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Quietly Loud - A Baz Appreciation of Music

(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.

Laura Moody in Dream Play R&D for BAZ at HighTide

Laura Moody in Dream Play R&D for BAZ at HighTide

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…)

Then, love.

Baz x

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Spotlight1: Winehouse

BAZ Blogger: Jess Bailey

Good, crisp, winter morning to you all! Or evening glancers, three am browsers: we here at Baz don’t judge (but seriously, go to bed) – see, you don’t just come here for the features, we’re health advice, too. Now. Enough of the silliness, more...busi-ness. We want to unveil, along with our new blog, a brand new shiny feature: our ‘Spotlight’ on our influences and inspirations. That’s right, we want to share with you, through these monthly posts, just what we are about: what we jam to, what we can’t put down, and we gush over,some early evening gesticulating wildly with a glass of red wine/coffee in hand. So, away we go!

Right. We want to talk Amy Winehouse. And she’s hard to talk about for obvious reasons, and also for the opposing natural inclinations to celebrate and regret in the same breath. There is no doubt at all, the she was one of a kind, and yet spoke to us all, with her unflinching honesty, her talent, her passion and how deliciously crude she could be too. If we were A-level students right now we’d be chomping at the bit to study her lyrics in Eng Lit lessons on a dreary Wednesday. But the thing she most represents to Baz is her take on being a woman with talent in the public eye, opting not to be a pop princess, letting the, at times, ugliness show along with the easy simplicity of her elegant phrasing and universal truth to her lyrics. Thing is, as a society we tend to fetishize talent, especially tragic talent and especially tragic female talent with the lead very much given by modern media, to be lauded posthumously whilst derided in their lifetime. This is reflected, maybe even perpetrated in theatre as pure dramatic irony – star cross’d lovers and all of that –while films, biographies, column inches wail and wring their hands, trying to figure out how it all went wrong, when the spotlight should be on them. Baz believes in challenging audiences. This is intrinsic to our aesthetic, and Amy did too. Confidently, with her chin out, and her mistakes as clear to see as the ink on her arm or the thick eyeliner over her eye. Like a true dramatic heroine, a Cassandra or a Carmen, she embodied femininity truly, with all it’s faults and cliches, refusing to bow to them. Baz’s ideal to portray the female experience then, has its roots. Her lyrics, and influences, as wide ranging as old-school hip hop to indie classics, always returned to the sounds of 50/60s swing and Motown, something old out of something new making, her, in turn, and out of time and timeless influence for us all. We miss her very much, and we appreciate genius when we hear it, something we here at Baz intend to do.

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Has it been five years already?

Baz Blogger: Jess Bailey

My, how we have grown! And by god, we’re going to mark it in a celebratory fashion, (meaning a blog post) so hold on!

Ahem. Well then. Here we are, knocking on the door of our fifth year. When you start an experimental site-responsive company dedicated to an entirely raw and live theatre experience from a  female perspective, that half-decade milestone seems a long way off in the distance. A really long way. But it’s been so worth it for the love of the moment: an unexpected connection with an audience member, getting to shock, educate and deliver something new every night. Of course, we’ve come out the other side of five years briefed on the health and safety and lighting requirements of any location that exists, ever, so apart from anything else we’re putting that in the ‘pro column’.

Thinking of this day, January 28th 2011 - a typically freezing winter’s night where it all came together beautifully, big sign and all, still gives us the warm feeling the biting cold outside couldn’t get near:

It was a wonderful and super chill (even if we say so ourselves) launch to what we do and who we are, where the wine flowed freely (of what we remember) and friends, family, colleagues and interested parties raised a whopping amount in order to get us on our way. Since then, we’ve had two healthy and happy productions under our belt (and a third well received in the development stages coming soon to a very exciting space), award nominations, critical praise, and a thriving education programme helping out teachers, students and workers alike.  

We’ve strived to give back as well as push ourselves, gaining knowledge and help along the way, learning to trust our instincts and returning, always to our core aims and manifesto. We couldn’t be more proud of our casts, creative teams and of course, our founders. Right, going to put that trumpet down now (but excuse us, we are very pleased.)

Of course, we couldn’t have done half of all that, however, without the kind moral and financial support of our patrons, individual givers and of course, our generous audiences. What? no, there’s nothing in our eye…

So far, so awesome, but we’ve got to keep up the momentum to give you theatre that we think you deserve, exciting, limitless and alive. Here’s to us, to you and the next five! Oh and watch this space (and that step, it’s crumbling a bit...sorry, old habits - site-specific life)

With serious love and thanks,

Baz Team x