

Emily is a comedienne, composer, singer-songwriter, and musical-theatre writer and performer. She is currently preparing for the US tour of her show, Confessions Of A Rabbi’s Daughter, which will be returning to London on the 7th of April.

HUNGER | programme notes and biogs


  Alex Groves (composer)

Rebecca Hanbury (director)

Amy Insole (movement director)

Rosie Middleton Mezzo (performer)

Sarah Parkin Soprano (performer)

Emily Phillips  Soprano (performer)


  Is opera a slave to the music?  Does music have to dictate pace, tone and characterisation?  Is there another way to put opera together?

  Hunger is an exploration into the use of movement and drama as the driving force within the opera making process. To do this, we started with newspaper articles, paintings, photographs, poems and interviews about the suffragette movement – a theme of common interest to the group. We then wove these into a narrative and choreographed movement which told our story. Once we had formed the staging, Alex started composing – mixing live vocals with an electronic sound world in response to the devised drama. We have really enjoyed creating this piece and reacting to the challenges that it has given us. We look forward to hearing your responses to it.


Alex Groves is a London-based composer with a particular interest in writing music for the stage. He read Music at the University of Bristol, specialising in Composition. Since university, he has worked on a number of collaborative, cross-arts projects including two seasons of the National Theatre’s Young Studio scheme. He has recently worked with the Royal Opera House and East London Dance creating new scratch works for their Street Stories programme. Following the success of this work, he has been commissioned by the ROH and ELD to create a new work for the Linbury Studio Theatre in 2014.

Rebecca Hanbury is a director working in opera and theatre.  Recent Assistant Director roles include Cosi fan Tutte with English Touring Opera, Most of the Boys at the Linbury Studio Theatre and The Pearl Fishers at Opera Holland Park. She has also assisted at the Royal Academy of Music, Opéra de Baugé and Barefoot Opera. This summer, she was Revival Director for Kit Hesketh-Harvey’s The Magic Flute with the Merry Opera Company. Prior to this work, she directed a wide range of plays at university and set up a touring Shakespeare group for whom she directed Twelfth Night, Much Ado About Nothing and A Midsummer Night’s Dream – raising thousands of pounds for charity.

  Amy Insole is a theatre and movement director, recently graduated from the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama and a member of The National Theatre Young Studio. Her practice is predominately within devised and collaborative contexts, using an organic rehearsal room process strongly influenced by physical theatre and dance theatre.

Emily Phillips (performer) soprano Emily Phillips trained at the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama. Opera roles this year include 2nd Nenella in I Gioelli della Madonna (Opera Holland Park), Barbarina in The Marriage of Figaro, Julia Bertram in Mansfield Park both (Hampstead Garden Opera) & Belinda in Dido & Aeneas (Barefoot Opera). Engagements for 2014 include Bastienne in Bastien & Bastienne & Mascha (cover) in Queen of Spades for Grange Park Opera.

  Rosie Middleton (performer) mezzo Rosie Middleton completed a Masters in Vocal and Opera Performance at the RNCM in September. Recent opera roles include Yola/Lena Two Caravans, and Flora La Traviata for Opera Up Close, and Victorian in Opera Holland Park’s world premiere of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.  She recently performed Pierrot Lunaire as part of the Southbank Centre’s The Rest is Noise festival. 

Sarah Parkin (performer) Originally from Canada, soprano Sarah Parkin completed her postgraduate studies at the RNCM, studying with Susan Roper. Recent roles include Diane in Acteon, Dido in Dido and Aeneas (both for Dartington International Summer School); Minverva in Il ritorno d’Ulisse in Patria, Miss Wordsworth in Albert Herring, and Frasquita in Carmen (all for RNCM Opera). Sarah has appeared as a solo concert artist with the Langcliffe Singers, Lancashire Sinfoniettia and the Congleton Choral Society; and as a consort singer with the Choir of the Age of Enlightenment and the Gabrieli Consort. She is the proud winner of the 2013 AESS Patricia Routledge Award for English Song.

Special thanks to the following for their support: James Conway, English Touring Opera, Rob Watt, Helen Edwards and Jenny Miller. 

Hunger was developed with the support of the National Theatre Young Studio, supported by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation