I wasn’t sure what to expect when I went over to the Tate Liverpool. I had read the short description of what O.K. – The Musical is and also did my own reading on Christopher Kline and his previous works but regardless, I walked into the gallery with an open mind.
It felt like I was late for a production meeting where everyone had already been assigned to a specific job and I was left on my own trying to fit in with the rest of the production crew. It was not what I had expected at all, not that I had much to expect in the first place. On the left side of the wall, there was a long sheet of cloth which was painted to look like a forest, whilst on the right side of the wall, someone was working on painting brick walls. It was as if I had walked into the backstage of a set and watching the production team creating the props.
What was charming about the whole atmosphere however is the people working on the set: the people taping cardboard pieces together to create cardboard buildings, the people painting the cardboard houses. It stood out to me the most because these people are from Liverpool’s very own community, Blue Room, an arts programme for adults with learning disabilities. Along with them, the choir group for people who have experienced homelessness were also there pitching in help and talking to the people visiting the set, The Choir with No Name. Not to mention Kline who was also there to talk to the production team (see my interview with him!).
It was not much to start with, obviously, as it is only the third day of production but just something about it was so unconventional yet felt like right at home. It felt like helping out for the school play when we were in primary or secondary school. It was fun, involving and warm to the heart to watch the community interact with each other and lending out a helping hand. It was encouraged of the visitors to lend a hand and draw bricks on the wall (which I so gleefully did!).
The performances will only take place on the 29th and 30th of April but joining in with the production team to watch their work unfold in the gallery itself is a different experience altogether. Like I said, it was like walking backstage to watch the set unfold itself.
Though it’s quite a while away from the final product, Kline has set the stage for his oncoming visitors that the musical and the days leading up to the musical will be about how communities form in Kinderhook as well as an avenue for the community to share stories and to find new ways of exploring and retelling local histories. There is also a TV which gives a look into Kline’s previous instalment of O.K – The Musical in Berlin for visitors to have an idea of what to expect.
Kudos should be given to Kline for involving local community in the production of his musical to both tell the story of Kinderhook as well as for the local community to grow together and to share their experiences as a person and to learn the history of Liverpool itself.
The blank stage being set up by participants for the day’s musical show
Photo Credit: Nikie Azlli
Check it out! O.K. – The Musical runs from the 1st of April to the 1st of May with special performances on the 29th and 30th of April at 3 pm at Tate Liverpool!
Edited by Mikey McCusker
Featured Image Credit: O.K. – The Musical (Run Through) at Arken Museum of Modern Art, produced by liveart.dk with Lo Specchio Youth Theatre, Denmark 2015.
Image courtesy of the artist.