Adrift to Dream
We are such stuff as dreams are made on
Motley's the only wear
Small time, but in that small most greatly lived
What relish is in this? How
runs the stream?
|The idea for
this project came out of a wonderful Sunday Session with Clive Brill, the genius behind
Riverrun Productions, responsible for so many quality films and radio broadcasts. Very
kindly John Tydeman had put me in touch with Clive and, on the appointed day, Clive
appeared at the Workout. He arrived early. Indeed, he arrived at the beginning.
There was a crowd of, say, fifty and I was fairly merrily leading the physical and vocal
warm-up. In my usual enthusiasm, not having met Clive before, I encouraged the chap
sitting in one of the comfy chairs at the end of the long stairway to join in. He did so.
When, eventually, it came to WitSlings, I turned to this jovial newcomer and
enquired: What is your name. Im Clive, your guest, he
responded. Egg, I suppose, could have stayed on my face but such was the crowds joy
at Clives inclusion, it easily evaporated. Clive revelled at the interactive joy of
Clumps and said he would happily employ many of those whom he had seen in that segment,
(which is always alive if nothing else), in the vitally important Arkangel/Riverrun
project, (one which will finish recording the complete Shakespearean cycle this month
(January 2000) for both tape/cds), at £150 per day. I must confess, I had no idea this
was on the cards. However, I doubt whether Clive did at that time as well. During his own
segment, Clive talked about the qualities required in achieving the goals he wished to
establish for the recordings. LSW members read segments from the scripts. Selected parts
of new recordings were heard. It was a wonderfully immediate undertaking. Of course, human
nature being what it blessedly is, many of those who had not taken part in that particular
Clumps session -- and many long establish members no present but having heard about it --
(word travelling like wildfire) -- wanted to know how they too might enter the Riverrun
lottery. Clive generously agreed to receive tapes which I was asked to pass onto
him. I forwarded the first two I received, those from Charlie Woods and Philip Dinsdale,
both very talented LSW members. A few days later, Charlotte Harvey, Clives kind
assistant called me and enquired if it might be possible to put together an evening since
it seemed there were more people than Clive originally had anticipated. I said I would.
The date of 18th April was agreed upon. The concept of Adrift to Dream was born.
A crowd of 33 performers gathered in the Art Room at 6.30 p.m. on the evening of 18th April 1999. We lead a brief warm-up. It had been agreed that each performer would have two fourteen line segments. I wanted to ensure that the energy generated by Clumps was not dissipated in what might be perceived as a more formal set-up. I wanted people to be able to listen and enjoy each others work. In an attempt to achieve this goal, I brought in the core from a used toilet roll. I would begin, indiscriminately by handing the roll to one of the members. In turn they would, on completion of their first fourteen line segment, hand the role on to another in no pronounced order. So it was. When all had accomplished their first fourteen lines, a different order was established found itself established for the second. No break was had. The joy of the work continued to ensue throughout. It was a trick, but it had worked. We were greatly honoured by the presence of Dr. Tom Treadwell, whose fiscal generosity has underwritten the entire Arkangel project. When Clive appeared, he commented that he did not realise that there would be so many people, and questioned whether he would be able to actively see, in any meaningful regard, so many in the period prescribed: two hours. We started late. We finished early. It worked, Clive said at the end. There was great joy in the work. Peter Kenny said he had never been in a more relaxed audition situation. Mutual respect was rife. It was a wonderful entertainment in an of itself. The joy of the language thrilled. One performers passion inspired the next. Dr. Treadwell commented at the conclusion, I have never seen such a high level of excellence sustained among so many people at one time. We had been honoured indeed.
The next Arkangel recording was Cymberline with LSW Guest Suzanne Bertish, Jack Shepard, Sophie Thompson and Ron Cook, among others. Joining their ranks from LSW were Charlie Woods, Julius Barnett, Max Bonamy, Annabel Capper, James Reynard and Rupert Mason. I was thrilled. The next recording was Troilus and Cressida. In that Rupert and Annabel returned. I was overjoyed when I learned that Annabel was to essay Helen of Troy. I cannot express how proud I am of them all. I cannot adequately express the gratitude I feel I owe Clive for giving these talented young artists these once-in-a-career opportunities. In future recordings Sarah Rice and Rupert were featured in Love's Labour Lost as well as Max Bonamy and the wonderful Kenneth Jay essayed no less than Dr. Caius in Merry Wives of Windsor, all appearing alongside leading members of the British theatrical industry. These recordings will be the standard for the next fifteen to twenty years. These artists, young in their careers, will not only have been able to benefit in the undertaking and have their names included on the box sets, but will have gained valuable experience that they will be able to share with so many others at LSW and elsewhere.
I had thought that this project would be a one-off. Other LSW members asked to have similar evenings with other industry personnel. I resisted. I presented the idea to the Board. They concurred with the membership. I continued to hesitate because I did not feel that this should be, at root, the purpose of LSW. Then I read of select producers charging those young in their careers £80 to perform a speech in front of casting directors and £120 to perform in a scene. My stomach churned. I began to be sent ads for copious similar undertakings from the pages of PCR, ACID and The Stage. I became angered. My heart twisted. My attitude turned.
I know, of course, there is no point in complaining unless one is willing to offer an viable alternative. I, myself, am hugely enamoured of talent. I very much would like to offer opportunities, much akin to those demonstrated on 18th April, on behalf of the aforementioned talents at no cost to themselves if for no other reason than to make a point and to offer the potential for a meaningful interchange. Let talent not money be the great leveller. I am still innocent enough to believe that it shall prove to be so in any event.
Thus, we will be experimenting with a series of Adrift to Dream evenings presenting at various points segments from Shakespeare and, where appropriate, selections from other classical and contemporary perspectives, knowing full well the frequent perquisite is firmly squared on the latter side. These evenings will be made up from those who continue to work at their craft at LSW and on professional stages throughout the United Kingdom. Let there be no charge. Moreover, having forged the first international exchange between professional British and American performers in 1983, I am also eager to encourage future opportunities to cross future international boundaries. Shakespeare, after all, has known few restrictions.
Should you wish to know more about the Adrift to Dream Programme e-mail Londonswo@hotmail.com