The Answer to Everything

Answer to Everything98_1
BFI Southbank in April 2013

About this production

The Answer to Everything is an interactive film and live opera event set in a conference run by fictional property developer, Locateco Solutions. Our ninth major production, it starred Streetwise Opera performers from around the UK.

Corporate confidence appeared sky high, but as music engulfed the conference centre, the delegates on- and off-screen began to question whether their radical re-homing solution really is the ‘answer to everything'. As business rhetoric swept away the delegates, they began to connect with what really matters – each other and the world around them.

Screened as part of an integrated live event, both performers and audience members were taken on a parrallel journey of discovery by collectively participating as conference delegates.

The film weaves together music by Benjamin Britten, Handel and Vivaldi, and included new commissions by Gavin Bryars, Orlando Gough and Emily Hall. The live show featured pieces by Gounod and Schumann alongside additional new commissions by Anna Meredith and Duncan Ward (also overall Music Director for the film and live show).

The Answer to Everything  premiered at BFI Southbank in April 2013 , and continued to tour both as a 40-minute film and a 75-minute integrated film and live production.


Emma Bernard joined us as Artistic Director with new musical commissions from Orlando Gough, Emily Hall, Duncan Ward (also overall Music Director for the project), Gavin Bryars and Anna Meredith and existing music from Britten’s Peter Grimes, arias by Handel and Vivaldi and a rousing chorus from Gounod’s Faust.

The film was directed by Rupert Jones and produced by Jess Gormley. Solo singers included Jim Stephenson from the Streetwise Nottingham group and Yvonne Johnson from the Streetwise Manchester group – they sang alongside world-renowned soprano Liz Watts and counter-tenor Christropher Lowrey.


The production is supported by Arts Council England, Macquarie Group Foundation, Jerwood Charitable Foundation, Paul Hamlyn Foundation, PRS for Music Foundation, RVW Trust, Britten-Pears Foundation, Colwinston Charitable Trust, Leche Trust, John and Susan Bowers Fund.

Thank you to all those who contributed to our crowdfunding campaign:
Elizabeth Alqadhi, Appliances Online, Sylvia Baber, Gavin Bailey, Ingrid Beazley, Ann Bolton, David Brooks, Liz Cadogan, David Carter, Sarah Chandler, Megan Clark, David Cloke, Jackie Connell, Mick and Lynne Connell, Annabel Cowley, Frances Cuss, Gillian Darley and Michael Horowitz, Peter and Brenda Davies, Mathew Delong, Fiona Dix, Jenny Edwards, Dave False, Carrie Frances Smith, Kathleen Furlong, Rob Gildon, Alison Grocott, Felicity Guinness, Lucie Heskett-Brem, The Gold Weaver, Jan Jones, Jennie Jones, Matt Jones, Martin Jones, Ray and Tessa Jones, Ursula Jones, Krystyna Kujawinska, Annie Larner, Libby Lee, Rachel Lipscomb, Tony Luke, Theresa McDonagh, Claire McIntyre, Sheila McIntyre, Jane and Glenn Melrose, Sarah Mennell, Keith Merrin, Merv Millar, Tom Nixon, Ruth Nunn, Laura O’Gorman, Martin Orde, Joe Pauline, Sandra Pearson, Tat Radcliffe, Brian Reid, Namvula Rennie, Sarah Rennie, Annie Rigby, Jackie Roe, Robert Sanderson, Tom Sedgwick, Chloe Senior, Adrian Smith, Eleanor Smith, Fanny Snaith, Bernard Taylor, Vicky Tham, Kate Thomas, Karen Townsend, Rowena Tozer, Leslie and John Tudhope, Debbie Vowles, Neil Webb, Catherine Williams and those who wish to remain anonymous.


‘In virtuoso shifting layers of foreground theatre and film, the show is both a sharply focused send-up of corporate folly, and a compelling reflection on how human beings view (or fail to view) each other.’

The Times

‘It is a hallmark British trait that the graver the issue, the more flippant its treatment, and the message here could hardly be more serious: there is no “solution” to homelessness without each individual being accorded their proper dignity and freedom. The show expresses this truth by using arias to break through the ironic surface to create and comment on the moral bonds between all of us. When life’s invisible people stop to sing – be it a janitor (Elizabeth Watts) singing Handel, or a frail chorus singing Gavin Bryars’ setting of Walt Whitman’s Open Road – we see them as individuals with problems, rather than problematic statistics. Streetwise Opera helps its members to see themselves this way, too, in an encounter of undeniable beauty.’

The Guardian

‘The satire was broad, the passion tangible as professional and amateur performers from London, Newcastle, Gateshead and Middlesbrough, many of them with experience of homelessness, explored the dreamworlds of corporate delegates, cleaners and health and safety managers.’

The Independent

‘The Answer to Everything is a superb satire… succinct and witty, and even moving.’a

The Spectator



Photos: Rebbecca Lupton, Mark Pinder, Steven Jones and Curtis Gibson