Memoirs of an Amnesiac

Studio Theatre  

Graeme Rose and Richard Chew had long talked about making a show together about the French composer Erik Satie and the formation of Stan’s Cafe provided the ideal context to realise this ambition. Theresult was Memoirs of an Amnesiac, a piece which, as with the following year’s Canute The King, used biographical detail as an excuse for pursuing a variety of ideas, mostly orientated around identity.

In Memoirs of an Amnesiac, Eric Smith curates a fictitious Satie museum in his spartan bedsit.

He shows fraudulant Super 8 film of his hero and practices interview questions as the long dead eccentric.

As Eric gets more obsessed with Erik, his behaviour becomes increasingly erratic until he takes on an obsession he believes Satie had with Socrates. The piece ends with Smith enacting a particularly poor translation of Plato’s version of Socrates’ death.

Throughout, the piece mixes live performances of Satie’s piano music with Richard’s own compositions worked from Satie motifs. It mixes prosaic live text with more poetic texts, often woven into Richard’smusic. The result was a rich, absurd but ultimately bleak vision of a quasi-fictional life/lives: Satie’s,Smith’s, ours.

Original Programme Notes

“Bring Black Glasses and Something to Plug Your Ears With”
Relache 1924

Erik Satie was born in Honfleur, France on 17 May 1866. He composed music.
He died in Paris, France on 1 July 1925. This is his biography. Some of it is true.

Devised by Richard Chew, Graeme Rose and James Yarker
Performed by Graeme Rose and Richard Chew
All design, construction and operation by Stan’s Cafe.

Soprano: Rosalind Martin
Mezzo: Cheryl Pickering
Tenor: Howard Kirk
Baritone: Mark Griffiths
Bass: Richard Chew
Speaker: Francois Descarts
Studio recording was made possible with the financial assistance of St. Giles Cripplegate.
Photos: James Yarker

Tour Dates

  • 11 – 12 April 1992:
    Towards the Millenium Festival, MAC, Birmingham

  • 29th April 1992:
    Nuffield Theatre Studio, Lancaster

  • 28th – 31st May 1992:
    Oval House Theatre, London

  • 2nd June 1992:
    Embrook School, Wokingham

  • 18th July 1992:
    Cheltenham International Festival
    Everyman Studio, Cheltenham

  • 12th October 1992:
    Ripple Effect, I.C.A., London

  • 15th October 1992:
    Guildhall Arts Centre, Gloucester

  • 7th – 8th November 1992:
    Progress Theatre, Reading