Accompanying the full-length online broadcast of Shobana Jeyasingh’s latest work, Staging Schiele (available until the end of 2019), Episode 5 of Surface Tension charts the process of creation, rehearsal and touring of the piece. Presenter Sanjoy Roy chats to Shobana, composer Orlando Gough, costume designers COTTWEILER, visual artist Ben Cullen Williams and dancers Dane Hurst, Estela Merlos and Catarina Carvalho about their respective collaborations on the piece. You can listen on Soundcloud, YouTube, iTunes, Libsyn and Spotify.
Presenter Sanjoy Roy introduces the latest production which the company have just toured, Staging Schiele and talks to Shobana about the origins of the piece and how her interest in the life, work and death of Egon Schiele was sparked. Conversation covers the rehearsal process, what parts of Schiele’s life and paintings were reflected in the choreography and themes of the male artist and the female nude.
Shobana describes the sections of the piece: Mirror / Doppleganger / In the Studio (later called Radical Nude / Censor / Relationships (Schiele with his mother, wife and muse).
We jump back to May 2019, when Shobana and company were in the research and development phase for the piece. We talk to company dancer Dane Hurst, who took on the Schiele role, about the research period and using imagery to inspire movement.
Fast forward to September 2019, when Sanjoy caught up with Shobana whilst she was making changes to the storyline. Then we hear from composer Orlando Gough, where he talks about the notion of anxiety and how to incorporate it within the music. The music is almost all sung, whispered and shouted by one male voice, which we assume to be Schiele.
Next we chat to menswear designers COTTWEILER: Ben Cottrell and Matthew Dainty who talk about getting a feel for Shobana’s take on Staging Schiele, research processes and meeting the dancers before starting to design the costumes. They take into consideration how possible fabrics react to the lighting, stage and set in a very detailed way.
Ben Cullen Williams, visual artist, describes his approach to designing the set, a location for the piece. He designed the steel frame structure to be collapsable and flatpack so it could fit in a van. The set provided a structure for the piece but also the psychological state of Schiele which the dancers existed in. The lighting was designed to give a sense of disturbance, unease and anxiety with constant flickering and twitching in and around the set.
November 2019, in the foyer of Queen Elizabeth Hall after the London Premiere of Staging Schiele Sanjoy interviews Orlando Gough about the ‘most intense dance piece I’ve ever seen’.
Dancers Catarina Carvalho, Dane Hurst and Estela Merlos talk about performing across the duration of the tour, injuries, how they supported each other and how the tone of the piece matured and changed.
Finally we talk to Shobana after the performance, about the audience reaction and energy in the auditorium, the challenges of putting on a show, the creative team achieved, and the ’synergy of vision amongst the creative collaborators’ on Staging Schiele.