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13 November 2014

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You are in: Tyne > Places > Places features > Bewick Court: a musical

Bewick Court

Bewick Court is in Newcastle

Bewick Court: a musical

The lives of residents in a Newcastle tower block have been turned into a singing documentary.

If you've ever been to the centre of Newcastle the chances are you've seen Bewick Court.

You might have walked past it, driven by it, or just spotted the top floors of the building on Princess Square from the streets below.

But have you ever wondered what's inside?

Anton Hecht outside Bewick Court

Artist Anton Hecht made the film

Well, now a local artist, Anton Hecht, has turned the stories of some of its residents into a musical.

The "singing documentary", called Bewick Court a Musical, will be shown on the Community Channel and was premiered at Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead in June 2009.

Anton said he'd decided to focus on Bewick Court because it was home to such a huge mix of people.

"One of the things I wanted was to try and get [across] this idea that Bewick Court's like a melting pot for the world," he explained.

"A lot of the people in it are from abroad, like Christoph is from Germany and Farshid is from Iran... I wanted to give it that feel that the block in a sense is a totem, it brings together all these disparate people from various aspects of the globe."

Montage of faces of people from Bewick Court

The "singers" in Bewick Court a Musical

Emotive singing

Anton said he liked the idea of putting a "human face" to a building that so many people passed every day and started off his project by interviewing various people living inside.

They included William Fenton, who talked about his love of travel, Christoph Oschatz who reminisced about taking part in the Great North Run, and the caretaker of the building, George Ray, who used to work in the shipyards.

Anton's next step was to turn each individual's story into song lyrics so that he could record them singing about their lives.

Not surprisingly, most of the interviewees were a little reluctant to sing on camera - so why did Anton want to present his documentary as a musical?

Bewick Court in Newcastle

There are 132 flats in the tower

"I quite like it when people who can't do something, like singing, try to do it because they start to become quite emotive," he said.

"I thought it was a way to get the audience to listen more to what the people in the [film] are saying to them.

"And also I like the idea that they're all separate flats but we kind of tie them all together in one song, so it's like even though they never meet all the people contribute to this final product."

Epic thoughts

Anton recorded each of the people in the documentary singing in their flats with live musicians.

George the caretaker says he was a really nervous beforehand.

"I'm not the world's best singer I'll put it that way... I hate karaokes," he admitted.

George Ray

George Ray is the caretaker

"I was a nervous wreck but I wasn't too bad when I got into it. Anton and the guitarist put us at ease a lot."

Each person in the film sings just a handful of lines but taken together they give a small taste of life behind Bewick Court's familiar facade.

Anton said he was looking forward to seeing the reaction of the participants when they saw themselves on a big screen and that he liked the fact the finished film included elements of light and shade.

"Farshid talks about having his friends round for a drink whereas George the caretaker does a bit more intense thing about his kids and how he doesn't see them that much," he said.

"I quite like that balance between things that are quite important to people whereas some are more offhand remarks but you set them to music and they seem to become quite epic."

last updated: 02/07/2009 at 08:24
created: 23/06/2009

You are in: Tyne > Places > Places features > Bewick Court: a musical

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