Mez Packer – The Hand That Feeds – IF MUSIC BE THE FOOD
IF MUSIC BE THE FOOD…
It was back in spring, 2015, when Kate Cooper asked if I’d like to be involved in a “mad food crime opera”. The challenge, she said, was to turn facts about food crime into an entertaining and accessible story. I was dubious, I mean what was food crime? But Kate’s passion about raising awareness about food adulteration and food fraud was infectious, and I was hooked.
Kate had already invited jazz composer, Sara Colman, to write the music and she wanted me to write the story and lyrics. As soon as I met Sara I knew we could work together. In fact our first day writing was hilarious.
It was more of a ‘getting to know you’ session to be honest where we learnt about one another’s way of working, our creative likes and dislikes and our musical influences. It didn’t feel like work at all, but looking back it was such an important part of the process – developing a creative partnership and bonding. It meant that when the writing did start it was natural and fluid and we came up with the theme and the central story quite quickly.
There were some blocks and hiccups. Sara and I live 100 miles apart and working remotely sometimes posed problems––thank God for Googledocs and Skype. Also, the fiction we were writing didn’t always feel like a suitable vehicle for the scary subject of food crime and it took work to ensure it was entertaining whilst keeping the focus on facts and statistics. But as the process went on we had the songs mapped out (if not written) and things were beginning to come together.
The real breakthrough, for me, was at the end of last summer. Sara was working in France and she emailed through the first three audio files. Sara was singing and accompanying herself on the piano––and it was magical. The lyrics and the music had come together and the mad food crime opera had become an entertaining musical with an important message!
Now all the songs are written and I love them all, although I do have a favourite, of course. But primarily I hope we have done justice to Kate Cooper’s vision and that the important #stopfoodcrime message reaches a wide audience and makes people want to sing along!
Mez Packer – Narrativium Chemist – Writer
More The Hand That Feeds… team posts
“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 bagscan collect them before and after the performances.