INTERVIEW: Jonathan Burrows (Burrows & Fargion)

Interview

Choreographer Jonathon Burrows speaks to The Prickle about a new Burrows & Fargion double bill at Sadler’s Wells: Rewriting (2019), and Science Fiction (2021).

– Who are your inspirations?

I think the interesting thing is how many different, overlapping and constantly changing inspirations people have, which reflects the ways in which culture is always about the work of the many, rather than a few select individuals. And I love how the things you love don’t have to make sense together. I love dub reggae sound system culture, but I also play English folk music.

– You and composer Matteo Fargion been collaborators for thirty years; how have you managed to work together all this time?

I think Matteo is a very patient person, but also we don’t have many meetings and that seems to help.

– Burrows & Fargion pieces straddle the line between dance, music, performance art and comedy. How would you describe a typical audience member?

We have three philosophies about audience, which have kept us going over the years. The first is, “Whoever comes is the right person”. The second is, “How the audience sit is how we should sit”. And the third is, “Equal together under the same roof”. When these ideas work, people spontaneously seem to walk onstage at the end, to look at our scores and talk. And then you find out there’s no typical audience member at all.

– What’s next for Burrows & Fargion?

We don’t really make plans for the future, but rather just try to keep going with our practice, and all the parts of the practice are important, including performing, teaching, talking, writing and so on. For twenty years we’ve had no office and no regular funding, and we share all aspects of the work and pay equally. We like it that way, as it means we don’t have to make any promises about what we might or might not manage to do.

Burrows & Fargion Rewriting and Science Fiction plays at Sadler’s Wells 5 – 6 May 2022.

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INTERVIEW: @fantomedelopera

Interview

Twitter account @fantomedelopera tweets all about Gaston Leroux’s Le Fantôme de l’Opéra / The Phantom of the Opera, haunting the Palais Garnier since its 1909 serialization, and its many adaptations.

→ Tell us about your Twitter account, @fantomedelopera.

It was set up to be a kind of news service for anyone interested in the latest developments in the Phantom of the Opera world. But there’s a general focus on the novel and the 1925 film, as those are two personal favourites.

→ In your opinion, what has made Andrew Lloyd Webber’s 1986 musical adaptation such a worldwide success?

It’s a phenomenal score, and the alchemy of the original production is hard to beat. Also, the story itself naturally lends itself to a theatrical setting, being of and about the theatre.

→ Recently, there have been some quite drastic changes to the production in London’s West End. Can you tell us more about that?

Yes, the producers have halved the orchestra, from twenty-seven down to fourteen, and veterans of the show have been unceremoniously fired.

Designer Maria Björnson’s opulent proscenium has been dismantled, with the central descending Angel – her favorite setpiece – removed altogether. Even the iconic boat scene has been impacted, with the candelabra no longer moving. The lighting is now far brighter and more saturated, too, and the Phantom no longer stalks the catwalk above the stage.

Lloyd Webber’s bizarre insistence that the 2021 version is “substantially identical” to the original, and remains director Hal Prince’s production “in its entirety”, has caused confusion amongst audiences who were promised an “enhanced” show. Prince, who died in July 2019, opposed changes to the production. The so-called “brilliant original” is no more in Britain. Some minor restaging aside, however, it can still be seen on Broadway and in Japan.

→ What’s the future for Gaston Leroux’s story? Do you think the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical will ever close?

I don’t think the Broadway production will outlast the end of this decade. France has recently played host to two straight-play adaptations. Several TV and film adaptations are planned, including a movie musical produced by John Legend, set in modern-day New Orleans. Every year a new graphic novel or computer game based on the Phantom of the Opera is released. Follow me on Twitter; I’ll keep you posted!

Follow @fantomedelopera on Twitter.

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INTERVIEW | Anna Ferrer, Magalí Sare & Manel Fortià

Interview

The Prickle spoke to Balearic singer and multi-instrumentalist Anna Ferrer, alongside Catalan jazz duo Magalí Sare & Manel Fortià. They will be performing at The Pheasantry in London on 5-6 April, as part of Spotlight on Catalan Culture – the UK’s largest festival of Catalan arts, music and culture taking place across the UK March – June 2022.

– What does the Spotlight on Catalan Culture festival mean to you?

FORTIÀ: It is a great opportunity that allows us to show what kind of music we do outside Catalonia and how the audience reacts to it.

SARE: I love the fact that a festival like this exists. It’s a very cool way for locals to discover new music and to create new bonds between these cultures.

– How about audience members who can’t speak Catalan, and are totally new to Catalan music and culture; do you think they will still have a good time?

SARE: Of course they will! And we will also explain the songs during the concert.

FERRER: The reality of what one wants to say, if it’s authentic and comes from the heart, can come through via other, much more intangible ways.

– Many people say music is universal: do you think that’s true?

FERRER: Humanity is universal, the feeling of belonging to a cultural net is universal… and music is one of the first forms of expression of a community. Without a doubt, yes: music is universal.

FORTIÀ: Sometimes I have played with musicians that didn’t speak the same language as me and it worked well. It is the magic part of the music.

– Fish and chips or roast dinner?

FERRER: Fish and chips.

SARE: Roast dinner.

FORTIÀ: Mediterranean food.

Book online for 5-6 April 2022 at Pizza Express Live.

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INTERVIEW | Septime Webre

Interview

Septime Webre is the artistic director of Hong Kong Ballet. He was kind enough to talk to us about Hong Kong Ballet’s new, upcoming production of The Nutcracker.

What made you decide it’s time for a new production of The Nutcracker?

The Nutcracker is a holiday tradition – the Christmas season just wouldn’t be the same without it! Our current production is almost ten years old, and it seemed like the right time for a make-over. The new production is set in early twentieth century Hong Kong, and is a celebration of Hong Kong’s culture, history and natural beauty – I think it will resonate with Hong Kong people.

What about all those audiences who still love the old production of The Nutcracker?

The essence of the previous production is to be found in the majestic Tchaikovsky score, and that remains intact. In fact, the music is the heart of The Nutcracker, and this new production provides the roadmap: it’s very much a return to the original ballet’s concepts, a charming story of a young girl’s marvellous journey to magical new lands.

What have been your major aims for Hong Kong Ballet, since taking on the role of artistic director in 2017?

We have long been one of Asia’s premier ballet companies—our goal is also to be its most forward-looking, with a focus on being cherished locally and respected globally.  We’ve endeavoured to reflect Hong Kong more thoroughly, while simultaneously raising the classical standards of the company. And we’re achieving our goals!

What’s next for Hong Kong Ballet?

So much exciting new work!  A major residency at M+, Hong Kong’s new signature contemporary art museum; the return of Yuri Ng’s lively Ballet Classics for Children: Swan Lake; a mixed bill which celebrates the rule-breakers of ballet; a new full-length ballet about the life of Coco Chanel, and more!

Playing 11 – 26 December 2021 at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre Grand Theatre.

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THE QUARANTINE QUILT | Cambridgeshire, online

Interview

Glimmer Theatre is a visual folk theatre ensemble who create female-led action adventure stories, and exciting community events.

Andrew Brock and Sophie Crawford talk about their new collaborative project.

What will The Quarantine Quilt look like when it’s complete?

SC: We don’t know yet! Come back in July and see.

AB: It will be an enormous patchwork quilt, made up entirely of little red and white patches, which will ultimately be displayed in libraries and museums across Cambridgeshire. People can submit their patches online or by post.

What inspired you to do this project?

AB: I’m from Cambridge originally, and Cambridgeshire County Council approached us for their new initiative, The Library Presents: in your house.

SC: We wanted to channel the lockdown life into something collaborative and artistic, and The Library Presents are producing this project.

AB: On Zoom, when you have a group call, it looks like a patchwork quilt. I thought that would be an amazing starting point for a project. Millions of individual squares of light, making up our isolated population. We want to draw those squares together literally and physically into a hybrid of physical and digital art making.

What sort of things are you looking for?

AB: We are very open-minded!

SC: It’s a chance for everyone to create something inspired by their time in lockdown. It could be a symbol of the virus like a facemask; or it could be something wonderful like a bird. I’m excited to see what patches people come up with.

How do people get involved?

AB: We are particularly looking for people to make real-life patches with needle and thread. We will send all the materials!

SC: Even if you’ve never picked up a needle and thread before – we want to hear from you! Just go on the website, it’s all there. You can submit digitally or you can request patches to be posted to your house.

Visit the Glimmer Theatre website to design your own patch and get involved in The Quarantine Quilt.

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INTERVIEW: SARA DEE

Interview

 

Sara Dee has been described as “a hybrid of Patsy Cline and Madeleine Peyroux”. The L.A. based singer-songwriter talked to The Prickle about her new Christmas single, ‘Christmas in California’.

 

How did you get into singing and songwriting?

Sara Dee: Growing up there was always music on in my house — a pretty balanced diet of oldies, rock ‘n’ roll, standards, and classical.  I always gravitated toward music, and as a kid would stay in my room for hours, teaching myself instruments, and analyzing my favourite songs.  So I suppose the singing and songwriting came as a natural part of my obsession with imitating what I admired.

What inspires you to write?

Sara Dee: I love to write about conflict. And love! Really I find inspiration in anything I’m willing to pay close attention to. But conflict and love are pretty powerful motivators.

Who are your musical heroes?

Sara Dee: There’s so many; if I have to make a short list: Tom Waits, Johnny Cash, Beach Boys, Queen, Ella Fitzgerald, Over the Rhine, Lianna LaHavas, Dr. John, Janelle Monet. I mean, I could go on…

Tell us about your new single.

Sara Dee: I wrote ‘Christmas in California’ basically in one sitting, which doesn’t always happen. It was Christmastime; I was on my bed looking out my window; and it looked like summer outside. I felt no ‘holiday spirit’, and honestly, it was kind of sad! I love the subtle rushes of holiday magic, and when I looked around I didn’t see one sign of winter or Christmas. That’s when the lyric, “Christmas is a state of mind”, popped into my brain. From there, I just started thinking about all the imagery of experiencing winter in an endless summer town. And really, the hardest part about that was whittling down which ones to leave in — there are so many! And it was also a great way to pay some hommage to my city of Los Angeles.

What’s next for Sara Dee?

Sara Dee: A couple more singles before the big album in February 2019, In Joy, Vol. 2. It’s my third full-length album, and I’m really excited about it! But first, this is the perfect time of year to check out my Christmas single.

Sign up to be first in the know about all things Sara Dee.

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INTERVIEW: SINNOBER

Interview

 

Acclaimed folk-rock duo Sinnober, Sebastian Brice (Vocals, Guitar) and Natalie Brice (Vocals, Keyboard, Bass), have just released their third album Projection, available now.

 

 

Q: This album seems more richly orchestrated in places, how did that come about?

 

NATALIE: For the last two albums, we were working as a trio with guitar, bass, and drums, which very much informed the arrangements. With Projection we moved away from that setup and had an urge to explore and expand our sound.

SEBASTIAN: Fortunately, one of the many perks of living in Frome is the abundance of creative talent, so local musician friends contributed to the recordings.

NATALIE: We are also pretty obsessed with the albums Hejira and The Hissing of Summer Lawns by Joni Mitchell, and they have undoubtedly informed the sound of Projection.

SEBASTIAN: Her music feels almost genreless and that’s where we feel most comfortable.

 

 

Q: “True North” is an absolutely beautiful song: what inspired you to write a song for your child?

 

SEBASTIAN: Thank you! Our son, Asher, is two years old now, but when we started writing the songs for Projection he was only a few months old, and we were in the throes of new parenthood.

NATALIE: Intense sleep deprivation, coupled with an overwhelming sense of love. Everything felt suddenly very poignant and this song came out of that.

SEBASTIAN: There’s also this rather limiting belief that if you want to be a serious artist, you can’t have children. Ironically, since having a child, our creativity has increased tenfold and because those pockets of space are so rare, when we do get them, we make sure we use them well.

 

 

Q: Tell me about the covers.

 

NATALIE: “No Regrets” is a Tom Rush song from 1968.  It’s one of Seb’s all time favourite songs, and we used to listen to it in the car, on this dodgy Old Grey Whistle Test mixtape, for years, before deciding to cover it. I guess our version is slightly different to the original, in that it’s sung by a female, so that changes the energy.

SEBASTIAN: “When a Knight Won His Spurs” is a song that Natalie used to sing to Asher to get him to sleep. A nostalgic and beautiful song that communicates, in a very imaginative way, the spiritual qualities that need to be nurtured in a child.

NATALIE: “Alexandra Leaving” is the last song on the album. We are massive Leonard Cohen fans. We got trolled by a guy on YouTube, because we’re singing the words as they are in Leonard Cohen’s Book Of Longing and not like his recording of the song.

 

 

Q: What’s next for Sinnober?

 

NATALIE: Our album launch for Projection, at Rook Lane Chapel in Frome, on October 18th!

SEBASTIAN: We’ll perform the album live, with guest musicians, followed by the opportunity for some massage, some couples therapy, and then maybe some more songs.

 

 

Book online now for the Projection album launch.

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