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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!