Wednesday, 23 January 2013


Introducing the supporting cast of mermaids, rehearsing their choreography for the underwater dance sequence. The green screen will eventually be water, or something like water. This is a dress rehearsal. Drawings by Rosie Mathewson.

Friday, 18 January 2013

It's the end...

...of the Wolf mask template!

Over the course of the last few days the part I repaired crumbled leaving the mask in three quarters as seen in this previous post.

However, we decided to go with the three quarters and make it a Phantom of the Opera style mask and use the template as it was.

Alas... Mr Phizmiz didn't realise the template was on the table and put a large mask (this one in fact) right on top of it. I think some may have possibly heard my squeal from all the way over in Australia as I saw the neck of the hefty mask come down and slice the remains of the template.

Thanks Phizmiz!
So, it looks like I'll be starting this little Wolfy again. Perhaps in a different way, or just don't let Phizmiz near it. I was very nearly about to get the template fired too, so it wouldn't break again and would be sturdy enough to create the mask upon it.

Anyhow, a tad sick of this mask already now, but we have had great developments with the underwater scene. I'll just have to think of a better way of doing it and sharpish!

We, (Simon, Phizmiz and myself) filmed the sheep I'd put together in a spiral, to make a shoal of fish, t'other evening for it too...

We're all working on animating some special underwater creatures at the moment too, but you'll just have to wait and see for them right now, won't you!

Well, I've got a child bugging me to get on the computer and it's time for two Garg member's joint birthday party, so ta-ra!

Whale meat again!

Continuing on from the last blog entry, let me introduce the interior of the whale - part of the opium dream sequence - where the two intrepid detectives Ludo and Backgammon encounter an alcoholic Jonah and a very upset Pinochio.

And here are the animator and the choreographer enjoying the cooked whale interior with a white wine and mushroom sauce. Yum!

Day 3 of choreography rehearsals

Work has begun on the scene where we discover Jonah and Pinocchio inside the belly of a whale.
A fast moving combination of rapid movement music hall and Motown synchronicity.
We made good progress, but this is a long section which needs to be slick , so more work to do and a lot of practice needed. My boys are definitely up to it. I think they have the makings of a new dance troupe...
"Hair and Butter"

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

GARGANTUA - Tour Poster and Press Release


An Excessive Entertainment by Ergo Phizmiz

UK Tour – March 2013

Gargantua, a brand new 'vaudeville of the imagination' from the beautifully scrambled brains of UK polymath Ergo Phizmiz, tours the UK in March 2013 –full dates and info below.

A multi-sensory feast and genuinely unique patchwork of artistic disciplines, Gargantua plunders history and culture and places them in a boiling pot ready for explosion. A devilish mix of storytelling, performance, animation, puppetry, moving image collage and masks, all garlanded by an original music score that's equal parts contemporary electronic, medieval and 1930s British dance band.

If 'F is for Fake' then 'E' could be for 'Ergo'. This hallucinatory odyssey through time and culture tells three simultaneous stories: one a detective story on the disappearance of the giant King Gargantua, another of an adventure by French writer Francois Rabelais across Europe, the third a strange, elliptical board game that draws these threads together, in a story told by the more than reliable Gargantuan narrator Orson Welles...

As one portal gives you access to insider knowledge, a trapdoor opens and leaves you wonderfully displaced, and so it goes. Grey matter is constantly electrified and eyes lavished by Terry Gilliam-esque architectural constructs, political sensibilities are enlightened by meta-narratives, absurd social commentary echoes Thomas Pynchon or Felix Kubin and limbs and laughing muscles loosen as if being tackled by a crack tag-wrestling team of Andy Kaufman and Phil Kay. If you haven't visited before, welcome to
the world of Ergo Phizmiz.

The Gargantua blog features details of said board game, video/audio clips, remixes and pictures of the production in progress. Visit here - – and get yer bookmarks out.


March 16th Bridport Arts Centre (special guests Hacker Farm)
March 17th Soundart Radio, Dartington (special guests Clockwork Moth)
March 18th Depozitory, Ryde, Isle of Wight
March 19th The Marlborough, Brighton (special guest Vulnavia Vanity)
March 20th The Cube, Bristol (special guest Katapulto)
March 21st Mellomello, Liverpool (special guest UpItUp Records)
March 22nd Morden Tower, Newcastle (special guest Gwilly Edmondez)
March 24th The Waiting Room, Eaglescliffe (special guest Elvis Herod)
March 25th The Maltings, Berwick-Upon-Tweed

More info on Ergo Phizmiz

Ergo Phizmiz is a UK based radio producer, collagist, writer, composer, and filmmaker, who has worked across radioplays, installations, opera, songwriting, animations, and performance. His work is characterised by restless change and playful toying with history, art, music, science, and the limits between creativity & charlatanism, facts & fictions, copyrights & copywrongs, words & music. He likes Laurel & Hardy, and Kurt Schwitters, and Paul Klee, and Cervantes, and Morecambe & Wise.

His theatre work has included the experimental electronic multimedia operas “The Mourning Show”, "Fulcanelli's Shoes”, and “The Third Policeman” (based on the Flann O' Brien novel of the same name), which have toured UK & Europe to critical acclaim.

He has released critically acclaimed songwriting on Care in the Community Recordings, and has also released music with Soleilmoon Recordings, Touch Music, EgoTwister Records, Womb Records, Sonic Arts Network, and many others. His new album "Eleven Songs" was released in December 2012.

His visual art has included the collage exhibition "Families, Intimate Situations, Opium Architecture & the Behemoth" at the Depozitory, Isle of Wight, and the installations "Forest : Part One" for Venn Festival, "The Invention of Birds" for Soundart Radio's First Spark Festival, and "Reconstructing Scarborough" for Sonic Arts Network.

Among the artists with whom Ergo has collaborated are Pete Um, Patrick Sims, Denis Kundic/Vernon Lenoir, People Like Us, Frankie Boyle, Safety Scissors, The Bees, Hilary Jeffery, DJ Lenar, Oblivian Substanshall, Joel Cahen, The The, and Christian Marclay.

Press Quotes on Ergo Phizmiz

“I would be almost concerned if you had witnessed anything like it before. He is a burst of imagination, colour and noise, which has in the past left me sitting jaw collapsed on the floor, speechless as to how someone can so beautifully map out such madness” - Tom Ravenscroft, The New Statesman on “The Third Policeman”

“We can't decide whether he's the new Viv Stanshall, a young Eno, a British Zappa, or a replacement for Frank Sidebottom” - The Guardian

“A truly English original who we should cherish deeply” - Sound Projector

“Mad, but mesmerising” - The Times on “The Third Policeman”

"One of the most inventive composers around...a musical equivalent to Chris Morris" - BBC Radio 3

More info/images/press enquiries –

Sunday, 13 January 2013


The wolf template was finally dry enough to start making the mask from it, so I lathered it up with vaseline to create a barrier...

Shiny shiny nose

All lathered up.

Here I began to add the clay of the mask.

The mask complete.

But alas, catastrophe! The actual template split suddenly, leaving it nearly impossible to create a smooth layer on top and thus cracking the mask...

I did try to work around it and fill in the gaps with clay but the more I worked upon it, the more the template underneath broke.

So I decided to give up and fix the template before carrying on, which meant discarding the whole layer of the mask.

Poor Wolfy. He is dead.

And so, back to the beginning! Here is the template now fixed, but now I have the problem of clay drying at different speeds and not bonding with the original clay, making it flaky. 
So I think I'll have to make sure the template is fully dry again, perhaps adding another type of adhesive to make sure we don't have the same problem the second time around.

The poor Wolf head. He is crying.

Gargantua Remix by The Superfools

New Mexico's sound-collage magician The Superfools has delivered a tangotastic remix of Ergo Phizmiz's "Gargantua". Feast your ears on this...

What's that you say? You're itching to remix "Gargantua" yourself? Here's how...

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Gargantua Remix by Henry Norman

The latest addition to the growing stable of Gargantua remixes comes from Henry Norman / Ivan T Lauer.

What's that sound I hear twinkling my ear? It's you, is it? Saying "Oh oh please, purrrlease let me know how I can add to this veritable nativity line-up of remixes!" 

Well, your wish is my command, because I'm not only a genie, but also a very willing whore to the demands of any of you delightful persons. So, here is the link to remix heaven.

Friday, 11 January 2013

Visual elements

Here are some of my colour studies used throughout Gargantua in different visual contexts; elements of which can be seen in the poster, the board game, and parts of the video projection throughout. For more art, music, video and information go here:

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Choreography Rehearsals - Day 2

Another great choreography session with Nicky, Ergo and Bertolli. 
Given the task of being a stoical Kate Bush Bertolli shone like a star!

Chicken fish

Another sneak preview of some of the Gargantua animation. This time we have one of Oblivion Substanshall's fish floating past. Or is it a chicken? This and other fantastical underwater creatures will be gracing the production with their presence during the underwater sequence.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Ludo & Backgammon

Introducing one of our two hardboiled detectives Ludo Nadir & Backgammon Zenith, fabricated by the splendid hands of Martha Moopette & Mike Wade. The rare species of Ergo-Aficionados may recognise this gentleman from a previous incarnation....this time, however, we promise you a pencil, rather than banana, moustache...

Photograph by Claire Shovelton

Monday, 7 January 2013

Adaptation and Arsewiping...

One of the most commonly asked questions from anybody who discovers that we're working on a partial adaptation of Rabelais' "Gargantua & Pantagruel" is: "Are you doing the arse wiping bit?".

And, of course, we are. In Rabelais' text, it goes a little something like this....

Once I did wipe me with a gentle-woman's velvet mask, and found it to be good; for the softness of the silk was very voluptuous and pleasant to my fundament. Another time with one of their hoods, and in like manner that was comfortable. At another time with a lady's neckerchief, and after that I wiped me with some ear-pieces of hers made of crimson satin, but there was such a number of golden spangles in them (turdy round things, a pox take them) that they fetched away all the skin of my tail with a vengeance. Now I wish St. Antony's fire burn the bum-gut of the goldsmith that made them, and of her that wore them! This hurt I cured by wiping myself with a page's cap, garnished with a feather after the Switzers' fashion.
Afterwards, in dunging behind a bush, I found a March-cat, and with it I wiped my breech, but her claws were so sharp that they scratched and exulcerated all my perinee. Of this I recovered the next morning thereafter, by wiping myself with my mother's gloves, of a most excellent perfume and scent of the Arabian Benin. After that I wiped me with sage, with fennel, with anet, with marjoram, with roses, with gourd-leaves, with beets, with colewort, with leaves of the vine-tree, with mallows, wool-blade, which is a tail-scarlet, with lettuce, and with spinach leaves. All this did very great good to my leg. Then with mercury, with parsley, with nettles, with comfrey, but that gave me the bloody flux of Lombardy, which I healed by wiping me with my braguette. Then I wiped my tail in the sheets, in the coverlet, in the curtains, with a cushion, with arras hangings, with a green carpet, with a table-cloth, with a napkin, with a handkerchief, with a combing-cloth; in all which I found more pleasure than do the mangy dogs when you rub them. Yea, but, said Grangousier, which torchecul did you find to be the best? I was coming to it, said Gargantua, and by-and-by shall you hear the tu autem, and know the whole mystery and knot of the matter. I wiped myself with hay, with straw, with thatch-rushes, with flax, with wool, with paper, but,
  Who his foul tail with paper wipes,
  Shall at his ballocks leave some chips.
Afterwards I wiped my tail with a hen, with a cock, with a pullet, with a calf's skin, with a hare, with a pigeon, with a cormorant, with an attorney's bag, with a montero, with a coif, with a falconer's lure. But, to conclude, I say and maintain, that of all torcheculs, arsewisps, bumfodders, tail-napkins, bunghole cleansers, and wipe-breeches, there is none in the world comparable to the neck of a goose, that is well downed, if you hold her head betwixt your legs. And believe me therein upon mine honour, for you will thereby feel in your nockhole a most wonderful pleasure, both in regard of the softness of the said down and of the temporate heat of the goose, which is easily communicated to the bum-gut and the rest of the inwards, in so far as to come even to the regions of the heart and brains. And think not that the felicity of the heroes and demigods in the Elysian fields consisteth either in their asphodel, ambrosia, or nectar, as our old women here used to say; but in this, according to my judgment, that they wipe their tails with the neck of a goose, holding her head betwixt their legs, and such is the opinion of Master John of Scotland, alias Scotus.

If you are curious how this magnificent piece of Rabelais has been adapted into a form to fit snugly into a musical shape, read on. If you'd rather wait and see, then don't read on. Here, ladies and gentlemen and arsewipers, is the first published text-extract (textract?) of Ergo Phizmiz's "Gargantua", in which the giant baby King Gargantua details his experiments in sphincter hygiene:

I wiped myself with hay, with straw, 
a gentle-woman's velvet mask,
and after that with sage, and fennel,
(not a disagreeable task)
I wiped up with my mother's gloves 

but golden spangles they had in
and surely they scratched away
a portion of my tail skin.
I wiped myself with straw, with flax, 

a carpet and a table-cloth,
a Bible and a handkerchief,
a March-cat and an Atlas moth. 

And after all these myriad wipes
the skin around my bum forlorn
I found the most adept wipe-tool:
it be the neck of a dead swan.

If your bum, post-wipe,
keeps you up all night,
try the neck of a dead swan.

The Mermaid

We would like to introduce the mermaid, created by Autumn. This Siren of the sea will be resplendent in all her glory during the underwater sequence.

Architecture and Dreams

A low-res sneak preview of some of the animation that makes up part of the dream sequence.

Day one of choreography rehearsals

Nicky, Ergo, Bertolli and Rob working on the underwater ballet, board game characters and King Gargantua's bum wiping.

Gargantua Remix by Simon Mathewson

A "Gargantua" remix by Simon Mathewson, co-producer and animator in the production.

Yes, I know, I know, now you're itching to do your own Gargantua remix aren't you? Well, here's how.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

GARGANTUA - Press Pack

Download the press pack for Ergo Phizmiz's "GARGANTUA" as a 5.6mb PDF here.

Gargantua Remix by Murmurists

We are delighted to present the first Gargantua remix, from the marvellous Murmurists.

Many more remixes already in the works, and shall be hitting this blog very soon.

What? You want to remix this big pudding of an Ergo Phizmiz show too? Well, you can find out how right here.

Saturday, 5 January 2013

The Shoal of Sheep A-Chasing the Wolf

Well hello to you.

I'm Martha Moopette, over from here. Ergo has asked if I would contribute towards this blog, to blog the creative process of my role in Gargantua.

He told me to put a picture of me on. Don't I look shiny and strangely oval?

So far, my role has consisted mainly of being a tad confused by the never ending changes being made to the narrative, the characters and well, the whole darn thing. This project has evolved as quickly as the speed in which a Blue Whale takes to grow to full size...and that's pretty big - and quick! In fact, it has changed so much from where it first began, (Gargantua - not the Blue Whale) that I'm still not that clued up on it presently. I shall stick for now on the present tasks that I have been set and forget about the things I've already made that have been flippantly disregarded by Mr barmy chicken legs over 'ere.

And so we begin...

And to begin with, with the brilliant brains of Sir Phizmiz & Mr Mathewson and I, we thought up a way in which we could make on video, an animated arrangement of a shoal of sheep. We wanted to create the effect of a spiralled, winding up repetition of sheep, as if they were truly like a shoal of fish swimming in sets in the ocean.

We have used green screen in video projects many times before and came to the conclusion that the best way to create this whole effect would be to use green screen again. If we somehow had the front and back cut outs of a whole sheep and stuck it to a spiralling green wire and let it spin, we hoped we could create the piece of magic we were wanting.

So sixty paper cut outs of sheep later, lots of fiddly sticking with Sellotape and voila, we had us a green wired spiral containing thirty black and white cut out sheep.

Can you see that child like picture in the background waving at you? This is one of Oblivian Substanshall's finest art works - You shall be seeing many of his pieces throughout this Gargantua trip!
The only little problem with this little contraption, is that, well basically, it was shit. The wire was too rubbish and flimsy and with the massive guilt pangs I was getting from not being able to be as dedicated to the project as I had first anticipated (with a vast amount of the sudden intake of the bread and butter jobs before Christmas) made it so I had hastily stuck the sheep on without thought to the mechanics. 

You wind the sheep backwards, twirling them around and then - pang! You let them go and they shoot/jerk/lunge forward and rapidly spin once or twice in a blink of the eye and that's it. For this to work better I'm pretty sure it would just need some better, thicker wire, have the sheep spaced out further and make the actual loops of wire wider. This would hopefully give the sheep a gentler ride. 

However, the Phizmiz (Chicken legs) had a sudden attack of a lightbulb moment the other evening, between random demands mainly from the five year old and the bubbling over broccoli. I think in part, I can be given some responsibility too, for picking such wondrous lighting (lampshades) for our house on the 28th just gone (my birthday, yes thank you very much for the wishes). I chose some special lampshades and if they hadn't been chosen Mr P would not have noticed the effect they were making upon the sheep, ergo the wall. (See what I did?!)


 Star light, star bright...
It had to be done.


Flying away

The new thought. 

Instead of filming the sheep spinning with the green screen stuck behind it (so when we put the video in the editing software we'd be able to put any background behind the sheep; the sea for example) the thought was that we may perhaps just use the shadow of the sheep spinning anyway and integrate it into the video at some point. Ta-da! Fingers crossed the whole thing works.

Righto...well...that's the sheep, but I haven't even begun talking about the Wolf mask.

This is the Wolf.

Not by the hair on my chinny chin chinstrap

Well, in fact, this is actually the template.

One of my ambitions in life is to finally make my way into the world with Ceramics. Here you see this template laying upon my newish (got it last year but haven't used it much yet) Potter's Wheel. So there's been quite a lot of clay hanging around the joint, which when I overheard some talk of a clay Wolf's mask I was on it. I do love a bit of sculpting.


So far, it obviously isn't adorned with the ornamentation I've got in mind, or ears for that matter. The plan is to lather this beauty up with some vaseline or some other lubricant (ooo-er) and then make a thinner clay cast over the top. It will be a lot thinner and smoother and will eventually be fired and then the details will be added on top. I do hope this works. I know the mask will be quite fragile as a stage prop. but as I have the main template I can make backups.

We've just thought too, that it would be good to have fur (like you see in the background from our daughter's Lion suit) around the top of the mask which the ears would then protrude out from. The thought too is that the mask would have some kind of band to go around the back of the actor's head, to keep it secure.

Chicken legs himself trying out the Wolf mask.

Well...that's that then.

Can't be boffed writing anymore. I'm tired now. And a little tiddly.

Pleased to meet you all by the way. Hope you are having a good evening.

Nighty night. 

Creatures from the Land of Satin and Soldiers - Drawings by Oblivian Substanshall

Ergo Phizmiz's "GARGANTUA" features collaborations with a brilliant creative group, including Simon Mathewson (video, animation, design, paintings, production) Flora Bertolli (performer), Nicky Mathewson (choreography), Martha Moopette (masks, design) Robert Lee (performer), and Oblivian Substanshall (paintings and drawings).

Here, for your delight and delectation, are drawings by the marvellous artist, painter and composer Oblivian Substanshall, for the "Land of Satin" sequence of the show.

.... and some Soldiers, from the War sequence ....