11th September 2018
Hi Everyone – Emily here, updating you on our summer concerts! We have certainly travelled up and down the country this summer, bringing Burying the Dead to audiences all around the UK.
We started at Buxton International Festival in July, where, after a slightly murky drive, we arrived at the Palace Hotel, which was definitely something from the height of Buxton’s Victorian spa destination past. Having met at the hotel and found our palatial rooms, Jenni, Satoko, Kate and I went to find some Thai food and scope out the venue for the following day’s concert (via Aldi for a toothbrush – yes, I forgot one!). Toby arrived later that evening from Ireland (first prize for the longest commute!) and then we got our heads down for a good night’s sleep. In the morning we met Simon (our summer Purcell), Natalie and Mark (ace lighting team) and got ready for rehearsals at St John’s Church – a lovely venue for Burying the Dead, with lots of space for our staging and lighting. We all really enjoyed this performance and we had a lovely welcoming audience – thank you Buxton!
Our second summer mini-holiday took place in the beautiful Kendal in August for Lake District Summer Music. A few of us had taken the opportunity to stay for a bit longer than just the concert day and I spent a few days with Hannah Pearson, our talented costume designer, and her beautiful little boy. When we weren’t out walking in the sun, we spent a morning resetting mine and Jenni’s wigs, which is a much bigger job than I ever imagined! Once they were pristine again, it was time to drive to Kendal for our concert. This was a trickier venue, with a much narrower stage than we were used to, which was a challenge for the rehearsals. However, Simone, our lovely Stage Manager, was on hand to help us work out our blocking without falling off the stage! Having sorted this and a few wardrobe malfunctions out, the performance was really well received and we were all ready for our post-show team curry before the long drive home the next day.
It’s been a fun summer taking Burying the Dead on tour around the UK and we are so grateful to our wonderful technical team, Simone and Pitch Black Lighting, and to Simon Cole, our fabulous Purcell. We can’t wait to bring the show a little closer to home this Autumn with a trip to Kent in November and returning to London in the New Year. Please follow the links on our Burying the Dead page for more information about where you can catch the show next!
5th July 2018
Toby here, reporting on our Burying the Dead fully-staged premiere shows in London at the Stroud Green Festival on Sunday 17th June. The process began on the Friday afternoon as we rehearsed with our wonderful director, Thomas Guthrie to tweak the show a bit and make sure we all could remember what we were doing and when! Having already performed the show four times (albeit without full staging and lighting) it was great to be able to refine it even further, and for Tom to add some more interesting twists. As a musician who is generally most comfortable just sitting in one place playing to an audience, the chance to run through the couple of moments where I get a bit more involved in the action was very welcome, and resulted in me not falling over, catching fire or generally making a idiot out of myself so was definitely time well spent!
8th June 2018
‘a piece of theatre that Henry Purcell would approve of’
Andrew Maddocks, Concerts in the West.
Kate takes over the Burying the Dead Blog for June…
After five preview shows, the first reviews are in for Burying the Dead! We had a brilliant time on a whirlwind mini-tour of the South West (many thanks to Concerts in the West for hosting us), followed by a well-received performance at Music at 22 Mansfield Street. It’s always nerve-racking unveiling a new project, but the reaction to the show has been fantastic, with audiences being caught up in the drama of Purcell’s life and death. Many people said they loved experiencing Purcell’s music in a broader context, and that the pieces seemed more accessible as a result – this was one of our central aims, so it’s great to hear.
Burying the Dead has also captured imaginations more widely, and we were thrilled to be listed as ‘Critics’ Choice’ in The Times, alongside some very esteemed company – the CBSO, Simon Rattle, and the Berlin Philharmonic!! You can hear us on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme next week too, with scriptwriter Clare Norburn and Simon Cole (one of our Purcells) in conversation with James Naughtie, interspersed with music recorded specially for the occasion. And finally, Emily and Niall Ashdown (our other Purcell) will take a quick break from rehearsals to hop over to the BBC Radio 3 In Tune studio next Wednesday – catch their live interview from 5pm on 13th June. It’s exciting that there has been so much interest in the project, so please make sure that you book tickets early to avoid disappointment.
Meanwhile, behind the scenes, we’re busy adding the final pieces to the jigsaw before our first fully-staged show next week. We’ve loved wearing Hannah Pearson’s brilliant costumes and working with our inspiring director, Thomas Guthrie, and we can’t wait to unveil the finished product complete with staging and lighting (designed by Pitch Black lighting). We kick off at the Stroud Green Festival next Sunday, 17th June, followed by venues around the country – it would be great to see you there!
‘A voyage of discovery’: Thomas Guthrie talks about Burying the Dead
2nd May 2018
It’s Jenni here with your first update from the rehearsal room! We’ve had a really exciting couple of weeks starting production rehearsals for our new show Burying the Dead. We take it to the South West this week as part of a preview tour for Concerts in the West so have been busy preparing! We have two fab actors playing Henry Purcell; Niall Ashdown and Simon Cole and it’s been lovely to work with them and get to know them. This project is bigger than anything we’ve done as a group before and we’ve really enjoyed getting stuck into the specially commissioned script by Clare Norburn and learning lots of new music by Purcell. Thomas Guthrie, our director, has come up with really innovative ways of bringing Clare’s words to life, and we’ve all been working at creating different soundscapes with instruments and other props including coconuts (think Monty Python but with no Brave Sir Robin!). Since we’re touring the show, we’ve had to create something that can fit in any venue, be it a church, theatre, church hall or even a living room! Tom has been full of brilliant ideas and it’s been really interesting exploring a new script and creating something from scratch as opposed to performing something that has been interpreted by several others before. Without giving too much away, the show is set in Henry Purcell’s bedroom, which is a bit topsy turvy and seems to also be a stage. He’s in the final few weeks of his life, suffering from tuberculosis and has been having lots of hallucinations because of his fevers, but this is the first dream with a cast of musicians!
Here are some pics from the rehearsal room:
We’re looking forward to keeping you updated as we continue with our Burying the Dead tour.