The Carp Flop

This Spring, I'm really hoping to progress The Carp Flop, the new music-theatre/opera project I began working on with composer Lauren Redhead about (who was my collaborator on Green Angel) on and off since January. It's a kind of dialogue with Iby Knill, my 90 year old friend in Leeds, who is a Holocaust survivor among many other things (recently on 'Eggheads' on the TV). Here's Iby and a young friend at the launch of 6 million+ at the University of Huddersfield in June – not too bad for 90!!

For a week last year, Iby's autobiography, 'The woman without a number', was the best seller on Amazon. I'm playing with all with the 'food' anecdotes/images in her autobiography, like chasing a carp flopping about the room, a brown egg at a farmhouse after escaping from a long forced march and meat paste sandwiches on arriving in England. I have a feeling the performance might include food as well as music and words, and I know it will have moments of lightness and humour, so a bit different to the tragedies of the extreme I was involved with during my PhD. Iby has been kind enough to grant her permission, writing 'How can I resist? Food, glorious food!'. So far I've written three pieces, and they've been set to music by Lauren. One is about a gift of plums from Iby's garden, one about the 'ersatz coffee' made out of acorns she hated when she was on a forced march at the end of the war, and the third (which gives the work its title ) is about when she was on the run from Bratislava, and working as a help in a house in Budapest:

Carp flop

Ferenc: (offstage) Carp for dinner. Fresh carp for dinner!

He enters.

I've brought fresh fish for you to cook.

Iby: But I don't know what to do.

I don't know what to do!

He takes newspaper fish out of the basket and they flap about.

Ferenc: They're fresh. You'll have to kill them first!

Iby: But how?

Ferenc: Bash them on the back of the head

until they're dead!

Bash them on the back of the head

until they're dead!

Iby: Oh... but –

Ferenc: Bash them on the back of the head

until they're dead!

Bashing and flopping.

Little girl (unseen): What are you doing Iby? What ARE you doing?

Iby: I'm trying to kill the fish.

I'm trying to kill the fish.

Little girl (unseen Mummy, mummy, Iby's trying to kill the fish.

She's murdering the fish.

You're a murderer Iby!

You're a fish murderer!

Murderer! Murderer!

Iby: (bashing away) But they won't die. The carps flap.

They flip-flap. The carps flap.

They flap-flip. I mean flip-flop.

The carp flop! The carp flop!

Silly words but they turned out to be great for dynamic, humorous action! We were able to try out the three sections with Stef Connor and Simon Walton, two members of the London based Vocal Constructivists at the Music and/as Process 2nd annual conference at Canterbury Christ Church University in June.

Watch the result here >

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