Liz Porter reviews Carousel's Cultural Olympiad collaborative project with Glyndebourne and Pallant House
In celebration of Carousel’s 30th birthday, the organisation have teamed up with the music education department at Glyndebourne and artists from the Pallant House ‘Outside In’ project to create a new Cultural Olympiad show that tells the story of the special Olympics through song, film, music and visual arts.
Carousel are known for their band ‘Beat Express’, and are now taking a bold step to move into light opera. They have developed a new 25 strong Community Choir of mainly young learning disabled people between the ages of 16-35. They have been helped by Glyndebourne to write a musical score, using their words to tell the story and a safe music line that has enabled the choir to find it’s collective voice. To perform at Glyndebourne would be daunting for many performers. This choir gave it their all, supported well by the musical director and musicians. It is clear that a lot of work has gone into the making of this show, but too that they are still on their journey to find more confidence and grow together.
David Rushbrook, a learning disabled opera singer, plays the role of a coach who works with a group of learning disabled athletes to help them reach their goal of success in the games. We find out about some of the history and what happened in 2000 when the special Olympics were stopped because some people cheated and what Gold Run thinks about this. Repetitive phrases help to tell the story, simple movement helped us to find out more about different people in the choir. It was good to have David’s confidence, I wondered if they have plans to involve other learning disabled singers in the future.
Under the film direction of Mathew and Sarah, Carousel have worked with school children in Chichester and Brighton to make a series of short films that help to tell the story. Who takes part in the games, who works in the stadiums, what are the athletes dreams and inspirations, what do people want from taking part in the games. The films using learning disabled actors, are quirky, often funny and up to the usual good standard that we are used to from Oska Bright. I found it hard to hear the words. They are a good backdrop to the performance on stage but I wondered if they could have been interacted with more.
Outside In artist James Lake has made a huge sculptured head of the coach which sat to one side on the large Glyndebourne stage. It is impressive, but I was disappointed that the performers on stage didn’t move around it more.
Lonny Evans provided excellent audio description, which helped me greatly to appreciate the story and understand the lyrics.
Photographer Andy Hood has captured the journey so far in a wonderful photographic exhibition of the show in development. The humour he conveys clearly shows how much fun all involved have had.
It’s hard work, but as the main phrase in the show tells us: ‘In my dreams funny things happen’ - and for all those on the stage they were enjoying the experience enormously and this to me validates huge community and combined arts projects.
Gold Run is being performed at:
The Corn Exchange, Brighton
Monday 21st May 2012, 6:00pm
Chichester Festival Theatre
Tuesday 30th October 2012
Andy Hood’s portfolio of images produced as part of the project is on exhibition at:
Wellington House, Brighton
24th April - Thurs 30 August, free entry
Pallant House Gallery (Exhibition)
Tuesday 4th September - 14 October 2012
Studio, free entry
For more details please go to http://www.goldrun.org.uk/