I Capture the Castle

I Capture the Castle
I Capture the Castle based on the novel by Dodie Smith Book and lyrics Teresa Howard music Steven Edis

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Desperate Romantics Episode 1

It was very strange and exciting to watch this programme which stepped into the Pre-Raphaelite world, a place which has been the source of my inspiration for so long. So far there are only two characters in this episode of Desperate Romantics who appear in Possessed - Lizzie and Gabriel. It was very curious to watch someone else's chracterisation of them. This episode focuses on the entrance of Lizzie into the Pre-Raphaelite milieu and Possessed sees her leaving it with Gabriel's grief and sense of inadequacy. Possessed comes about ten years after this when the original Brotherhood has gone its separate ways and Gabriel is at the heart of the second wave.

Bowker has invented the character of Fred Walters as a narrator and commentator acting as a link between the artists and the audience. Although he is a fictional character he is very likeable and takes the place of the ordinary man, surrounded by the larger than life characters of the artists. I wonder why he didn't use William Rossetti, Gabriel's brother, who was a member of the PRB even though he wasn't an artist. William could have acted as much the same character.

It is impossible for me to be objective about the series, in any kind of way, but I am pleased that it has happened. I am on the Greek Island of Patmos at the moment and so will have to wait until I return to see the rest of the series.

Sunday, 19 July 2009


The first episode of the Pre-Raphaelite series Desperate Romantics begins at 9pm on BBC2 this Tuesday.

Above is a picture of Aidan Turner who is playing Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Saturday, 18 July 2009

Matthew White directing at the Menier

A curious chance meeting with Matthew White yesterday in Tottenham Court Road! Matt played Topsy in the Oxford Playhouse performance of Possessed. Matt is a wonderful actor and director and directed the very successful Little Shop of Horrors production staged at the Menier in 2006 and subsequently transferred to the West End's Duke of York's and New Ambassadors Theatres, and has recently been on a national tour. The production was choreographed by Stephen Mears (2007 Tony nominee for Best Choreography for Mary Poppins which he co-choreographed with Matthew Bourne, and currently also represented on Broadway by his choreography for The Little Mermaid).

Matt is going to be directing a revival of the1966 Cy Coleman, Dorothy Fields and Neil Simon musical Sweet Charity at the Menier as its Christmas musical running from 21st November 2009 to 7th March 2010. Former Eastenders star Tamzin Outhwaite is on board to play the title character of Charity Hope Valentine, created on Broadway by Gwen Verdon and subsequently in the 1969 film version by Shirley MacLaine.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Desperate Romantics Advert

If you click on the title of this blog it will take you directly to the advert for Desperate Romantics, with the background music of "Heroes" by David Bowie! I just hope it helps to make people realise how exciting these people could be on stage.

Desperate Romantics

The Pre-Raphaelite Sisterhood website posted a piece about the new Desperate Romantics BBC series today. Above is a publicity photo from it. I have not seen the advertisements on the BBC for the series but have been told that they have already begun. Judging from the PRB Sisterhood site, this is going to be a very controversial series but will at least give the general public a glimmer of insight into who these fascinating people were.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

First Draft Reading

On Friday we had an "in camera" first draft reading of the book (without songs) of our new show. The new musical is based on a well known novel and so I am not going to reveal the name of it on the blog yet. We had a great cast, including Alice Rowell, three RADA graduates: Mark Edel Hunt, Paris Arrowsmith and Lottie Latham, a new Arts Ed student Frances Knox and Richard Southgate who was in Spring Awakening. It was an electric evening, and Steve and I were pleased to see that the structure and work we have already put in is beginning to take shape. The characters and the humour really seemed to come through and produced a very entertaining evening. The energy and enthusiasm from the predominantly young cast was very exciting.

Steve and I are onto our next song and hope that soon we will have written enough songs to make a demo cd.

Artist Ilinca Cantacuzino captured the moment by sketching the actors while they were reading. This impromptu ink sketch will now be part of her Notebook Series. She brought round a copy of it for me yesterday which is now on my study wall.

In the photograph above are Paris Arrowsmith and Frances Knox reading from the new show.

Friday, 3 July 2009

The Pre-Raphaelites Episode 3

Episode 3 of The Pre-Raphaelites documentary on BBC4 focused on how the PRB attained riches and celebrity with their paintings. By the 1860's they had outgrown the status of avant-garde and started producing art for the masses. With the help of dealers like Ernest Gambart. There were three essential ways that the artists became top celebrities: selling works of art for profit, taking them on tour with gaslight showings costing a shilling to view and making engravings. It had become much easier to make engravings and prints were so good they could sell limited editions for a great deal of money. The prints made it possible to reach a great deal of people and raise the artists' profile.

Holman Hunt became a millionaire and his work began to be seen worldwide rather than just in the UK. Gambart the dealer, bought the copyright in Hunt's Light of the World and it toured the Empire, New Zealand and South Africa, making it the most famous painting in the world at that time.

Rossetti, who did not like exhibiting anymore was able to sell his work through private dealers and commissions.

The PRB which began as a close knit Brotherhood started to fragment. Hunt and Ruskin were horrified by the erotic route that Rossetti's work was going down. Millais began to specialise in commercial portraiture following in the footsteps of Sir Joshua Reynolds. In 1885 he was made a Baronet and his painting of Bubbles marked him out as the ultimate commercial artist. This has never stopped - his painting of Ophelia is still the best selling image in the Tate Bookshop. The ideals they began with which were so similar were left behind as they each started to follow their own interests. The PRB had revolutionised British art and the principles which had dominated it since the Renaissance.