Kelmscott Manor Kelmscott Manor Kelmscott Manor Kelmscott Manor
Kelmscott Manor
Rossetti - Jane Morris (The Blue Silk Dress)
Jane Morris (The Blue Silk Dress)
by Dante Gabriel Rossetti
oil on canvas, dated 1868
Kelmscott Manor
PRODUCTION STILLS FROM THE GREENWICH THEATRE SHOWCASE, JUNE 2006
Anna Francolini as Janey
Anna Francolini as Janey
Caroline Sheen as Lizzie, Walter van Dyk as Gabriel
Caroline Sheen as Lizzie, Walter van Dyk as Gabriel
Anna Fancolini as Janey, Walter van Dyk as Gabriel
Anna Francolini as Janey, Walter van Dyk as Gabriel
Peter Polycarpou as Topsy, Anna Fancolini as Janey
Anna Francolini as Janey, Peter Polycarpou as Topsy
Natalie Wright as Bessy, Andrew MacDonald as Mr. Carter
Natalie Wright as Bessy, Andrew MacDonald as Mr. Carter
Caroline Sheen as Lizzie
Caroline Sheen as Lizzie
Anna Francolini as Janey
Anna Francolini as Janey

Chronology

2011

Josie Lawrence sang RAFT OF DELIGHT, from Possessed in her cabaret show TRYING IT ON, at the Menier Chocolate Factory, accompanied by Steven Edis on piano and George English on percussion.

A Stage Kindly chose HUNGRY SEA, from Possessed, for their April Revue at the Kings Head Theatre and The Space. The song was chosen out of 700 International songs. Talented young singer Caroline Hardman performed the song, accompanied by a three piece band with Katy Lipson as MD (watch a video of this performance on YouTube).

The Cult of Beauty - Art Exhibition at the V & A - The Aesthetic Movement 1860-1900. In the 1860s the new and exciting 'Cult of Beauty' united, for a while at least, romantic bohemians such as Dante Gabriel Rossetti (and his younger Pre-Raphaelite followers William Morris and Edward Burne-Jones), maverick figures such as James McNeill Whistler, then fresh from Paris and full of 'dangerous' French ideas about modern painting, and the 'Olympians' - the painters of grand classical subjects who belonged to the circle of Frederic Leighton and G.F.Watts.

Andrew lloyd Webber paid homage to his love of the Pre-Raphaelites in a programme on ITV called 'Andrew Lloyd Webber and The Pre-Raphaelites'.

Emma Thompson announces that she is planning a film about Pre-Rahaelite artist John Everett Millais' wife Effie Gray.

There is a Holman Hunt Exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery.

Birmingham Art Gallery mount an exhibition of Pre-Raphaelite designs, studies and watercolours entitled - The Poetry of Drawing.

2010

HOLD STILL, the finale song from Possessed, was shortlisted for the Sondheim Competition.

The BBC Symphony Orchestra presented the World Premiere of The Earthly Paradise, at the Barbican. This was a setting of prose, poetry and sayings of William Morris composed by Ian McQueen, with Sir Andrew Davis Conducting.

A new play about William Morris opens at the Riverside Studios: devised by Love and Madness and Jack Shepherd called Demi-Monde: The half World of William Morris.

2009

New TV Drama Series about the Pre-Raphaelites called Desperate Romantics begins on BBC 2 on Tuesday 21st July, telling the story of the creation of the Brotherhood.

TV Documentary Series about Pre-Raphaelite Art on BBC 2 in June.

Set designer David Rogers suggested putting an overture scene in the opening of Possessed. Rewrites and a new script produced.

Steve re-mixed the live music from the Oxford Playhouse production.

2008

In November Kelmscott Productions entered some of the songs from Possessed into a competition run by Clearspace Productions in the USA. The Rossetti Janey duet, More Than Life, won a place in the competition. Clearspace flew Teresa out to the USA to speak at the Festival and see the song performed.

While in the USA Teresa had meetings and made contact with producers in New York to discuss Possessed. These included The Public Theater, the Lincoln Center, York Theater, Manhattan Theater Club and Primary Stages.

Teresa also visited the Delaware Art Museum. This museum holds the largest collection of Pre-Raphaelite paintings in the USA, in the Bancroft Collection. Teresa also had a meeting with the Curator of the Bancroft Collection, Margaretta Frederick.

Teresa was invited to give a lecture at University College Oxford about the Pre-Raphaelites and the musical.

Teresa was invited by E15 Acting School to join in a workshop on the MA directing course. Possessed was used as an example of a new musical script for the student directors.

The Workshop performance of Possessed took place at Oxford Playhouse on Sunday 27th April at 6pm.

With only one weeks rehearsal this came as close as we could get it to a performance of Possessed. The actors had learned many of the scenes and all of the songs in only one week. They did not have full costume but wore clothes that enhanced their characters. A few small props and minimal furniture was used. The most important of the props was the borrowed easel from artist Ilinca Cantacuzino.

Along with the projections produced by Karl and Peter, Ashley Bale produced fantastic lighting and clever specials to add to the atmosphere of the piece. The cast and orchestra used mics. Andrew Wales acted as our sound technician. He recorded the sound from the whole show off the desk and we have made a CD of the highlights of this.

Tish Francis introduced the show.

Karl Roberts and Miles Standish filmed the show on three video cameras from the theatre gallery. This footage has been edited by Karl and is available on DVD.

Oxford Playhouse distributed our posters and flyers throughout the Oxford area. We had newspaper pieces about the showcase in many of the local papers including the Oxford Times. Oxford Radio interviewed Teresa about what inspired her to write the musical and how she came to work with Steve.

There was a private dress rehearsal for producers and friends on Friday 25th April at 3pm in Pigeon 1 at the Arts Theatre, London. Approximately fifty people attended this rehearsal. It was a very emotional performance of the piece and many of the audience wept. We were unable to use projections or lighting but put up all the most important projection designs as pictures on the walls of the rehearsal room for the audience to see.

The week of rehearsals took place in Pigeon 1 at the Arts Theatre in central London. Helen Eastman directed, with the assistance of James Quaife and help from Jules Tipton. Charles Girdham took rehearsal photographs.

On the first day of rehearsals we discovered that our second application for a grant from the Arts Council had been rejected. Yet again we were told that we fulfilled all criteria but were turned down because we were “not a priority”. With a donation from Andrew Galloway of Westhill Corporate Finance, along with support in kind from Oxford Playhouse, Asra, JABOD and Peter Dunphy we had some help towards the showcase.

We decided to cut the musical to 75 minutes and run it without an interval. This was partly due to the short rehearsal time and also because we wanted the audience to leave wanting more.

We gathered together a wonderful cast: Jane – Anna Francolini; Topsy – Matthew White; GabrielJoseph Millson; Lizzie – Elizabeth Renihan; Bessy – Natalie Wright; Mr.Carter – Martin Lamb. Steve’s daughter Madeleine played May and my daughter Frances played Jenny.

Steve orchestrated the music for a three piece orchestra. Juliet Leighton-Jones played violin and viola and Etta Morgan played French horn. The National Theatre very kindly lent us some percussion instruments, which Steve and the other two musicians all played. The National Theatre also offered us rehearsal space for the orchestra.

Peter Dunphy from Eyeline and Karl Roberts from JABOD produced still and animated designs for the Oxford performance. These were based on the series of stained glass windows Morris and Co. produced for Harden Grange in Yorkshire. The original windows were produced at the same time as the story in the play took place. To accompany these were also projections of some of the most important paintings created during that time, including Mrs Morris in a Blue Silk Dress, Beata Beatrix, Astarte Syriaca and Queen Guenevere. Location headings were attached to these images. The stained glass window images that Karl produced evolved from moulten glass to form the complete window. We obtained permission to use all the images projected.

Asra designed our Kelmscott Productions identity, the flyers, poster and programme for the showcase. We had to get permission from the Bridgeman Art Library, Kelmscott Manor, The William Morris Gallery and The Victoria and Albert Museum to use images of Jane Morris and William Morris wallpaper on the publicity. We also had to get permission and images from the Bridgeman of William Morris and Co. Stained glass windows of the Tristan and Isolde series.

Clive Paget received an award from The Writers Guild of Great Britain for his dedication to the arts for encouraging Possessed. Teresa and Clive attended a special award luncheon with the Guild at the Old Vic.

Sadly, Clive decided to go and live in Australia and so we needed to find a new director. Clive suggested Helen Eastman, whose work he had seen at the National Theatre. Helen accepted the job and has been brilliant since day one. She has a strong link with Oxford, having been a student there and also because she is the Producer of the Onassis Project, where she has been working closely with Oxford Playhouse on many Greek Theatre projects. She has also directed plays in the West End and for the Opera Touring Company.

Kelmscott Productions Ltd. was formed to produce the showcase in association with Oxford Playhouse.

Westhill Corporate Finance agreed to give us some sponsorship, whether we got an arts council grant or not.

Oxford Playhouse agreed to give us the theatre, plus technical staff, costumes and other assistance towards mounting the showcase whether we got a grant or not.

ACE rejected application for a grant although they said that we “fulfilled all criteria” the only reason given was that we were not “competitive enough”. They suggested we tried again and so a new application was sent in and we are waiting for the results.

2007

Oxford Playhouse Theatre show considerable interest in mounting a production of the musical but need a co-producing Theatre or independent producer.

Application sent off to ACE for a research and development grant to complete the musical. : The project was endorsed by: Tish Francis, Artistic Director of Oxford Playhouse; Brigid Larmour, Artistic Director of Watford Palace Theatre and John Burgess, Script Executive of Nuffield Theatre, Southampton.

Clive Paget agrees to work as Dramaturg/Director on the project and Cathy Edis as Project Manager. The Jerwood Studio agrees to reserve subsidised rehearsal space for the project. Asra Internet Design Ltd agree to design all publicity for the project free of charge and to build a website.

Domain name : www.possessedamusical.com is bought and Asra Internet Design Ltd starts building the site.

Regional theatres approached with copies of the book and CD of the musical to find a co-producer to work with Oxford Playhouse.

A meeting is held in July at the National Theatre with John Burgess, Script Executive at Nuffield Theatre. Restructuring plan for the Book is decided on after this meeting.

ACE’s reply to the Research and Development application is that we need to withdraw it and find a multi-media artist and some more investment and then re-apply.

Andrew Galloway of West Hill Corporate Finance Ltd. agrees to donate 10% of the funds for the ACE project. Other arts charities and funding bodies are now being approached.

Tish Francis, Artistic Director at Oxford Playhouse is encouraged by the ACE response and suggests having the showcase at the Oxford Playhouse.

Teresa has a productive meeting with Chris Grady of Musical Theatre Matters at the RSA to discuss advancing the project.

TV companies are approached with the idea of making an Ob Doc. (observational documentary) series, about putting the musical on the stage. David Jackson, Head of music at BBC Wales is very interested. Provisional name for the series is: “Putting it Together”.

Peter Dunphy, Senior Designer at Eyeframe agrees to act as Multi-Media Designer for Possessed.

2006

Seven songs from the musical are recorded at the Lynwood Studios in Herne Hill. Singers are: Peter Polycarpou, Sally Dexter, Alex Kelly, Walter Van Dyk, Frances Knox and Madeleine Edis

Teresa and Steve meet up with Clive Paget, at the National Theatre for advice about what to do with the new draft of the Book and CD of the musical. Clive suggests the Greenwich Theatre Showcase.

Greenwich Theatre agree to include Possessed in their New Musical Futures Showcase season.

Greenwich Theatre ask Clive Paget to direct Possessed and he agrees. The workshop and rehearsals take place at the National Theatre Studio. The performers are: Peter Polycarpou, Anna Francolini, Walter Van Dyk, Caroline Sheen, Natalie Wright, Andrew McDonald, Frances Knox and Madeleine Edis. The Showcase goes ahead with resounding success.

Jemima Lee from the Arts Council sees the showcase and suggests Steve and Teresa apply for a research and development grant from Arts Council England (ACE).

2004

Teresa and Steve begin collaborating on the musical songs between Steve's work at the National Theatre, RSC, Regents Park etc.

2003

Teresa has a private reading of the musical in Putney at writer Katie Campbell's home. A new title for the musical is suggested and it is renamed: Possessed.

Teresa meets Steven Edis again at Greenwich Theatre New Musical Futures where he is accompanying one of the musicals. She also goes to see "Golden Boy" which he has arranged.

Teresa sends Steve the book of the musical and he agrees to work as composer.

Clive Paget becomes Musical Consultant at the National Theatre, London.

2002

Teresa meets Steven Edis at the home of a mutual friend, drummer Fabian Baird.

Teresa makes contact again with old college friend and musical theatre performer Peter Polycarpou.

Teresa meets John Sparks, Artistic Director of Theatre Building Chicago and The Academy of New Musical Theatre LA at the Old Vic for a masterclass on the musical. She also studied lyric writing at the Academy of New Musical Theatre's lyric writing Lab.

Discovery of Harden Grange Tristan and Isolde stained glass windows. Contact made with the Bridgeman Library who hold copyright in the prints.

2001

Teresa visits Kelmscott Manor in Gloucestershire and sees Rossetti's Blue Silk Dress Painting.

First draft of musical completed, originally called Colours of Love.

Meeting with Clive Paget Artistic Director of the Bridewell Theatre who agrees to act as Dramaturg for the project.

1996

Teresa began researching Jane Burden's story at the British Library Print Room.

William Morris Exhibition at the V & A.