29th May 2018
Presented by Kelly-Abbott Dance Theatre
Choreography by Kristin Kelly-Abbott
Produced by Phil Hargreaves
Costume by Kim McDermottroe
Lighting by Mark Parry
Music by Breifne Holohan and Mark Knopfler
Inspired by the art of Alexander Millar, and featuring the haunting music of Breifne Holohan and Mark Knopfler, Launch Day tells the story of shipbuilding in the north.
It is peopled with the flat-capped, booted and overalled men, who shuffle their way to and from work, waved off by headscarfed wives and mothers. It sounds cliched, but it is not. It is a representation of a time, and a way of life that was very real. These are tough men and women. Their lives are hard, their work is hard, but there is pride in it.
The dances and the music echo the beat of the hammers, the flying sparks of the welders and riveters. he energy of the workers, and the bone-weariness at the end of the day.
But, it is not all hard work - there is also play. There is football, and there is the pub. They recreate the beautiful game, and the rivalry between neighbouring shipbuilding towns - the red and whites and the black and whites, fans chanting and cheering and jeering (you're not singing anymore!), players scoring and tackling and arguing with the Ref.
And after the match, of course, they go for a pint! I think only in the north east of England, could a Saturday night skinful, falling over and throwing up, be made into a dance and turned into a thing of beauty.
Launch Day combines dance, art, technology and music - the traditional and the modern, to tell a poignant tale. Images of Millar's art are projected onto the backdrop and we hear words spoken by the shipbuilders while throughout the piece there is the constant echo of the hammers, the gentle lapping of water, and the image of a ship's prow sliding slowly into the sea.
This evening was actually the final day of the Launch Day tour, returning to where it started for its last hurrah. I feel privileged to have seen it.