We started restaging "Ground" yesterday it was an unpredictable experience. The music rehearsal was Saturday and went fine. Both Brian and Elizabeth (Brian Cummings, countertenor and Elizabeth Baber, soprano) have fantastic voices for the repertoire and both are really strong intuitive musicians. This is my first experience re-mounting a piece and I didn't know exactly what to expect. We had spent some time looking at the DVD and I knew I wanted to change some things. More than particulars I wanted to draw performances from both singers that were more organic.
I think last June (2006) when we premiered the work (you can watch clips of that performance here people were struck, and clearly moved, by the ingenuity of the structure, Kel Millionie's simple yet striking design, the immediacy of the music, and the strong vocal and physical performances of the cast. I don't think we really had enough time to explore the deeper emotions present in the drama and the effect was a relationship that felt cute, but not necessarily substantive.
Yesterday morning was rough - the piece opens with two Monteverdi madrigals which are the hardest stagings in the piece. I think we were all frustrated at trying just to put it back on its feet, let alone correct the awkwardness that was most in these two pieces even more than elsewhere in the show. I can't say I quite understand how it happened, but by the time we arrived at yesterday evening's run of the piece things had worked themselves out and how. Somehow these two performances were giving heartfelt performances that seemed very much organic. The chemistry between them was palpable and they both looked much more comfortable. Also, the gestures which are so important to my approach to staging, had been taken over by the performers and became natural extensions of the character's emotional state.
Needless to say I am pleased by all this and am hoping today goes equally as well as we rework the second half and run through the entire thing this evening.