Geddes Loom is a theatre company that started as a band. And we’re still a band who go out and stand in corners of pubs playing music with the sort of heartfelt enthusiasm that comes from being forced to compete for attention with a TV showing Match of the Day, adverts with dogs in, or, one memorable time, X Factor. Now, though, we also use our band-ness to tell stories and create theatre.
We became a band in 2011 when we were in Devon working on Ben’s solo show, Everything We Need. Dan and Léonie were the musicians in the show, Ben took care of everything else. We decided it might be a good thing to work on some songs to play at a gig we’d confidently arranged for ourselves at Dartington, so, armed with cello, guitar, voice (beatboxing and singing), keyboard, and more loops than a roller coaster, we did. We enjoyed it, other people enjoyed it, so we thought, well, let’s do that again. Then an exceptionally drunk woman in a pub bought us each a shot of sambuca and gave us the (otherwise entirely meaningless) name Geddes Loom, so that all worked out pretty well.
And since then we’ve played all over the place. Pubs, festivals, theatres, club nights. We’ve busked on street corners (which has proved risky: there’s nothing worse than a damp cello*), played in converted churches, all magnificent stained glass and no indoor plumbing. We’ve done living room gigs artily surrounded by tealights in jam jars and people draped languidly over furniture. We accidentally once broke a strict “No Britney” rule in a Working Men’s Club in North Manchester (it was worth it). We host a monthly music/spoken word/comedy night in Manchester called Pen:Chant, to which artists from as far as Bristol, London and Australia have flocked just to perform with us**.
*there are actually loads of things worse than a damp cello.
**The Australians might (MIGHT) have been over anyway.
In November 2012 we were given a Cornerhouse Microcommission for the initial development of Prelude to a Number. We spent a week grappling with maths and meaning, trying to work out how we felt about ‘Phi’ – a number that has so much myth and mysticism attached to it. We made some early sketches, became fascinated by how so many people use Phi (or the golden ratio) as a means to understand human existence and our place in the universe. We wrote characters, made music and created songs, and performed it all to a generous audience in the Annexe at Cornerhouse.
About a year later we were awarded the Routes North commission to continue making the show. Supported by Arts Council England, we worked at The Lowry (Salford), the ARC (Stockton) and Theatre In The Mill (Bradford), with director Leo Kay (Unfinished Business), and made a show that we’re very proud of, all the while performing as a band where we could. We’re still exploring how to be a band and a theatre company on the same stage: telling stories and exploring theatrical ideas whilst still making and performing our music.
While we were working on the show in Bradford we found out that we were going to be performing Prelude to a Number at the Edinburgh Fringe 2014 with Northern Stage. This news did, if we’re honest, halt work on the show for a bit, as we needed to engage in some serious jumping about and hugging each other. (We’re not even going to pretend to be cool about this. We’re really excited.)
We’ll be working on the show before we go up to Edinburgh, as we’re in the luxurious position of having had some time to think about the piece and how we can improve it before we go. Time to Process The Process, if you will (which is exactly the sort of pretentious wordplay we’re trying very hard to avoid).
We’re going to be at King’s Hall from 2-23rd August at 2.50pm daily. See you there!
ADDITIONAL NOTE: There is now a Geddes Loom tribute act called Freddie’s Boom. They are yet to perform any gigs but we are told they are putting themselves forward for Eurovision 2015.