THE radio alarm goes off at 7:15am.
A woman is talking about how she thinks we’ll be in a weaker position to take other governments to task over their human rights records once we leave the EU...
It’s been five years since my musicologist cousin Dr Morag J Grant and I sat in Chinaskis drinking whisky and talking about the paper she was working on at the time, Music Is Torture. Morag was researching the use of music as a means of torture in political conflict. I was gobsmacked to hear about the psychological effects on victims subjected to the “special enhanced interrogation” techniques employed and endorsed by the likes of the American Government during the Iraq war.
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At the time I was working on my multimedia play Biding Time (remix), a response to my own experiences of being signed and dropped by a major record label; the exploitation of music and artist as commodity. Morag’s research was about the exploitation of music for much darker purposes.
I spoke to my husband and long-term collaborator Bal Cooke about making a show inspired by Morag’s research. We decided to make a show set in a recording studio inspired by our own experiences with a disenchanted music producer as the protagonist. Now, today, five years down the line, we are actually making the show, which premieres in two weeks in Scotland.
Today is the first day of rehearsals.
I have trepidations about starting; it’s a short time to get everything together. With ever-decreasing budgets to make increasingly ambitious shows we are stretching our resources and team to the limit. But I know we are lucky to have funding to make such an ambitious piece, and to have the support of the Tron Theatre.
I pack my bag for rehearsals at the Tron, making sure I take some Vocalzones to try and treat the remains of a chest infection. I get a text from the stage manager Dave saying he has the same virus and can’t make the first rehearsal. I send a cheerful text back saying: “Dr Theatre will make everything okay”!
Bal loads the car with instruments and our rug to use in the show, which was a present from my grandfather. I can’t believe we’re still loading up our car like this to play with the band we’ve been playing with for 15 years. But whatever uncertainty lies ahead, playing with the band is always a joy and pleasure.
We start with the read-through. Any fears are dispelled as characters come to life – what started as a fleeting idea five years ago is a reality. I am reminded of how lucky we are to be doing something creative for a living.
I reply to emails during a break. It doesn’t feel like the most natural thing as an artist to be constantly shouting about your work but it might help get an audience. I email The Space who are working with us to get the show out digitally. When I met with them they asked: “Where’s your marketing department?” I replied: “You’re looking at it!”
Leaving my guitar in the rehearsal room I go to post copies of the album but the Post Office is shut. The album has so far been very well received; at first a fictional band for the play, Dawnings are now offered gigs and pick up radio play.
Bal and I get some food from Lidl on the way home. Neither of us can be bothered cooking. Bal has been juggling doing the show with his work for Sense Scotland and other music therapy work. It’s a lovely sunny evening and we feel positive after a good day’s work.
I get back on Twitter to try to get people to come and see the show. Then I take a break from marketing to watch Mad Men. Peggy is my favourite.
Music Is Torture premieres at the Tron Theatre, Glasgow, as part of Mayfesto on May 18 to May 20, 7.45pm, £16, £12 concs. There’s a post-show discussion on May 19. Tel: 0141 552 4267. www.tron.co.uk
May 25 to 27, Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, 7.30pm, £16.50, £12.50 and £8.50 concs. Tel: 0131 228 1404. www.traverse.co.uk
Jun 1, Eden Court Theatre, Inverness, 8pm, £15. Tel: 01463 234 234. www.eden-court.co.uk Music Is Torture features new music from A Band Called Quinn under the name Dawnings.