Musician and Composer Greg Sinclair tells us about his work with Drake Music Scotland and Lung Ha Theatre Company on an exciting new production which opens at the Traverse on 19 March and then tours to Dundee Rep on 25 March.
Rehearsals are well under way for the theatre production The Strange Case of Jekyll & Hyde, which is a co-production between Drake Music Scotland and Lung Ha Theatre Company, a theatre company for people with learning disabilities. This production involves the full company of actors (that’s over 20 people on stage!) and they are joined by a band of 4 musicians from Drake.
As composer for the piece my job has been to bring together the strengths and the individual playing styles of each of the four musicians into the score. Emma Clark uses her beautiful voice throughout singing wordless ghostly melodies that drift through the Edinburgh haar! Emma plays a variety of percussion in the show, as does Joseph Cox. Joseph is also playing piano (improvised and Figurenotes melodies) as well as playing violin, which he has been learning for the show. Then, strangely for a show set in Victorian Edinburgh, we have two musicians using music technology. Stephanie Forrest plays the Thumbjam app on her ipad. I compose a number of parameters for her such as instrument sound, scale and playing style and then Stephanie improvises. And Rhona Smith plays her laptop by triggering sounds with a switch. Quite early on I realised that it’s completely feasible to use such music technology within a play set in the Victorian era because even the acoustic instruments are miked up so everything becomes reliant upon technology. Within the score I’ve aimed to utilise what those technological instruments can add to the piece, rather than think of them only as a convenient modern addition.
The band is great and another Drake associate musician, Ali Gillies, has very ably assisted me throughout. We’ve had numerous rehearsals to go through the music but we’re now at the exciting and crucial period of working the music into the context of the stage performance. This can be both exhilarating – getting to share our music with the cast and see what they’ve been doing – but also tiring – there’s a lot of waiting sometimes in rehearsals. But it’s all part of the process of theatre.
Another exciting aspect of the score for me is the incorporation of the cast members into creating some sounds. There’s some tin whistles played like birds in a New Town garden and some atmospheric vocal effects provided for a chilling scene near the end of the play.
It has been such a rewarding experience for me to work with such talented musicians and actors on this project. It’s going to be a great show. I hope you can make it!