Skip to main content

Theatre Music at the RSC

  • 139 Accesses

Part of the Palgrave Studies in British Musical Theatre book series (PSBMT)

Abstract

This chapter analyses in more detail some of the ways music functions in productions of Shakespeare plays at the RSC. The way music is used is unlikely to be unique to the RSC or to Shakespeare plays; it has developed from nineteenth-century melodrama and been transferred between film, television and theatre by composers and directors working across media. As a starting point, then, since many of the creative teams work across media one of the particular questions this chapter focuses on is the consideration of music’s liveness in a live theatre context—how is it different from film music?

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Buying options

Chapter
USD   29.95
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-95222-2_5
  • Chapter length: 41 pages
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
eBook
USD   54.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • ISBN: 978-3-319-95222-2
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
Softcover Book
USD   69.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Hardcover Book
USD   99.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4

Notes

  1. 1.

    This refers too to Jean-Luc Nancy’s theorising in Listening (2007).

  2. 2.

    I based this discussion on analysis of the AV recording and the score.

  3. 3.

    This discussion is based on my analysis of the AV recording, score and prompt book of the production.

  4. 4.

    The discussions in this section are based on analyses of AV recordings, scores, and prompt books of these productions.

  5. 5.

    The last three plays, The Winter’s Tale, Cymbeline, and The Tempest are clearly different in the amount of music that might be anticipated because they were indoor plays for which a professional band might have been available.

  6. 6.

    The score is available in the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust archive as is an AV recording and the prompt book. All of these informed this discussion.

  7. 7.

    Peaslee had previously worked at the RSC with Brook on The Marat-Sade in 1964.

  8. 8.

    This is described in the score as a bevelled piece of wood or ruler on the end of a stout cord, swung around rapidly creating a roaring sound (Peaslee, p. 2).

  9. 9.

    Mendelssohn’s nineteenth century incidental music was very widely used or excerpts performed during productions of this play until at least the 1930s, so its significance was likely to have been recognised. (See Manifold 1956, 156, and Lindley 2004, 111.)

  10. 10.

    Some short clips are available on YouTube that include the sound of the Freekas (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kg-FiWX4uWI [Accessed 08.10.2015]), but very little of the performance was recorded at the time.

Bibliography

  • Ansorge, Peter. ‘Interview with Peter Brook’, Plays and Players. October 1970.

    Google Scholar 

  • Beauman, Sally. The Royal Shakespeare Company’s Centenary Production of Henry V. Oxford: Pergamom Press, 1976.

    Google Scholar 

  • Chion, Michel. Audio-Vision. New York: Columbia University Press, 1990.

    Google Scholar 

  • Curtin, Adrian. ‘Designing Sound for Shakespeare: Connecting past and present’ in John Brown and Stephen di Benedetto (eds), Designer’s Shakespeare. London: Routledge 2016, 152–69.

    Google Scholar 

  • Gorbman, Claudia. Unheard Melodies. Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1987.

    Google Scholar 

  • Home-Cook, George. Theatre and Aural Attention: Stretching Ourselves. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • King, Helen Cole. ‘The Echo from Within: The Role of Stage Music in Peter Brook’s Performance of Shakespeare.’ Contemporary Theatre Review 18(4), (2008), 412–424.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Llano, Samuel. ‘Roberto Gerhard, Shakespeare and the Memorial Theatre’ in Monty Adkins and Michael Russ (eds), The Roberto Gerhard Companion. Farnham: Ashgate, 2013, 107–130.

    Google Scholar 

  • Manifold, J.S. The Music in English Drama from Shakespeare to Purcell. London: Rockliff, 1956.

    Google Scholar 

  • O’Neil, Bruce. Interview, Rehearsal room at The Courtyard Theatre, 12 September 2016.

    Google Scholar 

  • Reynolds, Ian. Email exchange, December 2015 and January 2016a.

    Google Scholar 

  • Savran, David, Email exchange. 11/12 October 2017.

    Google Scholar 

  • Sekacz, Ilona. Interview, At her home near Stratford, 25 April 2016.

    Google Scholar 

  • Yershon, Gary. Backstage at Old Vic Theatre, London, 3 October 2016.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hess, Nigel. ‘Interview with Nigel Hess.’ Much Ado About Nothing Or Love’s Labour’s Won. DVD. Opus Arts: OA 1193 BD, 2015.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

Copyright information

© 2018 The Author(s)

About this chapter

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this chapter

Taylor, M. (2018). Theatre Music at the RSC. In: Theatre Music and Sound at the RSC. Palgrave Studies in British Musical Theatre. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-95222-2_5

Download citation