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Going Away Games - 7th January 1973

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Leaflet for the event

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 Show

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.

The ground floor plan for the main auditorium showing the pewsAnd 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.

The main space used as storageThe lower pews full of stored materials Bill Harpe and Dave Rickus clearing the main auditoriumMichael Sheen on top of the mattresses all of which had to be moved to storage  The Dome during the clearing of the building The dome during the clearing of the building work

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

The mattresses being moved to New Bird StreetWood being loaded into the warehouse

Below the cleaning of the pulpit and the pews.

John Steadman stripping the paint from the pulpitThe cleaned pulpit being waxedPart of the cleaned pulpit The pulpit after cleaningStripping the paint from the pews around the pulpitCleaning and polishing the pews on the balconySanding the pewsDave Alston waxing the pewsThe pews polished and ready for an audience

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.

Taking the wood off the windowsMaking the frames for the windowsThe frames for the windowsThe frames for the windows Up in the roof rewiring the lightsGetting the mechanism for moving the light to workThe central light that had to be raised and lowered

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.

Dave Calder setting up the pews so that they can be removed Putting supports under the stage so that it can be removed easily

Above Dave Calder organising the pews so that they can be easily removed, supporting the stage around the pulpit.

Photo of the original organThe 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.

The inner pipes of the organ being removedThe organ emptied of pipesthe roped crown 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.

Wendy Harpe painting the netPainting the ties

The cargo net being painted

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.

Dave Rickus fixing the ropes to the cargo netThe net tied to the pewsThe net suspended across the central space

Mary Copple tests colours for the costumesChoosing the dyes for the costumesThe dyed costumes drying

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 at the Flower MarketJulie Quarless at the flower market

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.

Steph Dodds rehearsing musicians and singersPauline Williams rehearsingSteph Dodds rehearsing the singersRehearsing in front of the pulpit

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.

A photograph of a detail of the buildingA photo of a detail of the building a photograph of a detail of the building

a photograph of a detail of the building A photograph of a detail 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. 

Dave Kay welcoming the players/audience and explaining the first gamePlayers placing the boards on their headsplayers walking around with boards on their headsThe plan of the the auditorium and players preparing to throw darts at itPreparing to throw darts at the planExplaining to the player exactly where the dart landedThe pews in the process of being removed and the players moving around among them

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.  

The cargo net suspended from the balconyDancers in the multi coloured cargo netDancers in the cargo 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.

pew leaving the building through the downstairs windowspews leave the building through the dome   Above the pews from underneath the balcony leaving the building

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. 

The food being preparedThe food being prepared

The chairs and tables being laid outpeople eating foodPeople eating food by candle light

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. 

The string quartet playing around the pulpitThe string quartet playing 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.

The start of the travelling gameThe pews in the balcony being moved

The pews being lowered from the balcony

 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.

The crown being sawn offThe crown being loweredThe crown being lowered over the pulpitThe crown being carried out of the building

Above the crown being removed  and taken out of the building.

Dave Kay running the sound decksAs the final bits of the organ were removed Dave Kay introduced the young people who performed. This was followed by a disco with Radio Doom.

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.

The pulpit numbered Left hand side of the organ with bits starting to be removedRight hand side of the pulpit with bits removed The pulpit being taken apartThe pulpit being taken apartThe pulpit being taken apartThe pulpit being taken apartThe pulpit being taken apart

Above the pulpit being taken apart

The show finished at around 2am.

The Team

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.

Thanks

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!

Part of the crew

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