Set to spells of Gregorian chants and Biblical psalms, Songs of Lear is a sonic version of Shakespeare’s iconic play directed by the Polish company Song of the Goat's co-founder Grzegorz Bral.
The show runs a rich thread of varied sounds stemming from twelve original songs, conceived by Polish multi-instrumentalist Maciej Rychły and Corsican composer Jean-Claude Acquaviva. Punctuated by blasts of intense percussion, the performance is accompanied by the strings of an occasional steely violin, the exoticism of the Indian harmonium and the African lute (kora).
A non-linear, dramatic musical event, the performance reveals the subtle energies and rhythms that govern Shakespeare’s tragedy. The ensemble members, having chosen crucial scenes from King Lear, weave a story out of gestures, words, and music.
The minimalist set and director-narrator are a prelude. Music is the main actor, shaping the relationships and bringing emotions to the stage: despair, tragedy, madness, disappointment, and love. Each song is a starting point for another “dramatic poem.” This visceral and haunting multilingual song cycle strips one of Shakespeare’s greatest tragedies to its essence and casts its own rhythmic spell.
Eleven performers will sing and move over selected plot points from the original play, expanding the Shakespearian tragedy’s significance onto the contemporary world.
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While many of the play’s aficionados believe visuals are key to any performance of Lear, due to the King’s blindness, Bral disagrees. “That’s wrong. Don’t think about it like that,” he said in an interview with The Bogatá Post. “ I interpret this work through music, like all my pieces. It’s not to do with Lear itself, although Shakespeare is perfect for this type of work. I think Shakespeare had a great gift for onomatopoeia. His sonnets and speeches have a very musical quality to them. There is a real beauty to his words.”
Songs of the Goat Theatre was founded in 1996 in Wroclaw, Poland, by Bral and Anna Zubrzycki. Since then, the experimental troupe has expanded its international reputation to become one of Europe’s most exciting, avant-garde theatre companies. Songs of Lear drew “euphoric reviews” at Fringe Festival in Edinburgh in 2012, having conquered other European stages in various tours. The company’s polyphonic spell was also cast across the Atlantic at renowned festivals such as New York’s Next Wave and Chile’s Santiago a Mil.
For those who wish to find more about Songs of Lear, there will be a free admission pre-show talk. Presented in Cantonese, the session takes place at Macao Cultural Centre’s conference room, one hour prior to the performance, where insightful views on the music, theatre and background of the performing group will be shared.
Songs of Lear
Grand Auditorium, Macao Cultural Centre, Av. Xian Xing Hai, Nape
+853 2840 0555, ccm.gov.mo
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