Hope Street set to swing to The Mersey Sound in 2017

The 50th anniversary of The Mersey Sound will be marked in 2017 with a series of performances celebrating the work of Roger McGough, Adrian Henri and Brian Patten.

Liverpool Philharmonic, Unity Theatre and Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse will create a series of works to light up Hope Street as part of the city’s 50 Summers of Love – a programme inspired by the summer of 1967 which is regarded as one of the defining moments in modern culture and creativity.

The Mersey Sound is one of the biggest selling poetry books of all time and over the years the names McGough, Henri and Patten have become synonymous with one of the city’s most iconic streets.

From 13-29 April the Everyman Theatre will produce a new adaptation of Brian Patten’s The Story Giant, a tale for families of a giant who lives off new stories from around the world. Directed by Matt Rutter and adapted by Lindsay Rodden, The Story Giant brings together four children from the different corners of the globe to exchange the tales they know from their own cultures to see if between them they can piece together the only story he’s never heard and keep him alive.

At Unity Theatre, Lizzie Nunnery, Vidar Norheim and Martin Heslop will combine poetry, live music, storytelling and film to create a new work inspired by The Mersey Sound, and specifically Liverpudlian poet Adrian Henri. Horny Handed Tons of Soil is inspired by Henri’s poetic responses to the urban geography of Liverpool. The production, which takes to the stage from 13-15 July, explores themes of destruction, construction and memory and what’s been lost and found in the re-sculpturing of the Liverpool landscape over the last fifty years.

In the summer of 2017 the Liverpool Philharmonic will work with Roger McGough on two special events. Summer with Monika, McGough’s magical, iconic tale of love in the 1960s was published in 1967 and subsequently scored and released on record with music by composer and guitarist Andy Roberts. For the 50th anniversary, in June the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra’s new music group, Ensemble 10/10, will play Roberts’ original arrangements as McGough reads his epic poem and will also feature more of Roger’s classic poetry set to music.

1967 saw the release too of Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra joins forces with The Bootleg Beatles and Roger McGough once again, for an evening-long symphonic recreation, arranged by Nigel Osborne, of The Beatles most famous album. This unique event will take place on just three evenings – Wednesday 31 May, Saturday 3 June and Saturday 8 July.

Unity Theatre Artistic Director Matthew Linley said: I’m fantastically excited that Unity Theatre will be collaborating with the Philharmonic Hall and the Everyman & Playhouse to celebrate 50 years of The Mersey Sound as part of 50 Summers of Love. Horny Handed Tons of Soil is the first of a series of commissions to be announced celebrating the re-opening of Unity Theatre following a £790,000 capital redevelopment project. Adrian Henri’s work as a poet, painter, writer, musician and commentator freely mixed influences and art forms. He encouraged the kind of creative collisions which inspire much of the work we see on Unity stages and spaces. Above all he loved Liverpool, and spent a lifetime exploring and celebrating this city. So it seemed only right to invite another Liverpool artist for whom ‘place’ is important to create a work inspired by Adrian.

Everyman & Playhouse Artistic Director Gemma Bodinetz said: “We are thrilled to be representing Brian Patten’s work as our contribution to the 50th Anniversary of The Mersey Sound. The Story Giant is a magical tale for children that contains all the poetry and humanity one associates with Brian’s writing for adults. We hope that this new theatrical incarnation of Brian’s imagination will inspire the next generation of storytellers and poets to create a voice as fresh and distinct as he, Roger and Adrian did all those years ago.”

Richard Haswell, Liverpool Philharmonic’s Head of Programme (Hall & Events) said: “Roger McGough has quite rightly has been called Liverpool’s Poet Laureate and Liverpool Philharmonic is delighted to be working with Roger and Andy Roberts in presenting what will be an unforgettable evening of poetry and music in the intimate setting of Music Room. Along with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra’s collaboration with The Bootleg Beatles in the main auditorium that celebrates the release of Sgt Pepper, our two events give a great flavour of what will be a fantastic city-wide celebration of Liverpool’s role and contribution to the uniquely creative time that was the Summer of Love of 1967.”

Deputy Mayor and Cabinet Member for culture, tourism and events, Councillor Wendy Simon, said: “This is among the first of many Summers of Love announcements as we develop an exciting 2017 programme which celebrates the phenomenal creativity and culture 1967 had to offer.

“The Mersey Poets were pivotal to this, and the performances on offer at these three Hope Street cultural hubs will undoubtedly be hugely popular – not only with audiences who enjoyed their work the first time round, but also to those discovering these wordsmiths for the first time.”

The Summer of Love season will run from April – August 2017. Individual programme announcements will be made in the coming weeks.

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50 Summers of Love

Liverpool will host 67-17: 50 Summers of Love; a season of events and performances inspired by the golden anniversary of the Summer of Love between May and August 2017. 1967 saw some of the biggest cultural shifts of a generation and the moment the avant-garde forced its way into the mainstream. Liverpool played a big part, it being the year Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band was released, The Mersey Sound poetry anthology was published and the Metropolitan Cathedral opened whilst homosexuality was decriminalised in the UK.


Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse presents

The Story Giant

From the book by Brian Patten

Adapted by Lindsay Rodden

Director Matt Rutter

Season Designers Molly Elizabeth Lacey Davies, Jocelyn Meall, Michael Vale

At the Liverpool Everyman from Thursday 13 April to Saturday 29 April



Unity Theatre Presents

Horny Handed Tons of Soil

Written and Performed by Lizzie Nunnery, Vidar Norheim and Martin Heslop

At the Unity Theatre from Thursday 13 to Saturday 15 July



The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Presents

Summer with Monika

Roger McGough with Ensemble 10/10

At Music Room, Liverpool Philharmonic Hall from Tuesday 27 June to Wednesday 28 June


The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra Presents

It Was 50 Years Ago Today

A Celebration of Sgt Pepper and the Summer of Love

The Beatles Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (arranged by Nigel Osborne)

Presented by Roger McGough

Conducted by Richard Balcombe

The Bootleg Beatles

At the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall on Wednesday 31 May, Saturday 3 June and Saturday 8 July



Liverpool Waterfront