As our research on contemporary theatre music often comes across fluid boundaries between „acting“ and „making music“, between „scene“ and „score“, I thought I’d share a little summary of a two-day workshop I gave some years ago.
The workshop was held in May 2013 at the Marlowe Studio in Canterbury as part of ‚Lifting the Curtain‘ — a series of workshops and events organised be the Drama Department, School of Arts, University of Kent, funded by the AHRC. In this workshop we explored the notion of using musical instruments on stage. This video was filmed by Käroli Grenman and edited by Peter John-Morton. It was announced as follows:
Music as Performance — Theatre with Instruments
In this workshop we will explore the potential that instruments can have on stage, and the act of ‚musicking‘ as an act of acting or performing. Music can be theatrical and theatre can have musicality. Avantgarde artists like John Cage, Laurie Anderson, Mauricio Kagel or Heiner Goebbels, but also mainstream theatre productions like the so-called ‚actor-muso‚ versions of Sweeney Todd and other musicals have all set precedents for this kind of work. We will work with improvisations, exploring new playing techniques, placement in space and use of light to unleash theatrical expressiveness and narrative from musical instruments. Please bring your instrument(s), if you have any (you don’t have to be particularly good on them!) or come along without one.
What followed – as I remember – was an engaging encounter with some very motivated and creative people, all of whom were keen, willing and able to think outside the guitar case and sought to breathe new life into a bunch of instruments.