Mixtape culture revived in Shoreditch Town Hall’s Be Here Now


Toot - Credit: Archant

If you’re old enough to wax lyrical about mix tapes, minidiscs and the joys of fast-forwarding then plug yourself into Toot’s Be Here Now.

Set to a soundtrack of 90s classics, the show is a comic, off-beat take on the changing way we listen to our favourite tunes and how music provides the bittersweet soundtrack to our lives.

Whether it was the thrill of being given a mix tape by someone you fancied – then desperately reading hidden message in the song choices, or sobbing your heart out to a love song recorded off the radio, the show explores our passion and sentimentality for music.

Terry O’Donovan is one of three performer/devisers who tell the fictional stories of their younger years in music featuring C C Peniston, Tori Amos, R Kelly , Oasis, Blur, Massive Attack and a full dance routine from a Kylie video.


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He says: “We were all teenagers in the 90s and it’s a look back at those years, how music has changed and how we listen to it differently now.

“Teenage years are about falling in love, house parties, getting drunk, and pop music can really define a time and place in your life. It lodges itself in your brain so as soon as you hear a song you are transported back in time.”

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O’Donovan is interested in both the positive and negative power of that – “how it can rose tint things for you, lull you into a sense of nostalgia 20 years on, but if you become aware of that you can celebrate it.”

Toot aims to put audiences at the heart of its work that is both physical and multi-sensory. Be Here Now includes immersive, participatory elements with spectators filling in a pre-show form about the track they associate with their first love – some of which will be used during the piece.

They may be handed an object, asked to listen to a track and create a narrative, join a game of spin the bottle or share headphones with a performer. “There’s nothing wrong with the way we listen to music now, but it’s amazing how much work and thought we put into mix tapes or into interpreting the reason behind the songs, or spend hours playing tapes, fast-forwarding and rewinding,” says O’ Donovan.

“But the way teenagers relate to music and create their identity based on the music they listen to hasn’t changed.”

Be Here Now runs at Shoreditch Town Hall from June 17 until July 2. Call the box Office on 020 7739 6176 or visit www.shoreditchtownhall.com.

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