In adhering to Elizabethan rehearsal and performance practices, we want to accompany the performance with music contemporary to ‘The Tragedy of Thomas Merry’ and appropriate to the dark and bloody nature of the tragedy. I’m delighted to announce that the wonderful lutenist Sam Brown has agreed to accompany the performance, drawing from his repertoire pieces by the Elizabethan composers John Dowland, Robert Johnson and Francis Pilkington. Our musical director, Dr Simon Smith, has assisted in the selection of pieces, and has worked with us on adding musical cues to the script, ensuring that our musical practices are appropriate throughout the rehearsal process and performance. Music will be used as an overture, in the act breaks, at moments of heightened theatricality, such as when the narrator-figure, Truth, appears, and to play the closing jig.
Sam Brown will be visible to the audience throughout, at the edge of the playing space, in line with the theatrical conventions of indoor theatres and court masques. Although ‘The Tragedy of Thomas Merry’ is likely to have been performed in an outdoor theatre, our own performance is in a smaller, indoor space, and so we aim to adhere to the conventions appropriate to the size and circumstances of our playing space. We are therefore using a single lutenist, rather than the group of musicians that would be necessary in a larger, outdoor space. Sam will be involved in rehearsals from the read-through onwards, to ensure that the actors are comfortable with the musical accompaniment, and that it becomes part of the performance, rather than a last-minute addition. I can’t wait to hear how his playing interacts with the text at the read-through!
Sam Brown accompanying The Tragedie of Cleopatra (directed by Emma Whipday, produced by Yasmin Arshad, March 2013)