Anybody remember the musical sensation that was ‘STOMP’? Burdened by heavy house-hold instruments, and dressed in industrial clobber including vest tops and Doc Martens. Although they have dropped out of the media lime-light to some extent these days, they still enjoy a considerable respect and following in the theatre industry the world over.
History of STOMP!
Collaborations and experimentations led to the formation of STOMP by the founders Luke Cresswell and Steve McNicholas in 1991. Up until this point the pair had been involved on numerous similar projects, including short choreographed pieces for a Heineken advert and HBO documentary.
The two had previously been involved with a theatrical entertainment act called ‘Pookiesnackenburger’; this was essentially a street band, a proto-STOMP if you will. Pookiesnackenburger released albums and went on tour during their existence, playing high profile festivals such as Edinburgh. As with STOMP, all of the focus in Pookiesnackenburger was around percussion and performance.
STOMP’s reputation as a world-class act was cemented during the period of 1991 to ’94. In 1991 the first ever STOMP shows began to be performed in London and at the Edinburgh Festival, for which the show received a great deal of acclaim. As a result of the success, STOMP soon began to tour venues around the world and in 1994 set up a new branch of STOMP in the USA with a whole new cast.
STOMP beats back to the real heart of music, back to musical origins – Rhythm. The beauty of STOMP is that the cast create impressive, distinctive music from everyday items that the audience themselves take for granted. STOMP sees musical potential in everything, every item, if it makes a sound, its game.
Some of the most impressive music created by STOMP comes from the use of bins, brooms, and kitchen pans. These items may appear as an obvious choice, but for 8 members of a cast to play in synchronisation takes a lot of practice, with the end result being comparable in complexity to a fine orchestral piece.
Some of the more unusual instruments to have been utilised by STOMP include Basketballs and Newspapers. A piece in ‘Stomp Out Loud’, a HBO musical of STOMP, features a scene where the cast perform a skilled piece of music using Basketballs. All of the members of STOMP have to control their Basketball with pinpoint accuracy, keeping time and moving around the alley-way in which it was filmed in order to utilise other aspects of the environment, like drains for example. Whilst the Basketballs are bounced to the beat, STOMP stomp their Doc Martens accordingly.
In the stage show of STOMP, some of the more interesting choreographies include a scene where a rhythm is kept by the crew just using newspapers and vocal sound effects. Another class of unusual instruments used by STOMP include the plunger! Plungers are used in some of the STOMP stage shows. Coupled with a slightly wet, soapy floor, plungers make a great noise. Each of the cast wields two plungers. From a single cast member at the beginning; the act quickly picks up speed as others join in, and before long the act is in full swing.
Time after time STOMP creates impressive performances, it’s not enough for STOMP to create awe-inspiring musical routines, their acts are also engaging and light-hearted for the audience, with the shows always packed full of comedy moments.
If you want to keep the rhythm yourself, then grab a pair of Doc Martens from the fabulous RockyHorrors online store.