Digital installation marks the fiftieth anniversary year of B.S. Johnsonís House Mother Normal
31 March 2021
A digital installation directed by Tim Crouch on the fiftieth anniversary year of B.S. Johnson's nursing home novel premieres at the Brighton Festival in May 2021.
Adapted from the novel by B.S. Johnson in its fiftieth anniversary year, New Perspectives presents House Mother Normal, a digital installation telling of the lives of eight characters in a nursing home under the watchful eye of House Mother. Directed by Tim Crouch, the production, which can be viewed online or at 6 Dukes Lane, Brighton, merges the individual chapters of B.S. Johnson's novel to give a moment in time from nine different angles, each giving a powerful perspective on what it is to live life and grow old.
Ron, Rosetta, Ivy, Charlie, Gloria, Sarah, Sioned and George. Under the watchful eye of House Mother, eight residents of the strangest care home recall their pasts and narrate their terrifying present: the twitcher, the song, the Christmas Crackers, the Pass the Parcel, and Ralphie's 'long, probing, red tongue'. Nine faces. Nine voices orchestrated into a spoken-word symphony of old age and absurdism. In the early 1970s, BS Johnson was at the forefront of the English literary avant-garde. After his suicide at the age of 40, he gained a cult following, aided by critically acclaimed film Christie Malry's Own Double-Entry and Samuel Johnson Prize winning biography Like a Fiery Elephant by Jonathan Coe.
Director Tim Crouch said, "Some books thrive in different mediums and I think House Mother Normal is one of those. BS Johnson gives us a panoply of brilliantly drawn characters. In the book, we meet them consecutively, one after the other. In this digital version we're in the same space with them all at the same time. That assembly of voices - a chorus of memories and meditations, cruelties and longings - vies for our attention in the present tense. It feels like we're serving Johnson's intention in the world we have created".
New Perspectives Artistic Director Jack McNamara said, "House Mother Normal is a book that has been swimming around in my mind for years, waiting for the right moment, the right place, the right artist. As soon as the pandemic hit its relevance became palpable. A group of people trapped in one situation, staring into a kind of void that each sees differently, hosted by a leader both bizarre and sinister. It felt like exactly the story to tell now and Tim Crouch the perfect artist to tell it. We are thrilled and honoured that Brighton Festival has supported us to bring this experience to people, an experience that we hope goes well beyond the digital"
Directed by Tim Crouch
Film by Shared Space and Light
Sound by Thor McIntyre-Burnie
Song composed by James Atherton
Vivien Bridson, Pip Donaghy, Marsha Millar, Tyrone Huggins, Cleo Sylvestre, Margaret Jackman, Tim Barlow, Sharon Morgan, Amelda Brown
New Perspectives is an East Midlands' based touring theatre company, specialising in bringing new work to rural and community audiences. Through an annual programme of original adaptations, rare revivals and new writing, we aim to bring live theatre that is diverse, affordable and accessible into the heart of wide-ranging communities, as well as to regional, national and international venues.
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