Blog: Dom Coyote

The creator, writer, co-composer and performer of Songs for the End of the World on his love of science fiction

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I love science fiction. Always have, always will. It takes up a lot of my waking life. Something about the mirrored reflections of our world and the infinite projections of what might be, just beyond our understanding, keep my obsession burning. I don’t need explanations, I don’t want the hard science. I want ideas, imagination, other worlds, distortions of our own one. Science fiction can stretch our imaginations to the limit and then bring us back just before we hit breaking point.

And what an age to be a sci-fi nerd! It’s the new rock’n’roll. No longer sidelined by the cultural elite as mindless action movies or aliens with cheap lines and bizarre forehead extensions, science fiction has finally been accepted as relevant artistic expression by the mainstream. For example – Electric Dreams! The OA! Stranger Things! Black Mirror! They just keep on coming – this is surely the great age of science fiction.

I’m a musician, actor and a maker of stories, usually for the stage. I work in the theatre. That’s my home – it has been for a long time now – and I can’t imagine a world where I’d be doing anything else. I love being on tour. Sometimes coming off tour and into normal life is the hardest thing.

Living out of a suitcase, in other people’s houses or in hotels or short term apartments, hours and hours in rehearsal rooms, backstage before the curtain comes up, performing every night to a room full of strangers – that’s my home, it’s where I belong. Everything else? Well, that’s just learnt behaviour. But amidst all this, my first love, will always be sci-fi. Oh, and comics. Don’t judge me.

Songs for the End of the World is gig theatre. That term is up for grabs at the moment

It took me a long time to figure out that I could explore this endless obsession through my own work. But gradually I came up with an idea, Songs for the End of the World – an apocalyptic, dystopian, otherworldly, sci-fi rock’n’roll explosion rollercoaster inspired by all the things that make me happy to be alive.

Songs for the End of the World is gig theatre. That term is up for grabs at the moment but, for Songs, it means having a band on stage, with instruments, in full gig set-up, music at the heart of everything but, at the flip of a switch, each band member can turn into a character within a story.

Songs is set in a dystopian future England, New Albion, on the eve of Armageddon. It is directly inspired by a book by Philip K Dick called Dr Bloodmoney. Read it. It is so very, very strange. There is an evolved rat that can play a nose flute. Read it just for that. A nose flute. Yes please.

There are no musical rodents in my show, but there is an astronaut, Jim Walters, circling the Earth, writing songs for the dying world, forever stuck in its orbit as it burns. I nicked that from PKD, and of course the king, Ziggy Stardust.

Bowie is definitely a hero of mine and you can hear his influence in my work for sure, but most of my heroes are the writers and film makers of exceptional sci-fi. In Songs, there is a good chunk of John Wyndham, a sprinkling of Terry Gilliam, a dash of Ray Bradbury, a dollop of Margaret Attwood, a spoonful of Vonnegut and some downright plagiarism from Planet of the Apes.

In short, it is an ode to science fiction. As with most science fiction, it is a warning. A warning for our times. Our dystopian world is on the brink of destruction. It is about finding humanity amidst the rubble. It is about borders, privilege, the psychotic elite. It is about survival, love and looking into the abyss. The difference with our real world is that we can change it before it’s too late.

Songs for the End of the World is at Liverpool’s Everyman Theatre on 31 October and 1 November, and at Hull Truck Theatre on 2 and 3 November. Coyote is also performing in Kneehigh Theatre’s The Tin Drum, at West Yorkshire Playhouse until 28 Oct.

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