GREEK/Wales Millenium Centre/Conceptual Design
The difficult and dissonant music of Turnage’s opera GREEK, whilst originally challenging to audiences, thirty years on has lost some of it’s shock-factor. As the music perhaps no longer challenges or confronts the audience, it seemed inappropriate to have a largely middle-class audience being entertained by Berkoff’s working-class stereotypes from the comfort of the auditorium. Matilde and I felt instead that the audience should become part of the production, fully immersed and implicated in the actions of the characters by becoming guests at Eddy’s wedding reception.
The opera begins with the audience being led into the auditorium and- to their surprise-being led onto the stage and seated at the wedding reception whilst the wedding band tunes up. As Eddy gets up to begin his groom’s speech the wedding band start up, humouring him and punctuating his tale as the wedding guests and audience are coerced into acting out his outrageous story. Table cloths become gypsy tents, balloons popping become gun fire and the glossy dance floors become rivers as Eddy brings his narrative to life. Eddy should begin to lose control of the crowd throughout the speech, with bridesmaids heckling and cleaner’s vacuuming the auditorium causing chaos.
Once the speech is over, the bride and groom are interrupted from their inappropriately affectionate wedding dance by his parents whoarrive to give their best wishes to the couple but ultimately give earth shattering news to Eddy. After Eddy has thrown out the bridesmaids, things take a more sinister turn as the wedding is destroyed by Eddy turning over tables and chairs, smashing the wedding cake and eventually dancing manically on the dance floor whilst his bride sings mournfully into the microphone. The performance ends with the wedding band having left in disgust, Eddy manically trying to fix his relationship and the wedding guests gently ushering the audience out of the space as cleaners begin to mop around Eddy and his wife. The lack of curtain-call prevents the audience from distancing themselves from the performance and removes their right to show their approval or disapproval of the opera through applause - instead they are left to wonder what will happen to the couple when morning comes...
Director- Matilde Lopez
Set and Costume Designer- Abby Clarke