The Octopus Show Two - 11th Dec 1969

Submitted by root on Thu, 08/08/2013 - 11:03

This Show was created by the Octopus Club (details of the Club are set out below) with input from staff at Great Georges (the Blackie).  This was very early in the life of the Blackie (in those days we were known as Great Georges after the name of the former church and our registered charitable name 'The Great Georges Community Arts Project'); we had few staff  but a number of regular volunteers and attendees.  Events in those days were by invitation rather than public advertising. This was the second of two collaborations with the Octopus Club.

We have comparatively little archive material from this time.  And what we do have is not entirely clear.  So even in terms of the dates things are somewhat confused.  Certainly Show One took place on the 9th October in 1968 and Show Two  took place on 11th Dec 1969 - we have a ticket with this date on it and the show is described in the Dec/January Newsheet:-


"The Octopus Club and Great Georges are again combining forces to produce Octopus Show 2, to take place at Great Georges  on Thursday December 11th at 8.30pm.  The show is structured as a multimedial investigation of the concept of identity and will take place in an environment that will be part maze - part fairground. Sideshows includes Lights by Nova Express, Films, Dance, Theatre Pieces, Play areas, Environments within environments, Sounds electronic, Sounds Musical, Sounds spoken, etc, etc. The whole of which turns, at the wave of a magic wand, into a masked ball to be enjoyed by all till the early hours. You are invited to make your own mask (of any size/shape/colour) and bring it along to the show (simple masks will be provided)."

We also have the outline of an event based round film, dance words and music which we believe is Octopus Show 2.

We have a Octoscore/octoscript which outlines a series of sketches - though it is not at all clear how they fit in with the detailed timetable below but which despite this we believe to be for Octopus Two - however this mentions a  performance on Nov 6th - not Dec 11th.

Current thinking is that the script was originally designed by The Octopus Club but morphed into a maze environment created in what we now call the Studio.  The room was  hung with clear polythene in such a way that they formed extended cubes. Within these cubes events which relate to those described below took place - so someone had their hair cut, a couple played chess under a strobe light, people read and ate fruit, someone cooked an egg.  How this related to the more free form sketches and to the other elements described below is buried in the mists of time. If anyone recalls what happened do get in touch.

We do recall that the evening was enlivened by a visit from the fire department who had heard that a performance was taking place and came to check on our licence.  Bill Harpe showed them round  and they left agreeing that whatever was happening it certainly was not theatre. 

The Show

Notes on content

  1.  Moving images on screens
  2. Take photos of dancers & project these on screens
  3. Flood room with ever changing colours
  4. Spotlight different characters
  5. Dance angular patterns and grotesque forms
  6. Dance projections on wall & floor - dancers in front of shape moving in and out of shapes begin in a come and go back dance
  7. Changing colours - different moods of movement
  8. Dances related to films
  9. Molly Bloom's speech Ulysses
  10. Reading from Alan Ginsberg
  11. Couple on couch
  12. Eating Drinking..  film
  13. Battle of the Century
  14. The Sound Barrier
  15. Day of Wrath
  16. Henry V
  17. Rashomon


Time Table



Film A

Film B















2 spots



Couple begin


Henry 5th

Battle   of the Century begins this

will be continuous,    alternating with the Eating, Drinking etc. film until the end of the   evening

2 spots


Dancers accompany the 2 films

Adrian Henri begins reading Ginsberg's Howl



Day of Wrath


Red lights to suggest flames / fire

Group On


Above continues




2/3 spot lights


Dancers - Japanese dance

Rape Dance

Ginsberg continues

Molly Bloom starts



Battle   of the Century ends

Projected  slides of   dancers moving patterns on screens



Molly bloom continues



Eating Drinking film ends




Only couple continue


The sound Barrier


2 spot lights












The Sketches



Tom Burke,  Steve, Katrina, Sue, Sue, June, Tom Hughes, Manic Depression and 'Grass',  anyone else

The cast are not to discuss the sketches with anyone (including GGP'S) before the performances.  The rehearsals are to be in private. The props are to be stored securely in Technical Room and locked up again.


I leave it to you to suggest rough timings for each action, also the number of cast required for each action. These will in part (because of the number of performers available) determine the running order. Suggest running; order be done by means of a 'draw' (1- 40)  starting at a minute drawn. But not more than two actions starting within (say) 3 or 4 minutes of each other. Have separate draws for performance and dress rehearsal.  Query - running time of performance is indeterminate ?

Dress Rehearsal   - Monday 4th

Performance - Wednesday 6th           Get Script from Jim

earlier rehearsals as arranged.

See letter to Jim Lyons for discussion of music;  also running time and the density of the sketches and other events within the total running time.

This is the biggest problem of the whole show and is why the sketches need to be ready for the dress rehearsal.

The show probably won't be put in order until the Monday and this won't be easily done.

I've suggested Wendy join in (as she is able) I'll be in hospital on Monday night. Someone will be needed (assuming Wendy is available and fancies the job) to view the sketches as a non-participant - and also see the whole thing as a whole  (balancing the sounds getting music played etc.)

In view of the participation by the Manic Depression I suggest all music associated with sketches be Baroque (Handel or  Bach).  Something perhaps, from our collection. Interrupting, briefly, the music, the sounds going on at the time.

Note:  need director in charge of performance of sketches as the show progresses.  i.e. to solve problems, get music on etc. (if you, Tom, are meditating on a rope and I'm in hospital)

Note:  Baroque music needed run (solo) the full length of each action. Would be boring. Needs more complication (mixtures/cross, mixtures) than that to work


Sketch 1   Man enters carrying bag of tacks, on way across room spills tacks over floor (trips? stumbles? possibly near illuminating light)

He is presumably helped by people around to gather up tacks (though he does not ask for help) politely thanks those who have helped him. exits. Returns and repeats action (not necessarily immediately) Continues action (with exits and entrances) until no-one helps him to pick up tacks. Then exits action is complete.

If he's always helped the action continues to end of Performance.

N.B. can drop tacks anywhere.

Sketch 2.  Two people (man and woman) enter carrying small table. Arrange two chairs facing one another across table. Exit. Return carrying lighted candles (slowly so as not to put candles out - if  happens, one lights others candle - if both go out must carry matches). Put candles on table (on saucers ) Exit. Return with trays of books and food (fruit). Sit down.  Read (alternately - and fairly loudly) until all food (oranges / bananas ) eaten. Then exit in same way as entered.

Notes: as for all sketches, doesn't matter if sketch interferes with other action

i.e. it may be a positive advantage (and interest) if action interferes with projection (or with dancers). Not to last too long, unless readers good (say 3/7 mins) One eats, one reads. Books/papers chosen by chance procedure (upto performer/director) and passages chosen by chance. Each performer can stop reading anytime- cue lays down book, other performer then ceases to eat and begins to read.

Sketch 3 Two performers enter with chair, towel (or large cloth) scissors. One cuts the others hair, one sits and one stands, then both exit.

N.B. perform slowly. Make most of all 'business' - carefully arranging towel to see hair doesn't fall inside persons cloths, considering how to cut as much as cutting itself.

 Sketch 4. Rope hung between 3 pillars (not necessarily in a straight line ), Hung prior to performance, secured at A.B.C.

 drawing of suspended rope

 Man (or woman ) mounts rope at x, climbs, swings on crawls along to y - all fairly slowly.  Stops at y, if possible facing down, head to right of sketch) above rope one arm and one leg to one side and one arm and one leg to the other, balanced hanging. If can't make that, curl arm round rope, lying in  as long a position as possible (i.e. not curled up) but secured by arms and feet.

Consider any problem or proposition, stay at y - still until the problem or proposition becomes clearer or is solved. Then crawl to end of rope and come down at z.  If problem or proposition is pushed no further by meditation/thought stay at y till end of performance.

Absorption is necessary. If people talk, or shout at you, and you lose concentration, get off rope by dropping from y (not going too z) and then exit quietly

Sketch 5 Two characters ( two girls) carried on in base made of strong planks (3 planks wide, 3/4 long). One person front and back carrying the base.

2 girls completely sealed in large cloth container - sheets or hessian (sewed in, finally, just before performance) both curled tight.

shape of sack with girls in

Shape of sack being carried in and with girls moving inside

Remain still for some moments after being placed down, then move slowly, investigatory.  Interior characters (the girls) devise a ballet on form of

a) curled up motionless

b) investigation

c) increasingly    wild and longer : loments

d) one moment when characters stretch container to fullest size (leaning
away from each other) and held for a second or so.

e) short section smaller wild  (twitching) movements diminishing to zero

f ) curled up motionless

When complete the 2 carriers re-enter and carry out again (music could good here)

N.B. if  any 'spectators' break open or tear open the container, the 2 girls take them by the hand an  lead them from  the room. This is the end of action (with base and cloth removed by carriers)

Sketch 6 Character (man?  but not necessarily) on ' base' -  as for two girls /container sketch.  Completely tied (so as to have disappeared) in rope  feet hands tied firmly but not so much as to endanger  circulation

Man tied in ropewTied  just prior to performance (needs go on near opening).  Carried in by two carriers and left anywhere in room (note all carriers in sketches do their work quietly, carefully). Person tied slowly escapes, , moving, twisting,,  untying themselves. When completely freed leaves (leaving rope and base in room) carriers do not return for rope or base (Note:  or continues until free - if it takes longer than the performance)

Sketch 7 Conjuring trick. Character performs a conjuring trick, must be visual only   (no patter).  Not a card trick (wouldn't register), Only attempt if it can be done with conviction (and the necessary expertise) by one person (two) - say an actor from UDS (or  actress)

Sketch 8  Character man or woman enters with large case or (preferably) wooden box. Slowly assembles (from, box) primus stove. Then emerge frying pan, bread,  plate , butter  knife,  eggs,  slowly breaks  and fries (need lard for pan). Makes  an egg butty, adds salt. Hands to nearest person in crowd, assembles materials carefully into box again and exits.

Note: careful list of all needed items not forgetting lard, salt,  2  eggs  (in case of accidents)  matches, meths,  etc. performer may turn egg, beat egg, etc. as he/she prefers, but the butty must be given away (not to another performer) in the room

Note: keeps objects hidden until needed so audience can't guess what is to happen too early.

Sketch 9   Steve and Katrina facing each other S's hand on K's waist, K jumps pulling knees up, land on S's chest,  Held there, high, (position as drawn below) for a moment, Then lifted down again.

When down and facing each other (both on floor) Kiss, firmly but not passionately. Hands on each others waist. Bodies slightly apart. S walks 4 (or 8 if 4 steps don't carry him far enough) backwards;  k 4/8 steps forward. Lift -  hold - lift -down - kiss walk repeated as before;  repeat continuously. Starts in one corner of room, moves diagonally across room performing (6?8? I2? whatever times) and then exiting. Move as crowd, and columns allow, but the concentration is on each other. Don't allow jostling (or side movements as may be necessary) to disturb them.

Note: lift is not difficult, butt needs practice particularly since if attempted too quickly (unsuccessfully); one loses confidence.

Am prepared to try on Wednesday with Steve and Katrina (best start by trying jump but without achieving position - and also other people lift girl into position, so boy gets feel of lift) Then put 2 together.

Note: All sketches to be performed slowly. This is definitely important. Slower than feels right to the performers.


 The Club

Octopus Club Motif

What is the Octopus Club?

It started in 1966 as the Contact Club, which used to meet at the Childwall Abbey Hotel on Sunday evenings. Early in 1968, the club moved to its present venue and two important changes were made; firstly, the meeting night became Wednesday, and secondly, by popular vote among the members, the name was changed to Octopus Club. The eight tentacles of the octopus represent the many different aspects of the club's activities. The club is a non-profit-making concern, run by and for its members through a committee, and aims to be a meeting place and forum for progressive and liberal-minded people.

Who are its members?

Club members come from all walks of life and include managers and milkmen, teachers and architects, engineers and social workers, students and housewives. There are no bars to membership, except those relating to age, occas­ioned by the fact that the club meets in licensed premises. Men and women are equally welcome.

What does it do?

The Club runs a weekly series of discussions, debates, talks, lectures and music evenings, and it is the object that the members take part in the activities, not just sit and listen. The club is specifically for those who want to DO things, and

does not aim solely to provide entertainment or amusement in a passive way. Furthermore, members of the club engage in various forms of social action. At present, club representatives assist with the local Child Poverty Action Group, and with the new Great George's Centre for the arts. Outdoor activities at weekends include climbing and skiing trips, camping holidays, in fact, anything the members happen to be interested in.

Is it affiliated to any other body?

No; the club feels that this would inhibit its activities and its action.

Who are its officers?

Chairman :   J.Lyon

Secretary :   Mrs A. G. Fanning, 

                   10 Beeston Grove     


 Liverpool 19

                   051-CRE 3138

Treasurer:    Mrs A. Jones

 How do I join?

By visiting the club any Wednesday and asking to see the Secretary. Membership costs 10/- per six-month session. You will also be welcome as a visitor - nightly admission charges will be slightly higher.