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Crimson Tempest

Crimson Tempest. What do you see? What do you know?

Perhaps you know it appears in Shakespeare’s play The Tragedy of Richard 2nd.
What makes a play?

We interrupt this blog for promotional purposes.

Our primary purpose of this post selling tickets to a production of Henry V at Tanner St.
3rd August: GALA Night.
4th-5th August:
50% discount for Students, Equity members, Seniors and Unemployed;
they use the code word concession when booking online.

Now back to our regular posting.

Delivery of text continues to be a deciding factor in good Shakespeare.
What does that take? Too forced and you lose. The Shakespeare voice appears.
Too disconnected from physicality and you lose. The Shakespeare voice wins.
Too. Many. Pauses. The Shakespeare voice bores.

Text is physicality. The smallest unit of sound, the phoneme, requires effort.
There is a literal physical journey of the words on the page arriving on the stage.

The punctuation dictates the shape of the thought. Thoughts contribute to ideas.
Our ensemble uses the First Folio text, double checks with any available Quartos,
triple checks with modern editions and returns to the text as given.
Questioning everything; whether it be spelling, italicisation, or capitalisation.
Accept and or reject based on exploration and expediency of the characters.

Our own cherished thoughts and ideas aren’t infallible.
Linguistic and literary scholar, Jonathan Hope helped us explore 72 linguistic features
about where Henry V sits in relation to the entire corpus of 544 extant Early Modern plays.
Then in relation to the corpus of Shakespeare’s 38 (!) Tragedies, Comedies and Histories.

The mind steering them contributes more to their acceptance.
Dr Hope teased us with a Scottish 20 pound bet whether we could guess
Shakespeare’s most average play? funniest scene?
Examining the sets of data lead some in one direction, others in another.
Opinion divided us all.

The casting of a production selects the guiding individual actor minds.
The crossroads of physicality and thought employs the actors skills.
Our Ben excels in choosing an ensemble. Script analysis is a tool we use.
Character exploration happens unspoken with stick work.
Sub-text arises from interaction.

Being wrong never feels good. Being judged less so. Justification follows.
Justification of one’s deeds, regrets, things we shouldeva wouldeva couldeva done,
all occur after the fact.

We did what we did, (Hilton, Katrina and myself had to leave)
and do what we do (Colin Hurley joined in, Matt Mellalieu picked up my roles).

Tomorrow night from 3rd to 5th August my band of brothers and sisters
perform at Tanner Street Studios. Tickets are still available.
Go experience a rich vein of Shakespearean work being mined.
Else all that remains are words, words, words. And you can simply read those:

Poster for Tanner Street 3rd-5th August 2015

Poster for Tanner Street
3rd-5th August 2015

And the production is cut to David Crystal on Henry V in OP 2 hours traffic of the stage.
And these actors have learned their lines by heart within two weeks.
And there are some textual additions from the earlier plays in the 1st tetralogy.

Thanks to Patrick Spottiswoode from Globe education.
Also Clare and our two minders, Aidan and Alice.
Plus the staff at the concession stand for making our Americanos,
showing that London is as international as it ever was.

BTW the answers to the bet questions are Hamlet,
and the buck basket scene from Merry Wives of Windsor.

Shadows at Sam Wanamaker Playhouse

Shadows at Sam Wanamaker Playhouse. Things change in the shadow world. Fear meets awareness, the imagined becomes real. Paper cutouts make an army.

Shadow Army

Candles cast shadows. Lots of them. Lights are brighter than candles. They too obscure. The rehearsal process is a shadow of the final show. Topping and tailing a shadow of rehearsal.

The pit, the deck and the balcony are fully explored. Straight lines turned to curves. Actors now characters shaped by cue scripts and walking with sticks. Push, pull, resist and yield.

Yet magic happens all along. The details of the programme and flyers for Tanner Street require attention. Three photographers in the ensemble. Behold the cast and crew shot by our Twitter feed of rehearsal photos Aslam. To see them live:Buy your Ticket for Tanner Street 3-5th august 2015

Photo Credit: Aslam Husain Photography

Photo Credit:
Aslam Husain Photography

The dog fetches the tennis balls…

Henry the Fift in OP at SWP

Henry the Fift in OP at SWP. That’s the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse. The indoor space at the Globe theatre, the lovechild of American actor Sam Wanamaker. How fitting that Ben Crystal is utilising a cast of Americans, Brits, Europeans, Indians and a Grenadian all talking in OP.

Photo Credit: Will O Hare Photography

Photo Credit:
Will O Hare Photography

Three days ago we gathered as 21 actors and 5 production crew in the Jerwood Space. The Passion in Practice Ensemble new configuration sports an ethos of exploration, despite time being short.

Tomorrow we present an evening in OP. David Crystal our Master of Pronunciation reviewed our efforts today. Father and son have completely differing approaches to the whole OP process. Ben pushes the ensemble work from within whilst father builds a scholarly frame.

Henry V presents several aspects for engagement. OP French? Welsh? Scots? Irish? Here our Master of Verse coaches a Lithuanian and an Austrian in their French parts.
French OP

Ensemble meets daily from 9am-6pm and sometimes David Hywel Baynes 401 photography one of our members, brings in a camera.

These last two days we worked into the evening for shadow work. Rather shadow play.

Photo Credit: Will O Hare Photography

Photo Credit:
Will O Hare Photography

Photo Credit: Will O Hare Photography

Photo Credit:
Will O Hare Photography

Photo Credit: Will O Hare Photography

Photo Credit:
Will O Hare Photography

PiP shadow play
Photo Credit: Will O Hare Photography

Ensemble is treated to the supple warrior Phil. Ensemble sweats and collects muscle aches and pains. Ensemble learns new things daily. Ensemble has fun. (Can’t stress that bit enough).

Ensemble will be performing Henry V at the SWP on the 26th july. It is sold out.
If you want to see this exploratory production in Original Pronunciation and 21stC Original Practice attend at Tanner Street.

Poster for Tanner Street

Poster for Tanner Street

Shortest Sonnets marathon in history?

A Scotsman of my acquaintance pointed out we recited his 154 sonnets on his 451st birthday i.e. 154-451 or 451-154. How cool is that? Shakespeare as cool. That would be scanned.

Take this marathon idea. A week beforehand, we planned to simply do a birthday SHAOKE session with Devon Glover aka the Sonnetman from NYC, who happened to be in NL thanks to the US embassy.

Social media allowed me to bother my contacts. Twitter and email functioned too slightly differently. And telephone was the last resort medium. Using these all we gathered individuals who read a sonnet aloud WHILST recording themselves. What could go wrong?

Naturally the idea started as 154 individuals. Shrank to 77 reading 2 sonnets each. And ended up as less than 77 with some reading 3 sonnets, others 2, and the odd one.

The location and start time fixed as 8pm assemble at Amsteldijk 67, former city archive building alongside the Amstel river.

We rehearsed from 9pm until 9:40pm. The structure of the marathon would be 3 one minute blocks. The first sonnets 1-54, the 2nd 55-104 the 3rd and last 105-154.

Then we took it into the hallway and did this:

#154Sonnets3mins from william sutton on Vimeo.

This film contains some of the films from 11 phones, or digital cameras of people within the storm. We have audio of the whole thing. We have footage and photos of the rehearsal madness. And some recordings from the SHAOKE sonnet show we performed around 10:30pm. My boy Liam recited his favourite sonnet 55. Devon G rapped us a sonnet or two too.

sonnet magnets FULL

devoninfrontofsonnets

Sh's 451st Tariq and Will

Credit is due to All my friends and new acquaintances who attended this chaos. The amount of people made collating names to their numbered sonnets nigh impossible. These are the happy few, the 67 I know took part and are credited in the film:

The Band of Brothers (and Sisters):

Elske van Holk
Eleftheria Vakaki
Tariq Kaseem
Johan Statius Muller
Devon Glover
Alexander Paton
Christopher Vipond Davis
Sam Morris
Henrietta Bryant
Kristjan Knigge
Malcolm Hugo Glenn
Matthew Carney
Steve Fly Agaric
Emely Sligting

Debbie Mulholland
Orlando Manuel do Brito
Finbar Wilbrink
Joris Lehr
Sytse Faber
Marco Grandia
Emma Dingwall
Loveday Smith
Asta Schmitz
Dawn Mastin
Sandy Topzand
Hannah van Veeren
Tamara Brinkman
Desiree Scholten

Joy Ehrlich
Darragh Conway
Chaja van emde Boas
Oscar Buckens
Pip Farquharson
Annika Groeneveld
Helen Mason
Kayo Korabiowski-Dean
Georgina Dean
Christine Blakeley
Jannette Warburton
Colin Blakeley
Sassy Smit
Alex Eva Eldering

William Sutton
Liam Sutton
Toto Stekelenburg
Steve Fly Pratt
Jacqueline Nolan
Helen Mason
Michel
Alex McKenzie
Daniel Rovai
Janne Svensson
Francesca
Toby Ehrlich
Oscar Smith
Hugo Metsers

Bev Jackson
Gerson Oeratmangoen
Jesse Cohen
Dick
Lotte
Reina
Willem
Finbarr Wilbrink
Joan Prince
Cormac Ruari
Bev Jackson
Simon Murphy
Nick
Michael Toner
Eliya Hahn

Shakespeare's 451st Birthday

Shakespeare’s 451st Birthday. So how will you be celebrating?

There are hundreds of thousands of us Shakespeare enthousiasts out there in the wide world web. Several thousand refuse to accept that there’s a reason for celebration. We can ignore them until they arrive with real proof and not arguments all based around debasing our candidate.

He, him, that writer, the actor, the one we call Shake-speare was once, 441 years ago in a Stratford on Avon recorded with his name as:

this on his birth (April 26th 1564: Gulielimus, filius Johannes Shakspeare)

Shakespeare's birth record

Gulielmus filius Johannes Shakspeare

and on his burial 52 years later (25th April 1616: Will Shakspeare, Gent).

Shakespeare's Burial record

Burial record April 25th, 1616

Shakespeare records of birth and burial

That was his first taste of latin and being son of Chief Alderman John was entitled like all young boys to the free school at Stratford and a further latin education under the tutelage of Thomas Jenkins.

List of Headmasters at KE6th Grammar

Shakespeare’s teachers can be seen in the 1570’s

But this post is about celebration not history.

We will be doing the world’s quickest Sonnet Marathon on April 24th.
Check out this podcast advertising what we’ll be doing. I’ll be back with more details. And we’ll be doing it here:

Location for the Sonnet Marathon in a Minute

Location for the Sonnet Marathon in a Minute

This morning I took part in the English Breakfast show on local dutch radio. The link provides you with streaming capability to see and hear the last hour of the program.

A sneak preview of how the sonnet marathon in a minute looked from the inside. Dutch actor Joris Lehr performs sonnets 23 and 76. He had never seen sonnet 76 until minutes before the performance:

Pericles in OP + Max Richter's Vivaldi

Vivaldi by Max Richter played to the Crystal ensemble’s Pericles in OP.
Here’s the trailer, which we present with some pride:

At the beginning of 2014 Ben brought his Ensemble together to raise a scratch 24 hr rehearsed reading of The Tragedy of Pericles, Prince of Tyre in Original Pronunciation, at the Jerwood Space in London, using a CD of Max Richter’s Four Seasons: Recomposed to underscore parts of the play.

Here is a sneak-peak of, a year later, the co-production of Pericles: Recomposed with Daniel Harding’s Interplay Festival at the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Berwaldhallen, Stockholm, January 29th 2015.

Bringing together his Shakespeare Ensemble from the UK, Europe, India, and the US, the company had two days of rehearsal before being joined by a Chamber orchestra, three hours before the performance.

Featured artists:
Ben Crystal, Actor
Nathan Markiewicz, Dramaturg
David Crystal, Linguist
Actors from the Passion in Practice Shakespeare Ensemble
The Trondheim Soloists
Daniel Hope, violinist

Music: Max Richter’s Four Seasons: Recomposed – www.maxrichter.com
http://www.recomposed.net

Recording c/o
Deutsche Grammophone
Daniel Hope
Konzerthaus Kammerorchester Berlin
André de Ridder

OP Jazz in the Big Apple

OP Jazz in the Big Apple. And…all things considered we learnt loads. (sic)?
This post is a jazzed up recollection of things that happened. In the interest of closing one project before starting another. In the interest of recording the meeting between and memories created of actors that are more than just additions to social media. In the interest of brand new verbiage and methodological terminology; such as the contradictio in terminus, crescendo to the ground, or the alternative title for this post, banana contaminator.

Above all in the interest of collaboration and British American Shakespearean relations. Our partners in discovery belong to the Shakespeare Society Ambassadors. and their respective photos and blurbs can be read if you click. Naming names: Maxon Davis, R.J. Foster, Shannon Harris, Montgomery Sutton, Claire Warden, and Will O Hare. Plus Ian Petersen, and Sean Hagerty, ensemble member Adam Webb, and David Hywel Baynes, who not only performed as Richard 3rd at the Actors Church in London this last summer but also took all the photos you see below.

I arrived in NYC on a friday after giving a school workshop at the AICS in Amsterdam Zuid an hour and a half before my plane left Schiphol some 10 minutes away. Warren Rusher our company manager met me at JFK and together we cabbed it to alphabet city.

The ambassadors plus had been busy for 3 days already working their Original Practice with the Crystal ensemble core members Ben Crystal, Jenni Jackson, and Natalie Thomas. The saturday we met for a weekend of stick work in the landmark 1st presbyterian church at 12th and fifth.

before GodCopyright photo DH Baynes

You know the feeling when you walk into a room full of people you’ve never met? And those people are all actors who DO Shakespeare. Every cliche response to work-shopping an ensemble is valid. Every nauseating luvvie reaction to bardolatry, each swollen ego…was absent.

The experimentation with Original Practice took front and centre (center) stage. Each of us as core members lead our section of the workshop. Movement, sticks, voice, verse, and Original Pronunciation are the building blocks. Honest and open reaction and response required. The two days flew by, time expanded and shrank, and the collaboration grew.

No imposition, no final solution, pure experimentation on a subject we all love. Always paying attention to the smallest aberration felt or heard or experienced and questioning it until satisfaction ensued.

ClaireCopyright photo DH Baynes

Unstructured structure. Social coalescence. Banana contaminator. All new terms for us that speak volumes to them as experienced. Experiential exploration. One might add as an after-thought. De-briefing as we go folks no final message here. Only a developing methodology. What will be its limits?

Open ensemble. Middle middle. 90% OP-10% you. Can any of these have limits. How open is open before it closes? How much more middle can you be without invoking the laws of physics? Articulatory percentages? don’t make laugh!

The heart is a muscle capable of love. The proof lies in us. Truth for one isn’t truth for all. A body needing 8,000 calories a day is working hard at burning those calories. Or overloading its own system. One stop remedies are doomed to fail unless the individual system is ready to adapt the remedy to be its own cure.

Personally cynical until convinced otherwise. Trusting others motives, kah! Hurt too many, too many times. Accepting of the guilt in mine own corner, or in the ring of our interaction. Unspoken fears can wreak more havoc than spoken desires, suppressed. That would be scanned.

verse workCopyright photo DH Baynes

Is the outcome uncertain? Keep shtumm! Let it build until internal concern forces your hand. Idee fixe becomes group concern and everyone lends their balm to your cares. And time is wasted. Whether you waste time or it you, is immaterial. It’s gone and cannot be regained or refilled. Experience that this time around showed. Opening up to the primary impulse of fear lessens its growth by voicing an initial concern. Empathy and non-aloneness follows.

Stick workCopyright photo DH Baynes

Knowledge and learning. What do you know? How do you learn? How many calories is enough? The thing you need to learn, is it knowledge?

1. facts, information, and skills acquired through experience or education; the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject.
2. awareness or familiarity gained by experience of a fact or situation.
3. sexual intercourse.

That third example is archaic and yet…

Hung up on words. Words don’t define us. It seems strange that when we acknowledge people we define them by the words they say. And not by the deeds they do. Our time in NYC was about doing and learning.

WarrenCopyright photo DH Baynes

Our American counterparts whether true blue Texan, or Southern gent, or African American brother, or sister, or displaced Brit with a local partner; each has their own story, their own education in the bard. The Shakespeare voice knows no borders. That voice we all recognise as Shakespeare done bardly. Its opposite is a true voice speaking Shakespeare as if minted new. I observed professionally delivered Othellos and Edmunds and Constances regardless of who did the talking in whatever accent. The impact of adding OP was our point of exploration. And again that is impossible until there’s an ensemble to do the exploring.

head to headCopyright photo DH Baynes

OP is a reconstruction, an approximation, a construct. So too we found are Received Pronunciation and General American versus one’s birth accent. The OP however is new old and lends Shakespearean verse an ear quite different to modern day dialects and accents with all our prejudices and preconceptions. That levelling of the Shakespeare playing field increases the likelihood it will catch on. Baltimore Shakespeare Factory is in the process of presenting a Merchant of Venice. GO hear the play if you can.

Shannon sticking itCopyright photo DH Baynes

This workshop could have been the be all and end all. But no. Ben was advertised as giving a talk at the Pearl Theatre on 42nd and 9th on the monday evening. A 300 seater filled with curious New Yorkers about to hear OP for the first time. Our thanks to the director and producers who allowed us to put on our show and tell session. An interactive combination of sonnets and set pieces and free form was the result. The question and answer session revealing the excitement that OP generates in an audience.

The reception on the upper west side was really icing on the cake. The dive bar we ended up in, poetic justice. And that was where the actors i worked with parted company. Yet for each one of those actors named, words cannot express the moments we shared. And that seems quite quite cliche ridden and wanky. All too too much. And yet as honest as any comedian’s roast. For that I thank you from the core.

The wednesday we did a masterclass at the Ripley Grier studios. Ten new people to meet and share the lessons that we are still learning. A beautiful meeting for me with two sonnet aficionados, Brian Myers Cooper the sonnet guy who has 33 sonnets memorised by heart and Devon Glover the sonnet man from Brooklyn who is on 25 plus.

That one day observed by Jennifer Geizhals. Participated in by a guy from Denver and a gal from Toronto and my sweetheart Sassy Smit from Amsterdam. That masterclass revealed jewels, which the future will display.

NYC we will be back.

Tomkin Square Park, NYC

Copyright photo Ben Crystal Tomkin Square Park, NYC

Oh yeah, banana contaminator is the new iambic pentameter. Don’t let words obfuscate your meaning.

Masterclass in OP in NYC

NYC – Masterclass in OP.
The Crystal Ensemble core members will be doing their thing in NYC in March.
The 16th March they present an evening of songs and sonnets and scenes in OP alongside a group of actors based in NYC. The 3 days prior to the show will be devoted to passing on the knowledge we have learned as an ensemble so far. It promises to be a fantastic experience in one of our favourite cities on the planet. Our host will be the Pearl Theatre.

The Pearl Theater

The 18th March we’ll be doing a one day masterclass for those interested in testing the methodology for themselves. Details are below and places are limited so book now. Who knows? Maybe we’ll meet in NYC in March.

New York – March 2015
Shakespeare Society Event
16th March – Ben Crystal on Original Pronunciation

Ben will lead a three-day workshop in New York with the Shakespeare Society Ambassadors,
on scenes and speeches in Original Pronunciation.

On Monday the 16th of March at the Pearl Theatre, there will be an evening Presentation of the scene work and a discussion of the joys, challenges and rewards of speaking Shakespeare’s words in the earthy and energized, salty and powerful accent of his time.

Details and tickets here.

Masterclass
18th March – Ripley Grier studios

Following on from our Vancouver Masterclass in January,
Ben Crystal and Warren Rusher will continue our
Passion in Practice International Masterclass Series.
Other ensemble members will also be present.

They will be looking at:

Exploring character relationships within a scene using movement techniques
Technical text work to find the shape of a scene
Speaking verse without fear
Defining the skill set required to perform Shakespeare with minimal rehearsal

Places on this workshop are strictly limited to 14 participants.

When:
Wednesday 18th March
10am – 6pm

Cost:
$175 USD

Location:
Ripley Grier studios
520 Eighth Avenue.
16th Floor,
New York,
NY 10018

Apply now via: warren@passioninpractice.com

Ludicrous - Vivaldi + Max Richter + Pericles

Ludicrous – Vivaldi + Max Richter + Pericles
Ludicrous, ludiek, define please?

lu·di·crous
adjective: ludicrous

so foolish, unreasonable, or out of place as to be amusing; ridiculous.
“it’s ludicrous that I have been fined”
synonyms: absurd, ridiculous, farcical, laughable, risible, preposterous, foolish, mad, insane, idiotic, stupid, inane, silly, asinine, nonsensical;
informal crazy “a ludicrous idea”
antonyms: sensible

Origin
early 17th century (in the sense ‘sportive, intended as a jest’): from Latin ludicrus (probably from ludicrum ‘stage play’) + -ous.

Or even what are the chances of that happening? H-dropped and n-stopped or no in a broad cockney accent with all attendant associations.

Max Richter’s redeployment of the meme that is known as Vivaldi’s 4 seasons (would that he would do the same for Grieg) casting and casts its spell againe and againe. The iconic shattered in icy realms of ear candy in its non-sweetest sense. The soloist the voice, the ensemble his support. Down to the harpsichord solo. One part with multiple roles. The composer(s) hanging us on an instant before resolving into another uplifting flourish or downward spiral. The absolute ability of the musical instruments quality above actors; to pinpoint anguish and exquisite longing for what follows. And damned be the consequences.

Publicly private and privately sold to a public. Publics refined or defined by their mass alike; the two audiences hearing and listening whilst watching, seeing, observing; remarking, judging, approving, disapproving, all one and the same though not felt the same. One soul not enough for a gift so large. Achieved only in conjunction, a re-assemblage of the parts to a whole. What’s in a re-assemblance?

Seems Madam? Nay, t’is.

Ensembles prove to us the necessity of one’s fellowe (in whatever particular madness you follow). The beauty and honesty that only a mulitiple many-layered collective single narrative can tell. On any given night. (Or sunday if that’s more your bag).

Made for one thing. Outlived its use. Now used for another thing. Like the old water pump station now fashionable restaurant we type in OR Vivaldi-Richter-Pericles. Huh? And yet it fit. My opinion not enough, manies opinions mounting to sure thing with question marks as to why. An interplay if you will. (not being facetious or funny, which is my simplistic default state of reaction).
I wasn’t alone in feeling it that night. It suited a dream. It wasn’t, or I would be telling this to my shrink instead of the bloogy warld.

Someone travelled from Bologna to be there that night. We’d travelled and travailed since our arrival working 3 days towards that night. The sound guys in one evening and an afternoon of mere hours working with all mechanical and artisanal skill, approving-disapproving, mixing OP accents from two handfuls of differing accents and channeling it all through giant curving banks of speakers into a single feed. For those faces, bodies and their attendant 5 wits and senses to witness what was done that night.

The musicians as bemused as our audience. To begin with. For to be a part meant to focus on what was happening. Us usurping their place in the spotlights, casting them as shadows to the shadows of characters we created from the words (our notes) and threw away as we moved into the funnel of the play, which leaves Pericles the older with his daughter in a process of discovery. Strike me!

Make a wound so i who have not felt for so long can feel. And to let that feeling resound ever since? From day to day trying to find those moments back, which were as fleeting as the snow that melts outside. Cold weather makes us all react in the same way. just as rain makes us bend though ever so slightly, so the cold sharpens our focus on keeping warm. Not just physically from our extremities to our heart. But to the extremes of our soul’s longing to be a part of the whole. Define.

ex·trem·i·ty
noun
plural noun: extremities

1.
the furthest point or limit of something.
“the peninsula’s western extremity”
synonyms: limit, end, edge, side, farthest point, boundary, border, frontier; More
perimeter, periphery, margin;
literary bourn, marge
“the eastern extremity”
the hands and feet.
“tingling and numbness in the extremities”
synonyms: fingers and toes, hands and feet, limbs
“she lost feeling in her extremities”
2.
the extreme degree or nature of something.
“the extremity of the violence concerns us”
synonyms: intensity, magnitude, acuteness, ferocity, vehemence, fierceness, violence, severity, seriousness, strength, power, powerfulness, vigor, force, forcefulness
“the extremity of the violence”
a condition of extreme adversity or difficulty.
“the terror of an animal in extremity”
synonyms: dire straits, trouble, difficulty, hard times, hardship, adversity, misfortune, distress; More
(a) crisis, an emergency, (a) disaster, (a) catastrophe, calamity;
a predicament, a plight, mess, a dilemma;
informala fix, a pickle, a jam, a spot, a bind, a hole, a sticky situation, hot water, deep water
“in extremity he will send for her”

Origin
late Middle English: from Old French extremite or Latin extremitas, from extremus ‘utmost’ (see extreme).

OP Pericles in Pictures

OP Pericles in Pictures

Offical photos by Arne Hyckenberg.
Rehearsal photos by Louie Woodall and Aslam Husain

What happens when two ensembles meet on an opera house stage like the Berwaldhallen?

How ludicrous is this? A 17 member Symphony ensemble from Trondheim with English soloist Daniel Hope plays Max Richter’s 4 seasons by Vivaldi as backdrop to an Original Practice and Pronunciation version of Pericles from Ben Crystal’s ensemble of 13 actors.

It should be a giant fluster cluck. But shouldeva, wouldeva, couldeva. It worked.

Our roles were slight and these pictures will tell our part of the tale.

Let’s start in the rehearsal process.

New tee-SHirt-a gift from BenNew Tee-SHirt Ben shouts out and hands over this tee-SHirt. This photo thereof, taken the next day and tweeted by the producer Anna from the Berwaldhallen.

She like everyone else around is obviously uncertain as to what’s going to happen. But she’s clearly enjoying the process. Or at least putting on a brave face. Something all of us are doing. Hindsight is always 20/20. The moment by moment as it is happening allows fears and uncertainties to besiege even the strongest of conviction.

Time contracts and expands as we’ve recorded before. A rehearsal day of 12 hours can span four seasons of experience. A late meal in an excellent fish or italian restaurant with drinks to unwind can wipe the slate clean for the next round. Simultaneously bonding with fellow players and crew.

The essentials of any theatrical experience are not only the people onstage. There are others who are the oil in the machine; they who will not be named and never are. These extra personnel whose essential roles and parts remain undeniably as servants to the arts. They never make the scholarly or theatrical results of performance.

Nathan M. and Sassy S. are our servants to the arts, Anna C. and Kasja H. their Swedish counterparts. Swedish radio and its facilities cannot be bigged up enough. The Berwaldhallen and its technical staff afforded every attendance. The Hotel Hasselbacken and especially night staff Andreas made welcome to rehearsal sodden thesps.

Rehearsals and run-throughs are covered by Louie W. a journo from the Shakespeare Standard. Louie works in the finance world and Shakes is his passion. His review of our Tanner Street experience with Makkers hit the mark. He covers this project in a series of articles.

Pericles in Practice Here Nathan laughs as we rehearse in one of the studios from the Swedish Radio building. An amazingly comprehensive and well-used facility.

Pericles in Practice David Crystal as Gower did a re-written Star Wars prologue suiting his words to his costume, his costume to Shakespeare’s words. In honour of one of our cast members btw.

Pericles in practice
This stick exercise took us (royal we) by surprise. Typical Ben methodology to just launch into something so group unifying.

Pericles in Practice
David C as Goer rehearses in the one and only chance we had to resolve the problems of two ensembles meeting and the resulting amplification troubles. Also typical, a mere two hours before we go up. Flying by the seat of our pants and trusting in the result.

The evening started with David giving his talk on Original Pronunciation whilst the actors onstage behind him warmed up and listened.

Pericles in practice
Whilst we found an opportunity to show off our role. And get to know our audience a little.

Pericles in Practice
Ben strikes an iconic pose.

Pericles in practice
Our first part in the telling of the story when the Prince of Tyre is shipwrecked. A spirally choreography devised by Jenny. Live and on film communicates better than on photograph.

Our main role was Simonides, the good King. And we admit it is good to be the King. A spur of the moment thought turned into a fortuitous course of action for his first entrance.

The ensemble playing the music was amazeballs. No but truly amazetestes. Daniel Hope rocks. The Trondheim ensemble rocketh with him. Their amplification dude wasn’t happy with the concessions that inevitably had to be made for comprehension. Miked actors and a music ensemble that requires amplification are a contradiction in terms.

We knew the music Spring 2 was 3 mins and we’d been instructed to play it by ear, preferably sit it out as birthday gift for Thaisa our daughter. So we decided that a throne was necessary. During our rehearsal with the 2 ensembles, the Berwaldhallen techies (all hail) had brought seats for the music ensemble and luckily there was an extra left.

We summoned our manservant from the opposite side of the stage, which he was reluctant to cross whilst another scene was happening. We told our daughter of our intentions, which she negated forcefully, as is her wont with all our decisions. Then we entered the scene, followed by manservant with daughter dancing around over-joyed we’d organised a live ensemble. We ordered the throne just off centre stage and sat and enjoyed a truly royal command performance. Fortunate old Simonides.

Pericles in Practice
‘Come Queene of the feast, For daughter so you are. Here take your place. Martiall the rest as they deserve their grace.’ (Between you and us I fluffed that couplet on the night).

Pericles in Practice
‘Your presence glads our days. Honour we love.
For who hates honour, hates the gods above.’

Pericles in Practice
Simonides realizes Thaisa may be falling for this unknown guest.

Pericles in Practice
Of course just like off-stage she questions our decisions.
‘How? Do as I bid you. Or you’ll move me else.’

pericles in practice
We can’t help dissembling with Pericles before accepting him as our son in law.
And sending him to wed and bed our daughter resulting in a grand-child born at sea whom we never see.

Pericles in Practice
Then another storm at sea which seperates Pericles from Thaisa and their daughter Marina (which in OP rhymes with RP vagina)!

Next follow two minor roles, both firsts:
Pericles in Practice
What was our lackey is now my fellow superstitious sailor.
‘Your queen must overboard.’

Then the first of two gentleman of Metaline (which rhymes with Medellin)
Pericles in practice
‘I’m for anything now that is virtuous. I am out of the road of rutting forever.’

And then unencumbered we got to enjoy the part that everyone agrees belongs to Shakespeare. Acts 4 and 5 are the inverse of the first 3 acts whose expository lengths contrast with the psychological validity of Marina meeting her father. Coming after Marina’s masterfully eloquent defence of her virginity in the brothel to Lysimachus and Bolt.

We acknowledge the solipsistic nature of this post. It should in no way diminish the efforts of our fellowes. We can do what we do only because of our fellowes. And our enjoyment was rapt and attentive. The ensemble beside ours likewise, not one is diminished because she/he had fewer or more notes. Without the parts there is no whole.

The magic is achieved through the efforts of everyone involved. And that we can be a part is humbling and enervating. We ended that night with a discussion mediated by Marcus Nordlund.

Pericles in Practice
We try to say something worthwhile. Daniel Harding jokingly tells us we’re dreaming that the players and the actors work the same way.

Man I’m glad he said yes to this whole thing. It might have been a fluster cluck. And yet it rocked, and we all owned it!

Pericles in practice
That’s Sassy Smit btw. She is master-mistress of my passion.

Pericles in Practice
The PRINCIPAL Players.

And we got reviews.

One from Louie:


One from the Swedish news:

(Google translated for your reading pleasure)

Now it’s done. Let it rest. Move on to the next thing. OMG what an experience!