Reconnecting visionary Wirral-born author Malcolm Lowry to his New Brighton birthplace, each side of the Mersey will host to a new commission marking the 70th anniversary of his seminal novel, and the 60th anniversary of his death.
Lowry was one of the most charismatic writers of the 20th century but still remain relatively unknown despite homage still paid to his classic ‘Under The Volcano.’
The events in Merseyside at the end of July will celebrate his local roots. Born in North Drive, New Brighton, he later lived in Caldy, and mystery still surrounds his death at the age of 47, in 1957.
The performance, ‘The Lighthouse Invites the Storm’ will include live music, film, spoken word and songs. It will be performed at the Marines’ Care Home, Wallasey, and at the Bluecoat Chambers, Liverpool, and draws on the stories of merchant seamen, Lowry’s sea-voyages, ‘his journeys through the Liverpool night and the rise and fall of Mersey tides.’
Commissioned by the Bluecoat and Liverpool John Moores University, the production team of artist Alan Dunn, composer Martin Heslop and writer Jeff Young have been working with retired seafarers at Mariners’ Park over the past six months, uncovering hidden stories and adventures which have inspired the work.
Said Alan: “We wanted to better understand what it was like to leave Liverpool by sea at a young age. We spent time with former merchant seamen at Mariners’ Park, and met men who had set sail at the age of 14 or 15 and made their own leaps into the void.
“We were interested in how their memories were as hyper-real as Lowry’s writing, with very specific details of particular bars or ports and of how everyday life passed them by in a sense.
“They were at sea when man landed on the moon or cultural revolutions occurred and they relied on each port or the BBC World Service to catch up with land-based life. We would sit and listen to adventures and fantastic tales, of how there are fewer than 10,000 Brits working at sea now rather than nearly 100,000, of how they view our planet and their take on class, tolerance, pirates, language, war, graft and coming of age.”
Dunn, Heslop and Young will be joined by Liverpool’s musical maverick Jack Roberts, multi-instrumentalist Vidar Norheim and vocalist Mersey Wylie to perform this suite of musical stormscapes and lyrical poems. This will also include projections including some unseen Super 8 footage taken by one of the seafarers around Vietnam during the war in the late 1960s.
The performances of ‘The Lighthouse Invites The Storm” are part of a full programme of events which has been organised to commemorate Lowry’s death and the publication of “Under The Volcano.”
Until July 30, poster exhibition, “The Black Dogs” a 10-part posterwork by Alan Dunn, on the Wirral Line Escalator, Lime Street Station, Liverpool.
There will be three open afternoons at the Mariners’ Park Care Home, Royden Avenue, Wallasey, from 2.30pm-4pm, on Wednesday 26 July, Friday, July 28, and Saturday, July 29. Admission is free, (no booking needed). This opportunity to meet retired seafarers and see displays and artefacts is programmed by Roger Cliffe-Thompson with content courtesy of National Museums Liverpool (Liverpool Maritime Museum)
On Friday, July 28, from 8.30-10pm, the Bluecoat, Liverpool, will premiere the electric version of “The Lighthouse Invites the Storm” performed by Jeff Young, Martin Heslop, Jack Roberts, Vidar Norheim and Mersey Wylie. Free, but numbers limited, book at https://uk.patronbase.com/_Bluecoat/Productions/4SR/Performances
Then on Saturday, July 29, the acoustic “The Lighthouse Invites the Storm” will take place from 7pm at Mariners Park Care Home, Royden Ave, Wallasey CH44 0HN 0151 702 5324. Again it’s free, but numbers are limited, to book see: https://uk.patronbase.com/_Bluecoat/Productions/6A9/Performances
More events and music are planned, for further info see www.thelighthouseinvitesthestorm.com; Twitter:#lighthousestorm