Concerto – On Tour

I write this on a train to Crewe where we will be showing the premiere of Concerto on 23 February 2017 at Axis Arts Centre. The fliers and posters have arrived and the marketing materials for the work are now complete. The programme was produced for the last work-in-progress at Nottingham Lakeside Arts and can be downloaded here. A process takes place when you have finished a show. A sifting and filtering of thoughts, words and objects seems to happen organically. The part of your brain that was obsessing over detail is now released to worry about something else. The props I brought in on Day One that I thought were essential have now found their way back to the attic. The clothes rail we used in Lincoln is now back in my outhouse. It had a starring role and now it’s been retired. The coat Ryan wore as Paul Wittgenstein in the trenches is now back in my wardrobe, replaced with a more accurate army jacket after some detailed audience feedback. The script has undergone many iterations and the Concerto folder on my desktop is now full of old versions that used to make sense until we found a better way of saying the same thing using fewer words. We have packed a tighter snowball and the show is sharper as a result. Less text. More impact. Less order. More chaos.

The links to videos of work-in-progress that we shared have now been replaced with links to the promotional trailer. Every iteration of the show is a stepping stone to the final edit which we couldn’t have reached without the earlier missteps. We have cut dialogue, music, video and choreography – some of which we really liked. A movement sequence to Neil Halstead’s Wittgenstein’s Arm was a highlight of the process but failed to fit our final story. I am listening to it now on the train, picturing our movements, a conductor, a pianist, an assassin, inhabiting the same space. The lyric ‘I lost my arm in the First Great War – wish I’d never learned the piano before’ speaks to me now about our devising process. We have collated audience feedback too. From music audiences, theatre audiences, student audiences, and it all informed our final performance. But what matters most now is that the show is there, the show is finished, the show is complete. We are proud of it and, as it tours, I am sure it will continue to grow to the music, like the seed I was given at Ravel’s house in Paris that is now a tree in my back garden. Here is a sample of the audience feedback we have received so far:

A sharp, neatly composed piece, intertwining music, war and performance.

A complete theatrical experience. Exceptional.

Fascinating interplay of narratives. An explosion of beauty emerging from pain.

Very impressive. Such clever ideas and symbolism.

I was caught up in the swirling ripples and echoes through history and the chaotic patterns in the falling leaves, historical elements, and in the music.

Fascinating, provocative – context to the concerto, it’s background & its performance.

Innovative, moving, thought-provoking.

This isn’t something I’ve ever thought about being possible in this way before, but I would come to see a performance with this concept in mind again.

Fascinating, revelatory – connecting to this story.

This, for me, was what made the performance so moving – it was used in a way that said a lot without having to say much at all.

To hear the live music was wondrous and came alive in such a moving way.

The live piece at the end was unexpected and stunning.

Felt like standing up at the end – very rare.