THE NEW YEAR
If the new year is as good as the old year then it will be very special indeed. I look back with enormous satisfaction. Retrospect is wonderful. This time last year we were ensconced in the break out space at Mills Street debating the characters and motivations in Electra. Songs were being tossed around and ideas for songs and arrangements and then the recording sessions and rehearsals and performances that were the precursors of what eventually went on tour to Germany and England. It was an incredible process by any definition and for the most part joyous and fulfilling. This year we're back in the break out space at Mills Street developing That Bastard Brecht, It's easier in many respects, partly because the band will be on stage and live. The songs are, I think, simpler in a sense or maybe it's just that we have a rhythm and trust in each other built up over the events of 2017.
The first rehearsals are all about songs and choreography. At this stage four pieces are complete and we've started blocking the play. I think everyone is thrilled with the progress made. The movement and singing are awesome and the overall shape is promising. This week it will all be about blocking ( not acting ) We aim to cover the entire text, to give the whole piece a skeletal shape. This is my method, I've adhered to it for a very long time: it works for Nuworks and that's all that matters really. I feel secure in an overall pattern but I think it's because I am the author of the text that makes the difference here. I see it as I write it and rewrite it, add, subtract and colour so that the bodies move, for me, effortlessly and choreographically through the space and world of the play. The process is therefore fast and efficient. We don't tend to debate too much at rehearsal although I try to explain thought processes. Pete and I had an interesting discussion about accents last rehearsal. I was saying to the cast lets use Zis and Zat as a universal starting point for this and that. I had it in my mind that it was the approach taken in 'Genius' ( It wasn't, they don't go anywhere near them ) In any case Pete was pretty determined that we stay well clear of Zis and Zat for fear of caricature. I went home and listened to Brecht speak on the House of UnAmerican Activities Youtube video. It's clearly Zis and Zat. Still, i think Pete is right and he's supported in this by Jen and Meg. We'll discuss it further. I suppose there's a very good case for no accent. After all, Brecht on the video is speaking in English which he certainly did not use at the time or in the situations of the the play.
Will the audience accept that. They should, the deal is that they suspend their disbelief...that is, we are not Australian but rather German and a long as you understand relationships, motivation, status, and didactic intent, then the compact is agreed.
Accent aside, oh the choreography is gorgeous. It's totally 'Epic'. What is impressive here is the way that both Meg and Freya have found what works on bodies of all shapes, sizes and age. It's really easy to define good choreography. If a good play is a good story, well told, then good choreography is what works and looks good on the bodies of the ensemble, totally regardless of the participants dance training and ability. 'That Bastard Brecht' sets the scene perfectly with the insinuation of irreverence, political incorrectness and sex. It's guttural and witty and mild offensive, followed by 'Berlin' with all of the overtones of abandon in the sin capital of the world. We move quickly to the three in the bed song. There's the hint of Fosse here and a delightful, cheeky, sensual playfulness. We've really just begun and things are going to become a whole lot more serious very quickly. 'The Game' sees Brecht sing about himself in the third person. He's going to change the theatrical landscape at the time the Nazis and Fascism are about to obliterate the physical and political landscape of Europe. The piece is staccato, dysfunctional and erratic. Hope and despair, determination, annihilation collide, bodies writhe and contort.
I move to the Studio and the band are in full swing: 'The Wolf at the Door'. It's anarchic, pounding, aggressive piano, drums, bass and sax. There's no guitars here. We made a very conscious decision to avoid guitars. Piano is the driving force. Think here Dresden Dolls and Amanda Palmer. Then the anthem, gloriously awful, the Nazis rising from the ashes of WW1 to proclaim the thousand Year Reich. There are horrible lyrics about 'niggers and jews and reds'. The cast join the band, the song is grotesquely triumphant.
On we go...........