RSC puts its mu­si­cians front and cen­tre stage

The Observer - - News - Dalya Al­berge

“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.

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