(BAZ Blogger: Jess Bailey)
Hello again lovely post-Easter people! Hope you are still aglow with chocolate sugar-buzzes and watching Easter Parade for the hundredth time on BBC Two (bless Fred and Ginger….but that’s for another blog, another time) For now, we talk of that most abstract yet present, all encompassing, yet always-in-the-background thing: music. We here at Baz HQ love music. Can’t get enough of the stuff. Both individually, as a group, as a theatre company and as a cast - we’ve used it to the best of our ability (which has always been pretty damn good) - in all forms, all the best stuff: acapella choral singing, improvised singing, improvised music on and with props, and most recently with a divine cello. For Baz it’s always the extra player in the scene, though it has no lines to recite, nowhere to enter or exit, but heard in, around and through the action: quietly loud.
One thing that’s terribly important to Baz, and this, in fact, vies with other aims for the top spot, is to tell stories. Any old story: stories of love turning to hate, hate to love, ambition to ruin, vice versa - sometimes it’s barely about something as simple as finding somewhere to sit down in a busy room - as long as it’s told well and in the most interesting way possible. Music has a happy tradition with storytelling, something lost in the mire from the 18th century onwards with the advent of naturalism and realism, for the most part anyway, and Baz has always wanted to honour that magic moment when an audience is silent and someone starts to sing, or run a bow along a string, hit a key in contemplation. There’s that famous example of Ophelia, now insane, wandering about, singing and mumbling to herself, to make it clear, but music can do so much more than illuminate character, it can also conjure everything from regal palaces to humble slums effortlessly.
Well, that got a bit fact-y didn’t it! Forgive us, we get kind of nerdy about this stuff, and excited when we can use it to its fullest extent with the talent and creativity of performers like Laura Moody, who was part of our Dream Play cast - an amazing classically trained cellist who also has a line in experimental music who, free from sheet music, improvised swathes of gorgeous melody that belong only to the play: her reaction to the play and her knowledge of how the cello could best describe it - that’s original, once in a lifetime material, and performed so beautifully and with melancholy on a gradually dimming beach in Aldeburgh - magical. To prove it, here, enjoy Laura spellbinding everyone with her own personal album at Wilton’s music Hall, why not indeed:
Of course there has always been a close correlation with music, theatre and art - Ancient Greek culture made sure the Sirens beauty was only bettered by their seductive, ethereal singing - so much so Odysseus had to be tied down to resist only their voices, and Greek theatre gave us the term ‘Orchestra’ for the area behind the stage where the players would sit. In Baz’s 2013 production of Prophesy, we tackled the Ancient Greek canon, by mixing dialogue with improv, art and singing, in a way honouring the original tradition whilst keeping it all Baz. From music for lyre and flute of Shakespeare’s time, to the great scores of the 20th century from stabbing violins for Psycho to the unbearably lush waves of Rachmaninov in Brief Encounter (we implore you, imagine the film without it) - to Michael Nyman’s award-winning score for The Piano and Peter Greenaway’s potent collaborations, music has shown its relevance across the board - sure it’s not showy like language, visual like acting or dance but it’s damn well there all the same. And you find yourself listening.
It’s important to us all, though, music and sound - the first noise you are ever aware of being that comforting pound of boom-boom of a heartbeat, but as we grow older, brought up with particular tastes of our parents and even a little bit of our grandparents before them, music is so hardwired into us. It helps us too, even heals: research has shown its miracle qualities, from bringing back memory to brain damaged patients, curing stutters and tourrettes- from the domestic, making you feel a wide spectrum of emotion, a teenage connection, dancing your first dance to it, getting married to it, it’s in all things human and it would be ridiculous to not be included in our productions.
Good job we have then, eh. And have we have been lucky so far.
If music be the food of love…(who said that? It sounds familiar…)