‘Bisclavret’ at Being Human 2015 – a festival of the humanities – 14th Nov

If you reach back into the intervallic archive of my blog (which is to say, 2 posts ago but back in July), you’ll have your memory jogged that I’ve been writing some more music for The Liverpool University Players. In fact, I recently finished the score for the Players’ latest production of Bisclavret – a 12th Century Breton lai by Marie de France. The show tells the tale of the titular character and his questionable wife who learns that he is living a double life as a werewolf and conspires to trap him in his lupine form.

Furthermore, Bisclavret is being performed at Liverpool’s wonderful Walker Gallery which is hosting the event as part of Being Human – a nationwide festival of the humanities running from the 12th to the 22nd of November. It promises to be an exploration to the fringes of humanity, delving into supernatural worlds and fantastical creatures within medieval literature and seeking relevance to our everyday lives. Plus, the play will be preceded by a talk from Prof Sarah Peverley.

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As for the music – once again I have been trying my hand at a delicate balance between authenticity and creativity. Though it is a short production, I’ve taken what opportunities I can (along with input from the rest of the lovely crew) to develop some clear themes using traditional European instrumentation from the medieval period. For example, during the feast there is a rather rousing number for lute, harp, recorder, accordion and percussion inspired by pre-Middle Ages Breton dances being reinterpreted by contemporary artists, like Orlulas. And of course, much like with Untold, there is a light touch of modern production and ambience to give a sense of something old being discovered and re-imagined for today’s audience.

It’s worth mentioning that my duties extended to sound design this time around. During the planning stages, we were discussing how to navigate a limited performance space and minimal scenery whilst maintaining a strong sense of place and time throughout. I suggested that the use of audio beyond just music would help conjure up the appropriate mental images – and so set about creating some soundscapes to complete the picture of a medieval interior, a forest, a feast etc etc. Once again it has been a pleasure to work with the Players and Sarah Peverley and I can’t wait to see the final performance. The event is free, so if you’re in Liverpool, feel like some thought provoking period drama, and want to be part of a nationwide event on what it means to be human, then the Walker Gallery is the place to be on Saturday 14th November.

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Photo from rehearsal: Bisclavret in werewolf form.

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Photo from rehearsal: the man and his conniving wife.

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