Introduction.

Best known as myth maker, poet, lyricist and extremely theatrical lead singer with Hawkwind, Robert Calvert also wrote two published books of poetry and several plays that were staged between 1976 and ‘86 as well as having ideas and plans for others that never made it to production. This essay will focus on Robert Calvert’s involvement with, and enthusiasm for, theatre. His earliest documented involvement with performance art was in a street theatre group in 1967 and in a letter dated June 1988 he expresses the hope of putting on a play about clashes between the police and hippies around Stonehenge, presumably including the Battle of the Beanfield. At both the beginning and end of his career Robert was engaged with theatre, this essay will attempt to fill in the gap between! 

In his fascinating book, There’s a Riot Going On, Peter Doggett refers to radical black American poet LeRoi Jones and his provocative and violent 1964 poem ‘Black Dada Nihilismus’ (Doggett 2007: 31-32). Jones had been part of ‘the beat poetry movement of the 1950s’ going on to align himself with black revolution (Doggett 2007: 31-32). Three years later, in 1967, Robert Calvert was part of a street theatre group who had repurposed the phrase Dada Nihilismus; Street Dada Nihilismus (Bailes 2022: no.pag.). Apparently part of the group’s repertoire was to throw paint at people in an attempt to shock them (author unknown 1974a: no pag.). 

In the early 1970s Robert was contributing prose and poetry to underground magazine Frendz, and in 1971/2 they published ‘Street Theatre Police Brutality Read All Abaht It!’, a short play based in Tavistock Crescent (Gerwers n.d.: no page.).

In a fascinating 1977 interview Robert comments on his role in Hawkwind, “(w)hat I’m doing with the band is a very literary thing really, in that it’s about words and images. In many respects it’s more to do with the theatre than it is with music. Mine’s an acting job really, I have to embody what the music’s about, which is, I suppose, heroic fantasy really” (de Whalley 1977: no pag.).  

In an expansive 1996 interview with Knut Gerwers, Jill Calvert comments that “when he died he was going to actually go back to University to study drama. So I think, had he not died when he did, he probably would have turned more to theatre and poetry. It seemed to be…the balance was tipping I think.” Later in the same interview Jill observes “He loved the idea of theatre for the people, you know, involving people who never normally…go to the theatre because it was seen as some major event, and you know, for the wrong reasons it wasn’t a living theatre for everybody.” Gerwers then comments “Talking about theatre for the people, the great Brecht springs to mind immediately. Can you say something about the influence he got from Brecht? Jill answers “Yes, Brecht was one of his heroes. He loved Brecht, he loved Brecht’s plays and, probably even more, his poetry. So yes, he was a major influence.” (Gerwers and Jill Calvert 1996: 2-3).

Jill’s observations tie in with Robert’s 1974 comment that he admired “Paul Klee and Bertolt Brecht very much” (Hayman 1974: no pag.).

A 1978 Davies article/interview, ‘The Hawklords Riddle’, also gives some insight into Robert’s interests and influences. Writing about Hawkwind’s long interest in industrial themes and ‘the accusation of ripping off Devo’s use of industrial themes and dramatic movements’, Davies comments on the Hawklords stage show as drawing on the Fritz Lang film Metropolis and goes on to observe ‘(a)ctually the coldness of the industrial/factory approach owes far more to Bertold Brecht than it does to the Akronites.

Bob Calvert: “I was inspired by Brecht’s ‘sprechgesang’ -speech song- which gives a very Germanic feel to our machine-gun lyrics.”

Brecht is very much a city writer, and one can hear the influences showing through in the music, just as they acknowledged a debt to Hesse in “Steppenwolf” on the “Amazing Sounds” (sic) album: “A lot of people who live in cities are influenced by what goes on within them, but we’re influenced by the cities themselves”. A little later Davies comments ‘Certainly there are influences in the use of movement and dance, one of the most important in both Calvert’s own movements and the choreography of the dancers being that of the Japanese Noh theatre which Calvert readily admits. “I go to fringe theatre quite a lot, more than to rock concerts. I don’t listen to albums much either; I try to keep my musical influences pure, both consciously and sub-consciously.” (Davies 1978: no pag.).

Bertolt Brecht served as a medic in WWI  and was horrified by the effects of war. After the war he pursued a career in theatre in Munich and then Berlin. When the Nazis came to power in 1933 Brecht left Germany and the Nazis revoked his citizenship, rendering him stateless. Brecht moved to the USA returning to Europe in 1947. His most famous works include Mother Courage and Her Children, an anti-war play, Fear and Misery of the Third Reich an anti-fascist play, The Threepenny Opera (with Kurt Weill) and The Caucasian Chalk Circle. Brecht died in 1956, by then recognised as one of the greats of theatre (Bitesize n.d: no pag.). Two techniques that Brecht pioneered were ‘epic theatre’ and ‘distanciation’. Through style and format both aimed to remind the viewer that they were watching a constructed presentation and to engage with it mentally rather than emotionally (Bitesize n.d; no pag.). Brecht also wrote the satirical poem Die Losung in 1953 after workers protests which was critical of the East German government (Wikipedia n.d; no pag.). Interestingly, the title track of the Amon Duul (UK) album that featured Robert as lyricist and vocalist is also called Die Losung.

Plays.

First staged in 1976 by Pentameters Theatre, The Stars That Play With Laughing Sam’s Dice took its name from a 1967 Jimi Hendrix b side. The play focuses on an incident in the army life of a young Jimi Hendrix. It is set in 1962 on a military aircraft where young recruits are undergoing parachute training under the veteran Sergeant McNulty. One of the young recruits is pre-fame James Hendrix (Cope 2019: no pag.).

A confrontation develops as Hendrix refuses to jump despite having already made 24 jumps citing a dream he had that he would become famous. Initially McNulty is an archetype; nationalistic, aggressive, angry and mocking but as the conversation proceeds another side to McNulty is revealed as we learn he once hoped to be a jazz musician (Cope 2019: no pag.). But after his experiences in the Korean war he sold his trumpet and gave the money to a charity for war orphans (Calvert 1976: no pag.). 

Hendrix had spent time as a paratrooper in the army being discharged after 13 months. The reasons he was discharged are not clear as he claimed it was due to an injuries sustained in his 26th jump and others claiming it was due to his unsuitability to army life.

Calvert had previously written a prose piece featuring Jimi Hendrix, Cattle at Twilight, published in Sounds in 1974. This short piece is a conversation between Hendrix and Noel Coward with the brilliant line ‘That’s David Bowie. He’s somehow managed to create a feeling of nostalgia for the future’ (Calvert 1974: no pag.). In Robert’s 1977 book of poetry Centigrade 232 there is a poem, ‘Voodoo Child (In memory of Jimi Hendrix)’.

Cattle at Twilight ends with Jimi Hendrix climbing aboard a motor bike pulling a pair of sparkling blue goggles on, the last line of the play being ‘The surging colours of his psychechromic coat merge into a solid blue that grows more and more electric-looking as it recedes into the distance’ (Calvert 1974: no pag.)..

The idea of ‘psychechromic’ clothing, clothing that reflects your moods and emotions, reoccurs in the 1979 play Mirror Mirror. Set in 2030 the play’s main character, Eleanor Bryant, has just purchased a psychechromic dress. The play has been revived a few times and I was fortunate to see it in March 2023 at Pentameters Theatre where Robert had appeared and his early plays were staged. Following is a review of the play I wrote at the time, apparently deploying Roland Barthes’ ‘The Death of the Author’ and reception theory in my interpretation!

‘Robert Calvert is probably best known as the conceptual artist who, often in collaboration with Barney Bubbles, constructed overarching frameworks for the band Hawkwind. It was he (writing) and Barney Bubbles (artwork) who put together the Hawklog, an extended piece of writing that accompanied Hawkwind’s second album, In Search of Space, and he conceived of the Space Ritual tour as being based around the dreams of space travellers in suspended animation. Calvert also wrote the lyrics for Hawkwind’s best known songs ‘Silver Machine’ and ‘Urban Guerilla’. He took a hiatus from Hawkwind between 73 and 75 rejoining as their chief lyric writer and vocalist for the next four albums which culminated in the album 25 Years On (as Hawklords) and the accompanying booklet about Pan Transcendental Industries. However pre, during and post his involvement with Hawkwind, Calvert maintained a prodigious output releasing two books of poetry, five solo albums, a book and four plays!

One of those plays, Mirror Mirror, written in 1979 has been put on by Pentameters Theatre, between March 22-26th above the Horseshoe Pub in Hampstead. Pentameters was founded in 1968, and is still run, by Leonie Scott-Matthews, who knew Robert Calvert personally.

Mirror Mirror is a futuristic play set in 2030 that portrays a day in the life of Eleanor Bryant, who initially arrives home excited having bought a psychechromic dress that responds to her interior life with changing colours and patterns. In her apartment is a multiperspectival mirror whose various channels represent her as others perceive her.

The play revolves around the externalising of the interior life of the main character Eleanor, played by Samantha Charles who, I guess, spends 75% of the play on stage alone. The focus is initially on her ambivalent relationship with her new dress but gradually turns to her relationship with the multiperspectival mirror and her concerns over (particularly) her husband’s ‘view’ of her. Eventually she decides to call a technician to fix the mirror as she is sure there must be a fault in its representation of her husband’s image/imagination of her. 

I think it was Roland Barthes who observed that the meaning of an art piece is constructed in the interaction of the viewer with that piece, the implication being that an art piece has no stable meaning but is reinterpreted by each interaction. Mirror Mirror was written in 1979 and has probably been interpreted in many different ways in the ensuing forty years. Watching it in 2023 the play seemed to be extraordinarily relevant, foregrounding contemporary socio-cultural themes.

Samantha Charles’ nuanced performance as Eleanor explored the internalisation of objectification and the prioritising of female physicality as she struggled with the effects of age and the knowledge that her husband had married her primarily for her looks. She highlighted the anxieties generated by consumer capitalism’s demand that women attain and sustain an adherence to an always out of reach ideal and the self preoccupation this can lead to as she attempts to prove to herself her continued attractiveness via her relationship with the unfortunate technician, subtly played by Edward Smith. (Who, in a wonderful inclusion of Calvert’s ‘The Clone Poem’, best known via ‘Spirit of the Age, turns out to be a clone.)

Eleanor’s 1979 interaction with, and desire for affirmation from, others via the mirror seems remarkably prescient in 2023. The subsequent establishment of social media, our posting of selfies, our desire for ‘likes’, the oscillations in our self esteem depending on the affirmations of others, our staged presentation/s of self are all present in the play. In her adoption of recognisable poses and practices Samantha revealed the performativity of gender and the reproduction of female stereotypes in a way that was reminiscent of Cindy Sherman’s work.

The twist in the last section of the play comes as a surprise and further emphasises the complexities of self presentation.

Mirror Mirror is an intriguing, engaging piece of performance art that speaks to us in 2023 about gender, relationships, consumer capitalism’s baleful effects on our self esteem and the power of social media. Samantha Charles, Edward Smith, producer Leonie Scott-Matthews and director Colin Gregory have done a brilliant job in producing a mesmerising and relevant piece of work!’

Robert’s next staged play was The Kid from Silicon Gulch in 1981. In interview Robert attributed the genesis of the play to owning a particular coat, “What gave me the idea to do a detective play is the fact that I`ve got this really battered old raincoat, like a detective`s raincoat. This is the way, I think, good art is produced” (Calvert n.d: no pag.). It opened in April at the Theatrespace, Covent Garden in London (Gerwers n.d: no pag.). The title may have been a nod to the 1950 Western The Kid from Gower Gulch and/or the Silicon Gulch Gazette, a free newspaper first published in 1977, which discussed news about micro computing and the nascent microcomputing industry (Wikipedia n.d: no pag.).

The actors were Robert as private detective Brad Spark, who specialised in cyber crimes, Pete Pavli (who collaborated with Calvert musically producing the Revenge EP) as hapless police Sgt. Karelli and Jill Riches as the Countess. Pavli as well as acting in the play was also involved with the music, as was Dave Brock. The three play recognisable stock characters from detective series but as Drain comments ‘(i)n 1981, the idea of something like the Internet and its physical conduit, the personal computer, becoming deeply intertwined with our work and lives, still seemed like something out of a science-fiction novel. Granted, home computers were already in existence back in this time, but only for a small demographic that was mainly consumers with a healthy-sized wallet and a technology-inclined brain to match. There had been a number of sci-fi works, both films and prose that did include plot lines involving a world tied to computers, but none of these could quite touch the futuristic noir/stage musical, The Kid from Silicon Gulch’. Drain continues a little later that the play is set ‘in an unnamed time in the future. It’s an electro-noir universe with appropriately pulp-novel worthy lines and an eerie nod to the future partially turned into our present’ (Drain n.d: no pag.). The play centers around a series of murders committed by home computers and is intriguing in its anticipation of multiplayer online gaming, mind uploading and discussions of AI. The play has been posted on youtube and as Drain comments ‘of course, the real star here is Calvert himself. Physically, with his tall build, strong profile and requisite trench coat and fedora, he could not be a better fit for the hard boiled and hardworking Detective Spark. While it will shock no one who is familiar with Hawkwind or his solo work that he handles all of the singing duties with sheer deftness, it should be noted that he is equally good with all of the attached stage acting duties’ (Drain n.d: no pag.). 

In terms of form and expected characters The Kid from Silicon Gulch pretty much complies with the conventions of the detective genre but it played with those conventions in terms of ideas explored and the inclusion of computer crime. A satirical sci-fi crime thriller was quite novel in 1981!

Robert’s next produced play was Test Tube Baby of Mine in 1986, the same year his album Test Tube Conceived was released. The play, in short, is about two research scientists who ‘genetically engineer their own superhuman baby’, due to a mixup in the IVF clinic where the two scientists work the embryo is implanted into another couple who ‘raise the child as their own’, while the two scientists raise this couple’s child. The scientist’s child is brilliant and his inventions change the family’s fortunes. Fourteen years later the scientists discover the mix-up and go to the other couple’s home to try and get the children back to their genetic families (Gerwers n.d: no pag.).  

The first child born from an IVF conception was in 1978 and it was not until 1991 that the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority was set up in the UK (fertilitybristol.com n.d: no pag.). So, as Jill Clavert comments, Robert’s play was written in the early days of IVF treatment, “I think when he first thought of working with an idea like in vitro fertilisation, it was at its very beginnings” (Gerwers and Jill Calvert 1996: 2).   In an interview about his attitude towards technological advances Robert commented “I am not at all opposed to scientific progress, but what I am opposed to is the possible misuse of scientific discoveries which is the main danger we face. We are now living in an almost infinitely scientifically possible world. When you look at the advances that we know have been made already in, say, biology, we have to look very carefully, there have to be very strong controls over what is done with this knowledge. The possibility of creating human beings in test-tubes has been around since the fifties. What is being made available to the public now, I don’t think is necessarily indicative of what actually is available to scientists in research laboratories who haven’t published their papers yet…It seems likely to me that they have already found a way of being able to create human life without the necessity of the womb being involved at all – I am sure they can do that…I think it does fundamentally question what a human being actually is. It enables the possibility of human life being considered to be extremely expendable if it’s extremely creatable” (Calvert in Gerwers n.d: no pag.). Although Robert’s concerns about the misuse of ‘test tube babies’ have obviously not been realised the 2009 film Moon picked up on the same theme, the central character being one of a series of clones put to work by a corporation on a Moon station.

Performance Art. 

The Box is a Calvert performance piece that dates from the (late 60s*) early 70s, the online recording dating from 1972 (Calvert 2014: no pag.). Around that time Robert offered it to Pentameters Theatre  (Gerwers n.d; no pag.). The one set monologue centers around a man waking up to find himself locked in a box, Gerwers observes that The Box ‘is one of the earliest examples that already shows Calvert’s distinctive talent to combine black humour with initially desperate (and particularly difficult = minimalistic) situations’. He goes on to comment that the play ‘also shows the influence of Samuel Beckett’s work, which Calvert himself confirmed at various occasions’ (Gerwers n.d; no pag.). The protagonist is confused, angry, trying to understand how he has got there, has he been drugged? What is going on? His internal dialogue is externalised. At times the character addresses an unknown other convinced there is someone outside listening in, possibly taping him. At times he wonders if he hears external noises, smells cigarette smoke. The protagonist alternates between anger, frustration, impotent threats and confusion. The play is open ended as the character thinks they may have smelt petrol and hears someone that he imagines is coming to rescue him (Calvert 1972: no pag.). 

Calvert cleverly runs through, and brilliantly communicates, the range of emotions likely to be experienced in that situation, the play showcasing his acting ability. The idea of being aware of being enclosed in an outer structure with an awareness of external activity that’s potentially dangerous parallels the Gunter Grass poem In The Egg that Robert was to recite at Wembley Empire Pool the following year.

Although it is a little difficult to put together a timeline it would seem in February 1981 Robert, with Jill Riches and Pete Pavli as ‘Krankschaft Cabaret’, staged a series of evenings that consisted of Hawkwind and solo songs, poetry and sketches (Gerwers n.d: no pag.).  

Later in 1981 it seems Robert, again under the banner of Krankschaft, did five evenings in June at the Arts Theatre in Leicester Square. Below ‘Quark, Strangeness and Charm’ the poster enticingly informs the reader that the five evenings with Robert Calvert will include ‘Tales of Starfighters, Vikings and Werewolves’. Friday’s set (12/6/81) includes a couple of Hawkwind songs, solo tracks, poems from Centigrade 232, sketches and previously unperformed material (setlist.fm n.d; no pag.).

In December 1981 and January 1982 Robert did similar evenings but with different set lists, the December gig being more song based and with no sketches (setlist.fm n.d; no pag.).  

Ideas.

As well as the four plays that were staged between ‘76 and ‘86 Robert also had ideas that got to various points in production without ever making it to the stage. The most prominent is probably a stage play based around the same ideas and controversy as the Captain Lockheed and the Starfighters album. Calvert discussed the project with Benton in an interview for Melody Maker

‘Besides his work with Hawkwind, this strange earthling has been busy creating and developing Captain Lockheed And The Starfighters, a play with music that looks like becoming highly controversial. Looking incredibly un-Hawkwindish in suit, short hair, rolled umbrella and staying at the Dorchester Hotel, Park Lane, Bob Calvert in his own dynamic, extrovert way talked to me about his latest project.  “Although I’m known as a poet and songwriter, it’s been my ambition to become a playwright.  Since I was a young boy I’ve always wanted to be connected with aircraft – ideally as an ‘Ace”.
“I’ve grown up of the Starfighter jets, which have accounted for the lives of many young pilots.  It has become so much a part of me that I’ve had to write about it in order to get it out of my system.” At the moment Bob has a single, ‘Captain Lockheed And The Starfighters’, out on release and it looks like becoming a hit, with over 10,000 sold in its first week of release…“It would be nice for the record to be a hit, but I’m not really bothered about it.  What concerns me is getting the play staged at somewhere like the Roundhouse. I want it to be a theatrical event in the true sense.  Like those in the Elizabethan era.  Not like one of Alice Cooper’s egotistical displays, which in spite of what people say, is nothing to do with theatrics”.

“The story is a true one about the German Air Force under the direction of Joseph Strauss, who allegedly for political gain revitalised it with seven hundred Starfighter jets.  As we know many of them have crashed, giving them names like ‘jinx-jets’, and ‘widow makers.’  A more popular name now is ‘flying coffins”.

“The play is a comical tragedy – it’s a good way to put across a heavy idea, although 159 crashed jets is no joke.” 

So much energy has been injected into the play, Calvert’s work with Hawkwind has had to be limited. He’s an extremely fragile person, who has been regularly ill from the pressures of being on the road with the band. If the record takes-off, or in true Starfighter tradition crashes into the charts, Calvert won’t take a band on the road under the name of  Captain Lockheed…“I’ve a tendency to be manic-depressive and the thought of not having regular sleep and meals is too much for me to take.  What I’m planning is to stage the play at somewhere like the Roundhouse.  A concept album will also follow (Benton 1973: no pag.). (The single referred to as ‘Captain Lockheed And The Starfighters’ was ‘Ejection’.) 

In a separate interview Calvert commented “The music is based on the Germanic hypnotic riffs that Hawkwind use. The thing derives from the Velvet Underground primitive rhythms, but also using the technology of music. The drama is in short scenes and the songs are a commentary on those scenes and an extension of them and take you on to the next scene. Rather what Bertolt Brecht called epic theatre in the thirties.

I have tried to present the situation in terms that are my interpretation of the events, using my humour. The whole thing was laughed at by everyone in Germany except the relatives of pilots that were killed. The plane wasn’t designed to perform all the functions, including assault and battery the Germans wanted it to do, the instruction manual was always changing, the pilots were constantly flying a new experimental plane and the ground staff were only conscripts who couldn’t care less about it anyway.” (Calvert in Gerwers n.d: no pag.).

While working on the Captain Lockheed play he was already thinking ahead “The stage show is an expansion of the album. It’s in the style of epic theatre, with songs, skits, poems, films, different noises… I’ve already got my next project mapped out. The rise and fall of Luigi Brilliantino” (author unknown 1974b: no pag.). 

Eventually the Captain Lockheed stage shows failed to take place, a spokesman telling NME “There are two seperate reasons for cancelling the tour. The first is that Calvert is now under new management, who consider that the cost of the proposed tour would be prohibitive. After all, it was to have been an elaborate show, complete with sets, and a one-nighter itinerary on this basis would have presented many problems. Then again, Calvert himself is not keen on the idea of touring.” (Gerwers n.d. no pag.).

In a 1974 article Hayman writes ‘Above all Calvert admires the autonomy of the hero, his aloofness. Hence, the Hero With A Wing; hence his admiration for the German expressionist playwright Bertolt Brecht, hence his admiration for Hamlet, and the need to re-use him in ‘The Ride And Fall Of Luigi Brilliantino’, the project which follows ‘Captain Lockheed’.

‘Luigi Brilliantino’ is set in Chicago of 1928 – 35 and traces the story of Luigi, who set out from Sicily to avenge the murder of his father and his mother’s re-marriage with the murderer. Calvert says it has an Oedipus – style twist at the end so you may be assured that his literary reference points are respectable. He has gone some way into writing words and dialogue for the presentation which he calls “another black comedy”.

The only musician he has in mind for the music, which he dubs “swing rock” – rock music with the swing band sound of the thirties – is ex Pink Fairy, Paul Rudolph. Although the subject matter is to be weighty, Bob insists that the treatment will have an element of parody which will make the music appropriate’ (Hayman 1974: no pag.)..

There also appears to have been a few months where Robert and Hawkwind were considering a stage presentation based on Dan Dare! ‘At one time, some months ago, Hawkwind were reported to be actively involved in a stage presentation of Dan Dare, the Eagle comic character. Will the project ever reach fruition?

Says Calvert, “I wrote a whole script for the thing. Very long, it had Digby being captured on Venus and being replaced by Harold Wilson, all zany things like that. Everyone was behind it, it was just a matter of tying everything up, legally. Unfortunately, someone else stepped in with an offer for the Dan Dare rights, bought them up, and left me high and dry. It’s a pity, it’s frustrating, but I just didn’t move quick enough. I believe Dan Dare is still going to be made into a movie, maybe a play, but now not by us, by someone else…”’ (Barton 1976: no pag.).

Robert also had plans for two other plays, in 1977 de Whalley wrote ‘(a)nother play is in its final stages, about Rolling Stone Brian Jones and the lone yachtsman Donald Crowhurst.  And a third is already in the pipeline based this time around poet Ezra Pound’s incarceration in an American camp for alleged pro-fascist opinions during the last war (de Whalley 1977: no pag.).

About the former idea Robert commented “A lot of the things that were happening to Brian Jones were happening to Donald Crowhurst. The play is full of strange circumstances because they were both driven to a kind of suicide by inadequacy and the drive of ambition for fame. They were carried along by the publicity.

The point I’m trying to make in the play is to show the pressures individuals have to put up with when they`re faced with big organisations like the whole Rolling Stones machine or the Sunday Times.

At the end of the play Brian Jones and Donald Crowhurst meet up with each other after they’ve died and they have a kind of underwater conversation.” (Calvert in Gerwers 1977: no pag.).)

On the idea of a play about the Imagism poet and fascist collaborator Ezra Pound, Robert explained “I want to do this play about Ezra Pound, and actually do the whole thing to the extent of growing a beard like him. I`ve got this marvelous tape of Ezra Pound reading his poetry. He’s got an extraordinary voice, like a cross between Irish, Scottish and olde English, which he consciously developed as a way of speaking himself, totally eccentric. He was arrested for treason by the American forces and locked up in a sort of cage in Italy, and he had a searchlight trained on him night and day so that he couldn’t sleep. Eventually he broke down from pure lack of sleep, he collapsed in a catatonic state. But in the meantime, what was fascinating was the way he behaved in this cage which is what the play`s about. His way of passing the time with the guard and with characters of his imagination It’s a play that would be very easy to stage with just two people: one who plays Pound and one who plays the guard, who can change roles and come in as characters that Pound is imagining as well.” (Calvert in Gerwers n.d; no pag.).

The last documented idea that Robert had for a play is to be found in a letter dated June 1988 where he writes that he has an idea of writing a play about the clashes between the police and hippies around Stonehenge. He writes about the importance of research and wonders whether it might be possible to stage it at Stonehenge the following summer. He commented that he would have liked to have been there for the solstice that year but that it wasn’t going to be possible.

Conclusion.

Charting Robert’s involvement with theatre from 1967’s Street Dada Nihilismus to his 1977 description of being lead vocalist for Hawkwind as “an acting job really” to the series of plays that were staged between ‘76 and ‘86 shows Robert to be an effective and innovative actor and playwright. The subject matter of his plays and intended plays evidence his political and social concerns that often found their way into Hawkwind songs. Concerns and awareness about corporate and government corruption, self perception and presentation, the deleterious effects of capitalist consumerism, technology and ethics often underpinned Robert’s writing and intended writing. These political/social concerns can also be seen in his 1988 idea of writing a play around the police clashes with festival goers, the use of state violence in the imposition of neoliberalism, in the mid 80s and his enthusiasm for Brecht and his concepts. His intention to study drama at university sheds yet more light on Robert Calvert as a remarkable multi disciplinary artist.

Image from video of ’25 Years’ on Days of the Underground boxed set, Atomhenge 2023.    

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Calvert, Robert 1976. Robert Calvert – The Stars That Play With Laughing Sam’s Dice (stage play) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=knhvm7gAkcY [accessed 27 January 2024 via bing].

Calvert, Robert. No date. On The Kid From Silicon Gulch and the practical aspects of the Shakesperian Era, https://aural-innovations.com/robertcalvert/quotes/calvertquotes.htm#silicon [accessed 29 January 2024 via bing].

Calvert, Robert. No date. ‘On his own attitude towards new technologies and the effects of scientific progress and just one of the grim perspectives of a new human condition that genetic engineering & the creation of artificial life are offering’ https://www.aural-innovations.com/robertcalvert/quotes/calvertto.htm#technology [accessed 1 February 2024 via bing].

Calvert, Robert. 1977. A Lost Stageplay on Donald Crowhurst and Brian Jones, https://aural-innovations.com/robertcalvert/works/calvertworks3.htm#crowhurst [accessed 3 February 2024 via bing].

Calvert, Robert. No date. On Ezra Pound, a poet admired by Calvert and about whom he wrote one of his best poems and planned a stage-play abouthttps://www.aural-innovations.com/robertcalvert/quotes/calvertquotes.htm#early  [accessed 3 February 2024 via bing].   

Cope, Robert. 2019. The Stars That Play With Laughing Sam’s Dice https://theatrelife.co.uk/the-stars-that-play-with-laughing-sams-dice/ [accessed 27 January 2024 via bing]. 

Davies, Mike. 1978. ‘The Hawklords Riddle’, Melody Maker, 18 November 1978, http://mysite.wanadoo-members.co.uk/_hwpress/hw19781118mm.html [accessed via https://www.daysoftheunderground.com/press-articles 26 January 2024].  

De Whalley, Chas. 1977. ‘Pulsating Poets of Sturm und Drang’, Album Tracking July 1977, https://www.aural-innovations.com/robertcalvert/hawkwind/addtexts/sturm-int77.htm {accessed 26 January 2024 via https://www.aural-innovations.com).

Doggett, Peter. 2007 There’s a Riot Going On (Edinburgh: Canongate).

Drain, Heather. No date. ‘Hawkwind Poet Robert Calvert’s Prophetic Sci-fi Noir ‘The Kid From Silicon Gulch’, Dangerous Minds, https://dangerousminds.net/comments/hawkwind_poet_robert_calverts_prophetic_sci-fi_noir [accessed 29 January 2024 via bing].

Forster, Tim. 2023. Mirror Mirror https://echoesanddust.com/2023/03/mirror-mirror/ [accessed 27 january 2024 via bing]. 

Gerwers, Knut. no date. ‘The Works of Robert Calvert. Street Theatre Police Brutality Read All Abaht It!’ 

https://aural-innovations.com/robertcalvert/works/addtexts/frendz1-police.htm [accessed 26 January 2024 via bing].

Gerwers, Knut.1996. ‘Jill Calvert on Robert Calvert’ https://aural-innovations.com/robertcalvert/oncalvert/onmain/jillcalvertinterview96.htm [accessed 26 January 2024 via bing).

Gerwers, Knut. No date. The Box, https://aural-innovations.com/robertcalvert/words/thebox/thebox.htm#theboxtext [accessed 28 January 2024 via bing].

Gerwers, Knut. No date. The Kid from Silicon Gulch, https://aural-innovations.com/robertcalvert/works/kid/kid.htm [accessed 29 January 2024 via bing].

Gerwers, Knut. No date. Test Tube Baby of Mine, https://aural-innovations.com/robertcalvert/works/calvertworks5.htm#ttb [accessed 1 February 2024 via bing].

Gerwers, Knut. No date. Test Tube Baby of Mine, https://www.aural-innovations.com/robertcalvert/works/addtexts/ttbomintro.htm#testtubeposter [accessed 1 February 2024 via bing].

Gerwers, Knut. No date. Early 80s Cabaret Shows, https://aural-innovations.com/robertcalvert/works/calvertworks4.htm#cabaret [accessed 2 February 2024 via bing].

Gerwers, Knut. No date. On Captain Lockheed and the Planned Stageplay/Concert Version of it, https://www.aural-innovations.com/robertcalvert/quotes/calvertquotes.htm#early [accessed 3 February 2024 via bing].   

Hayman, Martin. 1974. ‘Calvert: Hero with a Wing’, Sounds, 27/4/74 www.hawkwindmuseum.co.uk/calvert.htm (accessed 26 January 2024 via https://www.daysoftheunderground.com/press-articles ].

Setlist.FM. No date. Robert Calvert Setlist The Arts Theatre, London June 12 1981, https://www.setlist.fm/setlist/robert-calvert/1981/the-arts-theatre-london-england-43936b6f.html [accessed 2 February 2024 via bing].

Setlist.FM. No date. Robert Calvert Setlist The Arts Theatre, London December 8 1981

https://www.setlist.fm/setlist/robert-calvert/1981/marquee-club-london-england-439363a7.html [accessed  2 February 2024 via bing]. 

Setlist.FM. No date. Robert Calvert Setlist The Arts Theatre, London Jan 21 1982  

https://www.setlist.fm/setlist/robert-calvert/1982/the-arts-theatre-london-england-2b935cce.html

[accessed 2 February 2024 via bing]. 

Wikipedia. Author unknown. No date. Die Losung, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Die_Lösung [accessed 27 January 2024 via bing].

Wikipedia. Author unknown. No date. Jim Warren (computer specialist), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jim_Warren_(computer_specialist) [accessed 29 January 2024 via bing].

NB * https://www.aural-innovations.com/robertcalvert/news/pdf/mirror_mirror_press_release.pdf states that Robert first presented The Box at Pentameters in 1969.

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