news, updates, and conversations from Volcano Theatre

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Music & Theatre: Bedfellows at Last

Pig Iron's Quinn Bauriedel is making his way up from Philadelphia for the Conservatory this summer. Quinn was with us in 2011 to offer a wildly popular workshop on devised theatre:

Quinn with Volcano Conservatory
participants (July 2011)
"The theatre I enjoy doesn't show me back a one-for-one copy of life; it understands that what theatre can do best - better than movies, better than TV - is to play with life, to fantasize with it, to treat life poetically. Yet most training only asks us to take one approach to the stage. At this moment, I am interested in pushing theatre to its extremes, shaking up the conventions that bore us or that only serve to stimulate our sense of sentimentality and nostalgia." 

(read Quinn's full thoughts on that summer here)

Quinn's musings:

Music and theatre are bedfellows: both require expertise in dealing with rhythms, tempos, and duration for an audience and both are built upon tensions, relationships, crescendoes and decrescendos  cacophonies and silences. Yet, so often, music is brought into theatre only during blackouts to cover scene changes or is relegated to the pit so as not to distract from the action onstage. And in many concerts - rock or classical - images are crudely brought forth to amplify what the music is already saying.

How can music and theatre co-exist without becoming opera or Broadway? In Bali, there is no performance without a gamelan orchestra. In Japanese Noh Drama, the stage is literally a drum so each step an actor makes has musical implications. In Pig Iron's work, sound, music, silence, song, and soundscapes are nearly always a part of how we make theatre and are a primary element from start to finish.

What if characters entered the stage supported by a trio of musicians, as in Emir Kusturica's films? What if every "ordinary" moment onstage was accompanied by a choir, turning the ordinary into the extraordinary as in Christoph Marthaler's world-class spectacles. What if sound design ran underneath scenes from start to finish, laying an emotional carpet to heighten the tension onstage?

This workshop aims to bring these two forms into the same sphere and to propose a neo-music/theatre form in which every stillness is supported by a body as well as by sound, and in which both languages of live performance are in complicity with one another. We aim to interrogate this relationship, resulting in things as wide ranging as musical numbers, soundscapes, spectacles, moving dramas supported by choral music, and clown numbers with a clown band.

The workshop is intended for actors who can make a little music (with their voice, a piano, a drum, a keytar or the spoons...) and musicians / sound designers who are okay taking a few steps onto the stage as performers (whether playing music or working with music as a partner).

We'll have more from Quinn soon! In the meantime, visit for registration details for this course and the rest of our Conservatory.

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