18 April 2005

Fort Calgary show / composition-in-performance

Egad, I'm tired. We had quite a nifty little show at Fort Calgary this evening: the first full hour of performance I've tried, and it went well. A wonderful theatre space there -- many thanks to The Dominion Institute for a spot-on booking. The length resulted from my slowing down the delivery somewhat, and including more or less each episode. Of course, each performance inevitably misses some lines, as well as adding some: I invented several describing the Mother of the Ursulines, and reconfigured Donald MacLeod's lament on the fly.

Here, for instance, is the "canonical" version of phantom Abercrombie's speech to Wolfe. (He appears to Wolfe in a dream, early in the Tour episode; diachronically, he is the angel Gabriel in disguise, but that aspect was taken out as I removed supernatural elements.)

Now listen to me, General Wolfe from Heaven I have come to speak
Now here you lie in bed and toss and turn as sickness burns your cheeks
You won't go back across the sea nor see again the English shore
But now it comes to pass that by your deeds the town of Frontenac
Shall fall at last with bloody slaughter as was prophesied of old.
Assemble all the men you can and cross the cold St. Lawrence' stream
And I shall guide you to a cove which lies beneath a dreadful cliff
L'Anse-au-Foulon it's called which guards a path which climbs the dreadful cliff
And at the top there stretch the fields men call the Plains of Abraham
And yet the angels and the saints describe them as the Fields of Grief
And there you may fulfill your vow to seize impregnable Quebec.

Here's how it manifested itself in the performance tonight (as transcribed from Dave's videorecording):

Now listen to me, General Wolfe from Heaven I have come to speak

For now you may fulfill your vow to seize impregnable Quebec
Though now you rest in bed and well you know this sickness is your last
I shall direct you to a cove which lies beneath a lofty cliff
L'Anse-au-Foulon it's called [etc.]

This isn't a very radical example, but you get the idea. We'll try and transcribe more in the weeks ahead, as this is an interesting phenomenon with regard to composition-in-performance. Again, I'm not trying to vary things, I just have to go with whatever has started its way out of my mouth. All this is getting much easier, and there have only been 7 shows so far! It is interesting to note that the difference, from an audience's point of view, between 45 and 60 minutes is practically nil: the only thing they're concerned about is that nothing, especially in the second half, be extraneous.

We had the benefit of two great audience members tonight, from the University of Calgary, one interested in mythological history and one an expert on James Wolfe. The latter was able to tell me that Wolfe was not initially struck on the left-hand wrist, as I'd had it, but on the right-hand wrist -- talk about accurate historical feedback!

Tomorrow I perform at a local elementary school, and Wednesday at a highschool not far outside town. Many thanks to the Saskatoon readers who wrote in about the typo on one of the flyers: the show is indeed on Sunday the 24th, not on (the nonexistent) Sunday the 29th.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What a great site! I love the video clips and especially the list of road songs.