Raphaela Mazzone Reflects on the Ring Bearer

The production was a massive undertaking, beginning with a collaborative re-working of the script. This mainly involved removing as many of the scene changes and narrations as possible, while simultaneously trying to make the storyline easier to follow. We got it down to about two hours in the end, including the nineteen songs.

I found it incredibly interesting, working on the script. It was a long process, the story came from the books (obviously) and out of these Judy had selected what she considered to be the pivotal scenes (and scenes that included poetry that she had set to music). A massive undertaking and one that only by the end of my editing time could I appreciate how well she had done. When reading Tolkien’s beautiful language, and seeing the subtlety of the the relationships between the different characters and the rich and sophisticated development of the plot, each cut or alteration seemed a terrible loss. Every scene, every sentence chosen to be in the script represented tens of others that were equally beautiful or powerful. And permeating through it all was Tolkien’s descriptions of the most beautiful forests placed in stark contrast to the cruellest intent. I wish I had only half of his imagination and his ability to express his ideas eloquently.

All of this then had to be blocked (in the process often changing the script, again) then memorised. Then we added the music! Wonderful language combined with beautiful melodies and harmonies. Often quite difficult to sing, and certainly a challenge when also acting.

Production week! So much fun, but wow, so much intense, hard work! The greatest sustaining factor being that I was surrounded by a bunch of enthusiastic, intelligent, artistic, capable and proactive people who are all working as hard as I was!

What was particularly wonderful, was that at the last minute Clara came down from Sydney for the week to help out. She landed on her feet! Walked in and started writing running sheets, making lists of props and costumes, formulating running orders and generally organising things. She was amazing! She was our stage manager for performances, director in the dress rehearsal (allowing Kia and I to finally focus on acting and not directing) and a general organiser with everything else. She calmed us down, focused us, ran warm ups and generally kept everyone motivated and organised. We would get home at 10.45pm each night and I would go to bed exhausted, but she and Evan would sit up for another 2 hours planning out what to do the next day, from large scenes that needed work, to costume alterations, to small details like taping a light cover down. Her presence made our rehearsals more efficient and our performances of a more professional standard. An incredible gift! Thank you!

One of the greatest challenges was that as well as normal blocking, each song had to be choreographed, learned off by heart and then reorganised and sorted because of the many complications that occur when creating a production with a small group of multi-talented people. For example: ‘Who’s playing the accompaniment in Tom Bombadil? Isn’t it Katrina? No, Katrina can’t play the clarinet because she is the tree that is holding up Pippin, maybe Rohan could play the oboe? No, he’s helping Katrina. Can’t someone else hold Manuka? No, those two are the strongest. Okay. Hmm. What Judy? Oh, you want them both playing their instruments on the harmony lines? Could Gawain do one of the harmonies on the clarinet? No, he’s on stage as Sam. Um, well, if the tree dissolves early, and Judy plays the introduction and the first verse on the recorder accompanied by Jane on the cello then they may have time to come off stage, grab their instruments, put in the reeds, and be in time to play the second verse…

Meanwhile, on stage Kate (as Goldberry) is singing the first verse as a solo, but she’s singing the alto line because the tune is too high for her, the second verse now sounds fabulous with oboe and clarinet accompanying, but Dave (who is Tom Bombadil) is having difficulty singing his solo because he can’t sing high enough to do the tune either – so is singing the bass line, which is hard – and since he is still trying to hold down a job whilst all these rehearsals are happening he is still catching up with the music learning. So could all other men on stage sing with Dave please. So that’s you Theodore and… Where’s Evan Squire? Oh, he has just been a narrator so is now off stage. Evan Sanders? “I’m in the lighting box and no, I won’t sing from up here!” Okay. Rohan is playing oboe, Gawain and Will are on stage as hobbits. Hmm. Theodore it is then. Then the chorus comes around and “other hobbits why aren’t you singing” and “not you trees, you only come in after verse three”. Okay, lets do that whole song again and see if we can get it right …and so it goes…

Ring Bearer: The Wayfarers Reflect

Ring Bearer IllustrationEllen

The highlight of the week for me was opening night. The energy was fantastic, we bounded through the scenes and I couldn’t wait to leap back on the stage. Costume changes were chaotic – most of my scenes ended in a dash to the dressing room to change into the next outfit. Everyone was extremely focused and mistakes were improvised over so well that the scenes were even better than before.

I loved cooking and sharing dinner each night. There’s nothing like sharing a steaming pot of soup on a rainy evening! The late finishing times were exhausting, so it was good to have the mornings off to sleep in and do little jobs. Dress rehearsals were fun, and great for really getting into character. I found that I embodied the part of a hobbit so completely that not only was I munching on apples on stage but I found myself snacking on crackers and nuts with the other hobbits when we were all together backstage.

Genevieve

Last week, doing The Ring Bearer, there were many great moments. The best one being that we actually managed to pull the whole thing off after only two weeks of rehearsal. I’m very proud of everyone’s ability to learn their lines in such a short time, also the costumes being done so fast and well. Raphaela and Kia were great at organising us, and directed a beautiful performance.

Rohan

The thing I love about performing is that occasional moment when you happen to catch another actor’s eye, and in that eye you see the same same terror that you know must be in your own. And yet the audience sees nothing but the character.

Gill

I never felt confident of a reliable, safe way to make jumping off a milk crate look like falling to my death. The only method I developed involved jumping off balance, remaining off balance and spiralling out of control; wondering whether I would be caught, fall, bang into the wall or trip over something.

Theodore

In all honesty, not being particularly partial to acting, I wasn’t anticipating having a greatly enjoyable time working till 10pm every night. However, the atmosphere was all round a very good one and not only did the whole experience end up being one that was over all enjoyable, but I started to, dare I say it, actually have a fair deal of fun while acting!

Kristin

The most enjoyable part of performing the Ring Bearer was singing a beautiful duet with the very talented Evan Squire.

Kaoru

I was delighted to be part of the music. It was a pity that I couldn’t see the play as an audience. Will I felt very privileged to bear the ‘ring of rings’ as Frodo, and to have the opportunity and the challenge of becoming his character in a new world surrounded by other great characters and accompanied by beautiful music. I enjoyed working with everyone, especially Gawain, imagining and living into that world.

Manuka

Some of my favourite things about last week, were performing and the full dress rehearsal because it wasn’t so tiring. I thought Will and Gawain were very good hobbits. Terry said her lines loudly and clearly and her voice sounded like a very wise wizard Gandalf. Ellen’s waddling gait looked very hobbit-like. Katrina played the Messenger of Mordor and she looked very evil. She was also a great and very evil orc. The communal dinners every day of the week were lovely.

Gawain Davey Reflects on the The Ring Bearer

I found acting to be a challenge after such long break. Getting inside a character — their mannerisms and gestures, their motivations and emotions — was hard but rewarding. I enjoyed playing Sam, the loyal gardener. He had a lot of different facets to his character; angry, amazed, mournful, grateful, excited, fearful. To wring these out of a stage performance was a really exciting task.

Sam and Frodo

Photo courtesy of Geoff Bagnall

Working with such a dedicated group of actors and directors was also a great pleasure. The Wayfarers collectively workshopped the play, re-writing the script and choreographing each scene, creating sets out of gesture and dance, and making beautiful costumes from simple materials. I felt as though our production really came together at the end of the week — Judy’s music was wonderfully fitting and tied the whole play together, however it was often difficult to ‘get it right’ while acting and moving on stage!

Gen was the best Balrog ever. Will played Frodo with thoughtful pride. Theo and Evan surprised everyone (including themselves) as excellent orcs. Katrina’s Messenger of Mordor was a show stealer. Aragorn was played solemnly and handsomely, with shaggy hair appropriate to the role, by Rohan. Merry and Pippin were wonderfully bright and chirpy hobbits.

Sam and Frodo

Photo courtesy of Geoff Bagnall

I feel like everyone was switched on and had a wonderful contributions to make. It was a great experience and one that I will treasure as part of this multi-talented choir. I look forward to our next performance!

Help Support Our Tour on Pozible!

In order to complete our tour in the way we all want, we need to raise over $40,000. To help with this, we’ve created a project on crowd-funding site Pozible where you can pledge an amount to our cause.

Crowd-funding sites like Pozible only collect money if we reach our funding goal of $3000, so you can be safe in the knowledge that your money is being well handled.

If you can’t make a pledge, then please consider helping us to spread the word by linking to this post, or by using the sharing options available on our project page. We greatly appreciate your help.

You can find our Pozible project here: wayfarers2012.pozible.com.au

Kia Moon Reflects on the First Month

Bliss: the noun that best describes the past six weeks of my life. What a dream come true! To spend every day singing and sharing and working with a bunch of astoundingly talented and inspiring people! You couldn’t get much better than that! Every day I look forward to getting up and returning to the company of our fantastic assembly!

But don’t get me wrong, it’s been a lot of hard work too (the best kind of work though!) We spent all of January Imagine-ing up the most weird and wonderful fun to have with holiday kids! Meeting Jabberwockys and Pirate Queens, Dancing Wombats and angels; not to mention a whole Company of characters from Middle Earth; and concluded with a glimpse into the seasons and stories of Kakadu as told by Big Bill Neidgie. We had great kids, keen to learn as much as they could, some of them even doing so well as to memorise three-hour’s worth of Tolkien words for their production of Ring Bearer! Go them!

And then on top of five day a week Imagine-running days, weekend and evening repertoire rehearsals and Sunday busking, we also had to squeeze in birthday celebrations for Judy, Theo, Gen, Matt and Evan! So you can just imagine the fun we’ve been having! We joked the other day: “you know you’ve got a good group of people, when you spend all day and night working with them and then in every spare moment you get you still want to hang out!”

And oh what fun we have at our parties! Being such a diverse group, we could potentially form many different ensembles or bands within bands. Our current spotlight band features our very own Gypsy Troop: Will on accordion, Theo on trumpet, Katrina and Gawain on clarinet/piano/guitar, Rohaaaany on Oboe, Jane, Kaoru, Manuka and Matt on violin, Evan San. and Raph on flute, and the fantastic Genny-bean on dance moves! How we get the house dancing! And that’s not even all the group! Meanwhile the rest of us get the spoons slapping and any other instruments going while the whole room lights up with smiles and absolutely delectable sounds! Like Lindt chocolate for the soul!

Then there are the fireworks! Rohan’s specialty! Each little potassium-nitrated-bundle-of-brightness taking up to an hour to prepare in order to give us 30 seconds of loud crackles and spectacular sparks and swirling dragon-tail smoke! One of Judy’s favourites party treats!

I must also make mention of the Wayfarers hosts, and Gill for organising them! I personally feel so blessed for having been put with my lovely Bubu Gina, who has become like a ‘mum away-from-home’ for both Kristin and me. So thank you hosts and Gill! Likewise, I would like to thank our very kind Dave and his generous hospitality for lending his house, lawn and backyard for our seemingly unending parties! Thanks Dave!

Unfortunately, as the evening draws nigh and my eyelids droop, I must leave you here. I will now prepare for a Saturday 6.30am wake-up that will get me to an 8am Musicianship class (run by the Amazing Judy), followed by a 9–5pm repertoire rehearsal! No rest for the weary! Only fun! Fun! Fun! Until next time, ‘Opeerless Youth and fair thee well!’ with a quote from Joseph Campbell: “Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors for you where there were only walls”.