The Gothic Experiment: Day 1

Full of excitement for the project, today marked the start of "The Gothic Experiment". After introductions, we discussed our aims for the project openly. We were immediately interested in the themes of blasphemy, fear, and modernising the traditional Gothic ideals in order for our performance to truly scare a modern audience. What makes modern audiences scared? The unknown? Darkness? Being taken out of their comfort zone? This discussion lead very quickly to an open discussion with all members of the group pitching in ideas of how to stage the performance, eventually settling on the fantastic idea of depriving the audience of a place to sit, forcing them to become part of the drama and immerse themselves into the drama. As a believer in bringing new techniques to operatic performance, I am 100% behind this unconventional approach. The idea of being able to create a world that both the performers and audience members can immerse themselves in is exciting and inspiring that I would love to incorporate into future performances.

To really give us a feel for the music and the space, we listened to recordings of our extracts and cleared the room of any chairs or obstructions, highlighting the potential of the room.

Our dance leader, Lewis Sharp, then lead an exercise to help us feel grounded in our bodies and the space which really helped me feel ready to tackle the physical and mental challenges of the day. As someone who does not consider themselves a dancer (I wish!), doing a physical warm up each morning has been surprisingly helpful to my singing also, allowing me to feel engaged and connected to the breath and is something I would definitely introduce to my practice.

Another great exercise we did as a group was leading our partners around the room with their eyes closed (and vice versa) to an eerie soundscape. This lead the partner with their eyes closed to experience exactly what we wanted from our audience: fear of the unknown! With this feeling fresh in our minds, we discussed ways that we could recreate that experience for our audience and (after realising that some ideas were more practical than others...) we decided to lead our audience into complete darkness before the performance begins.

Day 2 looks to be an exciting challenge to carry on these themes, get the music (and the German) into our bodies and memories!

Rachel Farago