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'Hang down your head and die'(Theatre show)

greg stephens 18 Mar 04 - 05:39 AM
GUEST,bong 18 Mar 04 - 06:01 AM
greg stephens 18 Mar 04 - 06:04 AM
GUEST,bong 18 Mar 04 - 06:07 AM
MikeofNorthumbria 18 Mar 04 - 08:51 AM
greg stephens 18 Mar 04 - 09:00 AM
alanabit 19 Mar 04 - 03:08 AM
greg stephens 19 Mar 04 - 03:53 AM
GUEST 19 Mar 04 - 05:46 PM
Tattie Bogle 19 Mar 04 - 09:29 PM
greg stephens 20 Mar 04 - 02:43 AM
The Stage Manager 20 Mar 04 - 04:08 PM
greg stephens 21 Mar 04 - 05:00 AM
Roger the Skiffler 22 Mar 04 - 03:41 AM
greg stephens 22 Mar 04 - 04:27 AM
McGrath of Harlow 22 Mar 04 - 06:18 AM
MikeofNorthumbria 22 Mar 04 - 12:47 PM
greg stephens 23 Mar 04 - 12:34 PM
GUEST,Leveller 24 Sep 06 - 05:37 PM
GUEST,Bob Wilson 10 Jan 18 - 06:59 PM
GUEST,Gerry 11 Jan 18 - 01:06 AM
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Subject: 'Hang down your head and die'(Theatre sh
From: greg stephens
Date: 18 Mar 04 - 05:39 AM

Well I just had the pleasure of going to a 40th anniversary party for this show, which was a very successful Oxford University student production that got transferred to Straford and then the Lodon West End. The show was about capital punishment. It was ground-breaking in some ways, and unusually took the sounds of the 60's folk club scene onto the West end stage. It also kick started the careers of a couple of Monty Pythons, and various other people including myself(I wrote a few songs and supplied and arranged some trad songs).
   Anyway, my rason for posting is this. You do wonder what effect your work has,sometimes. I would love to know if anyone here actually saw the show, and has any memories of it? (It was also produced elsewhere with different casts).


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Subject: RE: 'Hang down your head and die'(Theatre sh
From: GUEST,bong
Date: 18 Mar 04 - 06:01 AM

An anti-capital punishment show AND folk music. I am surprised anybody saw it ever.Doubly damned I would say.


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Subject: RE: 'Hang down your head and die'(Theatre sh
From: greg stephens
Date: 18 Mar 04 - 06:04 AM

We sold out many times. it was very funny and very shocking and had pretty girls dancing. And me playing the guitar. What more do you want?


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Subject: RE: 'Hang down your head and die'(Theatre sh
From: GUEST,bong
Date: 18 Mar 04 - 06:07 AM

Hamsters and curry.


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Subject: RE: 'Hang down your head and die'(Theatre sh
From: MikeofNorthumbria
Date: 18 Mar 04 - 08:51 AM

I have to plead guilty, as an accessory before the fact.


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Subject: RE: 'Hang down your head and die'(Theatre sh
From: greg stephens
Date: 18 Mar 04 - 09:00 AM

hello, Mike. Well you got me the job in the show in the first place, by offloading the job of coming up with a list of capital punishment related material on to me. I fancy you might have sung something on to a tape for that purpose, though memory is a little hazy! Was Sam Hall in your repertoire then, or was it one of mine? In either case, it was sung at the reunion party with great gusto by Sir Robert Scott, mastermind of the Commonwealth Games bid for Manchester, and the City of Culture for Liverpool, and father of thwe Royal Exchange Theatre. Plain Bob Scott back in 64.
    Well that's great, Mudcat has thrown up one person who's heard of the show. Any more for any more?


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Subject: RE: 'Hang down your head and die'(Theatre sh
From: alanabit
Date: 19 Mar 04 - 03:08 AM

I have never heard of it. It sounds interesting though. Can you give us more information - or perhaps a link?


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Subject: RE: 'Hang down your head and die'(Theatre sh
From: greg stephens
Date: 19 Mar 04 - 03:53 AM

Alanabit: I dont believe there is anything obviously accessible written about this show.it is mentioned in various theatrical and cultural histories. Search under "hang down your head and die" and you will be led to various theatrical cv's, notably background stuff on Michael Palin and Terry Jones of Python fame, who appeared in, and wrote for, this show as I did. Alas, the BBC, as was its habit in those days, threw away the only film that exists of the show...what a treat it would be for Monty Python fans(and for me!) if a copy turned up.
    It was a good example of what Henry Ayrton in a broadcast a while ago called the parallel worlds of folk. One world, obviously, being the FRoots/Sidmouth/Celtic Connections/BBC folk awards type thing. But there are few links between that world and others, like the 60's folkies(such as myself) who went into experimental theatre. And many other folk activities that exist around the country, but dont impinge on the "Folk Scene".
Basically, you wont read about me and Terry Jones singing folk songs together, so it doesnt exist. But I think it's actually just as interesting as some other aspects of folk in the country. The other day, for example, I was singing with Sir Robert Scott, who organised the failed Olympic bid for Manchester, then the successful Commonwealth Games, then went on to win the City of Culture thing for Liverpool. I have been involved with regeneration culture at a musical level in the north-west since the early days with Bob Scott, but you wont see anything about this in folk mags.
That's what Henry Ayrton was talking about, folk penetrated all sorts of aspects of culture, but if it's not "Folk Scene" orientated it doesnt exist. Strange.


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Subject: RE: 'Hang down your head and die'(Theatre sh
From: GUEST
Date: 19 Mar 04 - 05:46 PM


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Subject: RE: 'Hang down your head and die'(Theatre sh
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 19 Mar 04 - 09:29 PM

Is it not a quote from "Tom Dooley" which was popularised by the Kingston trio and Lonnie Donegan in the early 60s?
"Hang down your head Tom Dooley,
Hang down your head and cry,
Hang down your head Tom Dooley,
Poor boy, you're bound to die."
And he got hanged for stabbing his woman.
TB


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Subject: RE: 'Hang down your head and die'(Theatre sh
From: greg stephens
Date: 20 Mar 04 - 02:43 AM

Its not actually a quote, more a reference to it.


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Subject: RE: 'Hang down your head and die'(Theatre sh
From: The Stage Manager
Date: 20 Mar 04 - 04:08 PM

Greg,

You've got me seriously intrigued here. I knew Bob Scott from the time he was managing The Palace and The Opera House in Manchester. Frankly Bob is (was) one of the few theatre managers I had any time for after the demise of the Old Moss Empires and Howard and Wyndham's theatre chains, but that's another story.

Sorry, your show was just a bit before my time, but you raise an interesting point. I won't go into details but it's an extraordinary moment and feeling, when someone says to you "If it hadn't been for that show I wouldn't be here now....It changed my life." I'm only glad that art still has the power to shake people to the very essence of their being.

Forgive me, but I'm not going to let you get away with "

Henry Ayrton in a broadcast a while ago called the parallel worlds of folk. One world, obviously, being the FRoots/Sidmouth/Celtic Connections/BBC folk awards type thing. But there are few links between that world and others, like the 60's folkies(such as myself) who went into experimental theatre. And many other folk activities that exist around the country, but dont impinge on the "Folk Scene"."

without a little more elaboration.

I've not heard anyone come out with this sort of thing for a very, very long time, and frankly it was precisely because of the "FRoots/Sidmouth/Celtic Connections/BBC folk awards type thing." that I got seriously pissed off with the "Folk Scene" in the first place.

So what are these "folk activities that exist around the country, but don't impinge on the "Folk Scene"."?

Let's start with where I get to hear you playing guitar these days. Sounds like it might be the sort of experience that would interest me....

SM


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Subject: RE: 'Hang down your head and die'(Theatre sh
From: greg stephens
Date: 21 Mar 04 - 05:00 AM

Stage Manager: there are indeed parallel worlds of folk in Britain, where traditional folk is performed with styles, forms, and functions completely different to those of the "folk scene". And it's quite likely you will never hear of them, or certanly not through the music press. I'll PM you.


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Subject: RE: 'Hang down your head and die'(Theatre sh
From: Roger the Skiffler
Date: 22 Mar 04 - 03:41 AM

greg, this rings very faint bells but I don't think I saw it in Stratford or West End. Was it also performed at Greenwich Theatre in the '70s?
Perhaps it was on radio?

RtS
(memory fading fast)


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Subject: RE: 'Hang down your head and die'(Theatre sh
From: greg stephens
Date: 22 Mar 04 - 04:27 AM

No idea if it was ever in Greenwich. I was only aware of the original cast performances. but I know it got done in a few other places. Not with any success that I ever heard of..I think it depended on being a studenty experimental thing, being done by real actors didnt do it any favours!


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Subject: RE: 'Hang down your head and die'(Theatre sh
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 22 Mar 04 - 06:18 AM

I remember it all right. You had some good songs in it, greg. ("Black is the colour, none is the number" - how did the rest go?) I seem to remember it owed a lot to a book by Arthur Koestler called "Hanged by the Neck". It was an effective part of the campaign to end this kind of ritual killing by the state in the UK.

Maybe it's time for a revised version in the USA?


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Subject: RE: 'Hang down your head and die'(Theatre sh
From: MikeofNorthumbria
Date: 22 Mar 04 - 12:47 PM

It was an innnovative show, which made a (deadly) serious point with wit and panache - and some excellent songs. So, the text, at least, ought to be on record for posterity, even if there are no surviving film clips of the original production.

Greg, do you know if a definitive script survives - and if so, who owns the copyright? Surely it would be possible to publish it - on the web if not on paper - for future generations to enjoy and learn from.

Wassail!


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Subject: RE: 'Hang down your head and die'(Theatre sh
From: greg stephens
Date: 23 Mar 04 - 12:34 PM

Yes, mike, there is a script available from some theatrical publisher people...not sure how you get a copy. You cant alway buy a play script in a bookshop,some you kind of get an actual typed script. One kwy elemnt of the show was the actuality recordings( interviews with people in the street), and those recording also exist because I heard them all the other day. Whether it would be worth reviving I dont know. Probably a bit like performimg the Monty Python Scripts or "That was the week that was" shows with new casts..probably not a good idea!
But we did have a reunion party the ther day and sang a lot of the show, intercut with actuality, and it did start to devlop a head of theatrical steam.


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Subject: RE: 'Hang down your head and die'(Theatre sh
From: GUEST,Leveller
Date: 24 Sep 06 - 05:37 PM

I would be very interested in getting hold of a transcript of "Hang Down Your Head and Die" both as part of my research on the abolition campaign and also as, apparently, an example of an early effusion from two members of the Monty Python team. Any ideas where I can obtain it.?


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Subject: RE: 'Hang down your head and die'(Theatre sh
From: GUEST,Bob Wilson
Date: 10 Jan 18 - 06:59 PM

I played guitar and some banjo in the show for a while in the early 60's. Met a fellow in folksy/blues club where I was doing a spot. He asked if would like to take over his part in the show; he'd had a better offer or something like that. Greg Stephens - was that you?


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Subject: RE: 'Hang down your head and die'(Theatre show)
From: GUEST,Gerry
Date: 11 Jan 18 - 01:06 AM

The Arthur Koestler book that was mentioned several posts up (and 13 years ago) was called Reflections On Hanging. See, e.g., https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/arthur-koestler-8/reflections-on-hanging/


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