Wednesday 3 March 2021

Love in the Lockdown: Clare Norburn's new self-isolation online play with music

Clare Norburn's Love in Lockdown

In September last year I chatted to Clare Norburn of The Telling about the ensemble's lockdown activities which includes a number of Clare's own concert plays [see my interview]. At the time we spoke she had a new concert play on the boil, Love in the Lockdown which was something of a departure for her. It concerned not an historical musical figure but a modern-day couple separated during Lockdown, the one a musician the other a playwright, both fascinated by Boccaccio and The Decameron, so that the resulting concert play involves music related to Boccaccio, by Guillaume de Machaut, Johannes Ciconia, Francesco Landini, Gherardello da Firenze as well as the issues of the Black Death in Florence in 1348.

The result has come to fruition, and is being broadcast in nine episodes, in real time (except a year on) from 4 March to 23 May 2021. Emilia, the musician, is played by Rachael Stirling and her ensemble is performed by The Telling, whilst Emilia's boyfriend Giovanni is played by Alec Newman with Leila Mimmack, John Culshaw, Suzanne Ahmet, Teresa Banham, Anna Demtriou, and Patience Tomlinson. The film is directed by Nicholas Renton, and The Telling will feature Clare Norburn voice, Ariane Prüssner voice, medieval harp, percussion, Joy Smith harps and percussion and Jorge Jimenez, vielle. It was directed and filmed entirely over Zoom by actors and musicians on their phones and recording devices.  ​

The new piece is something of a departure for Clare, something more of a play and less of a concert, with music at its heart but exploring real-life relationships. And when we spoke she mentioned that parts of it get quite political what with the disparities between rich and poor, and the modern parallels with the characters in Decameron who flee Florence and the plague and hide themselves away in luxurious isolation. But Clare also explores how the two put together a show, and looks at the tensions in their relationship.

The episodes will be broadcast on YouTube and Facebook starting on Thursday 4 March 2021. They are free to view, but donations are welcome. Full information from The Telling's website.

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