news, updates, and conversations from Volcano Theatre

Friday, 25 July 2014

A Moveable Beast Workshop Update

Clare Preuss is Volcano's Associate Artistic Director, and the Assistant Director of A Moveable Beast. She's sent us a few updates from the rehearsal hall - have a read! And don't forget to check out the PWYC performances running Aug 1-3, 2014.

On day one, performer Neema Bickersteth, and musicians Greg Oh and Deb Sinha, reviewed all the music in the piece and caught Greg up on the project as he is replacing Reza Jacobs (who’s partner just had their baby) as piano player for this round of the project. The music spans a wide range of styles and Greg’s ability to ingest this work so quickly is admirable!

In the afternoon, the whole team gathered to devise a new, symbolic projection sequence to suit Neema’s stunning performance of John Cage’s haunting piece – A Flower. I love how Kate Alton’s choreography integrates so seamlessly with Cage’s music. Neema has a way of performing the song while dancing that leaves me transfixed. I’m happy that the new projection scheme supports the surreal nature of this penetrating piece.

Day Two:

The whole team, including projection artists Momme Hinrichs and Torge Moller (from fettFilm in Germany), engaged in a three hour talk-through of all projections in the show. This piece has a lot of projection and there is a level of rendering work that exceeds anything Volcano has attempted before (one five minute sequence, for example, could take three or four days to render). We’ve had to let go of some ideas that just aren’t feasible, and have become more precise about exactly what will be built in the next two weeks.

In the afternoon, the whole team began to work through the show with all its current elements. There is a lot to put together! The piece has so many elements to integrate. I’m keen to see how things flow once we add the many period costumes, some of which are changed on stage as part of the choreography. The costumes span fashion eras and we had a discussion later in the afternoon about Neema’s costume for the John Cage piece. I like the Katharine Hepburn wide pant look. Some agree and others in the room seem keen on the Audrey Hepburn pencil pant silhouette. I wonder which Hepburn will win? Perhaps they are placing their bets from the afterlife.

Days 4-6:

It’s quite amazine to watch Neema rehearse these elements of the show as they take so much energy and focus and precision! There were numerous times during the particularly complicated and virtuosic Recitation pour voix seule No. 10 by Georges Aperghis that Neema literally collapsed (playfully) to the floor mid-rehearsal – it takes so much stamina to get through that sucker!

Another challenging part of this process has been the timing of all sequences for our video masters Torge and Momme. Choreographic and musical work is still in development, yet it is imperative that the video team receives precise timings ASAP in order to complete their animated projections. We are doing our best to balance the needs of all artists involved.

* * *

We are halfway through the second week of A Moveable Beast rehearsal and in the thick of creation and clarification. This piece truly is a mix of projection installation, dance, opera recital, and a one woman collectively created play. What a layered and challenging piece. I suppose that’s why it’s a Volcano project – Artistic Director Ross Manson and company are well known for big risks and bold art, and A Moveable Beast is a great example of this.

Clare Preuss, Assistant Director

The Work-in-Progress Showings of A Moveable Beast take place August 1-3 at The Theatre Centre. PWYC at the door, and reserve your spot in advance at

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