A Farewell to Moscow …
I have just returned from Moscow where I was working on a Russian production of Annie Baker’s The Aliens, for director Adrian Giurgea. The job came about because Vera Martynov had suggested me after we met at The Watermill Center earlier this year during our concurrent residencies.
Half my time was spent in service to Adrian and the play while the other half was spent wandering Moscow, amazed and confused. It’s a dense enormous city with a randomness to it’s architecture that lets it seem to exist outside of time. People move around quickly in great numbers and seem cold or short with one another in public, but are privately generous and kind in a way that can take you by surprise.
My job was to create music for a character’s lyrics that would give the actor’s a clear enough voice to cling to and supply the songs with a sense of unity. We met each day in a rehearsal space at the Pushkin Theater, Adrian, Polina the translator, the two actors Igor, Anton, and myself. Sometimes I worked at the piano, other times we would just sit around the table and talk about things that interested us in and outside of the play and it’s themes.
Adrian often dismissed my pleas for clarity, forcing me to rely on instinct and intuition. We developed a method of arriving at the songs which was both random and precise wherein I would sat with the english words and wrote a rough chord structure, that I later refined into melody when I heard the actors speak the Russian text, matching them syllable at a time. It sounds tedious but it actually moved very quickly.
The whole thing was Adrian’s strange little experiment. To see what I would do and to see if some of my voice might reveal itself by pushing me out of my comfort zone.
In September The Aliens will premiere at The Pushkin Theater and Igor and Anton will perform their own versions of the works we created together. I hope to return to Moscow to see it then and to see all my friends.
I have many more pictures of things I saw and places I went that I plan to post at a later date.