Ugly Chief – a funeral for a living soul…

Where: Hull Minster

When: March 2 & 3,  7.30pm

Tickets: £15/£10

Heads Up Festival: Sponge

The organisers of Heads Up Festival are seeking brass and sax players to take part in performances of award-winning British artist Victoria Melody’s most ambitious show to date.

Ugly Chief is a comedy based on true-life events, performed by a real-life father and daughter and will see Melody teamed up with her dad, TV antique dealer Mike Melody.

The pair will be joined on stage by their own four piece band. In addition, at the end of the show there will be a musical finale comprising local brass band musicians. Which is where Hull and the Humber’s brass players come in.

On the afternoon of the first performance day (March 2) they will be invited to attend a workshop led by Ugly Chief’s Musical Director. The ambition is to create an exciting opportunity for musicians to perform in at Heads Up Festival and organisers hope that they will also be joined by friends and families attending the performance.

Heads Up Festival’s Dave Windass said: “This is a great opportunity for brass players in the area to be a part of something very special. The City of Culture year showed us that people here have a hunger to play their part in productions of the calibre and ambition of Ugly Chief. Naturally we’re looking for people that can play but they might not have had the opportunity to perform in front of an audience with others previously, or it might be that there are groups of very experienced players who want to do something different. Well here’s an opportunity for them to do that and work with a great company on a superb piece of theatre.”

If you’re interested in being a part of the show register your interest by emailing the festival organisers

In 2013, Mike Melody was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease and given five years to live. Victoria was put in charge of planning the funeral (complete with eulogies, a New Orleans jazz procession and a congregation dressed in Blackpool FC tangerine). But a year later the doctors realised they had misdiagnosed Mike.

Victoria and Mike decided to go ahead with the funeral anyway and Victoria went to Port Talbot to train as a funeral director. Ugly Chief plays out two funerals – the one Victoria planned and the one her dad really wanted. And Mike is guest of honour at both. As the show unfolds, it unpicks the complicated relationship with a parent whose opinion you don’t always agree with.

Mike will be running his own version of the Antiques Roadshow during the show. The audience are invited to bring along their heirlooms, curiosities and collectables for him to value during the show. No promises but if he likes it, he might even buy it!

Victoria Melody is an award-winning British artist with a background in fine art. She has made one-woman theatrical shows, performance interventions and films mainly about Britain’s pastimes, passions and tribes. Fascinated by anthropology, she immerses herself into communities and becomes an active participant in their rituals as research for her work. In the past she has become a pigeon racer, a Northern Soul dancer, a championship dog handler and a beauty queen.

Musicians James Gow, Steve Pretty (Hackney Colliery Band), Kieran Rafferty and Gemma Storr provide the appropriate live accompaniment for the funeral – including Soul classics and more. They will be joined on stage by a band of brass players from the Hull area.

Ugly Chief’s creative team is director John Gordillo, known for his work with Eddie Izzard and as host and co-creator of the BBC’s The RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance); set and costume designer Lucy Bradridge; musical director Tom Parkinson; and lighting designer Sean Philips.

For more information about Heads Up Festival and to purchase tickets visit


Notes to editors

1. Victoria Melody is produced by Farnham Maltings.

2. Ugly Chief was created by Victoria Melody and produced by Farnham Maltings. It was commissioned and developed at New Wolsey Theatre, Farnham Maltings, Battersea Arts Centre and Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts. Supported by The Point Eastleigh, The Spire, The Marlborough, National Performance Network, and Unity Theatre Trust. Supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England. Originally seeded by house with The Old Market.