29 May 2022

Unexpected histories

What an interesting outing.  First up Street Theatre and Chris Latham and a preview for a tiny audience of a work under development although well advanced, the Changi Songbook.  Chris is currently an artist in residence at the AWM and the first musician to be one.  The Changi songbook is a presentation of story telling and associated songs of Australians in Changi, perhaps another camp, and their musical and theatrical activities.  It was fascinating and unexpected stuff.  They built a theatre, presented plays, wrote music and performed it.  Quite an incredible story and obviously a morale sustainer for the period, and a tough period it was.  There was some great performances.  Neil Pigott recited and sang and I think developed the script.  He's a TV and theatre actor with an interest in military history.  Quite incredible to see such relaxed professionalism so close up.  Tobias Cole also sang both male and female parts.  The role of female impersonators was a major theme of the story.  And the musical backing was Bill Risby, noted Sydney jazz pianist.  All very impressive and intriguing and an impressive display of professionalism.  They had only rehearsed together for 4 hours but the sharp cuts and structure was often to die for.  It was a fascinating and involving story well told and should become a theatre work and subsequent recording later in the year.  I was lucky to be there to make a minor recording of the event.

The Changi Songbook preview was presented at Street Theatre 3 with Chris Latham controlling images, Neil Pigott (story telling, vocals), Tobias Cole (vocals) and Bill Risby (piano).

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