As explained in the above leaflet Going Away Games was a day long show to mark the closure of the building for redevelopment.
Again quoting from the leaflet "since 1968 the Great Georges Project has operated in an old congregational church in the centre of Liverpool. In 1973 we are taking out the inside of the church and putting in its place the inside of a Community Arts Project. The present interior has greatly affected the way in which we have worked/played/lived. Going Away Games is an event to celebrate and say 'goodbye' to the interior of the church."
Going Away Games was the final event prior to re-development - first there was an installation in the main auditorium "Carnum et Ciclum" by Leopold Mahler in Dec 1972, then there was the 1972/73 Christmas Playscheme, and then Going Away Games.
Unlike most organisation planning a redevelopment we intended to be part of the building team and we started, in Going Away Games, being our own demolition team.
We do have some notes on what happened but they are far from complete - however there are a lot of photos.
The basic idea was to end the show having removed much of the old interior during the course of it. At the same time to involve the audience in playing games, watching performances and exploring the old interior.
Preparing the building
It was decided that we would start by returning the main auditorium to as close to its original state as we could manage. And to clean and tidy the rest of the building. This turned out to a greater task than was recognised. Partially because whilst the main auditorium is in fact huge - see the overview the main auditorium with its seating for 2,000 people below - when one works there it actually feels quite homely.
And partially because of the problems which included the facts that the main space had been used as a storage area, as had the dome; that at some point the pulpit had been painted white as had the surrounding pews; that the main original lights no longer worked well; that the windows had been boarded up, and that the pews had not been cleaned since we had moved into the building. So there was a mountain of work to be got through even before we started preparing for the show itself.
Above photos of the amount of material - some rubbish some to be re-used or sold - including the many mattresses which surrounded the inflatables - that had to be removed from the main auditorium.
Materials and things to be kept were transported to a warehouse in New Bird Street where they were to be stored.
Below transporting mattresses etc. to New Bird Street
Below the cleaning of the pulpit and the pews.
Above John Steadman cleaning the pulpit, part of the cleaned pulpit and it being waxed, the cleaned pulpit ; the pews being stripped of paint and then being cleaned and polished. Below unblocking the windows and creating frames for the windows which would provide both a complete blackout and be easily removable so that pews could be removed from the building.
Above in the roof space getting the mechanism which raised and lowered the central light to work
Preparing For The Show
Alongside getting the building looking good there were the preparations for the event itself. Basic to the event was taking apart the Main auditorium. The list of items we intended to remove during the show included the Pulpit; the staging around the pulpit; the font; the pews upstairs and down, and the organ.
Most of these needed some preparatory work which ranged from loosening the fittings which kept the pews in place on the balcony; ensuring that the underneath of the staging was supported and accessible; emptying the inside of the organ and roping the crown.
Above Dave Calder organising the pews so that they can be easily removed, supporting the stage around the pulpit.
The original organ was very impressive as the photo below shows, But by the the time we occupied the building the organ had lost all its external pipes and was a shadow of its former self though still very large and impressive. During the event the crown was due to be removed. Therefore the preparations included removing all the internal pipes and roping the crown so that it could be safely removed.
Below the inner pipes being removed from the organ, the empty shell of the organ and the crown roped ready for removal.
In addition there were the preparations for the games and performances within the event. There is no complete programme of what took place and when; however, from what notes that do exist, it did include:-
a) A Fluxus Clinic Game in which people were introduced to the Auditorium.
b) An exhibition down stairs which included photographs of details of the building. These formed a basis of a game which encourage players to explore the whole building.
c) Games played in the main space which led to the removal of the pews on the ground floor. This meant sourcing the materials for the games in advance.
d) A performance in a cargo net suspended across the centre of the auditorium. It was decided that the net should be multi-coloured so it had to be painted by hand. The people who performed in it wore matching costumes which had to be dyed. And the net had to be safe for people to move around in.
Above Wendy Harpe and colleagues painting the cargo net and ties. Below Dave Rickus organising the ties for the net, and the net suspended across the main space.
Above Mary Copple choosing the colours and dyes for the costumes and the dyed costumes drying.
e) A meal served whilst a string quartet played. So the meal had to be planned and shopped for along with flowers to decorate the tables.
Early morning shopping at the Flower Market
f) Performances by young people which had to be rehearsed.
Below Steph Dodds rehearsing with singers and musicians and the dancers practicing their routine.
Going Away Games : The Event
The day started with games exploring the building. The first games was a Fluxus Clinic in which the players measured themselves against bits of the auditorium. For instance Do you have more fingers and toes than the font has leaves? For a full list of questions for the Fluxus Clinic click here.
After the Fluxus Clinic coffee was served down stairs where there was an exhibition, films were shown and there were photos of details of the building. Below examples of the photographs showing details of the building.
People were given a list of the latter which they set out to find during the course of the day.
People then went back upstairs to play a Unmistakeable game in which the players walked around with boards on their heads. If they dropped a board they had to throw a dart at a plan of the main auditorium and then go to that place and gather an object that was there - this tended to be a pew - which had then to be brought back to the main space. As the pews were brought to the main space it became more and more difficult for players to walk around in the space.
Photos above - the game being explained by Dave Kay (who acted as MC throughout the day); the players walking around with boards on their heads; throwing darts at the plan, pews mounting up in the main space.
Once the game ended the multi coloured cargo net was hung above the pile of pews and the dancers entered the net.
Above photos of the suspended net and the dancers in the net
Once the performance was over people were invited to get together and remove all the pews from below the balcony. These would be taken out through the windows and the dome.
Those who did not want, or were not able, to do this could either go downstairs, have coffee, watch films, look at the exhibition, or spend time locating the places in the building where the detailed photographs were taken.
As the pews were removed they were replaced with table and chairs. Food, which had been prepared whilst the games had been being played, was laid out and people were invited to sit and eat.
Above the food being made, the chairs and tables arranged and people eating.
Whilst people ate a string quartet played on the stage around the pulpit.
Above and right the string quartet playing around the pulpit.
As people reached the end of the meal there was the sound of chain saws. Then two people with chain saws started sawing the platform around the players leaving them stranded on a small stage. It is a pity that there are no photographs of this.
After this the audience was invited to play a travelling game. The details of how this game worked is lost in the mists of time but it ended up with the pews in the balcony being selected by the players and removed by the removal gang.
Once the pews had been largely removed the game came to and end and the organ and the focus moved to the organ. Lit by theatre lights, this was a spectator piece in which the crown was sawn off, lowered through the organ, and slowly exited the main auditorium.
Above the crown being removed and taken out of the building.
Left Dave Kay runnng the disco
Whilst the celebrations continued the pulpit was prepared for removal and was then removed. The details of this are somewhat obscure but at some point all the pieces of the pulpit were numbered and removed bit by bit.
Above the pulpit being taken apart
The show finished at around 2am.
Going Away Games was created by Wendy Harpe in conjunction with , Sally Morris, Dave Rickus, Martin Brems, Chris Mead, and assisted by Dave Alston, Judy Bates, Mo Bates, Dave Calder, Mary Copple, Steph Dodds, Bob Downing, Mary Kay Giblin, Bill Harpe, Rob Harries, Simon Holland, Dave Kay, Richard Morgan, , Paul Nicholas, John Steadman, Billy Walsh (photographs) with help from Debbie Alcock, Floyd Alcock, Tommy Branch, Peter Eyo, Matio Ignacio, Stephen Knox, Julie Quarless, Gary Tagoe, and Stevie Smith.
are due to:- Dave Kilburn who took photos during the preparations, and all the companies and people who helped and whose contributions are missing from the paperwork.
As can be gathered from the description this show required a lot of physical hard work - the attached photo shows some of the crew still able to smile!