Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Opera in the Style of Oprah; like His Controversial Brother Chris, Tom Morris Pushes against Tradition. Rachel Halliburton Met Battersea Arts Centre's Artistic Director

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Opera in the Style of Oprah; like His Controversial Brother Chris, Tom Morris Pushes against Tradition. Rachel Halliburton Met Battersea Arts Centre's Artistic Director

Article excerpt

Byline: RACHEL HALLIBURTON

MENTION the name Jerry Springer, and you will experience a variety of reactions, whether it is the contemptuous smile, the brick hurled TV-wards, some predictable comment about everyone wanting their Warholian slice of fame, or an animated discussion about that girl who left her boyfriend because she was only attracted to men eating spaghetti in orange underwear.

A response you might not expect is: "Why not use the show as a basis for an opera?"

A season coming up at London's eternally inventive Battersea Arts Centre aims to subvert the prejudices and snobberies surrounding the setting of emotions to music, proving that Oprah-style can be opera as well.

Tom Morris, artistic director of the BAC, has been programming an entertainingly experimental opera season for the past six years now, and declares that Kombat Opera's choice of Jerry Springer is "perfect subject matter for opera. It's like Tosca - one emotional climax after another".

This year's programme for The Works season includes Charades - where the audience is invited to lie down inside a white tent and watch coloured lights play above them while 24 voices whirl them into a series of different situations - "a bit like an acid trip, really," laughs Morris.

Tabloid-style trivia hounds will be aware that Tom Morris is the younger brother of the notorious Chris, but while he is very proud of his brother's work, he is also very keen that little should be made of the link between them. Clearly, they are both fearless innovators, unafraid of pushing the envelope in their own particular spheres. In addition, Tom comes across very much as his own man - articulate, with a confidence that occasionally lapses into pomposity.

There is no underestimating what he has achieved: name any leading experimental theatre company - Frantic Assembly, Ridiculusmus, Primitive Science, Told by an Idiot - and they will all have been linked to the BAC at some point of their development.

For this season, Morris will be challenging opera with a production that takes people down a darker and more intimate route than Jerry Springer: The Opera. …

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