The Roundhouse - The People's Palace Arena


The Roundhouse - The People's Palace

The tragicomic rollercoaster story of a unique venue, the Roundhouse in north London, which has hosted virtually every big name in rock and alternative theatre since 1966.


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Transcript


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Welcome to the Roundhouse.

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This is our foyer. Box office over there.

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Cloakrooms, cafe. Follow me up to the Main Space.

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So here we are at the entrance to the Main Space.

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Just on my left-hand side here's a history of the Roundhouse,

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from all the great performances

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to the days going back to an engine maintenance shed.

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Over the other end, we have bars,

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generally a place where the audience can mingle

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and wait until they go and see the show.

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-NEWSREEL:

-'Providing the music, a group which features

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'a range of unusual sound effects, the Pink Floyd.'

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It was a place that you went when you needed a place to go to.

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Mad happenings of different natures and type

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of one thing or another would take place.

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A place for mavericks, it was for outsiders.

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It was for, really, pioneers of theatre, it was for revolutionaries.

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One of those places where any attempt to impose a logic and order

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and reason on it is doomed to failure.

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# One pill makes you larger and one pill makes you small

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# And the ones that mother gives you

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# Don't do anything at all

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# Go ask Alice

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# When she's ten feet tall

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# And if you go chasing rabbits

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# And you know you're going to fall... #

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Perhaps this is the nearest view that you'll get

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of the outside of the Roundhouse.

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Most of the other views are obscured by high-rise flats

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and filthy hoardings and ruined cars.

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But it gives you some idea of the shape of the building.

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It reminds me of a slowly subsiding Albert Hall,

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or a bullring, or a grubby pantheon.

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What I've sort of learned is the Roundhouse has a resistance

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to being managed and to being changed.

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When I got to the Roundhouse, it was in danger, yet again,

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as it was kind of, you know, every Tuesday and Thursday, of closing.

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I can never drive past the Roundhouse without feeling

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a little proprietorial about it. I mean, yeah, we did that.

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London's Roundhouse also began life as an experimental project,

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when playwright Arnold Wesker turned a Victorian engine shed

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into a '60s theatre space.

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Since audience is our great concern,

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we'll have a special department of at least three strong,

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but we'll make sure people in the area, and even outside London,

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know of all the facilities that can be used.

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And if they use these facilities, then we hope,

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we're pretty certain, in fact, this will create an atmosphere,

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the kind of atmosphere that will make the whole of the Roundhouse

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hum from morning till night.

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Who knows whether a project as radical and as ambitious

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as this will ever get off the ground?

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One does it on the basis of personal enthusiasm and belief.

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# Gonna have a funky good time

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# A-ha

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# We're gonna have a funky good time... #

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I can't hear ya.

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# We're gonna have a funky good time

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# We're gonna have a funky good time... #

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Take a bow.

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# We're gonna take you higher... #

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Say it again, say it again, say it again.

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-# Gonna take you higher

-High

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# Higher

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-# Gonna have a funky good time

-Yeah

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# Gonna have a funky good time A-huh

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# Gonna have a funky good time All right

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# Gonna have a funky good time

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# Gonna take you higher

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-# Gonna take you higher

-Higher. #

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I feel good.

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Everybody feel good!

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CHEERING

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# Don't have any more, Mrs Moore

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# Mrs Moore, please don't have any more

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# The more you have, the more you want, they say

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# And enough is as good as a feast any day

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# If you have any more, Mrs Moore

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# You'll have to take the house next door

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# They're all right when they're here

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# But take my advice

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# Don't have any more, Mrs Moore... #

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Gilbey's decided to sell their estates in Camden.

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They were bought by a garment and property tycoon, Louis Mintz.

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The Roundhouse came as part of the estates.

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Mintz had no immediate plans for the giant shed,

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and it came to Wesker's attention that it was empty.

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Mintz was a self-made man

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from the same poor East End background as Wesker.

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He was a socialist, and was sympathetic to Wesker's plans.

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Wesker approach Mintz, who offered him a lease

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on the building to be the home of Centre 42,

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the name Wesker had given to his project.

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Mintz remained on the board of a newly-formed trust.

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Without that act of generosity,

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the story of the Roundhouse may never have happened.

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So Wesker had a building, now he had to find the funds.

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We went to look at it and my immediate response was,

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no, this is not what we had in mind.

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I suppose we had in mind some sort of vast, rectangular building.

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And this round...

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And it was quite...

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And we went away.

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I think 24 hours later, it hit me.

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And I thought, that's crazy to have turned down,

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this is a wonderful place.

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How are you going to turn it into a theatre and an arts centre?

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Well, roughly it will be divided into two areas.

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This is a model, an early-stage model -

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remember we didn't have enough money to go into detailed plans.

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But roughly there will be two areas.

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One in the centre of these pillars,

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which will be the theatre concert hall area,

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and there'll be a wall around the pillars,

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which will give you another area on the outside.

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-NEWSREEL:

-What price Jerusalem?

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For Arnold Wesker, the founder of Centre 42,

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the price is already high.

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He's devoted six years of his life -

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time, his critics argue, which should have been spent

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exclusively on improving his craft as a playwright -

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on creating an organisation to break down the old stubborn barriers

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between the artist and the community.

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The organisation takes its title from Resolution 42, which Wesker

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and his friends forced through the 1960 Trades Union Congress.

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This called on Congress to ensure a greater participation

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by the trade union movement in all cultural activities.

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It was passed against the recommendation of the General Council.

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Perhaps this explains the disappointing response by the movement.

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The attitude of George Woodcock,

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the TUC's general secretary, towards Centre 42 is crucial.

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It's a good idea, I think it will eventually succeed,

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but it's having a certain amount of teething problems.

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Perhaps those who are running it -

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and this may be the fault of a separate organisation -

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don't always understand the trade unions,

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which are very conservative bodies.

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And there is a tendency for them to be ambitious,

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too expensive, at any rate.

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The unions are very careful of their money and they look with

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a bit of suspicion on Centre 42 because of its extravagance.

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And then there is, naturally coming from trade unionists,

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a suspicion that they are a bit highfalutin, precious, that...

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This is a natural reaction of unions, though they...

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even those interested in art,

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they don't really become very modern about it.

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Their idea of what constitutes the kind of art that working people want

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is perhaps earlier this century than - what's the word I want?

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Avant-garde.

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Now, five years have passed since we started campaigning for 42.

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It was three years ago that we were first shown this extraordinary building

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and 18 months ago since we launched the campaign to raise funds.

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From here, in front of Harold Wilson, Lord Harewood, Jennie Lee,

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James Callaghan and the whole paraphernalia of the state.

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It seems to be considered in this country

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an admirable thing to make the artist sweat and lose all joy

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before he's given what he wants,

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as though the job of being an artist were not sweat enough.

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And when he says, only my work is important,

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and he does nothing else and stays at homecoming he is attacked

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for being haughty. But when he steps outside

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and tries to do something more, he's attacked for being presumptuous.

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The price he has to pay for any Jerusalem is high.

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The state, the community, on the other hand, pays little.

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It stands back and does nothing.

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And cynicism is inevitable.

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Now, when a state

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makes its artists cynics,

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I think that's unforgivable.

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Providing the music, a group which features a range of unusual

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sound effects, The Pink Floyd.

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BAND PLAYS FREEFORM INSTRUMENTAL

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Well, it was purely accidental at first.

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-Fantastic, the best thing.

-We were launching an underground newspaper,

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International Times, in October '66

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and we literally just wanted a place for a launch party.

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And the company that published the underground paper

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was called Love Books Ltd.

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And the accountant for that company, Michael Henshaw,

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was also the accountant for Centre 42,

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and also personally Arnold Wesker's accountant.

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So Michael actually had the keys.

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So he said, "It's OK, I know a place.

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"No-one's using it.

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So he probably did call Arnold, and as far as I understand,

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Arnold thought it was just like a little cocktail party

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to launch a book or magazine, or such a thing,

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but in fact, 3,000 people came here.

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And Arnold didn't.

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I mean, it was purely accidental.

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I'd never even been in the place before. I mean, I'd seen it

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from the road and it hadn't been used for years.

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PINK FLOYD INSTRUMENTAL CONTINUES

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We had a fancy-dress competition.

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Marianne Faithfull won that, cos she wore the...

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It was for the shortest and barest, and she came as a nun.

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Paul was dressed as an arrow, Paul McCartney

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and Tony O'Neill was there with Monica Vitti.

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He was filming... Blow Up, could it have been?

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I mean, it was a very '60s, very '60s...

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Of course, Pink Floyd giving their first major concert.

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When you actually came to the Roundhouse for that first event,

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the launch of the International Times,

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what was the Roundhouse actually like? I've heard rumours

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that it was rat infested, dirty and the power supply was

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-batteries from cars and things like that?

-Yeah, well, in terms of power,

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it was a problem for the bands

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because it was just wired as a warehouse.

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This is '66 and we were talking about little underground bands -

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they didn't have generators or anything -

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so we literally used whatever was here. The place was filthy.

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I mean, the dirt on the floor must have been a foot thick

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and there were bits of twisted metal sticking up -

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not the actual railway part,

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but the rails had been taken out, but the housing I guess for buffers

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or things like that, what other construction they had in here.

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I mean, it was really quite dangerous.

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There were two toilets,

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neither of which had a seat

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and they very quickly -

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with 3,000 people, they very quickly overflowed

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and a huge lake came outside.

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We had to take the doors off and use them as duck boards and we had a

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couple of roadies standing in front so no-one would look at the ladies.

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You know, so... I mean, it was very, very primitive.

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The whole place was... Well, it had been used as Gilbey's Gin

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as a bonded warehouse, so it had an enormous balcony

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running all the way round. Which was apparently unsafe,

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so we did try and stop people getting up there,

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but of course some people did.

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And we had one doctor, who was also a publisher - Stuart Montgomery.

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But at least we had, just in case somebody had a bad trip or something.

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People were still trying to get in at 2.00, 2.30 in the morning.

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-No!

-At the top, at least in the beginning,

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we were handing out sugar cubes.

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But there was actually no acid in them,

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but some people took it, they used it as an excuse to really trip out.

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MUSIC: Astronomy Domine by Pink Floyd

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# The light between the blue you once knew

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# Floating down the sound resounds around the icy waters underground

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# Jupiter and Saturn, Oberon, Miranda and Titania

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# Neptune, Titan, stars can frighten

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# Wooooooo... #

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What we do now is all about working with young people and putting on

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shows that are kind of...

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I was going to ask you that - how much of the old, as it were,

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tradition, have you kept up?

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It's absolutely the heart and core of who we are,

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it's about enabling young people to, through their creativity,

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to find a way forward in life.

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So it's about questioning, it's about looking at things,

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it's about how you write something, how you think about something.

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So the things that are really popular with young people here

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are spoken-word poetry - links back. That really kind of came out of

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those amazing Attila the Stockbrokers and all those kinds of things.

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-Right, right, yeah.

-Music, of course.

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Music is the international kind of communication and

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Circus, which is an art form where you don't have to have a language,

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-except physical language.

-Right, right, yeah.

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And we do a lot of radio and broadcasting,

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so it's engaging people in the kind of new digital platforms as well.

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This is a Congress On The Dialectics Of Liberation which Ginsberg's at.

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Everyone sitting here,

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just telling everyone how the ship is going down, it's sinking.

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There's nothing we can do. There is no autonomy today.

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He has this autonomy, he has his own way of

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acting out what has to be acted out

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and it's quite different from everyone else.

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Now, his bit is he's gone to India mainly

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and what he talks about is psycho politics, that's the main thing.

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He's not so much a poet any more, he's a psycho politician.

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I mean, not everything was great, but in other cases, you know,

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that was something like the Dialectics Of Liberation Conference

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which was held here, which also really helped to establish

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this place as a centre for countercultural ideas.

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Their civilisation, as they call it,

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stems from the fact that they oppressed other peoples

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and the oppression of other people allowed them a certain luxury

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at the expense of those other people.

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The Black Power movement has been the catalyst

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for the bringing together of these young bloods.

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The real revolutionary proletariat, ready to fight

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by any means necessary for the liberation of our people.

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APPLAUSE

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Carmichael, you see, tried to pour shit all over the hippies

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the other day. He said, "Yeah, yeah, they're OK.

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"If they want to go out and stand and throw flowers in front

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"of the police whilst they're gunning us down, that's fine by me."

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And Ginsberg said, "Precisely, OK, we'll go and do that."

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..studies. He doesn't rap, he studies and keeps his mouth shut.

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Study, children, study.

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Study, study.

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Study. The gorilla must study.

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Stokely Carmichael, who came in the latter part of the '60s

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when he came to the Roundhouse

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to take part in an international conference, he was responsible

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also for bringing about the Black Power concert

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and the Black Power movement, which came into being.

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And their influences at that time,

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with all the American brothers who were coming over,

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helped to solidify what we were trying to do in the '60s.

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You have killed more people in two world wars

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than people have died from natural diseases.

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Are you civilised?

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You bunch of warmongering barbarians.

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I am somebody.

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I am somebody.

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We want Black Power.

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We want Black Power. We want Black Power.

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-We want Black Power.

-I am somebody.

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-# Say it loud!

-I'm black and I'm proud

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# Say it loud... #

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I think the idea of Black Power is very much a transcendence

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of the situation of violence. It's a production of

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a counter-violent situation, by which the white person would be

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helped to escape from the situation whereby he unknowingly,

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or unrecognisingly, inflicts violence on the black people.

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So it's a way of transcending the situation of violence

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through a dialectic counter-violence.

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Right, I'd like to introduce tonight's speakers to you.

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On my left, Ronald Laing, well-known psychoanalyst and writer.

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On my right, Stokely Carmichael, leader of Black Power,

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ex-chairman of SNCC.

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-CHEERING

-Hell, yeah!

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Next to Stokely is Allen Ginsberg, poet, who will open the meeting.

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On the extreme right is Emmett Grogan

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from a free autonomous group in San Francisco called the Diggers.

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I'll leave you to their mercy.

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'Allen Ginsberg at that time seemed like

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'a kind of old Testament prophet, like a kind of rock and roll figure.'

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He was bearded, charismatic.

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He wore this red shirt that had been

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hand-painted by Paul McCartney,

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and he was a poet in the sort of Blakeian sense,

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in the grand sense that poetry would change the world.

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And he was also an immaculate politician.

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He was superb at making contacts and mediating deals.

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So I think in the Roundhouse,

0:24:070:24:09

the great moment arrives when he's sitting on this stage

0:24:090:24:12

with Stokely Carmichael, who is doing a real Black Power rant.

0:24:120:24:16

He's denouncing them as middle-class meddlers,

0:24:160:24:19

sort of masturbating with the culture, all these people.

0:24:190:24:22

They're all saying, "Yes, yes, yes, we are."

0:24:220:24:24

And there is Emmett Grogan there, who's a Digger from San Francisco,

0:24:240:24:29

and also a film-maker, anarchist-dyed,

0:24:290:24:32

and he's very knotted into himself and snarling.

0:24:320:24:35

And between these two is Ginsberg,

0:24:350:24:38

who's trying to say there has to be another way.

0:24:380:24:40

We have very small community groups

0:24:400:24:45

in San Francisco and in New York beginning to leave the money wheel

0:24:450:24:50

and also beginning to leave the hallucination wheel of the media.

0:24:500:24:54

Beginning to form small co-operatives,

0:24:540:24:57

tribal units, societies of their own.

0:24:570:24:59

Beginning to share money or do without money

0:24:590:25:02

and then beginning to move in on authority

0:25:020:25:05

with those weapons which have been called flower power.

0:25:050:25:09

Mr Ginsberg, I don't know much about the hippie movement,

0:25:090:25:12

but I would like to beg to differ with you.

0:25:120:25:14

I think the reason most of the hippies do that is because

0:25:140:25:18

they're confused little kids who have run away from home

0:25:180:25:20

and will return to their culture within a year or two.

0:25:200:25:23

CHEERING

0:25:230:25:25

There's no culture to return to.

0:25:250:25:26

Before I can find my individual self, I must find by group culture.

0:25:260:25:30

-Obviously.

-But we don't have a viable group culture,

0:25:300:25:34

so we're in the same boat in that sense.

0:25:340:25:36

# Please

0:25:360:25:39

# Open your eyes... #

0:25:440:25:49

"Please, open your eyes,

0:25:490:25:52

"Please, try to realise,

0:25:520:25:54

"I found out today we're going wrong."

0:25:540:25:58

# Try

0:25:580:26:02

# To realise

0:26:070:26:12

# I found out today

0:26:210:26:28

# We're going wrong

0:26:290:26:34

# We're going wrong

0:26:410:26:47

# Please

0:26:550:27:00

# Open your mind... #

0:27:040:27:09

There was one occasion I remember a young couple

0:27:190:27:22

living in Notting Hill were busted by the police for dope.

0:27:220:27:25

And the police said, you know,

0:27:250:27:28

we're going to close down the Roundhouse

0:27:280:27:30

and everything that it stands for.

0:27:300:27:32

They were going to do these drug busts.

0:27:320:27:35

To the police it was a centre of dope smoking and everything.

0:27:350:27:39

-Crime and inequity.

-Debauchery, yes.

-Yes.

0:27:390:27:42

They really did feel threatened by it somehow.

0:27:420:27:45

So the post-war generation,

0:27:450:27:47

it was a sense of something completely different

0:27:470:27:50

-to what their parents had?

-Yes, yes.

0:27:500:27:53

I felt, you know, part of a community while I was in here.

0:27:550:27:59

The sort of bands that I liked were playing here and just...

0:27:590:28:04

There wasn't anywhere else to go, really.

0:28:040:28:06

I couldn't tell you very much about the majority of the concerts,

0:28:060:28:09

whatever they were that I came to hear,

0:28:090:28:11

it was just the sense of being here that was important.

0:28:110:28:14

I probably heard some terrific bands,

0:28:140:28:16

or could probably hear when terrific bands were playing

0:28:160:28:18

but I can't remember very much about it.

0:28:180:28:20

It was just nice, you'd bump into people that you knew

0:28:200:28:22

and you could smoke a little dope and lie on the floor,

0:28:220:28:26

and, in a most ideologically unsound way,

0:28:260:28:29

pursue luckless young women until their patience gave out and so on.

0:28:290:28:32

That's what you came here for, essentially.

0:28:320:28:35

It was pretty much that. I imagined it, or something along the lines,

0:28:350:28:38

without having ever having in my life been in

0:28:380:28:40

anything that could be described as a Persian market.

0:28:400:28:42

But I used to imagine that was roughly the sort of spirit of it.

0:28:420:28:46

There are only a small number of people who use cannabis

0:28:460:28:49

who are likely to be harmed by it.

0:28:490:28:52

And this happens because there is occasionally found

0:28:520:28:55

an idiosyncrasy to cannabis, which leads on to a short-lived madness,

0:28:550:29:00

a spell of madness,

0:29:000:29:01

which luckily clears up very quickly with the proper treatment.

0:29:010:29:05

# When logic and proportion

0:29:050:29:10

# Have fallen sloppy dead

0:29:100:29:14

# And the White Knight is talking backwards

0:29:140:29:17

# And the Red Queen's off with her head

0:29:170:29:22

# Remember what the dormouse said

0:29:220:29:28

# Feed your head

0:29:300:29:35

# Feed your head. #

0:29:350:29:41

CHEERING

0:29:410:29:43

From the mid-'60s onwards, you have what would have to be called

0:29:480:29:52

an LSD consciousness, permeates the whole of

0:29:520:29:56

the counter-culture side of British society.

0:29:560:30:00

And you get it in the songs of the Pink Floyd, of Jimi Hendrix,

0:30:000:30:05

of Marc Bolan - all these bands incorporate LSD-inspired imagery.

0:30:050:30:13

The messages are multiplying.

0:30:240:30:26

Even if LSD disappeared, and all the beards and all the hair disappeared,

0:30:320:30:36

I think the awareness would spread

0:30:360:30:39

because the actual heavy-metal conditions are at a dead-end.

0:30:390:30:42

PERCUSSION MUSIC

0:30:450:30:48

When Arnold Wesker opened it in 1963, as Centre 42,

0:32:050:32:09

an appeal was launched for £500,000.

0:32:090:32:12

This failed, though,

0:32:120:32:14

and the Roundhouse soon became the home of pop concerts.

0:32:140:32:17

Since then, though, the variety of activities and spectacles -

0:32:170:32:20

ranging from children's paintings to the first performance

0:32:200:32:23

of Oh Calcutta - is greatly increased

0:32:230:32:26

under the management of Wesker's original partner, George Hoskins.

0:32:260:32:29

What was your ideal programme for a year?

0:32:310:32:34

The ideal programme... We, in fact, drew up ideal programmes -

0:32:340:32:37

that is when Wesker was still interested,

0:32:370:32:40

before he got discouraged by the length of time it was all taking.

0:32:400:32:43

The ideal programme then was that you would have a vast range

0:32:430:32:46

of activities. You'd have theatre right in the centre,

0:32:460:32:49

but all round it, you would have anything you could imagine.

0:32:490:32:53

For example, children's activities, you'd have social centre,

0:32:530:32:56

you'd have exhibitions, you'd make sure that people had to

0:32:560:32:59

walk through the exhibition to get to the theatre and so on.

0:32:590:33:02

And you'd have workshops,

0:33:020:33:04

much on the lines they have down at the lock down there,

0:33:040:33:08

where artists, potters, painters, designers would have a place.

0:33:080:33:13

The whole thing would become a thriving community centre of

0:33:130:33:16

every kind of artistic activity that you can imagine there.

0:33:160:33:20

I wanted to forget everything which was written for human voice,

0:33:200:33:24

whether it's singing or whether it's speaking

0:33:240:33:27

or other noises and sounds,

0:33:270:33:30

and to see what possibilities are here.

0:33:300:33:33

Also, involving...

0:33:330:33:35

-Bredding or breathing is called?

-Breathing.

0:33:370:33:39

..also involving the breathing possibilities.

0:33:390:33:42

Really take the human body as a sound source.

0:33:420:33:45

What he's able to do,

0:33:450:33:47

and always to push it until the edge of the possibilities.

0:33:470:33:52

LAUGHTER

0:35:100:35:13

APPLAUSE

0:35:220:35:25

I think we've all felt this urge for a long time now

0:35:320:35:35

to get out of the regular theatre buildings because they're

0:35:350:35:37

old-fashioned in a bad way, they don't serve their purpose today.

0:35:370:35:41

Peter, it was in 1968 that you first brought

0:35:410:35:43

your experimental work on the Tempest here.

0:35:430:35:45

How did you find the building in the first place when you first came

0:35:450:35:48

to do the Tempest here? What was it that you found attractive?

0:35:480:35:51

Oh, it was Arnold Wesker who found the building.

0:35:510:35:53

He was the one who had this strong feeling

0:35:530:35:56

that it could be used marvellously as a theatre.

0:35:560:35:59

When I first came into it,

0:35:590:36:01

I remember being really thrilled by the fact that here was a space,

0:36:010:36:06

just an undefined space.

0:36:060:36:08

Undefined space means, of course, anything can happen,

0:36:080:36:11

the space takes on its own definition depending on

0:36:110:36:14

what you do inside it, but it wasn't a cold space.

0:36:140:36:16

It wasn't a clinical space,

0:36:160:36:19

it was a space with its own beauty, its own feeling of life.

0:36:190:36:24

And that seemed to me to be perfect conditions for making theatre in.

0:36:240:36:28

When I got to the Roundhouse, it was in danger, yet again,

0:36:330:36:36

as it was kind of, you know, every Tuesday and Thursday, of closing.

0:36:360:36:40

There was a considerable debt

0:36:400:36:44

that had to be got rid of in some way,

0:36:440:36:47

and it wasn't functioning properly.

0:36:470:36:49

And the first thing I did was arrange with John Curd,

0:36:490:36:54

who was the rock promoter at the Roundhouse,

0:36:540:36:57

to do 40 rock concerts on the trot.

0:36:570:37:00

We paid off all our debt.

0:37:000:37:02

# He's in love with rock'n'roll Whoa

0:37:020:37:04

# He's in love with gettin' stoned Whoa

0:37:040:37:06

# He's in love with Janie Jones Whoa

0:37:060:37:08

# He don't like his boring job, no... #

0:37:080:37:11

# In the city there's a thousand things I want to say to you

0:37:150:37:19

# But whenever I approach you You make me look a fool... #

0:37:210:37:24

# Bind me, tie me Chain me to the wall

0:37:240:37:28

# I want to be a slave to you all

0:37:280:37:31

# Oh, bondage, up yours!

0:37:310:37:33

# Oh, bondage... #

0:37:330:37:35

I was just talking about all forms of bondage, you know, repression,

0:37:350:37:38

everything else. Sexual bondage stems from that, so it's all part

0:37:380:37:42

of the same thing, really. It all depends which way you interpret it.

0:37:420:37:45

So as much to do with social bondage as sexual bondage?

0:37:450:37:47

Yeah, it's to do with all bondage.

0:37:470:37:49

And it's bondage because it hasn't been played -

0:37:490:37:51

that proves it as well.

0:37:510:37:53

The event creates the venue, I think.

0:37:530:37:57

I think that's certainly my ultimate recollection of the Roundhouse.

0:37:570:38:00

It was transformed by what was happening there.

0:38:000:38:04

I seem to remember it was very difficult to get into.

0:38:060:38:09

I seem to remember the toilets were completely inadequate

0:38:090:38:11

and overflowing and you had to have planks,

0:38:110:38:14

so it was like a rock festival indoors,

0:38:140:38:17

which is fabulous, and I suppose it's very right for the times.

0:38:170:38:20

It was a place that you went

0:38:200:38:22

when you needed a place to go to.

0:38:220:38:25

And that in itself was actually something rather wonderful

0:38:250:38:29

because at various points, particularly in early 1977,

0:38:290:38:34

there were very few places that you could go to

0:38:340:38:37

in order to see the groups that you wanted to see.

0:38:370:38:40

What's the latest problem?

0:38:440:38:46

Well, I want to bring in the Glasgow Citizens before the end of the year.

0:38:460:38:51

It's a difficult time to bring them,

0:38:510:38:53

the last two months or the last two weeks of the financial year.

0:38:530:38:57

And we have a problem. We've talked about it a great deal,

0:38:570:39:01

we've come to a very good contractual agreement for all of us,

0:39:010:39:05

we have one sticking point,

0:39:050:39:07

and that is the price of the seats.

0:39:070:39:09

As you know, the Citizens would like to have a policy,

0:39:090:39:13

and already have in Glasgow,

0:39:130:39:16

that the theatre is accessible to everybody.

0:39:160:39:19

-They charge very little for their seats...

-Yeah.

0:39:190:39:22

..and we started talking turkey at 50p a seat.

0:39:220:39:25

HE GASPS

0:39:250:39:27

We have 580 seats.

0:39:270:39:30

And if we charged 50p for all of them, we would leave ourselves...

0:39:300:39:35

-That's ridiculous.

-Well, if we sell out, we'll need about £18,000.

0:39:350:39:40

But not at 50p a head.

0:39:400:39:42

I mean, that's fine for Glasgow,

0:39:420:39:44

but we're putting the My Fair Lady seats up to £10 on a Saturday night

0:39:440:39:49

because the public now just will pay that.

0:39:490:39:52

You know, Covent Garden's top is £21.

0:39:520:39:55

I'm asking you for 10% of the Covent Garden top, £2.

0:39:550:39:59

-You are asking me to charge £2?

-I think it ought to be.

0:39:590:40:02

In the past two years the policy which we pursue,

0:40:020:40:06

and which had the approval of subsidising bodies,

0:40:060:40:09

has become increasingly difficult because of the needs

0:40:090:40:12

of the theatres we bring in.

0:40:120:40:14

We have a cash-flow problem far greater than we've had previously,

0:40:180:40:22

or certainly in the time that I've been here.

0:40:220:40:25

We're up to the top of our overdraft limit.

0:40:250:40:28

By the end of next week, paying salaries will be a problem.

0:40:280:40:31

If it closes, then it's not for me to say whether London needs it,

0:40:310:40:35

but I don't think anyone else can provide what we provide.

0:40:350:40:38

Our auditorium is very special

0:40:380:40:39

and there are certain shows that can ONLY come in here.

0:40:390:40:42

The kind of art working people want is perhaps earlier this century

0:41:260:41:30

than... What's the word I want? Avant-garde.

0:41:300:41:33

I think being in debt is one of the most oppressive aspects of 42.

0:41:440:41:50

One person in particular, who has guaranteed

0:41:500:41:53

the bulk of our overdraft, whom I have nightmares about.

0:41:530:41:58

And the GLC also leaves the legacy of the Roundhouse.

0:42:030:42:07

When it opens, it will be the best-equipped and most prestigious

0:42:070:42:11

arts centre in Europe.

0:42:110:42:13

Finally, I suppose,

0:42:170:42:19

the sneers and derision and hostility,

0:42:190:42:23

the idea of 42 has excited, have sunk home.

0:42:230:42:29

Perhaps some of the joy is taken out of the whole project.

0:42:290:42:35

Who do you blame the financial difficulties on, whose fault is it?

0:42:390:42:42

I don't blame the difficulties on anybody.

0:42:420:42:45

So the whole thing will become a thriving community centre

0:42:470:42:50

of every kind of artistic activity that you can imagine there.

0:42:500:42:53

# You and the girls on your street

0:43:200:43:22

# Love to play with Polly Cos she's so sweet

0:43:220:43:25

-# Polly Pocket

-Polly Pocket

0:43:250:43:27

-# Polly Pocket

-Polly Pocket. #

0:43:270:43:28

Polly Pocket play cases, each sold separately. New from Mattel.

0:43:280:43:33

I was a toymaker,

0:43:330:43:35

and a guy that we worked with

0:43:350:43:39

came in one day who was an inventor and such.

0:43:390:43:42

He came in and, as a sort of afterthought,

0:43:420:43:46

he produced a little wooden box

0:43:460:43:48

and he said, "I don't know whether this is of any interest at all."

0:43:480:43:52

He said, "I made it for my daughter six years ago and, you know,

0:43:520:43:57

"but I've always rather liked it."

0:43:570:43:59

And when I saw it, I didn't know what to say.

0:43:590:44:02

It was a tiny little doll about 1.5cm tall,

0:44:020:44:06

painted, perfectly decorated.

0:44:060:44:09

# Polly Pocket's so small, you can take her anywhere. #

0:44:090:44:14

They were a beautifully engineered little doll,

0:44:140:44:18

which bent at the waist and whose arms could move and various things.

0:44:180:44:23

And one of the people in the room said,

0:44:230:44:28

"That's Polly Pocket," so we adopted the name.

0:44:280:44:31

And it was one of the most -

0:44:310:44:35

it was THE most successful toy I've ever been involved with.

0:44:350:44:39

We were the second largest,

0:44:390:44:42

well below, of course, Barbie, the girls' toy.

0:44:420:44:45

They sold several hundred million dollars of it.

0:44:450:44:48

You could really say Polly Pocket is the reason we could do all this.

0:44:480:44:53

Hello, you are listening to Roundhouse Radio

0:45:460:45:49

and my name is Noa Logan.

0:45:490:45:51

We have an extra special show for you today.

0:45:510:45:54

We're celebrating both of our birthdays, our 50th and our tenth.

0:45:540:45:58

So, stick with me and we'll be bringing you the best creative

0:45:580:46:03

experimentation that we have going on

0:46:030:46:05

in this incredibly special building.

0:46:050:46:08

Earlier this year, we sent a team of young artists abroad to learn,

0:46:160:46:20

grow and collaborate with other international artists,

0:46:200:46:24

as the start of our En Masse Project.

0:46:240:46:27

We are going to bring all of those artists back,

0:46:270:46:29

alongside the Roundhouse Choir, Wax Lyrical,

0:46:290:46:31

The Poetry Collective and the William Ellis Big Band,

0:46:310:46:34

alongside the fantastic Jamie Cullum.

0:46:340:46:37

So, here at the Roundhouse we shouldn't have favourites,

0:46:420:46:45

but if I did, it would be the Last Word Festival.

0:46:450:46:50

Just over two weeks of the best in spoken word and poetry.

0:46:500:46:54

If you think you hate spoken word, trust me, you don't,

0:46:540:46:57

you just haven't found something that you like quite yet.

0:46:570:47:01

A letter to you.

0:47:010:47:03

Perpetually blagging your way through life.

0:47:030:47:06

You, who feel like a fraud.

0:47:060:47:08

A misconceived mishmash of half-baked beliefs,

0:47:080:47:11

cut-and-paste archetypes, breathe easy.

0:47:110:47:14

You must all play this game of identity Jenga.

0:47:140:47:17

To the young black girl stood in the furthest corner of the dance floor,

0:47:170:47:21

whose heart marches to the urgent bark

0:47:210:47:23

of Joe Strummer and David Bowie, who doesn't know how to Dutty Wine,

0:47:230:47:27

whose behind is as flat as an extended palm

0:47:270:47:29

who feels more at home in the screaming mouth of a mosh pit

0:47:290:47:32

than a dance-hall rave.

0:47:320:47:34

To the boy who's been known to kiss boys

0:47:340:47:36

and the girl who's been known to kiss girls,

0:47:360:47:39

may your public caress of your lover's shoulder be

0:47:390:47:42

an everyday gesture of affection, not a wilful act of defiance.

0:47:420:47:46

To the boy in the pink tutu and the girl in the Superman costume

0:47:460:47:50

and the he-she, almost not quite delicious, anarchist in-betweeners

0:47:500:47:54

who refuse our pronouns and prerequisites

0:47:540:47:57

so we know what it is to choke on the trapped air of ignorance.

0:47:570:48:01

To the 16-stone man who has no time for the condescending thumbs-up

0:48:010:48:05

swung his way as he bites into an apple or runs round his local park.

0:48:050:48:10

To the hipster

0:48:100:48:12

too afraid to tell her friends how much she loves One Direction.

0:48:120:48:15

No, not ironically,

0:48:150:48:18

with a profoundly intense, and unending passion.

0:48:180:48:21

To the feminist who's read the beauty myth three times

0:48:210:48:24

yet still lusts after xylophone ribs and guillotine cheekbones,

0:48:240:48:28

who loves hip-hop with a full heart and gritted teeth.

0:48:280:48:31

To the people who have at least 16 different responses to the question,

0:48:320:48:36

where are you from?

0:48:360:48:38

Whose guts double Dutch as their eyes hover over the ethnicity box

0:48:380:48:41

on a medical form, the stomachs that bloat with

0:48:410:48:44

the oceans their parents crissed and crossed,

0:48:440:48:47

the accents that lilt and swell like an orgy of castanets

0:48:470:48:50

nibbling at sitars and African drums.

0:48:500:48:53

Here's to the people that belong everywhere and nowhere.

0:48:530:48:57

The tongues parched and gasping as a land of exile.

0:48:570:49:01

Here's to the 40-, 50-, 60-year-old people still working it out,

0:49:010:49:05

who rip off the hands of the ticking clock and eat them like breadsticks.

0:49:050:49:09

Here's to taking your own sweet time.

0:49:090:49:12

Here's to the ways of being and seeing and living and loving

0:49:120:49:15

that our feeble language has yet to find a battle-cry for.

0:49:150:49:19

Here's for the civil war raging inside all of us.

0:49:190:49:22

The gristle of contradictions we pluck from our teeth

0:49:220:49:26

and the small truths we nestle safely under our tongues.

0:49:260:49:29

Here's to falling and failing and flying all at once.

0:49:290:49:33

Here's to identity Jenga.

0:49:330:49:36

Even the tallest and most formidable of towers

0:49:360:49:41

was once just a pile of bricks.

0:49:410:49:44

So, are you an amazing film-maker?

0:49:460:49:48

Or do you have a brilliant idea for a film somewhere in your brain?

0:49:480:49:52

If so, we have some money for you to make it happen.

0:49:520:49:55

Not me personally, but the Roundhouse online film fund.

0:49:550:49:59

So, if you want to get the best out of your idea

0:49:590:50:02

and you want the correct support to make it happen,

0:50:020:50:05

why don't you apply online?

0:50:050:50:07

"So, what do you go for in a girl?"

0:50:180:50:24

he crows, lifting the lager to his lips.

0:50:240:50:27

He gestures where his mate sits, then downs his glass.

0:50:270:50:30

"He prefers tits.

0:50:300:50:33

"I prefer arse.

0:50:330:50:36

"What do you go for in a girl?"

0:50:360:50:39

Well, I feel quite uncomfortable,

0:50:400:50:42

the air left the room a long time ago.

0:50:420:50:44

All eyes are on me...

0:50:440:50:46

If you must know, I'd like a girl who

0:50:460:50:50

reads.

0:50:500:50:53

Yes, reads. I'm not trying to call you a chauvinist

0:50:530:50:56

because I know that you're not alone in this,

0:50:560:50:58

but I'd like a girl who reads,

0:50:580:50:59

who needs the written word and who uses the added vocabulary

0:50:590:51:02

she gleans from novels and poetry to hold lively conversation

0:51:020:51:05

in a range of social situations. I want a girl who reads,

0:51:050:51:09

whose heart bleeds at the works of Graham Greene or even Heat magazine,

0:51:090:51:14

who ties back her hair while she's reading Jane Eyre,

0:51:140:51:17

and who goes cover to cover

0:51:170:51:18

with each Waterstones three-for-two offer,

0:51:180:51:21

but I want a girl who doesn't stop there. I want a girl who reads.

0:51:210:51:24

A girl who feeds her addiction for fiction

0:51:240:51:26

with unusual poems and plays.

0:51:260:51:28

That she hunts out in crooked book shops for days and days and days.

0:51:280:51:31

She'll sit addicted at breakfast,

0:51:310:51:33

soaking up the back of the cornflakes box

0:51:330:51:35

and the info she gets from what she reads makes her a total fox.

0:51:350:51:39

Because she's interesting and she's unique.

0:51:390:51:42

And her theories make me go weak at the knees.

0:51:420:51:45

This idea was originally the idea that young people,

0:51:520:51:56

particularly in London,

0:51:560:51:59

we know have a lot of energy

0:51:590:52:02

and a sense of commitment and at the moment

0:52:020:52:04

particularly they're feeling disenfranchised.

0:52:040:52:07

They were bewildered, I think, by what's happening in politics

0:52:070:52:10

in the sense they can vote for something but it doesn't matter,

0:52:100:52:13

or it doesn't count.

0:52:130:52:15

And somehow if you turn that into a positive,

0:52:150:52:17

and that we get them all together, but not in a whingeing way,

0:52:170:52:21

but to say "OK, here's your floor, come up with some ideas."

0:52:210:52:25

Our idea was to come up with this manifesto at the end

0:52:250:52:28

of what we can do just to make things better,

0:52:280:52:31

to make their world better.

0:52:310:52:33

So it's addressing their concerns, isn't it? It tends to be housing,

0:52:330:52:36

it tends to be... I think you came up with your three Ps?

0:52:360:52:39

Yes, we had a meeting,

0:52:390:52:40

a couple of us had a meeting with a group of three young people

0:52:400:52:43

from the Roundhouse last night.

0:52:430:52:45

They've come up with politics, power, pay and performance,

0:52:450:52:50

-the four Ps.

-Very good.

0:52:500:52:51

So we ought to look at those as the stimulating themes

0:52:510:52:55

for the day, for the event in January.

0:52:550:52:58

So it should be fun, we don't want it to be like a conference.

0:52:580:53:03

The performance element is going to be a key part of that.

0:53:030:53:06

We're creating a crowdsourced history of the Roundhouse

0:53:060:53:09

that will form a digital timeline

0:53:090:53:12

of the events over the past 50 years.

0:53:120:53:14

We're collecting stories from everyone -

0:53:140:53:17

so from members of the public,

0:53:170:53:19

from artists that we've worked with, members of the local community.

0:53:190:53:22

And that story will form a digital history of the Roundhouse.

0:53:220:53:28

There has been someone that has sort of...

0:53:280:53:32

been kind of living in the area,

0:53:320:53:34

cos community is an important part of this, as well, since 1995

0:53:340:53:38

and has been able to see the Roundhouse from his kitchen window

0:53:380:53:42

and he charts his... the way he's grown-up

0:53:420:53:45

as the way the sort of Roundhouse has grown, as well.

0:53:450:53:49

Someone's dad actually played here about 40 years ago.

0:53:490:53:53

So just lots of different kind of connections.

0:53:530:53:55

All the people that have sent memories through sort of feel

0:53:550:53:59

this very personal connection to the Roundhouse,

0:53:590:54:01

which is really great to see.

0:54:010:54:02

Strangely, the Roundhouse,

0:54:020:54:04

it's the roundness that actually makes it a very intimate space,

0:54:040:54:07

so the artists are never very far away from the audience

0:54:070:54:10

and the audience are never very far away from the artists.

0:54:100:54:13

I think nine times out of ten, if there's a gig going on,

0:54:130:54:17

the artist, the musician at some point will stop and look at it

0:54:170:54:21

and go, "This is the most amazing place I've ever performed in."

0:54:210:54:24

HE RAPS: Kids on the road start young these days

0:54:240:54:26

Walk street with a knife these days No fun these days

0:54:260:54:28

Do dirt, end up on the run these days

0:54:280:54:30

Whole lot of pain, suffering, and badness, whole lot of madness

0:54:300:54:32

Too many grieving mothers and sadness

0:54:320:54:34

It ain't safe in the manor no more

0:54:340:54:36

Take one fool step and you could get bored

0:54:360:54:38

Kids caught up in the hype and the nonsense

0:54:380:54:39

Do what they hear in the songs and the TV

0:54:390:54:41

Picking up dust, makin' up fuss for the sake of money

0:54:410:54:43

Cos it look so easy

0:54:430:54:45

They don't understand, they can't comprehend

0:54:450:54:46

Cos they're too caught up trying to rep their ends

0:54:460:54:48

For the reputation, and pass it on to the next generation.

0:54:480:54:51

Can't tek no more of it No, no, no, no, no

0:54:510:54:54

-Can't tek no more of it.

-Hey!

0:54:540:54:56

# I've been through it all

0:55:000:55:02

# So I understand, I'll understand if you go

0:55:060:55:10

# O-o-o-o-oh

0:55:100:55:13

# So make your mark

0:55:140:55:18

# For your friends to see

0:55:180:55:21

# But when... When you need company

0:55:220:55:27

# Don't go to strangers

0:55:290:55:33

# My darling, come to me. #

0:55:330:55:40

It's a really special reason

0:55:510:55:53

why the Roundhouse is here and why people come here -

0:55:530:55:56

it's that we're on the railway side on one side

0:55:560:55:58

and the road side on the other

0:55:580:55:59

and there's wealthy, there's poor, there's business, there's industry

0:55:590:56:03

and we're at this kind of little island right in the middle.

0:56:030:56:06

People talk about places being on ley lines, um...

0:56:060:56:10

I don't know if that's true at all,

0:56:100:56:12

but there's certainly a feeling about this little island

0:56:120:56:15

and it does its own thing in its own place.

0:56:150:56:17

Well, I think it was Thelma Holt who said to me once -

0:56:190:56:22

she said, "I love what you're going to do with it,

0:56:220:56:25

"but I'm not in the least worried because the Roundhouse has a habit

0:56:250:56:30

"of spitting out the things it doesn't like."

0:56:300:56:32

Well, you know, the only thing I can say is that 50 years on,

0:56:340:56:38

or whatever it is,

0:56:380:56:39

the Roundhouse is starting to make its wishes understood.

0:56:390:56:43

# When you were young and your heart was an open book

0:56:450:56:50

# You used to say live and let live

0:56:520:56:56

# You know you did, you know you did, you know you did

0:56:560:56:59

# But this ever-changin' world in which we live in

0:56:590:57:04

# Makes you give in and cry

0:57:040:57:08

# Say live and let die

0:57:100:57:13

# Live and let die

0:57:150:57:18

# Live and let die

0:57:180:57:22

# Live and let die... #

0:57:220:57:24

..It's suddenly serious...

0:57:480:57:49

-No.

-Is this stale?

0:57:500:57:53

PEOPLE CHATTER

0:57:530:57:55

PEOPLE LAUGH

0:57:550:57:56

Whoa!

0:57:560:57:58

LAUGHTER

0:57:580:58:00

Whoa!

0:58:000:58:02

APPLAUSE AND LAUGHTER

0:58:020:58:06

On October 15th 1966, the Roundhouse in north London hosted its first gig - the launch of radical newspaper International Times. The audience included Paul McCartney and Marianne Faithfull, along with 3,000 others trying desperately to get in. The result was a glorious shambles. Since then, virtually every big name in rock and alternative theatre has played there. Today it's as vibrant as ever, continuing to attract big names and full houses and running an array of outreach and youth programmes enabling young people to express themselves in the arts. Arena tells the tragicomic rollercoaster story of a unique venue.


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