The Early Years


Operating Theatre is an Irish music theater company founded by composer Roger Doyle and performer Olwen Fouéré. This collection was released to celebrate the 25th anniversary of their founding, originally by the Dublin Electronic Arts Festival label in 2006. Featuring Bono of U2. Operating Theatre has been active in two phases: the first from 1981 to 1988, and the second from 1998 to the present. This double CD celebrates the first phase, during which the company operated as both a theater company, integrating music as an equal partner in the theatrical environment, and as a band releasing records. Roles were flexible within the company in that Fouéré also sang and Doyle also acted. In phase two there has been no band, and the texts (if any) have been "found," devised and/or drawn together from various strands, instead of being commissioned from writers as in phase one. Performances have taken place in both conventional and non-theatrical environments (e.g. an abandoned warehouse, a glass room in a hotel), and music has become more integrated. The first appearance by Operating Theatre (the band) was in the summer of 1981 with the release on CBS Records (Ireland) of the single "Austrian," with "Positive Disintegration" on the B-side. A second single "Blue Light And Alpha Waves" followed a year later, with "Rampwalk" as the B-side. "Fingerdance Waltz/Hymn" contains two developed extracts from the music for "Ignotum Per Ignotius," a 50-minute piece of music-theater performed by Doyle and Fouéré, written and directed by visual artist James Coleman, which Operating Theatre went on a tour of Holland with in 1982. "No Come," "Syllable," "Dragon Path," "The Confectioners" and "Miss Mauger" were included on the LP Miss Mauger by Operating Theatre released in 1983 on the Kabuki label in London. 'Sir Geoffrey," "Satanasa" and "Clubmusic/Amene-Moi" are from the Operating Theatre production of The Diamond Body written by Aidan Mathews, a 75-minute solo performance by Fouéré, which opened at the Project Arts Centre in Dublin in 1984 and toured in London, Glasgow, New Jersey, Avignon and Caracas up until 1988. Also in 1984, the company mounted a production of the Lorca play The Love Of Don Perlimplin And Belisa In The Garden, turning it into an "electronic chamber opera of sorts." This time, Fouéré directed and Doyle and Elena Lopez played the title roles. A 56-minute suite of Doyle's music from this production, developed as a music-only experience, was released in 2000 as part of a double CD called Fairlight Memories. Three tracks are included here. In October 1983 Olwen and Roger were asked to perform new material for an Irish TV arts show and to demonstrate the latest in music technology -- the Fairlight Computer Music Instrument. "Part Of My Make-up" is the song they wrote for that occasion. "The Tractor" comes from 1984, from days of intense Operating Theatre activity, but was never used for anything in the end. It gets its first outing here. "Queen Of No Heart" and "Spring Is Coming With A Strawberry In The Mouth" were the result of an initial collaboration between singer/lyricist Elena Lopez and Roger Doyle and were released by Mother Records, the label set up by U2, as a single by Operating Theatre in 1986, with Lopez on main vocals and drummer Sean Devitt joining the band for this recording. Fouéré was asked to play the title role in the Gate Theatre's production of Oscar Wilde's Salome, directed by Steven Berkoff in 1988, and Doyle was asked to compose the music -- a two hour on-stage live piano score. "Before She Was Asked To Dance" is an early version of what was to become "Salome's Dance." The first phase of the company's activity had come to an end. "Johnny's Body At 002" is a work made in preparation for the first Operating Theatre production in phase two, Angel/Babel (1999).