RSC puts its musicians front and centre stage
“If music be the food of love, play on” – Shakespeare knew a thing or two about the power of a good song and dance. Now the Royal Shakespeare Company is planning to make musicians more prominent, with a plat- form above the stage on which to perform. Greg Doran, the RSC’s artistic director, told the Observer that producers and directors had previously underestimated the power of music to enhance productions.
“We undervalue the experience of having live music in the same space, vibrating the same air,” he said.
Musicians will be in the same space as everybody else for next year’s season at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon – which includes As You Like It, The Taming of
the Shrew and Measure for Measure.
Doran said: “We’re creating a new configuration in the auditorium whereby the band will not just be tucked away.” Rehearsing a production of Troilus and Cressida, which opens next month, Doran has been inspired by percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie, who is creating its music. He said: “She has been profoundly deaf since she was 12, so the power of music is a much more visceral experience for her … The way her contribution amplifies, enhances and deepens your appreciation for the play has been extraordinary.”
Her music has led to the set being built with playable materials. “We have a series of boxes on the stage. Her suggestion was to build them so they would resonate, and could be played.”
Music can help audiences to make sense of texts, reinforcing emotion, Doran said. “With a text as complex as Troilus, sometimes the music has to be there simply in the language,” he said.
Musicians on stage in an RSC production of Hamlet at the Lowry Theatre, Salford.