Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Multi-Media Society - Teesside Poly 1981 - 85

The Multi-Media Society was formed in autumn 1981 by Trev Teasdel, Dave Wood and Amelia
Ward as a Teesside Poly Student Union Society and continued beyond to possibly about 1985, after the original founders had graduated.

The idea came from Trev who had run similar events in Coventry in the mid 70's at the Coventry Arts Umbrella and the Hobo Workshop in the years before the Two Tone put Coventry on the map. Trev wanted to do something similar on Teesside and his starting point was to get elected to the Teesside Poly Entertainment Committee, where he met the other co-founders and join The Humanities Society, through which he organised the first mixed media event posted below under Humanities. It was at the first Humanities gig, with Partners in Crime, that he first discussed the idea with singer songwriter Dave Wood, who liked the idea and they recruited Amelia Ward who was interested in forming a drama group at the Poly.  A meeting was advertised and the Multi-Media Society was born as a Teesside Polytech Society and thus were able to apply for financial resources to run the Society.

The Multi-Media Society comprised and number of linked ideas. First of all we established a number of  weekly Creative Workshops around Poetry, Music and Drama and writing and a regular Mixed Media Gig Venue as an outlet for the work produced along with invited performance guests. Offshoots of these workshop, which often came together over a project and gave fresh impetus to the workshops. These might include Student Union Campaigns to we we supplied creative material and performances, musicals, like Godspell, which brought together actors and musicians. Another aspect of the Multi-Media Society was the availability of  the Student Union minibus, which enabled us to organise trips to concerts, theatre and dance etc. Obviously, as students move towards their final year and exams and dissertations loom, new people take over the leading roles. To the best of my knowledge the Multi Media Society continued at least until 1985. Not sure after that as I had left in 1983. Fiona Richardson took over the Drama Group when Amelia left and Jeremy Hall took over as chair when Dave Wood stood down.

Multi-Media Workshops

Drama Workshop
As can be seen from the poster here, the Drama Workshop attracted a good contingent of students and was initiated by Amelia Ward and later overseen by Fiona Richards, who was also a poet. These two ladies did the Workshop proud. The first big project for the Workshop, alongside the Poetry and Music Workshop, was to take part in the Student Union Campaign for Youth Unemployment. This was a National Student campaign and the Drama Workshop undated an old Mumming Play (the pdf of which is below) to reflect the unemployment situation, along with songs etc. After lots of fun rehearsals, the Multi Media Society performed the play and song as street theatre in Middlesbrough town center and the Student Union hall under the direction of Amelia Ward.

Later, in 1983, Fiona Richardson organised and directed Godspell at Middlesbrough's Little Theatre for the  Multi-Media Society. Sometime the group would write and perform playlets or sketches for the Multi-Media Gigs, including Dave Wood's This is Your Life, featuring infamous poly students!

Graphics on the the above poster by Pamela Hutson


This weekly workshop was organised by Trev Teasdel and Dave Wood and attracted a lot of students interested in writing songs, poetry and music. The scope was quite wide to accommodate needs and interests within the group. It would an opportunity to play songs that you wrote for feedback, joining in and sometimes covers. An opportunity to read your poems, maybe even write some and to get poets and musicians together to create musical soundscapes to the poems. After The Castalians - (Poetry and Music venue at the Dovecot Arts Centre in Stockton kicked off a bit later in 1982, we'd take a minibus of poly poets and musicians to the venue. The Castalians was run by Ann Wainwright of Poetic Licence with Colin Walker and Trev Teasdel. Ann and Trev were both on the same course at the poly so there was a dynamic link to the Multi-Media Society. The group contributed to projects like the Drama workshop did and the big project was the formation of  The Euclidean Mushroom band (Aka The Multi-Media Band) talked about in another paragraph.

Middlesbrough Writers Workshop
Another offshoot of this group was the formation by some of the poets in the group of a poly Writers Group. Initially this was set up under the auspicious of  John Carthew, a Humanities senior lecturer as also part of his Literature course. The group therefore eventually became a Poly Society itself and when the Dovecot Arts engaged Bob Pegg (of the folk band Mr Fox) as their Writer in Residence 1983 - 5, Bob would become their mentor for a while along with john carthew, who was also on the board of the Dovecot and did the Radio Tees drama reviews in a very lively fashion! This writers group developed through a number of  student intakes and by 1986 is presided over by Richard Briddon and the group became Middlesbrough Writers Workshop (not to be confused by Middlesbrough's longest standing group Middlesbrough Writers Group! Confusing  - yes! By 1986 / 7 Trevor and those involved with him had created Outlet magazine and were negotiating the creation of the annual Write Around festival and Richard even lived at the time in percy street where trev had lived also organising literary events. Trev got in contact with Richard and invited him on the Write Around committee where he went on to create Paranoia Press. So there is a neat and unplanned link between a former project and the new ones!

Multi-Media Gigs
The central idea of the Multi-Media Gigs was the Multi-Media Venue, which, at the start, in 1981, was at the Lord Wellington in Albert Road, Middlesbrough. Dave Wood and i were familiar with the Lord Wellington as we'd been involved with a group that set up the Poly Folk Club there, as part of our work with the Poly Ents Society. Later the gigs moved to the Student Union block and then the Empire pub in Linthorpe Road. (now called the Swatters Carr!).

The gigs would have a mix student singer songwriters, poets, sketches and other features that came out of the workshops. Each session there would be a paid guest, which included, at the Lord Wellington, Bradford poet  - Little Brother, Teesside singer songwriters Eddie Walker, Ying Tong John and others. There are some cassette tape recordings of a Multi-Media gig later when it was in the Student Union, which has a lot of hiss on it and noise from the bar but which i may be able to clean up and add here.Some of the gig posters are below.

Out of the Poetry and Music workshops evolved a band. It centred around singer songwriter Dave Wood who began setting music to some of Trev Teasdel's poems. One longer poem, written about Birmingham's Cannon Hill Park with various anti-war themes interlacing the text, led to Dave setting it to his acoustic music. On a visit to Manchester, we teamed up with one of  Dave's friends who was a synth player. We tried it out with the synth player and saw the possibilities for building an effective soundscape. Back in Middlesbrough, some of the musicians had got together around a number of songs, some covers like Knocking on Heaven's door and some new compositions. With Dave they formed the Multi Media Band and they took on Trev's 15 minute poetry music extravaganza.

Multi-Media Band at the Castalians - Dovecot Arts Centre 1982

The band consisted of Dave Wood, vocals and guitar  / Ade O'toole - vocals / guitar / Geraldine Wade - Violin / Ted Carron - vocals, Keyboards, Harmonica and sound effects. Trev Teasdel was involved with the poetry extravaganza, reading and some effects. The band had two names, dave favouring The Multi Media Band and Ade favouring Euclidean Mushroom Band!

Apart from playing at the Multi-Media gig, the band did a mini-tour in 1982, playing at the Sheffield Art Here and Now, Wild Willy Beckett and Bradford poets Joolz and Little Brother. Teesside Poly students Union and The Dovecot Arts Centre, Castalian - poetry and music gig. it was very much a student band which broke as people left the Poly. However there is a recording of the Dovecot gig, without Trev's poetry extravaganza and some poorer recordings from a later Student Union gig. These will be on this page soon.
College arts festival, Middlesbrough Town Hall Crypt - a CND gig with Virgin band

Multi Media Society Outings
Having access to the Student Union minibus enabled the group to run trips to various events of interest. Early ones included a trip to see the Blues Band at Durham University in 1981, to see John Martyn at Newcastle Town Hall, Theatre of colour, Bauhaus at Leeds, the Dovecot, Little Theatre, Roger McGough at Darlington Arts Centre and more cultural events mentioned in some of the material below..

Below are some of the posters and notices and Poly newspaper cuttings and some audio.

Poster above by either Dave Wood or Amelia Ward.

Not sure who did this poster.

From Cosmos - Teesside Poly Newspaper

From Goblin (An early version of  Teesside Poly newspaper)

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