ALMEIDA GREEKS FESTIVAL: MUSIC HIGHLIGHTS
The ALMEIDA GREEKS FESTIVAL is now underway. Throughout the summer an eclectic mix of Ancient Greek inspired performances, events, talks and readings are taking place at the Almeida and beyond to compliment the theatre’s main stage productions of Oresteia, Bakkhai and Medea.
Festival highlights for August, September and October include three special one-off music performances. Trailblazing female ensemble Gaggle bring their contemporary retelling of Aristophanes’ classic comedyLysistrata to the Almeida with Charlotte Church amongst the cast. Bakkhai composer Orlando Goughcurates an eclectic day of musical Dionysia with music from across Europe and Early Opera Company are joined by Ciara Hendrick as they perform Bernier’s cantata Médée and excerpts from Charpentier’s opera of the same name.
A new play with music
Written & directed by Deborah Coughlin
Friday 7 & Saturday 8 Aug 10.30pm
Gaggle bring their new music theatre version of Lysistrata, written and directed by Deborah Coughlin, to the Almeida Greeks Festival for two late nights of raucous after-hours revelry. Charlotte Church takes an acting role alongside Scarlett Lassoff, Katy Menczer, Jamie-Rose Monk, Roberta Morris and Lauren La Rocque. Music will be performed by a chorus made up from Gaggle’s critically acclaimed all-girl group.
Aristophanes’ biting comedy is reimagined against a backdrop of contemporary political struggle as Gaggle bring to vivid new life the story of a gang of vigilante women committed to changing the world. Injected with new and existing music from Gaggle, this timely new play with music will be performed on the Almeida’s main stage after Bakkhai.
All-female ensemble Gaggle were named as one of NME’s Future 50 most innovative groups and have gone on to create boundary-breaking works across Europe’s festivals, on radio, in galleries and online. Their releases include Make Love Not War, From the Mouth of the Cave (2012, Transgressive) and their reworking of forgotten opera The Brilliant and the Dark Live at the ICA (2011). Gaggle’s recent work includes comedy sketch show The Gag Show at the Etcetera Theatre and Yap Yap Yap performed during their recent residency at the ICA as part of Fig-2 season. They have also released a choir app called Gagglephone, made a 3 minute film for Channel 4’s Random Act and created a pop-up shop and gallery in an abandoned shop in New Cross.
Deborah Coughlin is Founder and Director of Gaggle. She was included in NewWork Network’s Top Emerging Visual Artists in 2001 and more recently Huck Magazine’s 50 Inspirational Doers. Deborah currently writes, directs and produces all of Gaggle’s activities as well as writing for BBC Radio, The Guardian, The Independent and Vice. She was previously editor of The Feminist Times.
Radio One’s Gemma Cairney will DJ in the Almeida bar after the performance on 7 August.
ORLANDO GOUGH: THAT FEELING
Sun 13 Sep 4 – 8pm
Tickets £25 (£20 concs)
In the spirit of Dionysos, Bakkhai composer Orlando Gough curates an eclectic day of musical Dionysia at the Almeida.
Highlights include wild urban folk music by Çiğdem Aslan, rising star of the Greek Rebetiko scene; an improvised performance by musical innovators Peter Wiegold, Martin Butler and classical jazz bandNotes Inégales; traditional folk music and dance from Southern Italy performed by London’s first Tarantella and Pizzica ensemble Amaraterra and a bespoke piece created with Orlando Gough and five members of the Bakkhai chorus. The day will be contextualised with talks from Orlando on the tension between Dionysus and Apollo in music, and an exploration of ecstatic religions and their music – taking inspiration from Voodoo, Qawwali and Gnaoua traditions.
Orlando Gough writes music for operas, plays and dance, as well as creating large-scale site specific work. He is currently composing the music for Bakkhai at the Almeida where his previous credits include Mr. Burns. His recent opera work includes Imago (Glyndebourne), Road Rage (Garsington Opera), Foghorn Requiem (Souter Lighthouse, South Shields) and Stemmer (Bergen Festival).
EARLY OPERA COMPANY: MÉDÉE FURIEUSE
Sun 4 Oct 7.30pm
Tickets £30 (£27 concs)
Inspired by the Almeida’s upcoming production of Medea, Olivier-Award nominated Early Opera andChristian Curnyn will be joined by mezzo soprano Ciara Hendrick to perform Bernier’s cantata Médée and excerpts from Charpentier’s magnificent opera of the same name.
Throughout history the story of Medea has fascinated composers, never more so than in France in the 17th and 18th centuries. In this special event for the Almeida Greeks Festival, Early Opera Company’s ensemble of strings, lute and harpsichord will take audiences on an operatic journey through the French Baroque, exploring one of world drama’s most infamous characters.
Rachel Cusk’s new version of Medea, directed by Rupert Goold, runs at the Almeida from 25 September. Kate Fleetwood will make her Almeida debut in the title role.
Founded by music director Christian Curnyn, Early Opera Company is one of Britain’s leading early music ensembles. Their recent work with The Royal Opera has included Monteverdi’s Orfeo at the Roundhouse and Cavalli’s L’Ormindo at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, for which they were nominated with them for an Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in Opera. Other highlights include many performances at Wigmore Hall and Iford Festival, St George’s Bristol, BBC Proms, Buxton Festival, Snape Proms and Linbury Studio. Their award-winning Handel opera recordings on Chandos include Serse, Alceste, Partenope,Semele and Flavio, and Il Trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno on Wigmore Live. Upcoming work includes a performance at York Early Music Festival this summer with Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas and Charpentier’s Acteon, a staged opera in London with The Royal Opera and a much-anticipated concert performance at St John’s Smith Square.
For the full festival line-up please see www.almeida.co.uk/greeks
THE CURRENT GREEK SEASON AT THE ALMEIDA…
a new version by Anne Carson
directed by James Macdonald
23 July – 19 September 2015
Press Night 30 July, 7pm
James Macdonald returns to the Almeida to stage Anne Carson’s new version of Euripides’ hedonistic, visceral tragedy. Ben Whishaw makes his Almeida debut as Dionysos alongside Bertie Carvel as Pentheus and Kevin Harvey as Kadmos. Using three actors and a chorus, this new production will echo the original Ancient Greek performance model.
Pentheus has banned the wild, ritualistic worship of the god Dionysos. A stranger arrives to persuade him to change his mind. Euripides’ electrifying tragedy is a struggle to the death between freedom and restraint, the rational and the irrational, man and god.
The Bakkhai includes Amiera Darwish, Eugenia Georgieva, Kaisa Hammarlund, Helen Hobson, Hazel Holder, Melanie La Barrie, Elinor Lawless, Catherine May, Louise Mills and Belinda Sykes.
Design is by Antony McDonald, with light by Peter Mumford, sound by Paul Arditti, composition byOrlando Gough and musical direction by Lindy Tennent-Brown. Choreography is by Jonathan Burrowsand Gillie Kleiman. Casting is by Anne McNulty CDG.
Anne Carson is a poet, essayist, translator, playwright, and classicist who frequently references, modernises, and translates Greek mythology. Anne’s translation of Sophocles’ Antigone, starring Juliette Binoche and directed by Ivo van Hove, recently played at the Barbican having premiered at Théâtre National du Luxembourg earlier this year.
James Macdonald’s work at the Almeida includes The Triumph of Love, Judgement Day and A Delicate Balance. He was Associate Director of the Royal Court from 1992 to 2007 premiering works by Sarah Kane, Caryl Churchill and Martin Crimp. More recently at the Royal Court he has directed The Wolf From the Door,Cock and Love and Information. His other credits include Roots (Donmar Warehouse), #aiww: The Arrest of Ai Wei Wei, And No More Shall We Part (Hampstead Theatre), King Lear, The Book of Grace, Top Girls(Broadway), Dido, Queen of Carthage, The Hour We Knew Nothing of Each Other, Exiles (National Theatre),Dying City (Lincoln Center), Drunk Enough to Say I Love You (Public Theater) and Glengarry Glen Ross(West End).
a new version by Rachel Cusk
directed by Rupert Goold
25 September – 14 November 2015
Press Night 1 October, 7pm
One of world drama’s most infamous characters is brought to controversial new life in this production by Almeida Artistic Director Rupert Goold and feminist writer Rachel Cusk. Kate Fleetwood makes her Almeida debut in the title role.
Medea’s marriage is breaking up. And so is everything else. Testing the limits of revenge and liberty, Euripides’ seminal play cuts to the heart of gender politics and asks what it means to be a woman and a wife.
Design is by Ian McNeil, costume by Holly Waddington, composition and sound by Adam Cork and choreography by Scott Ambler. Casting is by Julia Horan CDG.
Rachel Cusk was selected by Granta as one of their Best Young British Novelists in 2003. Author of seven novels and three works of non-fiction, she won the Whitbread First Novel Award for Saving Agnes, a Somerset Maugham Award for The Country Life, and was shortlisted for the 2007 Orange Prize for Arlington Park. Her latest novel, Outline, was shortlisted for the Folio Prize and the Goldsmiths Prize.
The Almeida Greeks production of Medea is supported by the Onassis Foundation.