Description

"The Crocodile of Old Kang Pow"

"The Crocodile of Old Kang Pow" is an experimental operatic endeavour set within the fetid boroughs of 17th Century Paris, with an emasculated Marquis De Sade at the helm as our somewhat languid lothario and loathsome protagonist.

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This debut unveiling is the culmination of two years work and development from composer and character Darren Berry, a renowned West London figure and stalwart of such bands as, Penguin Cafe, Razorlight and Gaz Mayalls legendary ska band "The Trojans".

The story outwardly takes a look at the supposition: What would become of the Marquis De Sade, a sexual glutton and social deviant, were he to lose his libido? Where would his misfortune and Holy Grail quest travels to "relight his fire" really lead him? What revelations would he find, and how could that possibly benefit or illuminate the intellectual and moral dry-heaving of his home surroundings upon his return?

More thematically the play is more of a suggestion that, as in modern times, if surrounded by the loveless task of trying to feed insatiable desire in a morally bankrupt environment, perhaps one would need to really journey far, long and wide both inside and out in order to find something of true value, then return to maybe assimilate it into our lives to find a more resonant and lasting meaning. Lofty stuff indeed.

To tell its heady tale the production utilises an intoxicating musical blend of Mozart, Fela Kuti, Sam Cooke, The Gospel Soul Stirrers, Joseph Bologne, 50s Americana, Cajun jizz-jazz, The Rocky Horror Show, Scott Walker, Nina Simone, The Marriage of Figaro and much much more coaxing and coercing them into a refreshingly vital new blend; a bawdy tapas for both the ears and eyes.

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Our protagonist is a loathsome and salacious figure, setting the stage for an intriguing question? Can such a fornicator be redeemed? And was the Marquis De Sade really even such a figure, or truth be told was he the manifestation and scapegoat of the real villainy and sicker desires of the society he dwelled in both a mirror and scapegoat for the ruling classes he rubbed shoulders with, and a grotesque for them to deify then incarcerate, sweeping their own mucky urges back in the closet.

By utilising parable, religion, Egyptian mythology, S&M, personality cults, opera, musical, high art with low morals, profanity, humour, irreverence, the stylings of Grand Guignol, magical elixirs and fountains of youth, Darren has woven together a fairly elaborate and hallucinatory, yet thoroughly engaging tale. A smirking warning from the past with a very modern message.

Darren describes it as a Punk Opera, purely because it steps outside of more traditional operatic structures but in truth though it may be more than that. Or maybe just be a murky, magical musical "Carry on Up The Khyber". That's for the viewer to decide.

Darren Berry, "Sometimes abstract allegory in the form of myths, music and parables can sometimes provide the greatest insight to the relevant malaise of our time. I think, perhaps, that is subconsciously what the story - the music and its operatic setting - is trying to communicate, albeit in a rather vulgar, humorous and distasteful way. "Perhaps rather it is better to light a candle than complain about the darkness". Or travel to go see a crocodile God in the middle of the jungle in order to put some lead back in your pencil. I'm not completely sure myself at the moment. It's whatever floats your boat really... "

And so - an invite to the opera is yours should you want it. Do come. The crocodile would want you there.

 

Use of funds

Initial funds are to be used to pay the musicians and their expenses, costumes and some scenery.

  1. Second level of finance to tour the show.
  2. Pay the musicians and their expenses.
  3. Financing the PR and marketing campaign.
  4. Costumes, scenery and set design to a top level.

A detailed breakdown of the finance is available

 

Funds at 70%

We will tailor the production accordingly, assume a smaller number of musicians and borrow the costumes and scenery.

Thank you for being a part of this wonderful show 

 

Hurdles & Hopes

The opera already has a fairly large following anda number of backers, thanks to the successful and well-reviewed scratch performances we have put on at various venues around London. This culminated with a sold-out show of the first Act at The 20th Century Theatre in May 2015.We hope to continue to build up our band of followers and find more financial backers.

Writing and finishing the opera is our priority this summer. We also hope to cast the opera by the end of August. In September we will spend two weeks rehearsing and recording. October will be spent finessing - writing, casting etc. and then we hope to hold a VIP/Press night performance in November. Our plan is to premier the opera to the public at the end of January/beginning of February.

The hurdles we face include finding a suitable venue for our VIP performance and for the premier. Casting will be a challenge if we do not have enough funds to pay all of our musicians, performers and production team members who have so far worked tirelessly on this project. We also want to be able to put on a first class opera with the highest production values and standards it deserves - that is, costumes, wigs, set, props and so forth, but we will need to reach our funding target to achieve this.

We really need your help, please empower this campaign and we can get this show up, running and on the road.

 

Updates

2 years ago

Scratch Performance 13.5.15

On 13 May we had another scratch performance, this time in the more intimate setting of the Sketch Parlour…

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Darren Berry with the amazing Susan Harriott

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Héloïse Werner as Marie Antoinette and Melody Faulkner as one of her ladies in waiting. Melody also plays the heroine Justine, the Marquis’ mistress…

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Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

2 years ago

Source write up

We were lucky enough to attend the sold out premiere of Darren Berry’s - "The Crocodile of Old Kang Pow" first ever-punk opera, at the very special Twenty Century Theater, the perfect venue for this unusual and jocular performance. 


A known tale with a new twist -  The Marquis de Sade unable to get it hard - but once the first chord had been struck, we knew we were in for something different. Think Horror Picture Show, the Fiddler on the Roof, Madame butterfly, Hair, Rock and Roll Swindle, Tom Waits. Think classic, funk, jazz and sounds from the Iberian Peninsula. Classic and punk in equal measure. Anarchic and serious. This is a tour de force like no other written by Razorlight member, the truly talented Darren Berry- multi-instrumentalist and composer  - who conducts as well as acts in the show. In his own words: 


Source Magazine write up

2 years ago

Independent Article

Here we are in The Independent on Sunday…


An opera with snap


A remark whispered in his ear while he was playing keyboards with Razorlight led Darren Berry on a two-year quest to write the world’s first “punk opera”.


“Johnny [Borrell, Razorlight’s singer]came up to me one day and said, "Wouldn’t it be funny if the Marquis de Sade could not get hard." It was just a little tour joke but it soon took on a life of its own and began to take shape as a full-scale opera called The Crocodile of Old Kang Pow.”


And where does the punk bit come in? “It’s an embracing of punk’s ideals and irreverence and it shares with punk a boredom of working within the guidelines,” Berry explains. “It also harks back to what opera used to be: the opera buffa; the belly laughs, indecency and vulgarity that was at its heart.”


And who, in his dream production, would play the Marquis? “Rhys Ifans loves it and is interested,”Berry says. “Now I just have to get the funding to stage it fully with a cast of hundreds as opposed to the excerpts we’re doing at the moment.”


Independent write up

2 years ago

The Croc!

“The Crocodile of Old Kang Pow”

The Crocodile of Old Kang Pow is an experimental operatic endeavour set within the fetid boroughs of 17th Century Paris, with an emasculated Marquis De Sade at the helm as our somewhat languid lothario and loathsome protagonist.

This debut unveiling is the culmination of two years work and development from composer and character Darren Berry, a renowned West London figure and stalwart of such bands as, Penguin Cafe, Razorlight and Gaz Mayall’s legendary ska band The Trojans.

The story outwardly takes a look at the supposition: What would become of the Marquis De Sade, a sexual glutton and social deviant, were he to lose his libido? Where would his misfortune and Holy Grail quest travels to relight his fire really lead him? What revelations would he find, and how could that possibly benefit or illuminate the intellectual and moral dry-heaving of his home surroundings upon his return?

More thematically the play is more of a suggestion that, as in modern times, if surrounded by the loveless task of trying to feed insatiable desire in a morally bankrupt environment, perhaps one would need to really journey far, long and wide – both inside and out – in order to find something of true value, then return to maybe assimilate it into our lives to find a more resonant and lasting meaning….Lofty stuff indeed.

To tell its heady tale the production utilises an intoxicating musical blend of Mozart, Fela Kuti, Sam Cooke, The Gospel Soul Stirrers, Joseph Bologne, 50’s Americana, Cajun jizz-jazz, The Rocky Horror Show, Scott Walker, Nina Simone, The Marriage of Figaro and much much more – coaxing and coercing them into a refreshingly vital new blend; a bawdy tapas for both the ears and eyes.

Our protagonist is a loathsome and salacious figure, setting the stage for an intriguing question? Can such a fornicator be redeemed? And was the Marquis De Sade really even such a figure, or truth be told was he the manifestation and scapegoat of the real villainy and sicker desires of the society he dwelled in – both a mirror and scapegoat for the ruling classes he rubbed shoulders with, and a grotesque for them to deify then incarcerate, sweeping their own mucky urges back in the closet.

By utilising parable, religion, Egyptian mythology, S&M, personality cults, opera, musical, high art with low morals, profanity, humour, irreverence, the stylings of Grand Guignol, magical elixirs and fountains of youth, Darren has woven together a fairly elaborate and hallucinatory, yet thoroughly engaging tale. A smirking warning from the past with a very modern message.

Darren describes it as a Punk Opera, purely because it steps outside of more traditional operatic structures – but in truth though it may be more than that. Or maybe just be a murky, magical musical Carry on Up The Khyber. That’s for the viewer to decide:

“Sometimes abstract allegory in the form of myths, music and parables can sometimes provide the greatest insight to the relevant malaise of our time. I think, perhaps, that is subconsciously what the story - the music and its operatic setting - is trying to communicate, albeit in a rather vulgar, humorous and …. distasteful way. Perhaps rather it is better to light a candle than complain about the darkness. Or travel to go see a crocodile God in the middle of the jungle in order to put some lead back in your pencil. I’m not completely sure myself at the moment. It’s whatever floats your boat really...”

And so - an invite to the opera is yours should you want it. Do come. The crocodile would want you there.

The Crocodile Of Old Kang Pow will be lifting its hem and hawking its goods at The 20th Century Theatre on Sunday 22nd march. Doors 5:30 and Performance from 6pm.