Illustrated lectures and workshops
Given at: Dartington Hall International Summer School; Globe Theatre Education; Huntington Library, California: Conference; Institute of Musical Research, Senate House London; Rose Bruford College of Theatre and Performance; Dolmetsch Historical Dance Society Study Forum; Cecil Sharp House Ballad Day Conference; Essex University; Society for Theatre Research; National Maritime Museum Greenwich
The Elizabethan Dramatic Jig
Comical, bawdy and sometimes libellous, the 'dramatic jig' was not simply a dance but a short musical play. With a cast of whores, lechers, cuckolds, housewives, ruffians and bumpkins, jigs were through-sung to popular tunes and featured elements of dance, slapstick and disguise. They drew large crowds to London's Tudor and Stuart playhouses where they regularly followed as afterpieces, offering a lively antidote to more sober theatrical fare.
I discuss the research and reconstruction of the nine surviving dramatic jigs undertaken for my book 'Singing Simpkin and other Bawdy Jigs' and for my CD 'The English Stage Jig', their performance, language and musical aspects.
I also offer a practical Workshop (half-day, full day or over several days) suitable for singers, singing-actors and instrumentalists of all levels with an interest in folk and popular styles and improvisation. We explore plots, characters, music and staging and, where appropriate, work towards an informal performance.
Samuel Pepys and Music
To Pepys, music wasn't just a pleasant pastime; it was also an art of great significance;"The thing of the world that I love most' as he put it. On almost every page in his diary he records his experiences as a listener, singer, player and a frustrated composer, and his great desire to share his musical passion with others. He designed a room in his home for music-making, mixed with some of the finest composers of the day and commented on music in the theatre, the Chapel Royal and the tavern.
This richly illustrated Talk, with recorded music is based on my BBC radio feature about Pepys and Music, and on my edition of ballads from the Pepys library, 'Broadside Ballads'.
Penny Merriments; 17th century broadside ballads
With live music accompanied on lute and cittern
The broadside ballads that flooded the streets of England from Shakespeare's time to the end of the 1600s were the pop songs of their day. Printed in their thousands and distributed by rough-singing pedlars, their simple rhyming stanzas featured everything from royal gossip, comical stories and romance to fashion, religion and political comment; and were sung to some of the most delightful popular tunes England has ever produced.
With sung examples and projected images, we explore the context in which these ballads were written, printed, sold and performed, their language, and musical and historical references; and, in true ballad tradition, the audience is invited to join in a chorus or two.