"Hear my Soul Speak"
It does so by exploring the dramatic ramifications of the sound patterning in Shakespeare’s poetry—what Peter Brook has referred to as the “verbal music” My hypothesis is that this “infinitely powerful further dimension which comes from sound” may suggest a subliminal account of the mental and emotional life of the character through its somatic impact on the actor.
The performance draws exclusively on text from The Tempest. We expose the 'verbal music' of the text and juxtapose this against some of the little-known original vocal music for the play written by Shakespeare’s colleague, the composer Robert Johnson. We've researched other surviving music by Johnson to reconstruct a more complete indicative original score for the play.
We’re using digital/video art through live projection to explore and expose the sonic patterning of the language visually, and the diffusion of the Prospero persona beyond the confines of the body of the actor who ‘plays’ him.
Thanks to the support of London Theatre Workshop, we have the opportunity to develop and present this work-in-progress performance on April 13th and 14th in the heart of London. We are testing the concept's poential for further development as a touring multi-media work for theatre.
We're also presenting the work on April 20th as part of the Rose Bruford College Symposium.
Join our GoFundMe campaign here or Australian supporters can make a tax-deductible donation here.
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Russell is an Associate of the Jette Parker Young Artist’s Programme, Royal Opera House Covent Garden. He studied part-time at the National Opera Studio in 2010/11 and he is an alumnus of the Britten-Pears Young Artist Programme. He has performed in master classes for Emma Kirkby, Michael Chance, Andreas Scholl and Rosalind Plowright. Russell currently studies with Yvonne Kenny.
Russell made his operatic début in 2007 as Oberon A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Western AustralianAcademy of Performing Arts (WAAPA). He made his Australian concert début in 2009 as a guest artist at the Australian Festival of Chamber Music and made his Royal Opera début in the title role of Handel’s Oreste.
Roles include Athamas Semele under Sir Charles Mackerras, Volano Il Giasone under Jane Glover, Fox/Coachman (cover) The Adventures of Pinocchio Opera North, Armindo (cover) Partenope Opera Australia (Sydney & Melbourne seasons), Zelim (cover) La verità in cimento, Licida (cover) L’Olimpiade both for Garsington Opera, Corrado Griselda Pinchgut Opera, under Erin Helyard, Narciso Agrippina and tile role Jason and a concert tour of works by Vivaldi, all for English Touring Opera, Pisandro The Return of Ulysses for Iford Arts Festival under Christian Curnyn, Hunahpù (cover) in Peter Sellars’ Indian Queen at English National Opera, Andronico Bajazet for Pinchgut Opera under Erin Helyard, Nerone in Handel’s Agrippina with Brisbane Baroque under Erin Helyard, David (cover) Saul for Glyndebourne Tour. Oratorio experience includes alto soloist in Handel’s Messiah, Judas Maccabaeus, Israel in Egypt, J. S. Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, Weihnacht’s Oratorium, Mass in B minor, Schnittke’s Faust Cantata and Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms.
Recent engagements include, Countertenor 1 in John Adams’ and Peters Sellars’ The Gospel According to the Other Mary for Theater Bonn, Rosencrantz (cover) in Brett Dean’s Hamlet for the Glyndebourne Festival and on Tour. In 2018 he will appear as Sesto in Giulio Cesare for Bury Court Opera Megabise in Hasse's Artaserse.
Recent projects included design and projections for Pukkelpop Festival (Belgium 2016); Working with UVA contributing to tours by Massive Attack and James Blake; Second Space a unique dance piece for UAL and most recently a virtual reality installation shown at Latitude, End of the Road and other festivals in 2017 bringing the experiences of Deaf and hard of hearing people to a hearing world.
In between other digital commissions for web development and collaborating with Mata Coco.
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In no other play of Shakespeare, is the action, and even the disposition of the other characters so utterly the construction of the central protagonist. Shakespeare uses the devices of a ‘stage magician’ – a Faustian necromancer, on an island under his enchantment, to explore a single character through all the stage action of the drama. It’s not too fanciful to suggest that the entire enchanted island is a landscape of Prospero’s mind.
This expressionist approach to characterisation is fuelled by the most knotted, ornate and ethereal language in the Shakespearean canon. That language creates a sound world that is simultaneously the world of the island, and a sonic portrait of Prospero’s psyche.
Shakespeare’s devotion to sound-patterning in language – to the verbal-music, is given a level of power and freedom to dominate the theatrical experience in his last play, especially in the words he gives to his last protagonist – that makes it truly an experimental drama.
Crucial to our conception of the play’s status as an experiment in the representation of human persona through the materiality of the sonic properties of language, is an understanding that this phenomenon takes its place in the context of a broader experiment in representing the protagonist: a representation which is not confined to the presence of the central actor, but dispersed across the play’s structure, effects, thematic concerns and the other figures in the play. The sum portrait of the Prospero persona in the play is found across the entire, elusive island, the music of the play, and the actions of subsidiary characters. The status of Caliban, for example, as an element of Prospero’s psyche has long been speculated, but this should be understood as part of a broader dramatic experiment.
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