Alan Brunton Profile

Bill Direen
16 May 2018

A lyricist, director, and provocateur – among many other talents – Alan Brunton was never known to sing. But the co-founder of Red Mole collaborated on countless songs and made use of music in theatrical performances, often drawing upon the talents of musicians known for more mainstream work.

Since I had the pleasure of working with him in the early 1990s  – firstly on a collaboration in which I set some of his lyrics to music, and then acting in a contemporary opera of my own which he kindly directed – I had a glimpse of different sides of his relationship with music. He was a poet who needed composers, and a co-mingling director who knew the power and potential of music in performance.

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Red Mole, 'Zucchini Roma'
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Alan Brunton, c. 1990s
Photo credit: NZEPC
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Red Mole's 1977 EP, with artwork by Barry Linton.
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Red Mole's Slaughter on Cockroach Ave was performed at the Ace of Clubs Auckland, November 1977. Alan Brunton wrote the "scenario"; the music was by Midge Marsden, the Country Flyers, and Jan Preston
Photo credit: Barry Linton
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Alan Brunton's playscript 'A Red Mole Sketchbook' was published by Victoria University Press in 1989. 
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Comrade Savage - a 1989 play by Alan Brunton paying tribute to Michael Joseph Savage. In 1990, on the 50th anniversary of Savage's death, it was performed in the Legislative Council Chamber of Parliament. The music was by Jean McAlister, Bill Direen, and Michelle Scullion.
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The Red Mole Troup Oct 1979. Coney Island. New York. L to R: Alan Brunton, Neil Hannan, Deborah Hunt, John Davies, Jan Preston, Martin Edmond, Sally Rodwell. 
Photo credit: Photo by Joe Bleakley
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Alan Brunton performs with Red Mole, c. 1980s
Photo credit: NZEPC
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Red Mole On the Road (199)
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Red Mole's production 'I'll Never Dance Down Bugis St Again' was taken on a nationwide tour for 13 weeks in 1980. Alan Brunton wrote the "scenario"; the music was by Sam Ford, John Davies, and Dave Ironside. 
Photo credit: Barry Linton
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Alan Brunton in full flight, c. 1990s
Photo credit: NZEPC
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