Thursday 10 December 2020

Creating Change - new films from WNO exploring social inequality and injustice

Welsh National Opera - Creating Change

This Autumn, Welsh National Opera (WNO) was due to premiere the hugely ambitious new opera Migrations, commissioned to coincide with the 400th anniversary of the sailing of the Mayflower. The music is by Will Todd and the libretto was created by five writers, Sarah Woods, Eric Ngalle Charles, Shreya Sen Handley, Edson Burton and Miles Chambers, influenced by their own personal experiences. The opera has been postponed until 2021, when it will open the season for the company's 75th anniversary year.

But the five writers have been working on a new project. WNO has just released a series of films, Creating Change, in which each of the writers contemplates the issues of social inequality and injustice which have been deepened through the Covid-19 crisis and asks what we as individuals and collectively as society can do to create real change.

Eric Ngalle Charles' poems explore art’s role in societal transformation, whilst Shreya Sen-Handley is inspired by the legend of a Hindu goddess who rebuilds our world after every catastrophe. Shreya has also illustrated her poem, The Pledge. Miles Chambers' A Change Gon Come reflects the way Black movements continue to highlight and react to atrocities, calling them out and articulating the world we need to see. Sarah Woods is a writer who works with story across all sorts of media and with all sorts of people, for her changing the stories we tell - and those we believe in - can change the world. Edson Burton's piece, Death of a Fool, is intended to serve as a warning to artists past and present to better understand the sacrifices they will make for art. The lyrics of the eulogy to the fool don't hold back.

Two of the works have been set to music by sisters Eädyth Crawford and Kizzy Crawford, young singer-songwriters from Merthyr Tydfil in the South Wales valleys. Eädyth has composed music to accompany The Pledge which includes dance and song performed by British-Indian soprano Natasha Agarwal who is trained in Bharatanatyam (a form of Classical Indian dance).  Kizzy has composed the music to accompany Death of a Fool, using Vaudeville music suggested by Edson Burton as inspiration, with words sung by tenor Ronald Samm. Both pieces are accompanied by musicians from WNO Orchestra, and tabla player Pritam Singh of Drumatised (an organisation which promotes world music) also joins the team of musicians for The Pledge.

Full details at the WNO website.

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