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Creating Change: WNO explores role of the arts in a time of crisis
Creating Change: WNO explores role of the arts in a time of crisis
Welsh National Opera has commissioned and created a series of films under the collective title Creating Change, which challenge and explore the role of the arts in a time of crisis.
Conceived in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, each film holds a mirror to some uncomfortable truths about financial, social and racial inequality that have become all the more prevalent during these times, but also with a positive message about making change for the good.
The five writers involved – Sarah Woods, Eric Ngalle Charles, Shreya Sen Handley, Edson Burton and Miles Chambers – have all been working with WNO on Migrations; a new opera commission which was due to open in Autumn 2020, but has been postponed to Autumn 2021 due to the pandemic. For Migrations, the writers were influenced by their own personal experiences of migration to create a series of stories about the boldness and resilience of the human spirit and how this has contributed to the diversity of modern society. Creating Change expands on this by raising awareness around issues of social inequality and injustice that have been deepened through the Covid-19 crisis and asking what we as individuals and collectively as society can do to create real change.
The collection of five films are:
Death of a Fool by Edson Burton
The Pledge by Shreya Sen Handley
Stories for Change by Sarah Woods
If heaven is her father’s land, her father can keep it, Bones, and Fragments by Eric Ngalle Charles
A Change Gon Come by Miles Chambers
Two of the films – The Pledge and Death of a Fool – have been further developed and set to music by Welsh singer-songwriter sisters Eädyth and Kizzy Crawford. Eädyth has composed music to accompany The Pledge which includes dance and song performed by British-Indian soprano Natasha Agarwal who is trained in Bharatanatyam (a form of Classical Indian dance). Kizzy has composed the music to accompany Death of a Fool, using Vaudeville music suggested by Edson Burton as inspiration, with words sung by tenor Ronald Samm.
Both pieces will be accompanied by musicians from WNO Orchestra, and tabla player Pritam Singh of Drumatised also joins the team of musicians for The Pledge.
The Creating Change films will be released as a collective on 7 December and will be available to view on WNO’s website.
Maris Lyons WNO Producer said: “We are living in unprecedented times. International crisis has exposed the inequalities and injustices in our society more starkly than ever before. Growing economic, social, and physical uncertainty has shifted the ground beneath us. As a national arts organisation rising to the challenge of the new normal yet still unable to perform live work in theatres, we are feeling more keenly than ever that bringing artists and ideas together through freedom of expression, helps us make sense of an unstable world. ‘Creating Change’ is an artistic conversation of this kind, where writers, composers, singers and musicians, celebrate the role of art to reimagine a future of lasting social change.”
Writer Shreya Sen Handley said: “When WNO asked me to contribute to their Creating Change project, I agreed with alacrity. Not only because it is really relevant to our times and important to demonstrate how we can all do something to help improve the situation we find ourselves in, but also to emphasise that art, often unfairly seen as a frivolous pursuit, has as much of a role to play in lifting us up in these dark times and steering us towards the light. It is a very inclusive project at a time when inclusivity and unity is needed above all else.”
Eädyth Crawford said: “Composing these pieces for WNO has been such an exciting challenge for me and has really pushed me out of my comfort zone. It has been an honour to take part in the project and a great learning curve for me personally, and it has been great having Kizzy’s help along the way to inspire me. Kizzy and I would take part in many school plays growing up and really enjoyed drama and singing together, something that we have carried on together to this day. We have tried to capture as much of this energy and passion that we have for our art in these pieces and I am personally very proud of the outcome.”
For further information and to access the film from 7 December, visit wno.org.uk/creatingchange.
Notes to Editors
- Welsh National Opera is the national opera company for Wales, funded by the Arts Councils of Wales and England to provide large scale opera, concerts and outreach work across Wales and to major cities in the English regions. We endeavour to provide transformative experiences through our education and outreach programme and our award-winning digital projects. We work with our partners to discover and nurture young operatic talent, and we aim to show future generations that opera is a rewarding, relevant and universal art form with the power to affect and inspire
- WNO production images are available for download at http://www.wno.org.uk/press
- Creating Change – Synopses
Death of a Fool
A priest is giving a graveside sermon about a clown/fool who has passed away. The film explores what this fool wanted to achieve with his craft and what he gave up in the hope ‘his art could enlighten society’.
This poem is inspired by the legend of the Hindu goddess Durga, who comes down from the Himalayas every year to redeem and rebuild our world. It is also a call to arms to humanity to act to improve the situation we find ourselves in throughout society.
Stories for Change
Sarah Woods talks in this film about the stories we tell, hear and how we interpret them. She also talks about challenging those stories and as artists how important it is to ‘create space for different stories.’
If heaven is her father’s land, her father can keep it, Bones, and Fragments
These poems explore the role of the arts in societal transformation. The words call for a basic need to seek love and human acceptance, no matter who you are and where you are from.
A Change Gon Come
In this poem Miles Chambers talks about people throughout our history who have had an impact on the black community and the world. Individuals who have strived to be seen and listened to as people and not judged, punished, or killed just for the colour of their skin. He finishes talking about a world where this doesn’t exist and how it is for all of us to make a change ‘I say let’s make this happen, let’s not worry about how. Let’s do it today, let’s do it now’.
- For more information, photos or interviews please contact:
Rachel Bowyer / Penny James, Press and Public Affairs Manager (job share)
029 2063 5038
Christina Blakeman, Press Officer