Hello again…I’d had this on my list of things I must write about for the better part of six months. I always found myself falling into an abyss however when I got to the stage when I wanted to add a post about it – when you’ve yet to see a play or worse still even had a chance to read the book unless its brand new it is difficult to offer an opinion of any value short of churning out what has already been written and said by the professional critics. Nevertheless I’m bypassing that phobia for one night only in the interests of promoting something that most certainly
furthers the cause of The Clash. If you live in the UK chances are you’ve already read about this and perhaps seen it, if you live elsewhere it might be news to you. I think I first got wind of this back in 2006 or 2007 when it was written about on some of the existing Clash forums that are online. The purveyors of the production were kind enough to write to see if I could share the details with you. The clue was above – I’m referring to the play ‘Meeting Joe Strummer‘.
The critically acclaimed play was originally performed at the Edinburgh Festival in 2006 and then went on tour through the UK in the second half of 2007. Its back in the news again as the play is hitting the road again this Spring throughout Britain. As I mentioned I’m certainly only in a position to repeat whats already been written but the synopsis is as follows:
The show follows the lives of two young men, one middle-class, one working-class, from adolescence in 1977 to middle-age as they are transformed by Joe Strummer and The Clash’s potent mix of rock n’ roll, iconic imagery and rebel politics
If you saw the play back in 2007 please write in and share your thoughts. For tonight I’ll publish the official press release notes beneath and I’m seeing if I can arrange an interview with Steve North about the project. On to the press release in full:
Written and directed by Paul Hodson, performed by Steve North and Jason Pitt
Meeting Joe Strummer is an award winning punk play packed full of loud music, raucous comedy – and deep respect for the music and life of the great Joe Strummer. It’s an emotional blast through rebel politics since punk – and a celebration of the man who set the agenda for a generation – but it’s not a tribute to The Clash or Strummer, really it’s a heartfelt play about friendship. Meeting Joe Strummer charts the friendship of two lads over three extraordinary decades. Meeting as teenagers in the late ‘70s, at the legendary Anti-Nazi League concert in Victoria Park, the play follows their lives as they cope with the Thatcher years and crap 80s music, struggle to stay true to the “Cause” while paying the bills and maintaining relationships, and how they grew up in the real world while trying to stay true to the myth of their hero.
Joe Strummer was a hero to many, including Paul Hodson (writer & director) and Steve North (performer). After Strummer’s tragically early death just before Christmas 2002, Paul and Steve began talking about making a piece of theatre to celebrate his life. A “biopic” type show seemed wrong; but a piece that told of Joe’s spirit, passion, talent and humour through the eyes of some of his fans seemed right. During two years of research those close to Joe as well as admirers from afar gave their time to talk about their feelings for him. His official biographer Chris Salewicz said not a day went by without people approaching Joe to tell him he changed their lives. Is there another music star, living or dead, who can have had such a profound effect? Joe’s influence clearly went beyond the great music he made.
Meeting Joe Strummer is played in a deliberately rough-and-ready, semi stand-up style. It glows with warmth, humour and self-deprecation - ‘it’s required viewing, not just for Strummer’s many admirers, but also for anyone who enjoys funny, perceptive and passionately sincere new writing.’ Manchester Evening News
Paul Hodson has written and directed for theatre for over twenty five years; as well as writing more than a hundred hours of broadcast television drama. He won a Fringe First in Edinburgh for Meeting Joe Strummer in 2006; his play about John Peel, Teenage Kicks, sold out its run at the 2007 Edinburgh Fringe. From 1991 Paul was Artistic Director of Brighton Theatre Events, who produced critically acclaimed work that toured throughout the UK. As well as writing and commissioning new work Paul adapted a number of books for the stage, including Nick Hornby’s Fever Pitch, which toured for 6 years and Bill Bryson’s books The Lost Continent and Notes From A Small Island. Other original plays include Brighton ‘Til I Die, to celebrate the centenary of Brighton and Hove Albion, and Pretty Vacant about punk rock survivors. In 2009 Paul formed the future is unwritten. The company’s first production was Thirteen, commissioned by Brighton Festival.
Steve North ’s theatre work includes premieres of Pretend You Have Big Buildings (Manchester Royal Exchange), Not The Love I Cry For (Arcola), Fever Pitch (West End/National tour), The Football Factory (national tour). He created the role of Steve in the original production of Meeting Joe Strummer . Film and Television work includes E20, Whistleblowers, Sense and Sensibility, Casualty, Midsomer Murders, The Day Britain Stopped, Murphy’s Law, Is Harry on the Boat? Vital Signs, London’s Burning, Easy Hours. He co-wrote and was Associate Producer of the film South West Nine and was also Associate Producer of The Football Factory and Dolphins.
‘I first saw the The Clash when I was 15 in June 1980 at Bristol Colston Hall. I met Joe Strummer and Mick Jones after the gig and asked Joe if he would do an interview for my fanzine ‘What the Rich are Doing’. Joe said he would, but the fanzine died after one issue so we never did the interview. I met him once again after a Mescaleros gig in Brighton in Nov 2001, the year before he died. Too drunk to explain how he had been my inspiration for most of the last 22 years, I garbled ‘you changed my life’ at him interrupting an interview with a young fanzine writer. Joe looked up, smiled and went back to the interview. I staggered home.’ Steve North
Back to me now…the tour begins this week Feb 19th in Crawley (who said nothing ever happens in Crawley eh?) and zig zags throughout England for the next two months. For full tour details visit this link and for more official information on the production please visit here.