The gloriously quirky Coronet Theatre in Notting Hill Gate was built in 1898 and spent 25 years hosting the theatrical stars of its day until, in 1923, it was converted into the much loved Coronet Cinema. And a cinema it remained until 2014 when it was bought Anda Waters, Artistic director of the Print Room. The Print Room was an experimental arts space in West London that she had set up in 2010 to showcase dance, theatre and performance art – but by 2014 it needed a new space. The Coronet, by now sadly bedraggled, was ideal.
Over the last five years the Coronet’s splendidly ornate Edwardian auditorium and labyrinthine back stage areas have been gradually brought back to life and populated by collections of antique handbags, Victorian chaise longues and banks of candles. (For more on the theatre see this piece in LondonDance.) Since it reopened I have seen THE best Beckett productions there – and their Beckett was only one of their ‘pushing at the limits’ offerings.
So it is not surprising that their response to the pandemic has been equally inventive. Since lockdown began they have been been commissioning and collaborating with poets, artists, musicians, actors and dancers to create short films which are free to watch from their site – Inside Out. These run from three minutes to an hour and, like the Coronet’s programmes, include music of all kinds, dance, short theatrical pieces, performance art and poetry.
I have not watched them all – there are 63 on offer – but a good few hours have already been gobbled up by my first samplings. And these include three music pieces that you might find interesting.
Dom Bouffards’ Vengeful Ghost is just under 20 minutes of bowed electric guitars and 3D sound performed at Snape Maltings last year. I found it compelling.
Pianist Philip Edwards Fisher plays Richard Thomas (Jerry Springer – The Opera)’s “Piano Drama” The Covid-19 Variations – 20 short pieces taking us from the insouciance of our ‘Before Covid’ existence, through experiencing the virus to a slow recovery.
Five extracts from works by Jocelyn Pook. These include Portraits in Absentia (suite for string trio, piano, voice and answerphone messages), a music theatre piece commissioned by the Jewish Music Institute in 2014 which includes a life size wax cast of a woman laced with wicks which gradually burns throughout the performance, Pook’s symphonic song cycle, Hearing Voices from 2012 and Memorial 2018, an elegy to those killed in war combining music, poetry and theatre and a 250 strong community chorus.