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Author Topic: Daniel Evans's Local Hero Musical Preshow talk - TRANSCRIPTION  (Read 904 times)

Offlinejbaent

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Daniel Evans's Local Hero Musical Preshow talk - TRANSCRIPTION
« on: November 08, 2022, 10:57:48 am »
Kate Bassett, the host, is in Italics, Daniel Evans answers is in normal font.

At the end of the post you have the video source.

Quite very interesting information from Daniel Evans regarding MK, worth reading!:

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Hello. Thank you very much for staying, I mean not staying from coming early for this pre-show talk.  I'm Kate Bassett I'm not Kate Mosse, there's a lie in the back of the programme, it's fake news. I'm the Literary Associate at Chichester Festival theater and it's a great  pleasure to welcome Daniel the director and of course the Artistic Director of Local Hero. So Daniel Evans thank you very much. 


Thanks for coming everyone. Hello 

Thank you for sparing the time because you're still in rehearsals because we're in previews. So we're going to talk for about, I'm just looking at my watch, about 40 minutes but we'll  talk for about 25 or 30 and then I'll open the house up, the lights come up hopefully  and it'll be a q and a so do be thinking about  what questions you'd like to ask Daniel about the  production or about his craft as a director that would be great. I thought I'd start off with asking you how this piece landed on your desk and what you what you loved about it I suppose really 


So I hadn't seen the film, for people who don't know it's based on a very famous film that's become a kind of cult that was made in the early 80s written and directed  by the wonderful Bill Forsyth and it was adapted by David Greig and Mark Knopfler who was of course a rock God had composed the soundtrack to that original film and this was a production that was commissioned by two wonderful producers Caro Newling and Patrick Daly and David Greig was the book writer and the play, it went on first in Edinburgh   the Lyceum where David Greig is the Artistic Director there and it was meant to come to the Old Vic but Covid put paid to that and I think everyone thought that the project was dead and John Crowley directed it and is a wonderful director he directed the film of Brooklyn and many other wonderful things on TV but because he had to step away from the production because of his filming schedule I think the producers thought it was dead in the water and so they sent it, just one day shared it with me and I read it and I didn't know the film but I immediately fell in love with the piece and so I wrote back to them and said this is wonderful but I'd want to start again and I'd want to, there are some things that I'd like to work with Mark and David on,  I know that sounds like terrible arrogance but it felt like there were some things in the musical that weren't, well that maybe you know in the newlife could have a new slant here and there and they said yes and so I met David Greig and Mark Knopfler and they were wonderful and then we started on our work on adapting, making the changes which they were immensely collaborative on and yeah, and that's where we're at.   

Can you say a little bit more about what you loved about it and what what you wanted to finesse slightly.   


Sure. So the piece is about, it explores something that I'm always interested and always interested in in theatre which is about community and often a community acting in response to an inciting incident that might involve an individual sometimes an outsider or someone who's made to feel like an outsider so for example one of my favorite plays is An Enemy of the People, Ibsen and in this case there's a community in a coastal town in Scotland who go up against a Goliath in the form of Mac McIntyre who's this Texan Oil Man and it was just interesting first of all very very like Bill Forsyth's film, the musical is has a kind of offbeat humour so you would expect that when the villagers are offered a lot of money for their Village they would say no they don't they say yes please and we we want to be rich and we want these things that will transform our lives so I'd like the kind of humor of the piece that we were coming at it in a kind of unexpected way but there was also something deep within the piece that was about how communities can be
eroded by foreign or by outside forces and and how communities particularly in rural areas and perhaps coastal areas as we know here  they can be often under threat and I suppose this is where I really connected with what the piece was speaking to me about which is it reminded me of many many places where I'm from in Wales and and where friends of mine are from particularly on Coastal incoastal areas in Wales where communities are often being eroded because of housing situations so for example local people can't afford to buy local housing because the prices are too high and therefore people from away by those houses but only treat them as kind of weekend or summer houses and therefore whole communities and in Wales it was often linked with the Welsh language where the Welsh language would often disappear from entire Villages that were once   wholly Welsh speaking. And so you can see how the erosion of culture and the erosion of identity and the erosion of landscape in this piece how somewhere beautiful can be sold out to an oil company and be destroyed in order to bring about progress so that was a kind of deep personal connection but I also, in terms of developing the story I asked David whether he would just explore how the piece could also convey the real complexity in the argument between wanting to preserve somewhere beautiful and we are lucky here aren't we that we live in an area of that's recognised as being an area of outstanding National Beauty and at the same time how do we keep our communities intact?

How do we keep our communities together how do we make sure that we are moving with the age how can we remain contemporary and modern and  how can we we ensure that we're not left behind and that's something that David was has done I think brilliantly in this draft is to to have both the complexity of both arguments side by side in the musical and I think he's done that with Mark brilliantly I have to say

Yeah it's interesting what you're saying about Wales because from what I remember is that was also an 80s issue wasn't it that I remember all the there (in North Wales) kind of set fire to houses second homes?


Yes there was a kind of you know a movement which felt like they needed to make a stand on this issue, yeah but I suppose you know we I think lots of communities all around the world experience this particularly with globalization you know how do we hold on to who we are as a people that's what this Village is asking and and also make sure that we can move with the times?   

Yes the same thing is it so you know not only is that a relevant story for different places in the world but also I'm kind  of thinking when you're saying that I went to Saint Ives unfortunately as a tourist recently and walked around and just every almost all the houses seem to be Airbnb, so Airbnb is sort of a different version of a corporation in a way that it's bringing money in and of course the people want to move out and let their houses Airbnb but then yeah there's no one local left 


And there's another complication with the piece because really I suppose well who knows but it feels like we're coming to a period where oil is at an end and we're trying as much as possible although you know u-turns aside, I mean government u-turns aside, we are moving to an area where we are more interested in renewables and you know getting rid of using fossil fuels so it's interesting to have this piece which is firmly set in the in 83 explore oil again and to pit oil against landscape and we so now want to side with the environmental argument in in the play that it was important to me that David also explored the complexity because it really is complex about how do we make sure the communities have broadband? how do we make sure the transport that infrastructure how do we make sure that people can you know get to a bus or get to a supermarket  and you know those are real life things that we all need.

Yeah it's also interesting because I remember when we were first talking about the script and that was before you know around lockdown time and now with Putin and the oil it's got It's got sort of really complex new resonances it's sort of of its period and it's resonant and I'm really intrigued by the moment when the Russians come on I won't spoil it but it's kind of interesting in relation to now. 


Yeah I mean I'll say there's a wonderful line which is if you want to understand capitalism ask a communist.

Yeah do you want to say a bit about, well I was kind of intrigued by, because you direct so many musicals so brilliantly what difference does and you direct plays, what  differences songs in pieces make in terms of prose of that but also what you have to, what might be a problem with that in terms of the drama 


Well first of all songs take up time and so you know because music takes up time then you have to have a concise book. It's interesting for example comparing South Pacific there are four new songs in act two of South Pacific every other song is a is a reprise and actually that's true of Local Hero too just as a comparison but you can see how in South Pacific the book writing is so compact so that you can get onto the song and the song is meant to be the moment where characters can no longer contain themselves in words alone they need to add melody or they need to add music and then of course when music and lyrics aren't enough then people dance, that's the idea and just as in life 
and so first of all musicals the music takes time secondly there's no good having a dialogue scene that does exactly the same as the song so for example if you have a dialogue scene that says well I want this and I want this and I want this and then it's followed by a song that says well I want this I want this and I want this, they're both doing the same thing and so we are treading water so it's that's you know what makes Rogers and Hammerstein the the kings of this is that they always set up the moment where song needs to
take flight and then the song explores something further from the setup and I have to say and particularly in the first 20 minutes of Local Hero and that was one thing that  really struck me and it's not often true with Pop or Rock writers partly because they're coming at it from a totally different genre so for example if we think of fancy  making a musical of say Kylie Minogue's catalogue well how do you dramatize "I should be so lucky lucky lucky I should be so lucky in love I should be so lucky lucky lucky" how you know, it's it's sort of the repetition is undramatic.

You know and so or I suppose it's a bit like, it's a bit like I find the challenge of watching or I've never directed an opera though I would love to but you know Handel will often repeat phrases,  I know Opera does that, I suppose a lot but particularly Handle, I've noticed so how do you say you know "Mea culpa, mea culpa" over and over again and how does an actor how can you develop that idea so that it's not just spinning around but in the first 20 minutes of Local Hero I was so struck how theme and character and plot were all moving forward in a developmental exciting dramatic fashion that was I felt masterly written and we really have only done one minor amendment to the those first 20 minutes. 

It was pretty astonishing coming from a a first-time musical theatre composer and of course David has written musicals before books to musicals before not many but they were really working together in sync and that was fantastic very inspiring.

Yeah because, because actually Baroque Opera someone I know calls it stand and sing right we're just kind of stand there yeah it is stationary. Yeah, park and bark yeah that's great. Do you want to talk a little bit about I suppose before you get into rehearsals either or both the workshopping process and redrafting or you know what happens in a workshop what are you trying to find out or the set and how you develop that either or both of those.


Well we had, because you know this had so much development  work in order for the Edinburgh production even though we were starting from scratch, I inherited the piece you know very very good shape so we were just making minor changes I say I say minor although Mark might not say that because he's written three new songs for this version, so actually that's not minor.

It's a big deal and we had a wonderful day with Mark Knopfler at his Studio British Grove in Chiswick in London with David Greig and and also Guy Fletcher, who is Mark Knopfler's right-hand man, they they work so symbiotically together and both wonderful wonderful people and very very collaborative and we spent the whole day together in the studio just going through song and scene by scene just making sure that everything was moving forward and that everything had a kind of dramatic intent and there were a few tonal requests from me because sometimes there were songs following one another that were similar in tone or some characters embodied a similar kind of musical tone or musical sound in both acts and so we just questioned whether or not we could make those changes and indeed they were very very open and I have to say throughout previews this week we've made immense changes and they've been amazing amazingly collaborative in just helping us make the piece the you know as good as it can be. 

We also had after that then we also had another workshop where we just asked a small group of actors to come and learn the songs and read the script with us actually just with me and then Mark and Guy joined us for the last few days of that or the last day of that where we just heard the piece and that was also then very informative but I suppose it was just making sure that theme is constantly being developed that character is true and that the music and the book constantly have dramatic intent and narrative pressure means that there is a proper arc to the whole piece.


Yes and seeing actors embody that and do that is helpful you can see it on the page but then sometimes it's surprising.


Definitely and that's been behind some of the changes that we've made this week is because when you have wonderful actors like we are lucky to have in this cast  you can see that actually some things can be cut because the actors are already doing it just with their bodies or their voices because when you have skilled actors like this lot are you  realise 'oh we know this line is unnecessary' this line is on the nose because we're alreadydoing it and that you know again that's a very fortunate position. They can make a tricky bit work or they might say sometimes I'm missing a beat here can I have an extra line and that's not about building their part it's about making sure that their journey as actors is plausible credible and what's the word consequential it's not you're not having to sort of make huge, it's not a  steeplechase you know.


Do you want to reveal or not what any of the new songs that were added in were?


I don't mind yeah, yeah sure there is, well hang on there are three instances where the lyric remains the same but the song has an entirely new genre and new feel so a brand new melody. So there are three instances of those.

Big Mac and Gordon for example is is an odd number, when I say odds it's wonderful but it's curious because suddenly we have different languages at play it gets very Brechtian where the villagers are explaining what happened the moment the deal was made between Mac and Gordon and so we're already in a different language the original vibe of the song was a kind of Western feel that had a kind of Blue Grass which was you know American so I suppose kind of siding with Mac and that felt rather strange to me because it was sung by the villagers so I was asking why are the villagers adopting Mac's vernacular when in fact they are trying to negotiate to get Mac to meet them so actually then Mark went away and came up with a much more Scottish vibe which also has some kind of Eastern European folk resonances because by then the Russian character has entered and so it's an entirely new feel to the song which feels much more folkish which I personally love. 


And that's really in sync isn't it because it would have looked like they'd been Americanized.


Exactly yeah which also has meaning. Yes it does it has it has you know if you want to go that way it just felt to me that they're not there yet in the story yeah 

But they're also wanting to do it their own way at that moment. Also really fascinated by what you're saying about you know you wanted songs not to be too similar next to each other so it's like, it's like a kind of big piece of music you know like a a piece of music will have a scherzo, you know a slower movement. Different movements.



Absolutely because if you can imagine what it's like when we listen to an album you know. I often can't listen to an album all in one go because you sort of get enough of one voice and and I think you have to be aware of that in musical theatre where you're dramatically if the songs tend to have the same feel then you feel well are we are you know are we kind of treading water tonally but also is the drama really gathering momentum.   


And if it was sort of sad and dreamy it would feel slightly slow and if it was aggressive, it would be kind of wearying and you've got lots of angry songs it would be wearying 



Too many slow songs might get soporific and too many aggressive you know say hard rock songs would start to feel relentless and like an assault so you just want to make sure that there's variety which also should suit different voices of different characters as they express themselves  through song. It should.


And then the set do you want to, I mean I've got no idea what the original set, do you know?


Nor me, I didn't know and I've never, I was offered a video of Edinburgh and I didn't want to see it and I haven't watched it.


So how do you on this show but also if you want to talk more generally how do you come up with ideas with your creative team about what you want to express from the  script that you have in the score that you have?


So it probably starts with just lots of conversations and Frankie Bradshaw, who's our wonderful designer on the show our set designer and costume designer we started those conversations early last year and we started gathering lots of photographs and we have a kind of Pinterest board where we can both add photos on to a kind of mood board and when we were looking at landscape which features as you might imagine throughout the entire piece  and features wonderfully in the film by the way if you haven't seen it,   it's amazing shots of both actually both coasts east and west coast of Scotland we realised, we cottoned on and made a very early decision which was that there was no way that we were going to be able to recreate the magnificence, the majesty of that landscape it's talked about by the actors so much so we decided  to kind of have a Shakespearean approach, which was you know when Shakespeare says we're in Milan, we're in Milan and they were designed for the globe which you know looked how it looked and then maybe they made little tweaks to how the globe looked but not many and so we decided that we would be on to a losing streak if we felt like we had to recreate literally rock pools, mountains, the sea it's just impossible it would look like you know, we just wouldn't be able to afford it because the scenic artwork would need to be so much  and also we're doing it in this small space so we decided that there would there's no way that we  could do this literally so we decided we would be a much more metaphorical metaphysical in our approach and so we do this thing at the beginning where you just play around with cardboard and it's, it's called a white card models where it's literally the model of the set is literally built out of white card and it's built out of white card because it's a kind of development of us just making shapes with card in Frankie's studio in South London where we're just putting different shapes into a model box and seeing what sticks and we were just looking at all our images in the Pinterest  board and thinking about some of the images in the play and at one point Frankie just made a curve and we were both excited and so we just you know were patient with that  idea for a while there were some things that we needed to adapt about it but actually of all the ideas we explored this was the one we kept coming back to and so you'll see that there's a kind of wave that turns into a kind of arrow we have to start the play there's a short scene on the Harbor in Ferness in Scotland and then we spend a good 10 minutes in Texas and then the rest of the evening happens in Scotland, so we have to really achieve Texas which is you know glass world offices in the 80s and then we have to achieve you know a Scottish Coastal Village so it's pretty challenging so in a way finding this kind of gesture gave us a way in to to doing that and you know people will see that  underneath here there's a surprise.

Did you go there? What research what did
research involve?


Well quite a bit of research just reading around oil and there was a wonderful story a real life story about a head of a council in Shetland called Ian Clark who did actually negotiate with a huge multinational American Oil Corporation and made sure that there was a percentage of every single barrel of oil that was accrued and went to Shetland Community Council so Shetland apparently have some of the best roads the best hospitals the best schools because of what Ian Clark managed with this negotiation and he became a "local hero" and he's sort of gone down in the books there are many many articles about him so that was all wonderful to sort of read about that there's a whole tranche of environmentalism I had been to various parts of Scotland but not recently and I was booked to go to Sky and Harris and spent eight hours at Gatwick Airport and EasyJet canceled the flight so I was sort of caught up in that awful moment during the tail end of Covid, not that we're out of Covid but where I had to then ring up all the BnBs that I'd booked  and say so I'm sorry so there is something planned next year.


You can still go. Also just in the last minutes I wanted to ask you, you know as a director not on this but you for your whole career what what are your top tips I suppose you know what what do you and as an actor I suppose what do you think are really good things for a director to do or what or what do you think you've learned to be wary of doing? 



The thing that really helps me is to stave off nerves is preparation and so you know it's one of the challenges actually being an Artistic Director and not a freelance director is that the first thing to go often is preparation because you have so many other things that you're dealing with and I remember Dominic Cooke saying to me and it was a kind of revelation, I was at The Crucible then, that every the week before he starts rehearsal he works from home and he only preps the play. I thought oh wow I could do that so and sometimes I do that now but it depends how much prep I've done beforehand so I tend to do first of all it's sort of using the text as your source material doing a lot of research around it and naming areas of research that come directly up so references or subject matter that you just need to read about or either visit if you can or gather information 
around.

Then there's a whole work on character arcs and so you for example you read and note every fact about every single character what someone else says about them what they say about other people what things they don't say what questions that come up from the text that aren't answered which is also an exercise that Stanislavski  exercise that actors do when you're building your character and so you try and do that for every single character in the play and that's often very very revealing because you get to see where the holes in the story are where the unanswered questions are whether everyone has a beginning middle and end some people don't you know most characters don't perhaps particularly if they're smaller characters. You do a whole thing about geography so what are the sort of circles of the geographical life so in this obviously there's a big thing in Scotland there's this tiny village of Ferness but then there's also the islands around then there's a mentioned Strathclyde Community Council so that's a bit wider, Stella is from Glasgow so that makes it even wider. Mac is from Texas so that makes it even wider so you sort of just do a bit of a geographical map.


How does that feed in how does the geographical bit feed into your eventual?



Well obviously in terms of characters coming from from Glasgow, there's a whole conversation about what does that mean, what's their backstory, you know, what class are they why have they left Glasgow and why are they now living here, what is life like in Texas at that time and of course this is set in 83 so there was a whole bit of research around fax machines and you know, teletext, remember that?.

So what are the things that, so period details, what was the 80s like, were the 80s like what was 83 like what was specific about that time and I was alive during that time so, I
was what I was I was 10 and so I had some memories of that and I've had some memories of it feeling pretty grim you know, strikes unions complaining about pay. Plus ça change.


And I think some people here will remember the fashions when they see the costumes.


Big hair, shoulder pads.   


On that note I'm looking at my watch I think you should probably go and lie down for 10 minutes, thank you very much that's brilliant and thank you very much for your question thank you all.


You might get lucky, now and then

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OfflineRobson

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Re: Daniel Evans's Local Hero Musical Preshow talk - TRANSCRIPTION
« Reply #1 on: November 08, 2022, 12:38:43 pm »
Thank you jbaent  :thumbsup
I know the way I can see by the moonlight
Clear as the day
Now come on woman, come follow me home

OfflineRobson

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Re: Daniel Evans's Local Hero Musical Preshow talk - TRANSCRIPTION
« Reply #2 on: November 08, 2022, 04:55:17 pm »
"Well we had, because you know this had so much development  work in order for the Edinburgh production even though we were starting from scratch, I inherited the piece you know very very good shape so we were just making minor changes I say I say minor although Mark might not say that because he's written three new songs for this version, so actually that's not minor.

It's a big deal and we had a wonderful day with Mark Knopfler at his Studio British Grove in Chiswick in London with David Greig and and also Guy Fletcher, who is Mark Knopfler's right-hand man, they they work so symbiotically together and both wonderful wonderful people and very very collaborative..."

I like this passage:) We have 23 songs for Local Hero?
I know the way I can see by the moonlight
Clear as the day
Now come on woman, come follow me home

Offlinejbaent

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Re: Daniel Evans's Local Hero Musical Preshow talk - TRANSCRIPTION
« Reply #3 on: November 08, 2022, 05:43:05 pm »
Actually is just one new complete song, which is Barrel of Oil, and two rewriten musically, Big Mac and Gordon and Numbers.

The rest of the songs have slightly changed music and some little changes in the lyrics, but in terms of new songs, there is only one that is completely new, two with totally new music but the lyrics are quite similar, and the rest with slight changes in music and lyrics but the same songs.
You might get lucky, now and then

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OfflineRobson

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Re: Daniel Evans's Local Hero Musical Preshow talk - TRANSCRIPTION
« Reply #4 on: November 08, 2022, 05:47:47 pm »
ok everything is clear. I thought so, but Daniel Evans' statement confused me a bit:)
Thank you.
I know the way I can see by the moonlight
Clear as the day
Now come on woman, come follow me home

Offlinejbaent

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Re: Daniel Evans's Local Hero Musical Preshow talk - TRANSCRIPTION
« Reply #5 on: November 08, 2022, 08:08:29 pm »
ok everything is clear. I thought so, but Daniel Evans' statement confused me a bit:)
Thank you.

Actually Daniel Evans explains it, at least the bit from Mac and Gordon. The bit about Numbers, is clear when you listen to it
You might get lucky, now and then

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OfflineRobson

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Re: Daniel Evans's Local Hero Musical Preshow talk - TRANSCRIPTION
« Reply #6 on: November 09, 2022, 01:30:55 pm »
That's true.
I know the way I can see by the moonlight
Clear as the day
Now come on woman, come follow me home

 

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