When your entire livelihood suddenly goes up in smoke...

Classical cabaret performers All That Malarkey have become big favourites at the Festival of Chichester over the years.

Monday, 6th July 2020, 8:09 am
All That Malarkey

They are delighted to be joining this year’s virtual festival, bringing a touch of musical good-humour with a Beach Boys medley from their latest performance at The Pheasantry, London.

Their contribution can be viewed on https://festivalofchichester.co.uk/virtual-festival/ where it will remain, alongside all the other events, all summer.

Musical director David Harrington said: “We are used to flouncing about the stage in a camp hurricane of free-spirited musical humour and bombastic four-part harmony, and always relish the opportunity to do so in front of a warm and receptive Chichester audience. However, the pandemic that has disintegrated any sense of normality to 2020 has obviously bought the arts – and pretty much every industry – to its knees.

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“But the Festival of Chichester is not going down without a fight, and although we won’t be performing live at this year’s Festival of Chichester, it is still fun to be able to share a medley of ours that was filmed at The Pheasantry, Chelsea last December.

“Amy Fuller, our spritely, ginger-haired soprano, is particularly distraught at seeing our entire gig diary become cancelled in one fell swoop. It is always such a highlight of the year to perform in her hometown, for all of us, and Chichester was where our group really found our feet and developed in the early days. We owe a great deal to this amazing cathedral city.

“Lockdown has been a difficult rollercoaster of a ride. For me personally, I found the first couple of weeks truly terrifying. Within the space of a week, every concert booking, cabaret show, musical theatre workshop, corporate gig, choir gig and musical directing job was cancelled, one by one. As a freelance musician, this caused a dedicated period of earth-shattering anxiety and hopelessness.

“To see your entire livelihood suddenly go up in smoke was nothing short of harrowing.

“Luckily, as more information was released, things got easier. The wonderful charity Help Musicians was on hand to help offer grants to applicants. The Musicians Union and a host of other organisations came to the rescue to support struggling artists now absent of any income. My housemates and I got more and more used to the new way of life and became proud to do our part to help keep people alive and champion the NHS.

“The whole ordeal has been a wake-up call in so many ways and an opportunity for us all to reconnect with ourselves and gain some much-needed perspective. In so many ways, I am grateful for being forced into a situation where I have no option but to learn, listen and grow. I’m sure everyone will start to value what they took for granted pre-pandemic.

“Connecting with people has been a massive way to cope. All That Malarkey meet up regularly in a Zoom meeting where we laugh, share stories and have an awkward goodbye at the end, trying to close the application down smoothly. We are all exercising and looking after ourselves, as well as planning all the wonderful new songs and arrangements we will be able to perform once things return to normal.

“Speaking of which, there is obviously a great calling for the arts to be salvaged. As of today, there has been little offered by the government to fill anyone working in the arts with confidence that theatres and live events will continue even in the distant future. Theatres across the UK are already closing indefinitely due to not being able to make any money to stay afloat. Most theatres need to sell 80 per cent capacity each week just to keep in business. It is a scary time, and other artists are using their voices now to spread the word that unless something is done soon, then all the elements of entertainment that we hold dear will be a thing of the past. As more and more elements of life start to re-open, we can only hope and pray that our industry can return with more strength than ever before.

“In the meantime, virtual and remote streaming and broadcasts is a great way to share performances with the world.

“But this can be dangerous if it becomes a norm where entertainment becomes a free-for-all whereby artists do not get paid for their years of training and labour.

“I hope that in the short term, artists will keep finding creative ways to bring the arts to the public until live performance can be reworked to function safely.”

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