McGonagall the Musical

Filed under: Events,Media; in the year 2017, on the 13th day of January at 12:16 pm

The inhabitants of Port Townsend in Washington have a theatrical treat in store over the next couple of weeks: The Disaster in Verse is a musical about the great man written, produced and directed by evidently multi-talented high school senior Ian Coates. You read more about the play and its author in this story from the PT Leader.

McGonagall himself felt that his work was too deep for music. Let’s hope Mr Coates is able to prove him wrong!

McGonagall Supper in Angus

Filed under: Events; in the year 2016, on the 21st day of September at 11:04 am

Liz Gordon writes with news of an upcoming social event in the village of Eassie, about ten miles North of Dundee:

A McGONAGALL SUPPER

There will be a McGONAGALL SUPPER at Eassie Hall (on the Glamis to Newtyle Road at Balkeerie, Angus DD8 1SQ) on Saturday 15 October at 7.30 for 7.00pm. (No, not a mis-print in the start time but just part of the topsy turvy nature of this fun event which includes a reverse-order three course meal to fulfil and fill full!)  All very welcome!

Most folk around here will have heard of William McGonagall – and may groan at what many consider his truly awful poetry – but this event aims to put the best possible spin on a man who could be regarded as the best-known Dundonian (although unfortunately not for the best reasons).

Our guest speakers include two Dundee authors, Eddie Small and Norman Watson, both of whom have wide knowledge of William McGonagall.  There will of course be some memorable poetry (performed by those who can!).  Other entertainment on the night includes a ‘best dressed Bunnet competition’ – so, bring or wear a mad hat if you will!

Tickets for this event cost £15.00 and are for sale at Newtyle Post Office and The Pot and Pantry, Meigle.  For more information about the event and enquiries about tickets, please phone Jane on 01307 840313 or Liz on 01828 640027.

Norman Watson, one of the guest speakers, is the author of Poet McGonagall: The Biography of William McGonagall and a fund of information about our favourite doyen of doggerel. Here’s hoping the evening goes well!

McGonagall Interviewed by Oscar Wilde!

Filed under: Events; in the year 2016, on the 28th day of July at 1:09 pm

The latest theatrical production by Victorian funsters Don’t Go Into the Cellar is a chat show hosted by Oscar Wilde. The Graham Norton of his day talks to such celebrities as Lily Langtry, the Prince of Wales and… William McGonagall!

Speaking to the Manchester Evening News, Johnathan Goodwin, the show’s writer and star, says:

McGonagall has stayed in print ever since he was first published. He took himself very seriously, but his work was comical. He was addicted to rhyme, and his lines went to extraordinary lengths just so he could fit in the rhyme. He was, of course, oblivious to the joke.

He was a handloom weaver in the Highlands until he was 55, when he decided to be a poet. His wife would have been horrified; they had seven children!

These characters are chosen for their comedy potential – the eccentrics are who I like. William McGonagall: you couldn’t make him up. They are all Victorian celebs – even back in the 1890s there were people famous for being famous

There are currently three upcoming performances, in Buxton on August 4th, Sudbury on August 7th and Leyburn on September 17th. You can also read a review of the show from a performance last year.

McGonagall Talk in Kirriemuir

Filed under: Events; in the year 2014, on the 27th day of February at 10:20 am

Inhabitants of Kirriemuir are to be treated to a talk on the life and times of William McGonagall next week, given by creative writing teacher Edward Small. The talk is presented by the Kirriemuir Heritage Trust and will take place in the Old Parish Church Hall starting at 7:30pm on Wednesday 5th March.

If anybody is able to attend this event and cares to provide a review, ode, or some other commemoration, I’d be happy to publish it on this site.

Hat tip: Kirriemuir Herald

Obey McGonagall

Filed under: Events,News; in the year 2013, on the 8th day of August at 7:58 pm

Now playing at the Cabaret Voltaire in Edinburgh is a one-man show by American comedian Harmon Leon celebrating the career of our favourite bad bard.

Obey McGonagall is on every night between now and 24th August starting at 8:50pm. It’s part of the Free Fringe, which means tickets are free – but you’re invited to make a donation after the show. If you’re lucky enough to be in Edinburgh this month, I hope you’ll give this show your support.

Take Me To Your Lieder

Filed under: Events,Music; in the year 2013, on the 22nd day of April at 11:57 pm

McGonagall fans living in Holland1 may be interested in an event happening in Amsterdam this week:

Challenge Classics and music publisher Deuss Music would like to invite you to the release of the new album of Robert Zuidam: McGonagall-Lieder, on April 24th at the ‘Muziekgebouw aan het IJ’!

McGonagall-Lieder is a song cycle composed by Robert Zuidam with lyrics of the legendary William McGonagall. It is conducted by Oliver Knussen and performed by Katrien Baerts, Pianoduo Post&Mulder and Asko|Schönberg. The work highlights the theatrical sound that Zuidam is known for and has a unique composition of instruments: soprano, four celli, double bass, percussion and the special role for two piano’s.

The texts of this work are from William McGonagall, a poet from Dundee in Schotland who was a weaver with an unshakeable faith in his poetic genius. The Times Literary Supplement once wrote about this legendary writer: “A real genius, for he is the only memorable bad poet in our language”. Robert Zuidam ads: “Bad poetry can be an excellent source of inspiration for a composer. Dante, Virgil, Goethe all evoke reverence and awe, and reluctance to open all portholes in the battleship of the imagination. And not without reason: after all, good poetry is already music in itself, and fares well without support. When Oliver Knussen, composer, conductor, and connaisseur of Scottish paraphernalia, gave me The Complete McGonagall as a Christmas present in 1992, I immediately sensed the musical potential of this remarkable poetry.”

Robert Zuidam, studied composition at the Conservatory of Rotterdam. He was awarded the Koussevitzky Composition Prize for Fishbone, a work for wind instruments and piano, and a Leonard Bernstein Scholarship enabled him to return to Tanglewood as a student. In 2010, Zuidam taught and lectured at Harvard University as Erasmus Professor, and was awarded the Kees van Baaren-Prize in The Hague, for his opera Rage d’amours. The core of Zuidam’s compositional activities lies in the field of vocal music, particularly that of the music theatre.

McGonagall-Lieder will be released on April 24th in Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ during the world premiere of Robert Zuidam’s String Quartet (2013) performed by DoelenKwartet.

I must confess, I’d not heard of Robert Zuidam or his work before despite the McGonagall-Lieder having been completed back in 2001. Clearly a fan of the poet’s work, this excerpt from his website shows he’s little more hazy on the details of his life:

McGonagall recited his poetry at tea circles and soirées at the homes of the upper social strata, or after he had starred, with his wavy locks, on the stage of the Theatre Royal, Dundee, as Richard III, Othello, or Hamlet, amidst a crowd in the foyer surrounding him in adoration.

A version of the man’s career drawn solely from his own imagination, I fear – but then Mr Zuidam didn’t have this website available to him to tell him the truth!

Thanks to serial gem contributor Stephen Midgley for drawing this event to my attention.

Footnotes

  1. The Gem of the Day Statistics currently show one recipient in Belgium and none at all in Holland, so they probably won’t be overwhelmed with McGonagall fans on Wednesday! []

McGonagall’s Feat

Filed under: Events; in the year 2012, on the 17th day of May at 9:57 am

Colin Brown writes with more information about the McGonagall Walk taking place in Edinburgh next week:

Edinburgh Peoples Festival in association with the Scottish Poetry Library present…

McGonagall’s Feat

Renowned Actor, Local Historian and Rebustours guide Mr. Colin Brown will conduct a walking talk from World’s Worst Poet and Tragedian Mr. William McGonagall’s grave in Greyfriar’s Kirkyard to the Scottish Poetry Library at 6.30p.m., Thursday 24th May 2012.

Mr. Brown will essay readings from several of Mr. McGonagall’s poems and will venture to describe the life and times of this most tortured genius.

Please attire yourself appropriately.

Tea, shortbread and Dundee cake will be provided in the Library for sustenance and revival.

Minute McGonagall

Participants are encouraged to produce their own poem, in the style of McGonagall, lasting no longer than one minute, which they will be asked to read in the Library.

This event is FREE, but numbers are limited, therefore please avail yourself of a ticket by contacting the Library

E-Mail – reception@spl.org.uk
Tel – (0131-) 557-2876.

It sounds like a great event, I only wish I lived close enough to Auld Reekie to attend myself. If anybody wants to share their “Minute McGonagalls” with the world at large, do feel free to send them in.

McGonagall Walk

Filed under: Events; in the year 2012, on the 28th day of February at 10:27 am

On 24th May this year there’ll be a McGonagall Walk organised by the Edinburgh People’s Festival. The plan is to meet at McGonagall’s grave in Greyfriars Cemetery at 6:30pm, and walk to the Scottish Poetry Library at Crichton’s close.

The Mystery of Loch Ness

Filed under: Events; in the year 2012, on the 10th day of January at 10:14 am

McGonagall fans in the Birmingham area might be interested in this: the Kitchen Garden Café are combining a Burns Night supper with a performance of William McGonagall and the Mystery of Loch Ness by the rather splendid Don’t Go Into the Cellar theatre company.

This not-entirely-historically-accurate piece is described thus on their website:

Exiled from Dundee for bringing the city into disrepute, Sir William Topaz McGonagall (Knight of the White Elephant, Burmah) travels to Inverness. There, he stumbles upon mysteries manifold involving an imperilled maiden, sinister monks, and the Monster of the Loch itself!

Sounds brilliant! Tickets cost £24.50 and include a three-course meal.