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Hello, you can follow the singing over on my blog, and watch out for the website www.ddfo.tv coming very, very soon.

Doris Day can Fuck off. 

Written and performed by Greg McLaren

What would happen if I sang my request for a book of first class stamps?  

I wanted to do a one man opera, and I wanted to set myself a challenge.  I was looking for new ways of creating narrative, and I was interested in artists that impose harsh conditions upon themselves.  So I thought that I would sing my way through a week, replacing all speech with song, no matter what, on the street, in meetings, on the phone, in court, up a tree, etc. but actually it went on for a lot longer than that, in a number of different cities.  The position I put myself in is original and has lead to some very unusual material, and after the fact, I have tried to manipulate that in a way which reflects how I see the world, or rather, what I hear in it.  The result is a strangely moving journey, constantly evolving, from place to place, voice to voice, slipping from one reality to another.  It has an effect that I can't quite explain.  There is music that seems to seep out from language, cut up recordings that reveal strange and beautiful maxims, humour of course, loud bits, quiet bits, and the thrill of an attempt.  

When language and humanity were young, vocal communication was probably entirely melodic.  It's thought that gesture originated from need, and speech from passion.  I contrast this primitive recognition of a voice in the throes of passion with the banality of our vocal interactions today.  


I'm drawing a line from early human communication, via opera and modern music to the streets of our lives.  By singing to people I force the street audience (the first audience) to place me outside of the normal, yet I do not exhibit signs of madness or drunkenness, there is no visible recording devices, neither do I appear disruptive or dangerous.  By denying the public an easy definition and reason for my behaviour they either get involved or become agitated and suspicious, even though what I sing is perfectly understandable as language.  I am not necessarily altering sentence structure, or dramatising speech, (although this does sometimes occur as I sense a rhyme), and yet it seems to be subversive. 

(Don't worry, neither Doris nor any effigy or representation of her comes to harm during the show.) 


Here is the response from Chris Goode on his blog after the Edinburgh shows at Forest Fringe:

It seems like a while since Greg McLaren, prime (or primus inter pares) mover of Stoke Newington International Airport, had an actual show to share; I've been thinking about him a lot this past fortnight, remembering his wonderful performance as C.C. Rugg (named after the name-tag in a discarded vest Greg found somewhere), the unravelling and lovelorn psychiatrist in my show Napoleon in Exile, which was the last time I worked at the Traverse, back in 2003. (Check out young Andrew Haydon's grumpy-ass review here! The sourpuss!) I wrote a diary piece about Greg for the Guardian the following year, which was appallingly subedited so as to make a reference to that vest story completely inexplicable. Anyway, that's all ancient history: what of Greg's new show? Again, gosh, it's going to be fantastic. It's already delivering heaps of stuff. It's called Doris Day Can Fuck Off and it's a sort of impressionistic dispatch from the frontline of a social experiment Greg's been conducting, of singing, rather than speaking, everything he finds he has occasion to say. Lest we mistake this for mere caprice, he begins by asking all of us in the audience, one by one, to sing our names -- and he sings comments back to a few; it's an extraordinarily uncomfortable thing to be asked to do, and a brilliant way of reminding us of the measure of real self-exposure in his singing-only policy. The show itself is entirely sung, a mix of musical musings on his experiences and replays of audio footage from his singing adventures on the mean streets of Birmingham. A couple of effective passages use sample loops to draw out the melodic lines of everyday un-sung speech: a manoeuvre familiar from Steve Reich's oeuvre, in pieces such as It's Gonna Rain and Different Trains (which the Kronos Quartet are playing at the Usher Hall later in the festival), but here more redolent of the darkly off-kilter audio-fixated work of John Moran, or the sweetly quotidian songs of Julian Fox. Greg is an amazing, confounding performer, with the unguarded inventiveness of a Phil Kay, say: you will follow him anywhere, even though you can well imagine him taking you somewhere very peculiar indeed, possibly even somewhere painful. And indeed the briefly exposed emotional hinterland of this show feels disarmingly raw. As it stands, it's kind of a cheerfully reverberant mess, and it will be interesting to see whether he feels he wants to structure it more cogently as he gets used to performing it, or whether its haphazard slideshow quality is something he's keen on in itself and wants to preserve. For now, it's a great testament to his skills as an artist, a performer and -- dare one say -- a critical thinker, that it already has a lingering half-life in my head that feels larger and more dangerous than almost anything else I've seen up here this year.

So, encouraging, but there’s still work to do.  Doris’ next outing is Live Collision at the Dublin Fringe, 21st September.