Ben Osborn

I'm a composer for theatre though I also write stories, articles and songs.

Sunday, 31 January 2016

first nininbaori gig: DadA in Berlin, 7th Feb.

nininbaori have arrived!
our first performance will be at the DadA in Berlin Festival, celebrating 100 years of dada, at ACUD in Berlin this weekend.
more info here
to hear the other half of nininbaori, check out yr lovely dead moon

Sunday, 3 January 2016

prester john

(marvel comics depiction of Prester John)

A footnote on researching monsters for some new text for Josephine... the letter of Prester John, c.1165:
Our land is the home of elephants, dromedaries, camels, crocodiles, meta-collinarum, cametennus, tensevetes, wild asses, white and red lions, white bears, white merules, crickets, griffins, tigers, lamias, hyenas, wild horses, wild oxen, and wild men -- men with horns, one-eyed men, men with eyes before and behind, centaurs, fauns, satyrs, pygmies, forty-ell high giants, cyclopses, and similar women. It is the home, too, of the phoenix and of nearly all living animals.
Our land streams with honey and is overflowing with milk. In one region grows no poisonous herd, nor does a querulous frog ever quack in it; no scorpion exists, nor does the serpent glide amongst the grass, not can any poisonous animals exist in it or injure anyone...
A hoaxed letter describing a Christian kingdom in the East. It was, as Umberto Eco points out in Serendipities, used as justification for Western expansion for several generations. Created a kind of quest narrative for Christian invasion. The land is suitably mythical sounding; really, a beautiful example of the power of list-making. There is something of the Medieval bestiary tradition (itself modelled on a classical tradition) to that list. See how the collective imagination, even when its eye is political, looks encyclopaedic. Plutarch:
...the Divinity does not hate variety and changes, but takes great pleasure in them, as one may conjecture by the circuits, conversions, and mutations observable in the heavens...

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

now showing in Bristol

very pleased to have made the soundtrack and written the songs for this hilarious play that's currently selling out every night at the brand new Wardrobe Theatre in Old Market, Bristol.

Monday, 12 October 2015

ghost opera

"ghost opera" is now on tour.
script by Fellswoop & me
music by Josephine & me

more info here

Friday, 18 September 2015

audrey (a choral ekphrasis)

by Josephine Stephenson
text by Ben Osborn
performed by The Portrait Choir
National Portrait Gallery, Sept 18th/19th

written for the National Portrait Gallery's exhibition Audrey Hepburn: Portraits of an Icon

"The text was written as an ekphrasis on Audrey Hepburn, perceiving her solely through a multiplicity of images. Looking at them it can feel, in time, like we are getting further and further away from the person beneath: we are shown, instead, a striking face and body both manipulated and manipulating, a framed gaze that draws attention to our own, a looped image that distorts as it is magnified.

The music was written as a direct response to the text, giving it precedence and striving to reflect its content: it is characterised by having a circular shape at both micro and macro level (small looping circular cells as well as an overall Rondo structure), while its mellow harmony occasionally tends towards eeriness."

- JS & BO

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Taras Shevchenko

You can read an interview about my research in Ukraine here
Info about the project about Ukraine I am working on is here

Calamity Again
("Mii Bozhe mylyi, znovu lykho!")

Dear God, calamity again! ...
It was so peaceful, so serene;
We but began to break the chains
That bind our folk in slavery ...
When halt! ... Again the people's blood
Is streaming! Like rapacious dogs
About a bone, the royal thugs
Are at each other's throat again.

Taras Shevchenko
"Mii Bozhe mylyi, znovu lykho!"
("Мій Боже милий, знову лихо!")
1859, S.- Petersburg (С.- Петербург)

Translated by John Weir

Original publication:

Taras Shevchenko. Zibrannia tvoriv: U 6 t. — K., 2003. — T. 2:
Poeziia 1847-1861. — S. 303; 712-715