The #StopFoodCrime THTF team – part one – Creatives
Who’s who in the team?
By Kate Cooper
When I was ‘subject leader for innovation’ at the Warwick Manufacturing Group, I felt this gave me a certain licence, so I introduced an evening slot within the week-long residential course. Then a couple of days later, the delegates met the jazz band I’d asked to come along. The evening was huge fun, and they learned some very basic stuff — like the unusual happens, like rigidity of rules can force creativity, and all that jazz!
Two members of that band were Sara Colman and Al Gurr, both involved on this project, a musical about food crime “The Hand That Feeds”. I’d long wanted to commission Sara to write some songs. Yay! Here was the chance. And she asked Al, who’s a stunningly proficient and imaginative musician, one of those irritating people who can make music out of any instrument.
I also teamed Sara up with the novelist Mez Packer as the librettist. Neither had met each other, but I knew they’d get on well and they had complementary talents. Over-lapping talents, in fact; I hadn’t realised Mez had toured Europe as a jazz singer yonks ago.
Sara was keen to find a role for the incredibly talented young musician, Xhosa Cole whose career I’ve been following ever since I heard him do some magical sounds with the Jazzlines Summer School a couple of years back. I leapt at the chance. Of course there’s a place for such talent. I’ll wager there’ll be a fair number of people who’ll remember they first heard him on 14th May 2016 outside St Martins in the Bullring.
Graeme Rose of Stan’s Cafe is our director. He’d led the first Narrativium Project. I was really pleased — and relived that he said he’d direct this. I learned on the first project that the man often looks incredibly worried; I think it might be a quirk of his face. I hope so. Whatever, he’s got this brilliant capacity to make a drama out of my crisis of how the heck to translate this sketchy idea into a great piece of theatre.
He also knows people in the business. And, importantly, how to get them involved. To me, perhaps his greatest stroke of genius was to get Charlotte Gregory as our producer. Hilariously funny, utterly charming and with a lovely soprano voice (which I want to hear floating in the air on the performance day, but might not persuade her so to do) she can also pen in, pin down, generally corral this mixed bag of people into a stream-lined production machine.
Charlotte’s organisation skills allows Graeme’s two choices of performers, Sam Fox of the Kiln Ensemble and Anthony Miles to do their thing and jiggle their schedules to be with us. (I don’t think I’m giving away too much of the plot to tell you that Sam does an astonishingly accurate rendition of how I imagine a sheep would sing.)
Graeme and Charlotte between them decided to ask Chris Cuthbert to do all the technical stuff. Graeme Braidwood is the photographer on the project. Both of them, along with Caron Lyon whose in charge of getting word out about it all on social media, came along to our “development day” at our partner, MAC Birmingham on 17th March.
Over the next few weeks the company will be sharing their own stories about how they came to be involved with my ‘mad opera’.
Kate Cooper – Chief Narrativium Prospector at The New Optimists
“The Hand That Feeds – a musical about food crime” is being staged on the steps of St Martin’s in the Bullring, Birmingham city centre – Saturday 14th May at 12 noon and again at 2.30pm.
Those that register for #StopFoodCrime-fighter goodie bags can collect them before and after the performances.