Artistic collaborations have always been popular, but they seem to feature heavily in London right now. From the new exhibition of works of that serial collaborator, Robert Rauschenberg, at Tate Modern to the group exhibits, like ‘Rest’ at the Mile End Art Pavilion. I hope to report back on both, but, right now, I, too, am exploring some collaborations.
The first Clapham Literary Festival, named ‘Omnibus Edition‘ was a great success earlier this year and some of those who took part organising it got together last week to consider what to do next year. This year’s event was a lot of work and, while some items drew big numbers, others were sparsely attended. We were hampered by lack of funding, which meant little or no publicity outside of the Arts Centre’s promotional work (no leaflet drops for example, no street banners) and of organising things at the last minute. There needs to be some hard thinking about what might happen next year and how funds might be raised, but at least we are starting to do that now, seven months in advance. The provisional dates for next year are in May and Clapham Writers will, in one form or another, be taking part.
Another interesting meeting last week was with a different collaborator. Regular readers of this blog will know that, in 2015, American actor, Elizabeth Bergstone and I collaborated to make an audio-book of ‘The Village‘. It was huge fun to do and I learned a lot in doing it, even if the finished article hasn’t sold millions. One of the incidental pleasures of this venture was working with Elizabeth, whose patience with this first time audio-book writer was unending. On Friday Elizabeth and I met for the first time. There was no looking around, one for the other, wearing a pink carnation – we recognised one another instantly and the whole encounter was delightful. We talked for three hours!
Born in south London, the second daughter of a policeman, upon leaving Miss Prendergast’s Grammar School for Young Ladies, Elizabeth attended drama school. She first trod the boards, however, at the Windmill Theatre, Soho where she was a Windmill Girl, a dancer. A glamorous existence, if punishingly hard work, and glamour seems to have followed Elizabeth around. She has some amazing stories, of 1960s Las Vegas, when the Mob was turning their casino business legit and she was the first female card table dealer in the big hotels ( Desert Sands, Caesar’s Palace, she worked in many of them ). Of presenting a classical music radio show in the States or helping to run a symphony orchestra ( and meeting her husband – internationally renown french horn player, Frederick Bergstone – because of the horn solo in Dvorzak’s cello concerto ).
Elizabeth has been urging me to write more about the characters in ‘The Village‘ and our talk has made me nostalgic for them, as well as sparking ideas for other new fiction. She’s in the UK but briefly and is fitting in a visit to Paris too, but we have planned to meet again before her return to the US. She will definitely be narrating ‘Return to the Village‘ when I finally produce it.
My ‘Reconquista‘ collaboration with the London School of Fashion theatrical designer and her students never bore fruit, ( a shame, it would have been interesting ) but that book may well generate another collaboration. A reading, with music and performance, at a festival elsewhere in London next summer. It hasn’t got further than some fellow artists reading the story and talking, yet, but it’s might be very interesting indeed. Little did I know, when I started writing that story many years ago……. I’ll let you know what happens.