Stuart Stevens’ “All about and to a female artist” – CODA Festival
The story is well documented of the controversy and critical backlash caused by the West End debut of Shelagh Delaney’s A Taste Of Honey in 1959. So, how do you respond to the bigoted male reviewers’ cynical attitude towards you, formed because you are a young woman from a working class background in Salford? And what do you do with the sackfuls of begging letters and anonymous insults, even threats, now dropping through your letterbox? What Shelagh did was assemble the “best” of them into a collage of squawking heads and bleating mouths – she turned their meaningless meanderings into something worth printing.
I have taken this recycling a stage further, up-cycling Shelagh’s intervention and creating a new music melodrama (as in, melody plus drama) – not opera, nor musical theatre, nor concert, nor play, yet containing elements of all of them. The piece is written in my unusual system of musical harmony, which uses 31 notes instead of the 12 on a standard piano.