Discordance and The Orchard

Discordance and The Orchard

Back in the studio.

It’s May 2016, and we are getting back into the studio to re-ignite the collaboration with MD and composer Claire Ingleheart.  We also want to bring in a third performer.  To find out if the grenade I talked about in the last blog has legs.

Claire brought us such beautiful harmonies with Oxygen’s songs so it is fascinating to now feel like we are walking towards a show that engages with discordance.  And to think about how to articulate this to her, and making sense when doing so.

Making sense of discordance.  Now there’s a new challenge.

It’s tricky as I understand it as a feeling at the moment.

Two forces clashing.  Meeting.  Spiralling away from one another.  Meeting.  Holding on to one another maybe just for an instant.  A catch me if you can moment.

But there are other things I am interested in as well as the words.

Sound as a reaction.
Music as a force pushing against the status quo as these two women are.
Sound that can shape shift.
Open up spaces.

And I’m not a musician.  I can’t read a note.  I just feel it.  Let a sound get inside my head, my body, particularly my body.  I like to dance.  Move as I am bound to the computer.  It is a kind of jerk reaction to almost stillness.

I’m not sure that writing and stillness always works.

‘The Orchard’ is a world of its own and so sound is integral for Josie and I to this.

I’ve been listening intently to Stravinsky’s Rights Of Spring.  Possibly a bit too often.

Such a potent piece of work. First performed in Paris in 1913.  No coincidence.  I am writing again.  About 1913.  What is it about that year?  That ground that hasn’t been covered.  Enough.  Barely at all.

Previously I talked about a revolution for women.  Here is revolution also in art when I think of Stravinsky.

Stravinsky is evocative in so much of my thinking as a write, when trying to discover and embrace, (wrestle might be more appropriate), with the content of The Orchard.  Music as always dominates.  Finds it way into channels I don't know are there until I allow for repetition and overload.  Sound pumping into my body.

Sound that finds it own patterns and rhythms or non-rhythms.  A clash of dynamics.  Ideologies in a tender embrace in one moment, and then at odds in the next.

Bumpety bump bump bump!

A rallying call.

And how can this then speak directly to an audience.  Sediment.  Being layered into the fabric of the play.  This is what we seek.

I am obsessed thinking about frameworks and structure when developing a play.

I get submerged. A lot of forgetting takes place.  Then remembering follows.  Oh.  I see.

Structure.  I love chaos inside a structure.  Stravinsky haunts me.  I want this music to haunt everyone else too.  It is following me around.  It brought me structure at the earlier stage of the work:

A Nightingale
Sounds of An Orchard
A Chorus of Ghosts
Ritual of Rival Tribes
And so on

A spine I am convinced is still okay to work with.

We go back into the studio with performer Saskia Portway, a cello, a harp, a piano, a violin and a drum.  But not Michelle and Ruth.  Not yet.  We really want to see what happens free of the ‘play’.  I take in a page of text I think.  Maybe two.

Josie is keen to experiment with sound.  To work with Saskia on this new role of The Trumpet.  There is no other name for her at this point.  She feels androgynous.  Like something unknown.  Unpredictable as a force potentially within the play itself.

Anarchy and discordance and disruption.

We explore this new voice.  Claire and Saskia explore sound.  Dialogue becomes sung and new connections are made.

Suddenly there is something that resembles a song.

Josie and I listen in as we read small sections of The Orchard that I have sought out as ways of trying to discover the nature of this third voice now known as The Trumpet.  Each evening I work through those small sections of text to see if they can work the next day.

Something has shifted.  I think Josie’s grenade is brilliant and it works.  A trumpet has arrived.

A new kind of rhythm has emerged.  I look at and see the play with fresh eyes.


Natalie McGrath
Writer of ‘Oxygen’ & ‘The Orchard’ for Dreadnought South West
25th May 2016

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