Song cycle to theatre piece

by Caitlin, 16 July 2015

We’re now into theatrical rehearsals, where we take all the work we’ve done in the musical rehearsals and start building it into an actual SHOW. I find this part of the process absolutely fascinating, and wanted to share a little bit with you from our rehearsal at Peregrine’s Pianos on Tuesday. This is the second show I’ve worked on with Omar – the first being last year’s Breadcrumbs for Tête à Tête: The Opera Festival, which we did at King’s Place. It’s been interesting this week to see activities and techniques he used with Charlotte last year to develop Gretel’s character, now at use with two performers to develop characters out of thin air.

The word association game is always challenging and fun – the first person says a word and the next person says the first thing that comes into their head in response to that word. The aim is to free up the thinking and set aside our tendency to self-censor before moving on to more specific exercises. Omar also brought along a range of toys to play with, including this ‘dead sheep’:

A dead sheep!

I’m sure this ISN’T the sort of dead sheep Richard Long came across, but it’s our London-variety of dead sheep anyway :-)

The main exercise we worked through is one to develop characters: the performers are prompted to imagine the show scenario and to think about who they are and why they are in the space – what they’re doing, how old they are, what their relationship is with others on the stage. Of course, when we were working on Breadcrumbs, Charlotte as Gretel was all alone, so it was particularly interesting to see how Simon and Alex as ‘John’ and ‘Frankie’ negotiated aspects of who they were and their relationship over the course of being interviewed in character by Omar, and then again as John and Frankie’s children ‘Tom’ and ‘Caitlin’ (!) talking about their parents and their own relationship.

Omar the interviewer Character development

I don’t want to give away tooooo much about the show – it’s already changed from where we ended up at the end of the rehearsal two days ago and will probably change again – but there’ll be lots of boxes. Lots of rocks. Probably lots of maps. Not so many dead sheep :-)

Oh! And we now have print-promotion materials! So if you see any of us roaming London, or our regular rehearsal haunt of Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, come and say hi and ask for a flyer or card!

Let the promotion begin!!!

First rehearsal!

by Caitlin, 4 July 2015

So now we’re finally into rehearsals for our Tête à Tête performances and everything’s in full swing and terribly terribly exciting! For this show, we’re working on the three existing notated songs, plus three text scores. In this first rehearsal we were principally looking at the paired songs, ‘1979’ and ‘2010’, and did some drawing-media tests for the new text score, ‘Drawing Out’, attaching the contact mic to a borrowed bass amp, and worked through some cuts to the folksong used in ‘Windsong’. It was a lovely hot day to be out in Greenwich… but we were inside in Greenwich, so shoes off and some moments of larking about seemed called for alongside the solid work :-)

Simon & Alex playing it up Alex at the piano 'Drawing Out' tests Hot-day rehearsal

Next up we’ve got a production meeting on Sunday with our director, Omar Shahryar, at which we’re planning to pin down the order of pieces for the show. Crossing Dartmoor is designed to have a flexible structure, allowing performers to create their own version of the piece, in much the same way as a rambler would choose their path across the moor. There are only a small number of notated pieces at the moment – the cycle is still a work in progress – so the actual pieces we’re doing are pretty set, but we still need to pin down the order, which field recordings and videos to use, and how to put it all together, as well as nutting out a theatrical approach to presenting it.