Theatre, music and maths!

We are super excited to have Sophie Hamlet joining our Board of Trustees! Not only is she a brilliant accountant but she’s super passionate about theatre, opera and music and reaching new audiences. So we asked her a few questions so you could get to know her:

 

Describe yourself in three words

A question I always struggle with because I have been known to be talkative!  I suppose that would be one; chatty.  Passionate (particularly where arts and music are concerned), and… Kind.  I’d like to think of myself as kind.

What made you want to get involved with Baseless Fabric?

I’ve wanted to get involved in volunteer work for a while, particularly in using my skills as an accountant to give back in some way.  The best way to do that is to get involved with charities as some form of treasurer / financial consultant and, having a lot of love for the arts (theatre in particular), it seemed obvious to look to work with theatrical charities.  An opportunity for Baseless Fabric came upon one of the volunteer sites that I signed up for and I simply jumped at the chance to get involved.

The work that Baseless Fabric do in terms of making theatre and opera accessible is incredibly important and valuable to the local community, and their engagement with the community is so unique (I’d never heard of street opera before!) it really feels like their work is something very special. The chance to be a part of that in any small way is one that can’t be ignored.  I may not be an opera singer, but I can at least offer my mathematical mind.

You saw our Die Fledermaus production in the summer.  Which character are you most like, and why?

That’s a difficult question because the characters are all so much fun in their own ways, but if I had to choose one, I think I would say Rosalinde.  Relatively down to earth, she has a real sense of responsibility and right and wrong – but isn’t above having a little fun, even if it was at Eisenstein’s expense!

We know you see a lot of theatre. What productions have you seen recently that you would recommend?

I try to mix up the shows that I go to, going from larger to smaller venues quite regularly.  Recently I’ve seen School of Rock, which is great fun.  But the two shows that I’ve seen in the last month that have really stood out are Preludes by Dave Malloy, which was showing at the Southwark Playhouse until early October.  A musical that’s set inside the hypnotised mind of Rachmaninoff, it’s a chaotic blend of classical music, opera and electronic sampling.  The players were just fantastic, but special mention has to go to Norton James, Rebecca Cain and Georgia Louise, all of whom just sang beautifully.

The other is a show written by Tice Oakfield called The Astonishing Singing Fish.  This is a really fun and quirky show that only seems to pop up for a couple of days at a time, so you need to get in quick to see it!  The premise is very simple; Peter, a scientist, and his genetically modified pet fish (the closest thing he has to a friend), Alex, watch the Olivier Awards one night, and Alex is so enamoured with the music that he decides he wants to play Jean Val Jean in Les Miserables.  The show is effectively about his quest to be a West End star and is full of homages to existing musicals (and a few digs, as well) that left me grinning from ear to ear.  It is likely to come back in the future, so keep a lookout for it!

Thanks Sophie for the great theatre recommendations and excited to have you as part of the team!

“Had never been to the opera and now would love to go!”

Louisa & Giles at the Autumn Rose Club

Louisa & Giles at the Autumn Rose Club

It’s a sad time but we’ve come to the end of our amazing Die Fledermaus project over the past 18 months. We’re looking back on everything that we’ve achieved and all the brilliant people we’ve met, especially the fantastic young people in our Opera Taster Workshops and Parallel Productions and the wonderful older people in our sessions for elderly groups. We’ve had such fun in all the different activities of the project and are so proud of what everyone’s achieved.

In our final part of the project after the busyness of the summer performances, we visited 5 different organisations across Merton and Wandsworth who provide activities for local elderly people supporting them in times of difficulties and loneliness. It feels important for us to partner with organisations such as these since the format of our unique street opera concept is that it requires people to be able to stand and walk around the high street (up to 60mins if they want to see the whole performance) which means we’re not very accessible to the physically frail who may not be up to that. So visiting these groups enables us to make our work accessible to them.

Louisa & Giles at Regenerate Rise Putney

Louisa & Giles at Regenerate Rise Putney

As many people in these groups can’t follow us down the high street we take the street opera to them! We edit the filming from our street opera performances so we can show videos of our street opera performances and talk to the groups about what we’re aiming to do in terms of making high-quality

professional opera accessible to everyone as they’re going about their daily lives in shops, supermarkets, pubs and libraries. And our wonderful singer Louisa Tee (who played Fiordiligi in our 2018 production of Cosi Fan Tutte) and Wimbledon-based pianist Giles Kennedy performed sections of our modern English adaptations of both Die Fledermaus and Cosi for the groups – as well as giving them an insight to their careers as professional musicians and the work of our company.

We had some great feedback from these groups, especially with several of the sessions leading to impromptu sing-alongs – such as singing ‘Amazing Grace’ with the Autumn Rose Club in Balham! And of course we love hearing feedback such as this after our sessions –

“The interactive performance was brilliant. Z stopped me in the corridor asking when they would be coming again. She particularly enjoyed the intimacy of the presentation and felt so involved. Many of the ladies, couldn’t believe how high the standard of singing was and were blown away. One lady explained how she had never been to the opera and would now love to go!”

That’s just what we like to hear! 🙂

 

From Morden to the Mariinsky Concert Hall

One of the special new additions to this year’s performances was our brass band, who led the audiences between each performance location. We were lucky to be joined by three wonderful young musicians Siân Collins, Ben Day and Derryck Nasib.

We’re particularly keen to support local young musicians so were excited to have Derryck join the team, who’s actually from Morden. He only needed to roll out of bed 10mins before the call time before our Morden performance! So we thought we’d catch up with him about what it has been like performing with Baseless Fabric this summer:

Read more

Love musicals? Hate opera? Think again!

We asked Francis, originally a musicals fan, to tell us why we converted him to opera.

I am a musical theatre geek. I’m a self-confessed Renthead and up until a few years ago I hated opera…. But I didn’t realise I was watching the wrong opera productions. Here are 5 reasons why I think, if you love musicals, you should try Baseless Fabric’s free Die Fledermaus:

It’s in modern English and you can hear the words

I thought opera was always in another language or if it was in English you couldn’t really hear the words clearly, sometimes you have to be looking and reading the text from a screen?! – but that doesn’t have to be the case. In the Baseless Fabric’s opera productions the words are clear and you can easily follow the story of what’s going on. In fact Die Fledermaus actually has both spoken scenes and songs so it’s even more like a musical. Read more

#TeamDieFledermaus

So that you can get to know #TeamDieFledermaus we thought we’d ask our brilliant singers a few questions about their characters:

 

What would your character have in their supermarket shopping trolley?

Falke: Vodka and crisps

Rosalinde: Nappies, formula, Pinot Grigio

Eisenstein: Stella and nappies

Adele: Smashed avocado, honey flavoured lockets, sugar free red bull Read more

Why Audiences Love Street Opera

Our favourite thing about our street opera performances is seeing how audiences respond. We love that the unique Baseless Fabric style – where operas pop up unexpectedly on the high street, and move from location to location – excites audiences. It’s so thrilling to clearly see people enjoying the performance which you wouldn’t be able to see from the stage of a big opera house.

And when we announced our Die Fledermaus locations, we were delighted to find people reminiscing about our performances of Cosi Fan Tutte in 2017 & 2018. For example:

https://twitter.com/carolinefrmus/status/1148664968482557953

And: Read more

Help us bring opera to Merton & Wandsworth

We are looking for reliable, enthusiastic volunteers with an interest in theatre, music and community projects to help us create our Die Fledermaus re-imagined for high street locations across Merton & Wandsworth , South London between 1st – 14th August.

No experience necessary – all training will be provided! Volunteers will get a sneak peek into our rehearsals and travel expenses covered on performance days. We also provide tea & cake!

You only need to commit to a couple of hours per show – and of course you get to see the show too! Whether you can commit to one, two or all of the performances we’d love to hear from you!

To find out further details or if you have any questions please contact General Manager, Leo Mercer.

Need more info? check out our Die Fledermaus page.

We look forward to hearing from you!

Performance Dates

Date Time Location  
Thu 1st Aug  5pm COLLIERS WOOD
Starts at Savacentre / The Qube, SW19 1DD
 FREE
Fri 2nd Aug  11am POLLARDS HILL
Starts at New Horizon Centre cafe, CR4 1LT
 FREE
Sat 3rd Aug  1pm RAYNES PARK
Starts at Waitrose, Raynes Park, SW20 0BS
 FREE
Sat 3rd Aug  5pm WIMBLEDON
Starts at Elys, Wimbledon SW19 4DP
 FREE
Tue 6th Aug  8pm Arcola Theatre – Indoor Seated Version
24 Ashwin St, Dalston, London E8 3DL
Book at:
Arcola Theatre
Wed 7th Aug  8pm Arcola Theatre – Indoor Seated Version
24 Ashwin St, Dalston, London E8 3DL
Book at:
Arcola Theatre
Thu 8th Aug  5pm WANDSWORTH TOWN
Starts at Southside Shopping Centre, SW18 4TQ
 FREE
Fri 9th Aug  1pm MITCHAM
Starts at Morrisons, Mitcham, CR4 2JS
 FREE
Sat 10th Aug  1pm CLAPHAM JUNCTION
Starts at ASDA, 204 Lavender HIll, Battersea, SW11 1JG
 FREE
Sat 10th Aug  5pm WIMBLEDON VILLAGE
Starts at Bayley & Sage, 60 High Street, Wimbledon, SW19 5EE
 FREE
Tue 13th Aug  1pm MORDEN
Starts at Oxfam, 31 London Road, Morden, SM4 5HT
 FREE
Tue 13th Aug  5pm TOOTING BROADWAY
Starts at Tooting Market, Tooting High Street, SW17 0SN
 FREE
Wed 14th Aug  1pm ROEHAMPTON 
Starts at Roehampton Library, 2 Danebury, Ave, SW15 4HD
 FREE
Wed 14th Aug  5pm WIMBLEDON
Starts at Elys, Wimbledon SW19 4DP
 FREE

What is Grimeborn?

The Arcola (Dalston)

Grimeborn is the annual opera festival at one of London’s coolest theatres, The Arcola. Over the last ten years, the festival has become the home for adventurous takes on familiar classics, resurrections of forgotten gems, and premieres of brand new works. This year there are no less than 16 productions. There are £12 tickets available for each one. It’s cheap, it’s accessible – and it’s mindblowing when you realise how much there is to the opera world. 

Don’t take our word for it. Here are some examples that we can’t wait for:

Bringing back unknown operas to life – like Scott Joplin’s Treemonisha

Somehow Scott Joplin, the ‘King of Ragtime’, is only known for his famous piano tune The Entertainer. But then you hear about an American opera-musical like this, entirely ahead of its time, entirely relevant still – and with a title like Treemonisha… well, you just kinda have to go!

See also Aaron Copland’s Twelve Poems by Emily Dickinson.

Radical takes on opera classics – like Die Fledermaus

Our very own artistic director Jo Turner and composer Leo Geyer return with a new take of Strauss’ classic. Working with designer Marina Hadjilouca and lighting designer Jack Weir, Baseless Fabric will bring our street opera indoors for two performances only, for an entirely new take on our style of relevant, irreverent opera re-imagining. Find out more here. Read more

Making Opera With Young People

Every two weeks, director Elen and musical director James lead a session in Cranmer Primary School. We chatted to Elen about what they’ve been working on.

Baseless Fabric Theatre workshop with primary school group – Wimbledon Foundation

Tell us a little bit about what you’ve been up to at Cranmer.

Since January, James (the musical director) and myself have been working with year 5 and 6 students from Cranmer Primary School. We’ve been devising scenes. We’ve written and composed music. We’ve used improvisation techniques to adapt the characters from Die Fledermaus.

It’s been a thoroughly enjoyable experience, not just because we’ve facilitated these young people in creating their own performance, but we’ve also witnessed their confidence grow and creative ideas flourish. Read more