Col­lab­o­ra­tion key to Bell

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Stage -

JOHN Bell has been sur­prised by how lit­tle spare time he has since step­ping down as found­ing direc­tor of Syd­ney-based theatre com­pany Bell Shake­speare in 2015.

“I’ve got this pro­gram I’m do­ing with Si­mon Tedeschi, Enoch Ar­den, and then I go into re­hearsals for a play with Syd­ney Theatre Com­pany and Mel­bourne Theatre Com­pany and that goes through un­til Christ­mas,” Bell said.

“And next year is get­ting busy al­ready, so there’s no sign of re­tire­ment yet.”

Enoch Ar­den will bring Bell to Perth as he and pi­anist Tedeschi be­gin their Aus­tralian tour pre­sent­ing the melo­drama, com­posed by Richard Strauss to the words of Lord Ten­nyson’s 1864 poem, which Bell will nar­rate.

“It’s a tragic story

Lord Ten­nyson wrote while work­ing as Queen Vic­to­ria’s poet lau­re­ate and it was a very pop­u­lar poem,” Bell said.

“Peo­ple used to re­cite it in parlour en­ter­tain­ment and pub­lic per­for­mances, then Richard Strauss found it and wrote mu­sic to go with it for an ac­tor friend of his; they used to per­form it to­gether.

“It’s OK just as a poem to re­cite, but when you have the mu­sic play­ing un­der­neath, along­side it and be­tween the verses, it gives it tremen­dous power and the mu­sic is sim­ply won­der­ful.

“I think peo­ple will en­joy it be­cause it’s a very in­ter­est­ing story and the com­bi­na­tion of ac­tor and pi­ano is not very com­mon these days.”

Bell said Enoch Ar­den was a story about a man’s sac­ri­fice after he is ship­wrecked at sea and away for 10 years.

“When he re­turns he finds a new hus­band with his wife and family,” he said.

“Rather than re­veal him­self and de­stroy their hap­pi­ness, he just lives in the vil­lage along­side them and never re­veals his iden­tity.

“We’ve recorded it for the ABC so spent three days get­ting used to each other, record­ing it and rere­cord­ing it, so it’ll be in good nick by the time we get to Perth. “It’s a real col­lab­o­ra­tion and it’s a bit like a singer and a band, where you have to work along with the mu­sic. It’s a chance to let rip with some good old-fash­ioned verse.”

John Bell

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