Yshani

Saturday, and with a concert of massed harps monopolising the stage (the players ranged rather incongruously around our set) the Mare’s Tale team retreat to a dressing-room to have a morning concentrated entirely on Eric. James and Mark, together with Yshani at the piano, run through all Eric’s music cues with him, tightening and refining. Afterwards Helen and I have an hour with him, giving our notes on the text and his performance that we haven’t had time to attend to during the hurly-burly of daily rehearsal. (It’s pretty full-on during stage-time, what with the set, the puppeteers, camera-operators, projection-screen and technicians, all claiming our attention.) So for Eric and the team today’s rehearsal was time especially well-spent, without distraction save for the counterpoint of an excitable dog in the car park joyfully barking throughout.

Above: in the foreground left to right, dramaturge/assistant director, Helen Cooper, actor, Eric Roberts, director/designer, Clive Hicks-Jenkins and Jack-the-rehearsal-dog. Reflected in the mirror can be seen, again from left to right, composer, Mark Bowden, rehearsal pianist, Yshani Perinpanayagam and artistic and director of MWCO and conductor of The Mare’s Tale, James Slater.

Above: the peerless Yshani, who throughout the week has helped all of us better understand and appreciate the complexity of Mark’s score, and the technical brilliance and psychological insight with which he’s woven music and words together. Yshani’s playing has brought to the piano reduction commissioned for rehearsals, not only clarity and accuracy, but all of the expressiveness, nuance and colour that has has unfailingly guided and inspired us as we’ve blocked the action onto the stage. A hundred times a day she drops into whichever part of the music we’re rehearsing, and yet her performance is never mechanical or dry. Whatever emotional pitch we’re attempting, is mediated through her playing. Last week I watched while the puppeteers emoted into the tiny, grey figure of Jane Seyes, tossing and turning on her death-bed, and Yshani invested the music with all the tenderness we needed to conjure the moment. Her concentration is staggering, and she delivers unhesitatingly and without fuss. She is the most sweet-tempered and generous rehearsal pianist I’ve encountered. Tomorrow will be our last day with her. On Wednesday the musicians arrive, and by then Yshani will be far away working in London.

Thank you Yshani for everything you’ve brought to The Mare’s Tale. Without you we would not have travelled so far, or so confidently.

Below: The team at work.

10 thoughts on “Yshani

    • Forgot to say that while out on book tour, I got many wonderful comments about your art for “The Foliate Head” and “Thaliad.” One introducer held up “The Foliate Head” and said it was the most beautiful book he had seen in years. Of course, they’re equally beautiful!

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