Bernstein’s Trouble in Tahiti – Stage Left Project’s First Major Production by Tom Clarkson from Stage Left Project
This month sees our new Hastings-based theatre company, Stage Left Project, present a live performance of Leonard Bernstein’s one-act opera, Trouble in Tahiti, at the Kino Teatr, before we embark on a tour of the south-east celebrating the centenary of the composer’s birth. We formed the company with an aim to bring opera and music-based theatre to new audiences through interactive, site-sensitive productions.
In 2015, I was asked to put together a short set of folk ballads with soprano Chiara Vinci, to be staged and performed around Hastings Old Town on Fat Tuesday Unplugged, under the banner of ‘Barefoot Ballads’. Chiara and I had been brought together creatively by her long-term vocal coach and Director of Barefoot Opera, Jenny Miller. This was the genesis of the Stage Left Project. After these early gigs, we were so inspired by the sense of community and musicality among the Hastonians that we decided to move to the town to perform together regularly.
We were asked by Adam Daly to curate a special evening of folk and classical music at The Albion to commemorate St Andrews day. After this show, we decided that a collaboration of our musical and theatrical sensibilities could make for an inviting evening of entertainment – myself coming from a background of composition, jazz, rock and folk and Chiara, from one of classical opera, contemporary dance and theatre – so we endeavoured to put together a professional theatre company that could incorporate all of this and bring it to the town which had inspired us.
Creative Producer Hannah Deeble, who is also the coordinator of the Hastings Piano Competition, was brought into the fold after meeting us at the legendary Lantern Society, which she runs with her husband, Trevor Moss. Her artistic background provided the final piece of the creative puzzle.
Our group was formed and has since debuted material with company associate Laurence Panter (Tenor, piano, melodica), in an immersive evening of Parisian entertainment held in the crypts of St Mary in the Castle, last August. Laurence will feature in our first major production as not just the accompanist, but also as a member of the vocal trio that narrates the entire Bernstein show. The production will be a fantastic opportunity to see baritone Alistair Sutherland and mezzo-soprano Sophie Goldrick, both highly sought-after performers and rising stars in the opera world.
The main feature is Bernstein’s one-act opera, which is about the darker realities of the glossy-magazine version of suburban tranquility, as portrayed by the media men of their day. The first-half will immerse the audience in the imagination and excitement of Bernstein’s era and, in true Stage Left-style, will bring some of the evening’s entertainment into the foyer bar with Barbershop-style arrangements of songs from the day. The show will be directed by Amelia Cardwell of Frantic Assembly, and the company will be touring the show in independent cinemas throughout the south-east in order to bring sight-sensitive performances into unique spaces. We invite you to join us and wear your best 50s’ dress!
Stage Left Project’s Trouble in Tahiti will be at Kino-Teatr, 43–49 Norman Road, TN38 ONQ, 7.30pm, 25–27 October 2017, tickets £15 available from www.stageleftproject.co.uk