In 2016 we were selected as the Kevin Spacey Foundation Artists of choice, and given support to develop ideas around a dance theatre adaptation of Bertolt Brecht’s first play, Baal.
Baal takes a similar pattern to a Greek tragedy, where we follow the main character, a poet and musician who abuses everything around him and arrives at an untimely and lonesome death. The play has many surreal and poetic elements and can be seen as one of Brecht’s early criticisms of capitalist consumption.
We initially worked with 7 dancers, a director, and 3 actors to explore how we could realise the script. We worked using speech and movement combined together, and also interpreting whole scenes through dance.
We then reduced the size of the team to 3 dancers, a director, an actor and a composer to focus the process and arrive at a full sketch of the show. We based the sound for the piece around a recording of Sibelius’s Violin Concerto from during the Second World War made in Berlin, and the composer used this, along with a Swedish folk instrument and other sources of sound from a blog we made to pool inspiration to create a sound-art composition for the entire show.
We presented a work in progress sharing of the piece at Bristol Dance Centre in 2017, and we are looking to develop it further throughout 2018.
We worked with painter, Ian Thompson, to trial an animated backdrop based on the style of Brecht's designer, Caspar Neher.
Sketches from rehearsal by Val