At the end of March I journeyed to Deptford’s Albany Theatre to experience a preview of Carleen Anderson’s forthcoming one woman show, entitled ‘Cage Street Memorial’. Though Carleen had described the piece to me as a musical I was not sure what to expect of this taster that they’d been busy work-shopping for the previous three weeks.
Produced by digital/inter-disciplinery artist Derek Richards this radical production also involves the Welsh National Opera Director Tim Hopkins and an eclectic trio led by Orphy Robinson on keys and vibraphone and featuring UMS’s Renell Shaw on bass and Samy Bishai on violin/viola.
The preview, aimed at supporters and funders, delivered some of the early “Chapters” of her life with her grand parents and traced some of the events that eventually led to her leaving the States in “a flight from toxicity”. I was totally blown away. The monologue which has been distilled from the deeply personal and cathartic writings that she has penned over the last decade possessed a profoundly poetic quality, which Orphy later informed me has its roots in the King James bible. Having only a couple of days earlier taken in a old TV interview with Maya Angelou I was stuck with the similarities between these two remarkable women and experienced a deep sense of cultural continuum.
The stage set was innovative and it will clearly evolve to embrace a digital dimension during the final stages of development but, on the day, it all on hinged Carleen’s use of the space and her powerful delivery which shifted fluidly from speech into song and back. There’s clearly work to be done but the head corner stone has been laid. ‘Cage Street Memorial’ won’t arrive into a theatre near you or I until 2016 but when it does you need to be on it!