5 minutes with Barb Jungr

March 8, 2018

To celebrate International Women’s Day, we caught up with Barb Jungr – composer and co-adapter of this summer’s scrumptious production of Michael Rosen’s Chocolate Cake.

  1. How did you become involved with Chocolate Cake?

I worked with Polka Theatre’s Artistic Director Pete Glanville before on Fabulous Flutterbys, We’re Going on a Bear Hunt and How To Hide a Lion. I love working with him, he’s visionary I think, and so whenever he suggests a project my ears prick up like a meerkat. He had spoken with the wonderful poet Michael Rosen who of course we’d worked with on Bear Hunt, so I was hooked.

2.       What has been your inspiration for composing the music and songs?

Well it’s always opening to the piece, and then letting the songs find me. They emerge through the research process and then some appear during rehearsals – this last week one came just when needed which is when Michael has to apologise to his big brother. I loved writing that one.  But at the root, the story suggests the direction of the songs, and we discuss everything and then I wait at the bus stop of song, and hope one comes. With luck they do!

3.       Which comes first, music or lyrics?

Often together for me. I improve them over and over, I hope. And sometimes it might be one before the other, but with the melody there’s always words, and they can change but the melody will come with words first. Though I say that and sometimes a tune appears. Often when I am walking. Because I love walking.

4.       What is the biggest challenge when writing?

Trying to be open and certain at the same time. Its important to let everything come in and affect you and also not to let your judgement be swayed if you feel right about something. Its a tricky old balance. And not feeling dispirited when it doesn’t seem to be working. Keeping perky!

5.       Which woman/women do you greatly admire?

How long have you got? I loved Helen Bamber who was European Woman of the Year a while ago and founded the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture. I was lucky enough to call her a friend and she is one of those people that make you a better version of yourself. My mum who against great odds came to this country as a young woman from war torn Germany. My Grandmother who walked hundreds of miles to escape across Europe from the Prussian Lithuanian border. My sisters. All the women who wrote music and novels and struggled to get their voices heard. My friends Liz Carr and Mandy Colloran who are active in the disability movements. All my women friends and all the women I work with, who all do all they do and have children and look after parents and make me laugh. Honestly I could write this list forever. We stand on the shoulders of many women. Those who won us the vote. Rosa Parks. Nina Simone