When I launched Operasonic in 2015, one of the things I knew I wanted to do was create an adventure experience for children and adults that had opera at the centre of it. My first job was to find some collaborators so I invited two amazing artists to come and help with this – composer Stephen Deazley and writer Martin Riley. I worked with both artists during my time at Welsh National Opera. Stephen Deazley has huge experience of creating music for young people and worked with WNO Youth Opera in 2011 to create a site-specific opera called The Sleeper. Martin Riley is an arch storyteller who loves to facilitate young minds to be creative, and we had already created a piece called Face in the Mirror for WNO Singing Club.
We decided that we wanted to put participation at the heart of the process, so we began making Nightmare Scenario in 2015 with workshops in Pillgwennlly Primary School. A class of year 5 pupils devised the story working with the creative team. They acted out story ideas and wrote text. They invented characters and explored their background. At the end of a week of workshops, we came together in the Riverfront Theatre studio told the whole story.
The next step was to develop the story they created into a performance experience so we could share it with other children. With funding from Arts Council Wales, Colwinston Charitable Trust, and Creu Cymru for further research and development, we were able to explore what this performance would look like. The Riverfront Theatre in Newport supported us to create an immersive world for the experience in their Basement space. We brought composer Martin Parker into the process to create a sound world for the story, and designers Ruth Stringer and Ace McCarron to make a visual world. We found three amazing opera singers and started to experiment with how they would sing without a live band.
Crucially, we needed to find a way to frame the story and bring our audience / participants into it. Actress Natalie Paisey worked with Martin Riley to create the character of Aggie Cornog – arch story hunter. Aggie is a risk-taker adventurer who needs a crew of story-busters to help her defuse a particularly nasty story. She has her roots in Lara Croft and Dr. Who. Aggie is the key to our story and the leader of our explorers.
Now we are ready for an audience and the next phase of our research & development process is to find out what people connect with, what they enjoy and what doesn’t work so well. All the feedback we get from our audience will help us to build a touring version of this musical mystery adventure, which we hope to take out on the road in 2018 / 2019.
Rhian Hutchings, Creative Director, Operasonic
NIGHTMARE SCENARIO PERFORMANCES AT THE RIVERFRONT THEATRE, NEWPORT.
11am & 2pm Saturday 7th October
11am & 2pm Sunday 8th October
Tickets are £7 / £26 for a family of 4
This performance is not suitable for children under the age of 8
Tickets available from The Riverfront Box office on 01633 656679