First Class Evening Entertainments (Part One)
Hoxton Hall, Shoreditch, June 2000, with VOCEM electric voice theatre.
Conceived and devised by Kandis Cook and Nick Till. Music by Luke Stoneham. Musical Director Frances M. Lynch. Singers Margaret Cameron, Guy Harbottle, Frances Lynch, David Sheppard. Performers Andrew Bailey, Rebecca French, Anthony Howell, Andrew Mottishead. Sound design by Paul Bull. Lighting by Chahine Yavroyan.
The result of a commission by Hoxton Hall and the English National Opera Studio for a new music-theatre piece for Hoxton Hall. Built in 1863, Hoxton Hall is a hidden gem, a miniature Victorian music hall in the East End of London just north of Shoreditch. The idiosyncrasies of Hoxton Hall as a theatre space, and the discovery of the original programme of entertainments presented at Hoxton Hall in 1863, led to the making of this site-specific piece.
First Class Evening Entertainments 1863 is a classic example of the way in which Victorian social reformers used music-hall as a means of "combining instruction with amusement for the humbler classes" to promote the Victorian ideals of progress, self-improvement, patriotism, empire and monarchy. First Class Evening Entertainments 2000 is a contemporary "entertainment of magical illusions" that probes the ideological deployment of infotainment and edutainment in contemporary culture. Performance artist Anthony Howell presents an improving talk on healthy moral housing, performance artist Rebecca French presents an informative lecture-demonstration on the latest developments in internet sex, and alternative comedian Andrew Bailey provides entertainment in the form of an anarchic magic act. The variety acts are linked and commented on musically by four members of VOCEM evt who represent the original Orpheus Quartet, singing electronically enhanced music by Luke Stoneham, with musical references ranging from Victorian part-songs to the banalities of modern musak.
The performances in June 2000 represented the first part of what will eventually be a full-length event which explores the whole of the original 1863 programme.
Nicholas Till, “First Class Evening Entertainments: Spectacle and Social Control in a Mid-Victorian Music Hall Programme”, (New Theatre Quarterly, Vol XX, Cambridge University Press, February 2004)