it: Who, in the year 1981, had an idea of how computers work, what
a *network* can - or rather: could do, what words like *mainframe*,
*motherboard* or *baud-rate* actually mean? And even if you'd find
those very few - who on earth would have been able to transform this
knowledge into a contemporary, witty and musically-up-to-date stageshow...
on a very low-budget level?
co-directed and performed the lead-character BRAD
SPARK in THE KID... - accompanied on stage by Pete
Pavli, his (to-become-) wife Jill
Riches and a few very minimalistic props, *acting* as
the nasty killer-computers.
is actually a persiflage of the sort of Chandler-ish film-noir-like
detective story, based in the milieu of computer hackers - some
of them rich, some of them dubious, others highly extravagant, to
say the least. But there's much more to it - Calvert spiced the
story with a wide selection of his favorite topics: telepathy, conspiracy
theories, new technologies, gender-problems in the digital ages...
is the typical lone-wolf Bogart-type of a private detective - only
on this case he's not hunting down any organic life-form but fighting
against some cunning digital computer brain. Or is he not? WHO is
BEHIND this killing-WHAT, or this "Kilo-Watt", as ZYTE
- Brad's own personal computer and main-force for logic and decuction
- *jokingly' calls it (...all due to that darn second-hand humour-programme
that Brad fed into him...)
Whatever this Who-or-What is, it's de-programming various computers
in The Gulch so that they are killing their owners by vicious and
dubious means: automatic cigar-cutters that, instead of cutting
the tip off a Romeo-and-Juliet cigar, rip their users into bits,
automatic garage doors that close on the heads of their owners (17
Well, who, or rather how are these computers? Remember Kubrick's
HAL? Somehow like that one. Only nastier - and more eccentric.
Brad, aided by his trusty ZYTE, go through a real odyssey of traces,
link-up's and dangerous, at times life-threatening adventures while
being 'on the case'. And though Spark is doubtlessly the protagonist
of this play, he has strong rivals in all the bizarre computer-characters
[they ARE characters, these machines] that he meets and tries to
question along the way... at times with the threatening aid of a
screwdriver, pointing at the very heart of these reluctant suspects,
their delicate motherboards...
Those scenes, in which Spark tries to press some 'data' out of them,
are surely among the highlights of the play in terms of the sharpness
and wit of the dialogue, the absurdity of the man-machine and machine-impersonating-man
relationships. You have gay computers, butch-femme computers, highly
advanced main-frames that act like just another dumb piece of hardware
with a memory-failure, computers with world-dominance delusions...
- and they carry names like JIN, JUKE
"Hi, my name is Zoot. Go ahead, shoot.
I've got stacks of facts. Take your pick, Mr. private Dick."
the candid way Calvert sets up an up-to-date-and-beyond persiflage
of the detective story genre, it is even - or especially now, after
more than 20 years, way more than just astonishing, how precisely
Calvert foresaw the possibilities of computer hacking and all sorts
of crimes on a digital basis - AND its most fruitful environment.
Although there's no specific name given to the city ('the Gulch')
in which all this takes place, the description given in the play,
pretty well paints a picture of the classic Los Angeles / Silicon
Valley area, as it has often been depicted over the last 10 years
or so in such 'trendy' magazines like 'Wired'.
Well, when they had just started to 'envision' these surroundings,
Calvert had already been there some 10-15 years ago. In regard not
only to this piece of Calvert's
rich oeuvre, it's a damn' shame that he has - until now - never
made the covers of such -and a couple of other- magazines - who
believe they have the copyright on all things digerati and futuristic...
To give you an impression of Calvert's imaginative and at the same
highly informed way of laying-out the digital-future-environment,
read a short excerpt
from the script, in wich Brad Spark describes 'The Gulch' and
all the forms of digital crimes and criminals it inhabits...
[ For a more detailed layout of the play and it's plot click HERE.
BIG component of this project is - naturally - the music.
The musical mixes brilliant theatrical scenes [fuelled by Calvert's
razor-bladed humour], with 10 minimalistic, extremly catchy and
modern tunes. All songs are based on just 2 or 3 extremly "catchy"
electro/rhyhtm loops and are 'championed' by Calvert's ability to
crown them with beautiful, at times haunting melodies.
You can hear excerpts of all tracks on the lyric-pages
for each of The Kid-songs.
The particular minimalistic style of these songs sounds almost like
a blueprint for bands like Wall
of Voodoo and other upcoming synth/electro-bands at the time.
WOV would have certainly loved these tracks, with their film-noir
for the highly original and stylish music must surely go to Pete
Pavli studied Cello under Rostropovitch, one of the great masters
on that instrument. Later he played in High Tide and The Third Ear
Band. During the early 80s he collaborated with Robert Calvert and
Moorcock on various projects and togther they crafted a wide
range of pretty avantgarde-ish material.... bound for commercial
failures, of course, but still, after all those years quite an experience
to listen to! [Check out the REVENGE
demo-tracks he did with Calvert.]
On-stage Pavli played the kinda dumb-witted Sergeant
Karelli and lend his significant voice to some of those evil
computers. Together with Calvert he produced the backing-tracks
for the THE KID-songs. [ see list below ] -
All songs have the necessary machine-drive with a definite undercurrent
of 'groove' - which makes up their particular charm.
as a number of Calvert's musical projects, THE
KID... has never been properly recorded. All the sounds you
can hear on the annexed pages are taken from the only remaining
recordings of the original backing-tracks and some quite-crackly
audience-recordings. There's also a video-recording in existence
- from which most of the stills are taken from [ a big THANKS to
Sandy Cameron for this!] - alas, this has been shot -naturally-
on early-80s home-video equipment and hence the quality is far from
the crispy digital stuff we are used to nowadays...
one on the most creative parts in Calvert's career - over a period
of 2 years he put out this musical, worked on other demo-tracks
with Pete Pavli and set-up 2 more Cabaret-Shows.
And another sign of Calvert's enormous output: the program-folder
already announces the release of his novel HYPE,
another ambituous project, that combined a book, a record and a
stage show. All this has been done in just two years....
credits re. the performance: The third actor besides Calvert
and Pavli was Jill
Riches, who played 'The Countess' and a 'Hood'. Like
Pavli she also sang
one of the songs.
All three of them also did the numerous computer-voices, with the
aid of Glen Swanborough, who also co-directed
the play. Credited for additional music is Dave
Brock - longtime artistic companion in Hawkwind.
He recorded the Kid-Song 'On
the Case' for one of his solo-albums. Stage-Design and Technics
were done by Jonathan Smeeton and Larry Smart,
who had already worked with Calvert during Calvert's years with
Hawkwind, particularly during the ATOMHENGE-stage
infos on THE KID FROM SILICON GULCH:
Our MAIN FEATURE: An extensive narration
of the play and it's
plot - including excerpts from the original script, numerous
stills, animations, audio-clips from the performance and Calvert
reading the voice-over parts.
and sounds of all the featured songs:
Tronic Blues / Why
can't the World be Run by Machines / On
the Case / Living
Why do you call
me a Pig / Stay
Cool, Hang Loose / Back
It Up / A Day
Called X / The
Kid from Silicon Gulch /
The Legend of Ned Ludd
comment of Calvert on THE KID on the