Thursday, October 07, 2010

Matt Stokes: Art on the Underground "The Stratford Gaff: A Serio-Comick-Bombastick-Operatick Interlude"

Art On The Underground
A new film for Stratford Station
The Stratford Gaff: A Serio-Comick-Bombastick-Operatick Interlude
Matt Stokes

Artist Matt Stokes has drawn together a diverse group of local performers to create a spectacular film installation for Stratford Underground station. The Stratford Gaff: A Serio-Comick-Bombastick-Operatick Interlude, with acts ranging from an opera singer to a beatbox artist, draws on the area's rich history of popular entertainment, theatre and cinema.

The film is a contemporary take on the Victorian 'Penny Gaffs', temporary theatres that were abundant in the East End at this time. For a penny, audiences were entertained by quick-fire performances including comic songs, dances, music, acrobatics and short plays. Theatrical playbills and portraits announce the show in the station.

On the three screens the players perform their acts, accompanied by a 'house band'. Mirroring the busy life of the station, each show lasts only a few minutes and offers regular visitors a chance to see a different performance on every journey.

Stokes began his project by researching Stratford's history. Popular entertainment has been significant here since the nineteenth century, when rapid industrialisation led to an increased population and a growing demand for affordable entertainment such as the 'Penny Gaffs'. These were soon followed by licensed theatres, including the Theatre Royal in 1884, which still exists to this day.

Supported by the National Lottery through Arts Council England

Matt Stokes
The Stratford Gaff: A Serio-Comick-Bombastick-Operatick-Interlude, 2010
Production photographs of Victoria Elizabeth Day, Murray Melvin, Dizzle Kid, Sovra Newman, Mangal Singh and Bhanu Kanthagnany
Photography: Nadia Bettega
Supported by the National Lottery through Arts Council England
Courtesy of the artist and Workplace Gallery, UK.