Interview: Scars & Straw (Martin Clark)

Nov 21 2017

'Scars and Straw', an exciting Christmas production featuring music and specially-filmed narration and drama, is touring the UK over the next few weeks with an exciting live band. LTTM caught up with the director, Martin Clark, to find out more about the production and what people can expect when they go to see it.

Give us a summary of what people can expect when they come to see the 'Scars and Straw' production.

People can expect to be challenged by Scars & Straw and - if past experience is to be gone by - profoundly-moved. Generally I have people coming up to me at the end with tears in their eyes - when confronted with the scandal of The Cross and its origin in a humble feeding trough - it’s overwhelming. Come and see the show and you’ll see a well-written and powerful narration and a skilfully-filmed actor (Luke Waldock) in New York. Live music of a high quality and an evening you’ll not forget easily. Scars & Straw pretty much hits you between the eyes.

What's different about this production to other Christmas events people might go to this year?

Scars & Straw is very different from most Church Christmas productions given its overall format and message - it takes hold of both major Christian festivals and places The Cross in The Manger as it were, it combines Easter with the Nativity and asks you to consider - kneeling beside the manger - why Jesus was born. To some extent it challenges Christmas-card imagery and examines, in some detail, what went on around the time of His birth. The untainted story is a thriller!!!!!

Not many church productions will feature such an expensively-produced private film/project - but the purpose was to bring the very best I can produce and place it at the feet of your average un-churched person and say... ’reconsider Him’. I promise - no children with Tea Towels on heads!!!!! The show lasts about 1 hr 15mins.


Where did your inspiration for this production come from?

My inspiration was, firstly, Isaiah - chapters 9 and 53…chapter 53 is the axis chapter in the Bible really…also I was actually inspired by a modern-production of Henry V featuring Derek Jacobi…I loved the import and urgency in his words and thought - what if we were discussing the King of kings - including king Henry V?! Also to take people of all walks and status to the manger side and to consider the reason behind His coming but think excellence in media. This is not an apologetic production.

What do you hope people will take away from watching 'Scars and Straw'?

Hoping to see people take away salvation if they don’t know Him! If you do know Jesus Christ I’m hoping you go away with His tangible love pressing more heavily on your shoulders. Often people are so moved - they just want to be alone after watching Scars & Straw.

What can you tell us about the band you've put together for this production and the music they perform?

The Band features and is led by Andy Bromley along with some superb musicians including Grapevine veterans - James Middleton, Mark Bowater (Bottlerockit & X-Factor Sessions) and Martin Clark along with world class drummer/percussionist Martin Neil (Graham Kendrick, Kevin Prosch), singers include Claire Jackson nee Robinson of The Claire Robinson Band) - a Cellist from the All Souls orchestra will be guesting on a couple of songs too. Claire works closely with Noel Tredennick. The music is contemporary but there’s a blend of acoustic and slightly rockier stuff but the band has a John Mayer kind of sound and feel to it if you want an approximation.

There’s a couple of piano/vocal songs though - featuring Charlotte Bromley who has a beautiful voice, only three of the songs are originals from band members - we use a few well-known Christmas contemporary and traditional songs, there’s some amazing sounds to look forward to hearing from Martin Neil who’s a world-music expert. I’m taking a couple of vintage instruments with me, going for an Alison Krauss sound.

Why have you chosen to use a live band rather than just pre-recording the music?

I chose a live band because it honours the audience - you come to me and I’ll give you the very best I can bring, this is the result of a few years’ of development and a lot of effort - there was no way I was going to turn up and press a button - the soundtrack on the film is pre-recorded of course but all songs are live! It’s a pretty good band featuring a number of very experienced musicians!

What plans do you have for the future of 'Scars and Straw'?

I’m planning to take it to The Far East and whether that means filming it over there - I’m not sure - I’ve lots of friends in Singapore, Thailand, Cambodia and China having toured there extensively with Chris Bowater, Mark Tedder and Andy Bromley. I’d really like to write and record a completely original music score for the show, I’d need to set aside some time to do this. With regards to filming it in The Far East I have a cunning plan! Could be massive for Christians living underground in China if I can pull it off.

Upcoming Shows:
Friday 24th Nov - All Souls, London
Sunday 17th Dec - Renewal Stratford, Stratford-upon-Avon
Sunday 17th Dec - Renewal Wroxall, Wroxall
Tuesday 19th Dec - Renewal Solihull, Solihull
(Further details: scarsandstraw.co.uk)

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