The fifth night of tragedy is now over. This was a finale of sorts, as it was the last Stand Up Tragedy night at the Leicester Square Theatre for the moment. Our tragedy may return to the LST stage or to other stages in London in the near future. We are currently making plans to take the show to the Edinburgh Festival in 2013. So in other ways this is just the beginning.
So let me tell you about the end of the beginning:
Asia Peksa and I started off the night debuting our music project A Room Full of Friends. We sang Bones, a song about two lovers looking into each others eyes and realising that their relationship will never work. This was the first of three songs that we performed; all three were about imagined relationships that are are tragically unable to work in one way or another.
Then James Ross from Fat Kitten Improv tried out some of his stand up material. After high fiving every member of the audience he talked about moustaches, squids, public displays of affection and more, bringing the tragic out of the comic and finding the comic in the tragic.
Next Radcliffe Royds returned to the SUT stage to tell a true story of how he came to be a crack addict living in a skip in Soho and where he ended up going from there. When he first performed his story back at SUT2 he didn’t have enough time to tell the complete story, but his story is so good that I had to invite him back so we could here the end. And what an ending it is. Radcliffe captivated the audience by telling a sad and painful story in a charming and disarming way.
Then A Room Full of Friends sang our second song, Fragile Rain, which is a love song where a man meets a woman… and then kills her.
Following this Marianne Morris performed her powerful, savage and beautiful poem So Few Richards, So Many Dicks.
And then we had the final song from A Room Full of Friends, Apple Pip in the Ground, a bitter song where the narrator looks back at a relationship that’s failed and tries to make sense of what happened; mixing anger, sadness, confusion, love, pain this song took the audience on a rollercoaster ride of tragic emotions.
Left slightly stunned by some of the more shouty bits of that song the audience were glad to be in the safe hands of storyteller Stephe Harrop who charmed us with a twisted, bleak, brooding fairy tale set in the city of London.
Next Timandra Harkness performed some comedy about the statistics of death, at one point making the front row into a graph! We were told that drinking alcohol (in moderation) will help us live longer as will getting married. She made everyone laugh and think.
Then we finished the first half on a sad high as the amazing singer-songwriter Grace Petrie sang the first of her three songs; Maggie Thatcher’s Dreams. The audience clapped and cheered in recognition of the powerful way she summed up the feelings of a generation towards the current political situation whilst at the same time telling a personal narrative about love and longing. The tragedy that is currently unfolding all around us was told beautifully and directly by a very talented performer.
Almost hypnotised by his performance the audience was then thrown into a completely different state as they were greeted by four people in togas and laurel wreaths playing recorders. This was The Improvised Greek Tragedy who did exactly what they say on the tin and improvised a Greek Tragedy style story based on the life of a reluctant audience member. Their performance worked really well and they showed great skill and craft as improvisers.
Next Grace Petrie returned to lift our spirits with an optimistic love song about a car that allowed her to visit her girlfriend in the early days of their relationship.
Spoken Word artist Richard Tyrone Jones then told us, through a mix of stand up and poetry, about discovering he has a life threatening heart condition. His set was an extract from his excellent one man show Richard Tyrone Jones has a Big Heart.
Then for the last time of this run The Reactionaries led the audience in a round of our regular theme song, The Tragedy is Over.
And now, like the song says, it’s time to go.
Host of Stand Up Tragedy
Hailed as the voice of a new generation by listeners and critics alike, Leicester’s Grace Petrie emerged from the blossoming East Midlands music scene in 2006, at the age of 18. Her lyrically led pop-folk soon began to draw attention, and after a well-received first album that earned her a dedicated local fan base, she managed to break on to the festival circuit and was welcomed at both of Leicester’s major festivals, The Big Session and Summer Sundae.
But in 2010, Grace found a new direction: following her outrage and heartbreak at the general election, she picked up her guitar one day and wrote what has since become one of the strongest anti-establishment anthems of recent years: Farewell to Welfare. When protest legend Billy Bragg heard her music, he hand-picked her to play on his Leftfield stage at Glastonbury alongside Frank Turner, The Agitator and Bragg himself, who was moved to comment after her performance that she “stole the f***ing show, sister.”
2011 saw Grace Petrie’s music explode on a national scale, with features in the Guardian, the New Statesman and Clash magazine, as well as interviews on the BBC’s 6music radio. After touring the UK with Emmy the Great and Josie Long, Grace returned to the studio to produce her newest release, Mark My Words, a record of blistering political tributes to her protesting generation.
Richard Tyrone Jones has a Big Heart
Richard Tyrone Jones runs ‘Utter!’ spoken word events, MisGuided tours, schools workshops and is working on three books, as well as sometimes being a spokes-utan for ginger rights and Director of spoken word at the Edinburgh Free Fringe. Oh yeah and his solo show ‘Richard Tyrone Jones has a Big Heart’ is touring the UK & Edinburgh Fringe this year, supported by the Wellcome Trust. Not bad for a man who almost died of heart failure aged 30. The show’s ‘fascinating, sobering, hilarious, and ultimately uplifting’ according to New Scientist and he’s doing bits here tonight.
Steve has appeared on Blue Peter as their resident science expert and runs the sell-out night of science and comedy, Festival of The Spoken Nerd.
Timandra has just finished touring Your Days Are Numbered: the maths of death in the UK, Adelaide Fringe and Melbourne Comedy Festival with Matt Parker. Which meant she was probably the only comedian to be on tour while also having an article in the Journal of the Royal Statistical Society. She is now working on new stuff. This is some of it.
“Harkness has a deadly wit” The Scotsman
“Exponentially funny” Three Weeks
At Stand Up Tragedy she’ll be sharing a bleak, brooding fairy tale with no magic and definitely no singing mice, set against the backdrop of the city of London. Find out more at www.stepheharrop.co.uk.
A regular contributor to Spark London‘s live storytelling events Radcliffe draws on his experiences of a life well lived and has managed to spectacularly overcome the twin advantages of a private education and a private income to achieve utter mediocrity, homelessness and despair far in excess of any expectations his background might suggest!
This is Radcliffe’s second appearance at Stand Up Tragedy. He first told his story in March. He’s coming back to give us the less abridged version.
The Improvised Greek Tragedy
Do you ever have disagreements with your spouse or partner? Perhaps you are envious of a colleague’s success? Or is your relationship with your close family a complex one? The Improvised Greek Tragedy takes your everyday petty troubles and presents them back to you in the form of a fully improvised Sophoclean drama in miniature, based entirely on audience suggestions and concocted on the hoof, complete with an all-singing, all-dancing Greek chorus. Featuring the hottest new improvisers from the London scene and directed by the mercurial Michael Brunström (Curt Hatred, Fingers On Buzzards, The Human Loire), the Improvised Greek Tragedy promises to be a cathartic and memorable experience.
Expect lyric poetry, masks, divine punishment, flutes, incest and a singing goat.
Marianne Morris is a poet. She is the author of Tutu Muse (Fly By Night Press, 2007) and Commitment (Critical Documents, 2011). She started Bad Press in 2002, and was the 2008 recipient of the Harper Wood Scholarship for Creative Writing. Her work will feature in Bloodaxe’s forthcoming anthology, Dear World & Everyone In It: New Poetry in the UK.
James is an award-winning improv comedian and founder of Fat Kitten Improv (fatkittenimprov.com). He brings a spot of non-traditional stand-up to the show.
Alex Cameron is an electro folksinger in the chiptune style. He adapts old folk songs to the 1980s ZX Spectrum sound chip and plays finger style guitar over them. He sings a bit too. The sound chip he uses is the “General Instrument AY-3-8910.” It’s not had a lot of love over the years and Alex feels its time to be rediscovered as 21st Century Folk instrument has come (Although he’s mainly still waiting for someone to invent the MIDI Hurdy Gurdy). Tonight, he will be playing specially selected songs of delayed heartbreak, the standard tragedy of home and seventeen long years of alcohol abuse (and owning a Windows PC).