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A radical interpretation of the Life and Work of William Burroughs by two giants of their fields- Richard Strange and Gavin Bryars


The novelist William S Burroughs was born on February 5th 1914. 2014 is his Centennial year. We intend to celebrate the life and work of this influential artist in a cantata- Language is a Virus from Outer Space. 

Drawing on Burroughs’s books, the piece will use the drama, artistry and humour of his life to create a multi-media theatrical musical event. Several of the key elements of Burroughs’s life will be referenced including His lifelong battle with drugs, his obsession with firearms, his invention of The Dream Machine, and his distaste for all forms of officialdom and state control . Among the collaborators will be leading exponents of Fine Art, Dance, Literature, Theatre and Music.

We are also planning an international hook-up with musicians in Los Angeles to participate LIVE in this unique event.

This will be a new work of twenty minutes duration from the renowned composer Gavin Bryars, with a libretto by the writer, musician and actor Richard Strange, working alongside the arranger Audrey Riley.

Gavin Bryars, whose professional career began with his recordings of Jesus Blood Never Failed Me Yet in 1975 for Brian Eno’s record label, has been performed all over the world , and collaborated with many of the greatest names in Contemporary Culture, including Robert Wilson, Christian Boltanski and Merce Cunningham.

The librettist and director, Richard Strange, is a former member of 1970’s proto-punk band The Doctors of Madness. We will involve a student collective of musicians from the Institute of Contemporary Music Performance, London, known as “We Are Children (We Make Sound)” in the performance, We are also planning an international hook-up with young musicians in Los Angeles to participate LIVE in this unique event.

The World Premiere will be at London’s prestigious Queen Elizabeth Hall on the Southbank on October 11th 2014, and will feature contributions from Richard Strange, Gavin Bryars, Audrey Riley, Sarah Jane Morris, Jeremy Reed, Kate St John,  Gavin Turk, Haroon Mirza, Rupert Thomson, David Coulter, Seb Rochford, Luca Silvestrini, Anni Hogan, the young musicians ensemble We Are Chidren (We Make Sound) plus a number of surprise special guests! It is also hoped that the work will be performed elsewhere in the world subsequently over the following 24 months.

A number of generous individuals are supporting the project, as are The Institute of Contemporary Music Performance, and applications are in with various Arts Funding bodies.





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