Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Your Obituaries Wanted

Hi Deadsters

Love the photos of the new venue, eh?

Well, I have in addition a lil' request from those of you taking part in the production.

We will be putting a little 'In Memoriam' programme for The Dead That Never Lived featuring our cast/crew /writers and we'd like to include a short obituary for each person. Think of how you might like to have shuffled off this mortal coil and what say a short 2 line obit could say about you...

If you could post them onto this blog for inclusion in our programme alongside running order and the lyrics for Death Never Fucking Stops that would be fab. It would be good if you could post them by, say, early next week??

Go easy on the Bizarre Gardening Accidents Mind.....


New venue

Here is our new venue- approx 100's a masonic lecture hall. Here we're looking down at the 'stage'. I suggest we put the newsdesk at the back and the lectern at the front. There's doors directly to the left and right of the stage which lead off to antechambers, in case we need a backstage.

Here's the space at the back of the room for the band. We leave them out in the lobby until after the audience is seated, then seal 'em in with brass.

Nice big wall to project onto.

Previous presidents of the Masons line the walls. Ooooo.

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Dead That Never Lived Residency and Production - the latest!

Hello Dead That Never Lived but Very Much Alive Artists

Voodoo Word Circus : The Dead That Never Lived main event in Newcastle is not long now!

This is just a quick update on things, especially for all of you that are participating in the event

Where and when?

As many of you will know by now, The Round took a sad and sudden demise earlier this month and has now closed down. The new venue for VWC is The Mining Institute, Westgate Road in Newcastle NE1 1SE Tel. 0191 233 2459 (opposite Revolution Bar for you revellers!) It’s a fantastic old neo-Gothic building and Victorian Lecture Theatre – pictures of it are gonna be available here over the next couple of days.

The dates for the 3 day residency are however the same and are:

Tuesday 10 June from 10am – 5pm
Wednesday 11 June from 10am – 5pm
Thursday 12 June from 9am onwards with the show starting at 8pm

What do I need to do before the residency?

By now most – if not all of you – will have been in contact with Ross to develop your pieces prior to the 3 days. It’s really important that you come to the 3 days with as complete lines / parts learned as you can. There will be the opportunity to develop ideas over the 3 days, but it is important that the basics of what we are doing in place so that we can make it as smooth a process as possible culminating in a fantastic show.

Dress code: As you will have gathered, the show is strongly reminiscent of a funeral congregation. Apart from a couple of you that we are organising specific costume requirements for, come wearing the following: white shirt, black tie, black jacket or blazer and dark trousers. If any of this is going to be difficult for you to source get in touch with Claire now (Claire’s number is 0785 474 8846)

Will I be reimbursed expenses?

If you are performing we will reimburse up to the first £10 per day of travel expenses per participant (£15 if you are coming from outside Tyne and Wear). For this we will need travel tickets or receipts. If you are coming by car we can reimburse you at 40p per mile up to the first £10 of your costs per day. A light lunch and tea/coffee will be provided each day for participants. Early birds will get tea/coffee and biscuit if they get there at 9.30am or 8.30 on the Thursday! We will also provide a light evening meal on Thursday 12th, to keep you going before the big event!

Can I buy tickets for Voodoo Word Circus: The Dead That Never lived?

Tickets are £6 each and will be for sale on the door on the night. If anyone would like to reserve tickets before the event then they can get in touch with Claire and she will put people’s names down on the list. For you folks who have contributed work to this blog which is being included in the show give me a shout and we'll sort you a comp!

If I have any further questions, who can I contact?

Claire Morgan, Artistic Director for Monkfish Productions, at or on 0785 474 8846

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Charles Manson

Here are my films for the Charles Manson section of the show.

No visuals up until PIG gets written on the mirror at the end of 'Jay Sebring". Then this happens:

The next poem starts after it goes back to static, then Manson appears onscreen for the first stanza. After that I ended the film because it seemed distracting.

The next film happens mid-way through 'Wipe Out" after Angela says "They wouldn't understand the process / Let's do it for Charlie". Rather than do ambient visuals, I've done a short film with sound (its a poem by Manson) the action stops while this happens. When it finishes, Shirley starts speaking at the lectern: "Their bald heads glow under the courtroom lights"

The next film plays silently in the background of the interview scene. It's nothing special- just an unedited program on Manson. This version has sound but I'll mute it.

Finally, as the last poem ends, I made this film to cap it off:

I wanted this final film to show how these murders have become fiction themselves. For me, this footage completes the circuit, creating an endless recycling process. Recycling death, I guess.

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Death Never Fucking Stops

So, here's my stab at the hymn, to be sung at the end of the event. It's written to the tune of 'He Who Would Valiant Be', also known as 'To Be A Pilgrim'. It's now called 'Death Never Fucking Stops'. Full credit to Mike for the title and the idea... this piece started as a list poem that he sent me. I kept a few of the images.

It's not syllable-by-syllable perfect- you have to mash/elongate a couple of the words. This poem is completely public domain so feel free to rewrite and repost.

Death never fucking stops;
He puts the hours in.
Always against the clock
No sleigh to pull him.
Each bullet fo’llowed,
Wrists to open, eyes to close.
Constant parties to throw
Off tops of buildings.

Death never fucking stops
He works and plays hard:
Hanging out in Camden Lock,
Snogging Jodie Marsh.
Masks sold at rock concerts,
Buckcherry tee-shirts,
Gnarly joss stick holders.
Death is well wicked.

Death never fucking stops;
No time for callbacks.
All fire escapes are blocked
On a large enough map.
He’s got a Saab to crash
A crowded lift to shaft
A jam session with Slash
And then he’ll kill him.

OK, so now try singing it along to the hymn:

Good! Now again, with more intensity!

Monday, 19 May 2008

Niagara: Marilyn film

First draft of the film to be projected behind the 'Niagra' poem from the Marilyn Monroe series...

Friday, 16 May 2008

Running order

Hello, hello. So this is the current running order I imagine for TDTNL: it's not completely finalised, but its getting there. I don't really want to go over 70mins- after all, it's an intense show. Currently I think we're pretty close to that top limit. Putting something new in means taking something else out, which I don't really want to do.

0. (As audience are entering:) "Electric Voice Phenomenon" (video)
1. "George Aligayah" by Jon Osbourne (performed by James Fisher)
2. "Ghost Town" by The Specials (played by the 10th Street Band, with video montage)
3. "Sermon Intro" by Ross Sutherland (performed by Ross Sutherland)
4. "The Impossible Deathbed Lament Of Scrooge McDuck" by Tim Clare (performed by Tim Clare)
5. "Snow White finally succumbs" by Moxy (video)
6. "Andy Lippincott" by Jeff price (performed by Viv Wiggins)
7. [Song] by Ben Holland
8. "Rutger Haur" by Ross Sutherland (performed by Simon Hymes)
9. "Lon Cheney" by Claire Morgan (video)
10. "Marilyn poems"x3 by Angela Readman (performed by Angela White, Amanda Fearnehough & Shirley Lewis)
11. [song] by the 10th Street Band
12. "Grim Reaper" by Mike Edwards (performed by Mike Edwards)
13. "The 23786th Day" by Emma Hammond (video)
14. "Manson Family poems" by Jo Colley (performed by Angela White, Amanda Fearnehough & Shirley Lewis)
15. "Election" by Simon Hymes and Robbie Hurst (video)
16. "Autopsy" by Ross Sutherland (performed by Robbie Hurst, Viv Wiggins, Steve Urwin & Claire Morgan)
17. "Dog-eared death" by Moxy (performed by Moxy)
18. "Death Never Fucking Stops" by Ross Sutherland & Mike Edwards (performed by entire cast)
19. "Sermon close" by Ross Sutherland (performed by Ross Sutherland)

Jesus, that's one hefty mother-hubbard. My apologies to all those who submitted material that didn't make the cut. More often than not, those decisions were based on which work I could find audio-visual collaborators for. Some great stuff was rejected on the ground that it too far from the original conceit to justify inclusion.

Let me talk though the show thematically, or at least the way I see it: the first half of the show deals explicitly with the deaths of famous fictional characters. At "Rutger Hauer", things shift into the mediation of dying actors. Then, with the arrival of the Grim Reaper himself at no.12, we find ourselves on the other side of the looking glass. Fictional death can no longer be distinguished from reality, as we travel through the Manson poems, towards the surreal dogma of Moxy's 'Dog-eared Death" piece. Now that the logic og the show has disintegrated, the entire cast (along with the audience) sing a song. Namely, "Death Never Fucking Stops", which I'll post up here in a minute. It's written to the tune of the old hymn "To Be a Pilgrim", accompanied by the 10th Street Band. Then I close the show with a quote from The Incredible Shrinking Man. Then we get drunk, go to bed, and the next day is the first day of the rest of our lives.

So, not so much a narrative arc as a slow descent into madness. But I think it works.

The Story of Agnew Bis

Local dogs are attached to the hook of a 70 metre crane
By their extendable leads.
Agnew Bis, the operator, with a bank of cctv monitors guiding his lever,
Gently draws them along their respective streets.
All the dogs he walks have undergone radical surgery:
Removal of the left side of their brain.
The technical term is 'hemispherectomy.'

The crane operator, Agnew Bis, occupies a cab slotted
65 metres into the sky. He says, 'Let me refresh your glass,'
Before applying a chamois to the inside of his four identical windows.
Latex coated wipers sluice the outside
Leaving a thickening cuticle of ash and particulate
Puffed from the nearby fluted steel chimney.

Following a period of post-operative convalescence,
All the dogs routinely stockpile detritus,
Storing it between gum and cheek.
By the end of their walk, their jaws are swollen beyond recognition.
Some owners have fitted the dogs with wicker panniers
And taught them to distribute their finds first to the right,
Then to the left.
The council is now considering payment of a small fee
In recognition of the dogs' assistance in the fight against fouling --
If a dog dungs, the succeeding post-operative dog
Will always gather it up.
This is a fully realised urban ecological cycle.

The hollow in their canine skulls is quickly filled
With an expanded right hemisphere.
The new brain tissue is smooth
With the grey matter like the flush of growth following a razor.

For the past month, Agnew Bis has watched the dogs
Calibrating lamp posts and post boxes with their urine,
Organising a pissing rota that has the tallest breeds visiting first
And then allowing an interval of time to pass
So a visible residue is established,
Before the next dogs piss.
Each successive dog is smaller than his predecessor

Bitches have created a rota that spirals outwards
From a hub.

Exactly why the dogs and bitches require
A means of measurement is unclear.
However, Agnew Bis has observed a physiological change
In their hind paws. The pads have fused, the digits have elongated.
They more and more resemble human feet.
Agnew Bis recalls having read that Julius Caesar's favourite horse
Had feet identical to its rider.

A bird, possibly a hoopoe, regularly visits the derrick
And inches down the gantry,
Liming it with the precision of a groundsman or groundswoman
Defining a pitch.

Following the removal of a tumour,
Inside the skull of Agnew Bis
Is the surgically transplanted left hemisphere
Of a German Shepherd Dog.
After his operation, he was sent to puppy school.

The crane is also a Foucault’s pendulum
The dependant chain registers the earth's rotation
And swings in a broad figure of eight
Which Agnew Bis has to correct before the dogs he walks
Are coerced into unfamiliar routes by physics.

Occasionally, he is buzzed by hang gliding graffiti artists.
They have tagged the fluted steel chimney opposite.
Agnew Bis fights them off with a high power water gun
Filled with bacterially ravaged eye drops.
Despite their protective goggles,
The hang gliding graffiti artists plunge to earth
With severe conjunctivitis.

Agnew Bis sleeps in the cab of his crane
Wrapped in 5 layers of medical examination-table paper.
His vitrine is the waning moon.

20 metres below him
His lover is frozen with vertigo inside the hooped access ladder.
Her increasingly skeletonized form feeds the ideal of industrial beauty.

At night Agnew Bis uses the crane's hook
To ease the factories and houses
From their foundations, lifting one edge,

Letting the hoopoe in.

Then he listens to what remains of his lover's heartbeat
Crawling slowly through the metal.

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Death of fictitious characters

Was thinking about the death of fictitious characters and remembered about this, so I thought that I'd post it.

Monday, 12 May 2008

Garden of Remembrance of The Serious Consequences Of Road Accidents, with Restaurant

The forecourt has a border of cracked prosthetic limbs
They intertwine by grip or lateral crossing
Their proximity
Dense enough to keep out dogs
And creeping infants

Each rejected transplant organ buried here
Retains the name of donor and recipient
On embossed plaques mimicking get well and condolence cards

In the Book of Memory
Boxed to resemble a pay and park vending machine
Visitors scribble anecdotes from the point
When time slowed down
Some pages are left blank
Others are blotched red when sufficient pressure was applied
To staunch bleeding from a major artery
And drive a pen through paper

There is a restaurant for those affected in any way
Where all meat is roasted after being opened, pinned
And prepped
And the cause of death recorded

Sauces simmer and evaporate
Like petrol when the engine’s gunning

Cotton wadding is suggested
By bread rolls peeled of crust

Soup of the day is borsch
Or cream of tomato

A calibrated, green light beam generated by the table decoration
Leans against every face
Pinpointing surgical reconstruction and automatically
Generating a 10% discount

Orders are taken via two-way radio
One notch beneath the emergency services’ protected bandwidth

Patrons are respectfully reminded that
Reservations will not be taken in advance

This Happened

A woman was executed and her body duly delivered to an institute
Where it was cleansed, shaved, bled, arranged, plattered
On an industrial stainless steel bed
And cut into transverse slices one millimetre thick
Each sliver lit scanned photographed processed logged
The whole reassembled digitally
And released on licensed software, as a download or CD Rom
For educative purposes

And a copy sent to her parents by recorded delivery
With a hand-penned message
From their daughter
And a compliment slip

And her father, attempting to configure which
Among the assorted protocols of bereavement
Would be the appropriate response
Whether to regard the CD Rom as remains
Or something he should pack into a coffin
And have the priest deliberate over
And classify and consign
And relinquish
And walk away from
Or whether he should feed the CD into the drive
And watch

He pressed play

At night in secret the mother printed off sufficient to produce
A face

She found
When the sheets were flicked like a children’s basic animation
The faint distortion of perspective created by the falling angle
Made something recognisable
An expression
Held then forsaken
For absolute passivity

Or maybe that was peace

Thursday, 8 May 2008

Ghost Town

Opening the show is a live rendition of Ghost Town by the 10th Street Band. Here are some visuals to go with it:

That Ol’ Fuddy Duddy Killer

That Ol’ Fuddy Duddy Killer

“Bald head
and fuzzy logic,
he always gave up
that inanimate
when burrowing
his head in the hole;
but only,
when the Brothers let him….”

In a ladies dress
the hunter shot him dead.
Lipstick smeared
with blood.
(Or was it the other way round?)
Teeth crooked
no carrot gold fillings
to steal
or pawn
or use as a souvenir.
Crocodile tears from a mammal?
Was he despicable?
Or just afraid that five minutes
were truly over.

Opening to show

Hi guys- just finished the first draft of my opening to The Dead That Never Lived. I'm keen to hear peoples thoughts. So, you have to imagine everyone in black tie, me at a lectern in full evangelical swing:

Brothers and sisters, we are gathered here today to give thanks. To pay our respects. To make tribute. To give hope and comfort to those left behind. And by “those left behind” I mean of course, “those brutally cheated out of any sense of reconciliation or justice.”

[Congregation: Amen!]

Yes, surprise, [pic of death] Death is unfair, no matter how much we pretend otherwise. If Death was a charming Edwardian jester that arrived at a predetermined date and vanished you away with a playful nod, he wouldn’t be called Death, he would be called Mr Claypole from Rentaghost. [Picture of Mr Claypole.] And we would have great fun watching him nonny about on a haunted pantomine horse, saying words like ‘gadzooks’ and ‘methinks’. But meanwhile, [pic of death] Death would still be out there, being Death, going about his business of indiscriminately killing people.

[Congregation: Amen!]

If only Mr Claypole was the fourth horseman, what a cripplingly wonderful world that would be. But it is a fiction, friends.

We have always looked to Fiction for a painless death. And verily, it gives it to us: hour after hour, night after night, beamed right into the comfort of our living rooms. A massacre in our own homes. Fiction, our great educator.

And so, we supplement the real with the virtual. We give death its soundtrack. We exchange rotting flesh for Michael Douglas. We hack open the skull and call it “Horror”. Horror! Who now knows what that means… ?

What is this New Death we have created? Brothers and sisters, we are trapped in the reflection of the silver screen, endlessly rehearsing our own demise. Displaced, anesthetised... Death: the end-of-series special.

No. No longer.

[Congregation: No longer!]

Let us not trivialize these deaths. Let us not reduce them to vapid allegory, plot devices and cancelled contracts. Let the dead be counted. Let us mourn! Let us reach out and touch them, as we have been touched by so many: [pictures for each] Catherine Earnshaw, Dr Zhivago, Arthur Fowler, Bonnie and Clyde, Bambi, Spock.

[Congregation: Amen!]

In death, each of these names has become more. Amongst the thousands of characters we have met throughout a lifetime of fiction. Of all the souls we have encountered on our travels, theirs are the most... [cf. Shatner at start of Search for Spock]….human.

If the cancellation of a programme is tantamount to its death, then the re-run is its resurrection. Death becomes a constant cycle, an unbroken circle…

[Ring of light appears around the lectern.]

…a never-ending circus of death and rebirth.

But tonight we break the chain. For one hour only: long enough to bury our past, once and for all. The television set, like the sun, has bathed us since birth in its lethal glow. And now that the sun has set and the cool of the evening has come, some of the warmth that we have absorbed is flowing back in the other direction.

Just long enough to give thanks. To pay respects. To make tribute. To give hope and comfort to those left behind. And by “those left behind” I mean of course, Us: The audience, the lost protagonists. Those of us who must go on beyond the end. Once the credits have rolled and the lights go up, we must leave the auditorium and face the horrors that lurk beyond the plot arc, our fates uncertain.

The reels of tape are boxed and stacked. The doors are locked. And the rest, as they say, is silence.

Monday, 5 May 2008

Cosmology Dud

Oh no, it’s the Entirely Hairless
Disreputable Philatelist
He predates chronology
He’s from Wayback When

Moonlight spattered motor-parts
And the missing pre-oiled Erwartung
Skydived a trajectory
Like a dandruff knocked from god

Meanwhile next door there’s the ill behaviour of a libidinal wraith
Famous for unsnapping brassieres
So the male ghost hunters attempting to communicate slip brassieres OVER their tee-shirts.
So the male ghost hunters attempting to communicate slip the brassieres UNDER their tee-shirts.
Ping. Result.
‘Unsnap two brassieres for ‘yes’ and one for ‘no,’ they repeat.
Ping ping
‘Thank you.’

Meanwhile, next door to them,
It’s the old quadratic formula
Isopods are uniting under a recipe that involves
Resuscitation of ingredients killed
In the usual transaction between
Nature and Cuisine

So soup’s off
And the cook serves bog in a deep tureen.
‘Dish it up yourselves,’ she smirks.
Everyone tucks in, except her.
Five minutes into the meal,
The swallowed bog is swallowing them,
Tipping them into itself intestines-first
So they’re still on their chairs but flipped inside out
And disappearing into a gurgle.

How do I know all this?
Well, I am the bee responsible for pocketing the decimal point.
My domicile’s a small resort
Where lightning’s fused the shoreline into glass.
I can categorically confirm that the numbers
1,2,3,4,5 are dead.
They shared the same ambition and it killed them –
They dreamed of being visually unchanged by distance
And were mauled by the horizon at Motherwell

Now when you think of the numbers
1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & 5
You will experience these visions:
A buttock heaved into a goldfish bowl
A triangle orbiting an ambulance

No Parental Care/ Full Circle

He froze time with one bullet

(“my eyes burn”)


To miss me

But struck my future

Taking the city’s past

(“all I could be”)

for a spin

Now knee deep in love

As vengeance

(“And like the child down

a well”)

continuing to fall


in tarnished Armour

but feeling forever


But I now fear

I have


the dark

that I was lost in right

(“left turn,

Out of the city limits”)

at the beginning

of all this.

Saturday, 3 May 2008


Think butterfly

Spin the bottle is banned
Because of the
On the weather elsewhere
The reiterative vector of air disturbance
Certain Eastern nations may well interpret as
Acts of Aggression aimed at regimes remaining
Non-complicit with assorted Western Alliances

Spin the bottle means
Currents coiled into
The air blast differential of a bomb
A self-assembling bomb
Energetically stuffing momentum into its thump
Timed to explode half-a-world-away

Ethnicity is now a reversible butterfly
a proportionate volume
Like body mass index
Below you'll find
Specific regimes designed
To bulk
Or trim it
Order your plan now

Neither blandishment nor
But sensational overhaul

Means the death of bigotry

Opponents liken the exercises to
Coercive yoga
A series of sustained postures
But testimonials categorically proclaim
They trip a surge of
Platforms from which lightweight champions
Doodle on plywood scoreboards
Uniting the masses

Hate & dissonance
Require categories

Says who?

The louvered eyelids of the glimpsed-at-speed face
The fluffy blue tedium &
Atonal hum of custodial friendship
Says so

Thursday, 1 May 2008

Waiting For Deathot

He’s got
Genetically tampered necktie with primate speech capacity
He’s got
Facemask of bioluminescent algae
Working his skin into twinkles
He’s got
Disease that sounds like heavy metal
So doctors rig up stereo stethoscopes
His hospitalization resembles an air guitar convention
He’s got
Cadillacs in a pump dispenser
One press, out they leak clear of the kerb
Droopy and moist till sunlight acts as car assembly line
He’s got
‘60s disco go-go cage hooked to a brass propeller fan
He’s got
Golf course with the sand trap converted to mosh pit
And the Von Trapps converted to maggots
He’s got
Jesus swimming with dolphins in yob spit harvested from bus stops
He’s got
Astronauts with safari shorts pulled up over their spacesuits
He’s got
Concubines carved out of yak butter and he seats them
On the glacier incubating in his own chest freezer
He's got
Folk musicians in cast-iron diving helmets
So their lyrics sound like this, ‘mmmyeh mfgher mmyeh un’
He's got
Emotion resembling a split yellow pepper
Each seed encapsulating a harsh authoritarian stance
He's got
A knife that he offers hilt-first so you can
De-pith the gesture-lexicon of a potential dictator
He has
Wine corked with nightsticks
He has
All stained glass which is his tattooed arms
The biceps pumped by air hose clamped to his optic nerves
He has
Human species clustered on a pinhead
Like a dandelion clock
He has
Lips pursed ready to puff
Soon as he can control
His giggling