A new liveartshow journey has started. Following up from Manga Sister and Rhinegold and our Summerhall/tour of The Future For Beginners we’ll be premiering Marsha: A Girl Who Does Bad Things at the Arcola from August 11-15.

Following from The Future For Beginners it mixes both opera and theatre – featuring one actor (Tilly Gaunt) and four opera singers (Victoria Gray, Sarah Baillie, Kerri-Lynne Dietz, Jessica Gillingwater) along with Musical Director Nicholas Ansdell-Evans.

The show, in effect, is the culmination of a project funded by Wales Arts International that myself and Julia Thomas (currently resident director at the National Theatre Studio) took to the Washington Fringe Festival a couple of years ago.

During that trip we looked at the script as purely a one-woman monologue and then, in consultation with the other members of liveartshow (director Martin Constantine and composer Harry Blake), it became obvious that there was the opportunity to explore the use of an operatic chorus with the text.

The journey continued with ideas about music and the world of Marsha and discussions with the Arcola about a co-production and inclusion in this year’s Grimeborn Festival.

For me, as the writer, it’s interesting and useful for a show to have a continual and ever-evolving development. Not enough new writing gets a future life beyond that initial foray into being staged and I think it’s important that that is an option for certain projects.

At the moment we are in the very early stages of rehearsals at the Arcola – a read through on the first day has been followed by a closer interrogation of the text and then the addition of music…

What especially excites me about this phase of the development is the challenge of seeing how the spoken text is married to the sung words and also the new composition and movement. It’ll be staged in the Arcola’s Studio that is, ideally, an intimate space for the story. It’s a tale, for me, about the nature of beauty in today’s society and our level of engagement in that society. I think the sung elements to the story will lend to the drama – if Marsha could choose to tell her story in one medium I think she’d choose opera.

There’s a great line-up of opera in the festival with a mix of reworking traditional standards and new librettos and music.

Will Holt has come up with a design for Marsha that takes the audience into the world of our lead character. It’ll be a very different show to that initial foray in the States but Marsha’s journey around her village will still be at the heart it.

Liveartshow is determined to bring opera to a wider audience and to showcase the artform in different ways and, hopefully, this production will go a little way to doing that.

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