Lecturer in music, Dr Jonathan Hicks, recently presented on incidental music and urban realism in "The Lights o' London" (1881)
Dr Jonathan Hicks took part in a conference hosted by Tyne Theatre and Opera House in Newcastle, 13-15 September 2023. His talk explored the uses of music and noise in George R Sims’s "The Lights o’ London" (1881), a late-Victorian stage melodrama famed for its realistic enactments of city life. With reference to the surviving conductor’s score—a relative rarity for an English melodrama in this period—Jo described the relationships between the play’s incidental music and its portrayal of public space. The principal focus was a part of the final act set in Boro’ Market on Saturday night. This scene entailed a gradual crescendo of on-stage noise, but almost no incidental music; Jo argued that it was only with the absence of tunes from the pit that the on-stage crowd threatened to destabilize events.
In addition to talks, the conference featured an exposition of stage magic and demonstrations of reconstructed Victorian stage machinery.