Jun 7, 2017

Jubilee, 2017 production. Royal Exchange Theatre


I am so excited the news is out about Derek Jarman’s JUBILEE being made into a stage play at the Royal Exchange Theatre Manchester.

I have known for two months and it has been hard to keep it a secret. The writer/director Chris Goode came to lunch in March to ask me to be an advisor to the performers for the up coming production and by the time he left it was decided I was to play Queen Elizabeth 1st.

It is 40 years since the film was made and the memories are still as vibrant today.

The film was mainly shot in run down, deserted warehouses and ruins on Shad Thames. One of the most atmospheric parts of London in 1977…..there was hardly anything there except a brewery who’s hops where delivered daily, making the whole area smell of malt and a community of artists who had the most fantastic parties and ideas.

Jubilee helped me so much as a musician because the film bought me into contact with so many luminaries from the punk scene, Adam Ant, Jordan, Jayne County, Little Nell, Gene October, Kenny from the Banshees, The Slits. In retrospect it was extraordinary, culture making, at the time it was plain exciting.

Punk was at its height and everything and anything was possible.

This is the theme Chris Goode is picking up on for the play. The fact people could build a cultural revolution out of very little. Young people created bands, magazines, record companies, their own clothes from what appeared to be random pieces of nothingness/ wasteland……. young people made something massive from the embers of a time gone by.

How I will play Queen Elizabeth 1st I am not sure.

The Queen in Derek Jarman’s story, thanks to the metaphysical talents of John Dee is allowed to see England in the future…in our present day and what she finds is extreme social breakdown.

Jordan as Amyl Nitrate & Toyah Willcox as Mad in Jubilee, 1977 motion picture directed by Derek Jarman

The historian and author Alison Weir has kindly been sending me her books on QE1 and it makes for incredible reading. This Queen was educated to equal men. She spoke 6 languages, was a musician/composer, an intellect and had great political knowledge. Apparently she had total recall of everything she ever read and she put aside three hours a day to read Greek classics. That’s quite something to play as an actress.

If I could ever see the future what I would see would be a totally alien landscape that I had no control over. I am not sure it would benefit me at all….therefore it would be like the saying “be careful what you wish for, you might get it”.

My birthday has come and gone. Was it what I wanted……………….

The week before our Birthdays Robert came into the room looking very pensive and I thought, “what’s up”. My immediate reaction was ‘had our most loved, cherished best friend passed away?”

So when Robert announced “I have no passport. It is at the American Embassy, so we can’t go to France for our Birthdays”……… I was hugely relieved that was all that was concerning him.

So was my birthday what I wanted…….well NO.

There’s a lot of rain in the UK and there’s a lot of sunshine in France! I wanted to be in France! We had builders in our house, booked because we were supposed to be in the Med. Instead we booked into a hotel a few miles away to discover they had builders in too. THE NOISE!

Robert and I had a fantastic time eating at great restaurants returning to our home in the daytime to escape the noise from the hotel…yes our builders were quieter than their builders. Only going back to the hotel to sleep.

Our present opening was lovely. My pressies were fab….. LOTS OF BOOKS ON QUEEN ELIZABETH I OF ENGLAND.

Robert particularly loved his Unicorn presents, which came as a surprise. Just Google” Unicorns fart rainbows”. This was last minute present shopping on my part, there’s the mug, the shopping bag. I thought nothing of it till Robert opened them up and he was in love…totally his sense of humour. He now has his “Unicorns fart rainbows” bag on tour with him in the USA.

Last week I was working in Alicante, which bought me into contact with two new drivers. Both were around 40, one from Cuba and the other from Romania, neither had heard of David Bowie.

This came up because both drivers googled me and couldn’t stop singing I WANT TO BE FREE. So I told them of other songs to look up…Bowie’s Heroes for example….they had never ever heard his music. This was incomprehensible to me. I still wish I had the chance to have thanked Bowie for making me experience deep emotional feelings like no other artist ever has, so hopefully I have turned these guys on to him.

The festivals in the last month have been extraordinary. Exmouth was out of this world. I think they were expecting about two thousand……at a guess 8 to 10 thousand were there, as we went on stage more police arrived to try and control the amazing amount of people arriving….it was utterly wonderful. The show was great.

Then we played IRLAM LIVE, again such a special event. Andy Doble came off stage and said “ That was transformative.”

I think we were all experiencing deep connection and support of each other, as artist and audience, because of the violent and terrifying happenings in the last couple of weeks. As a shared experience we all bonded, were in complete union….it was a sacred space.