NMT Automatics have given the ancient tale of Dido and Aeneas a bold, modern spin.
The story resonates as strongly as ever in 2016 – the play, adapted from Virgil’s The Aeneid, is an epic tale of a people torn from their land by war, searching for a new home, whilst struggling against a climate of prejudice and fear.
This production is a unique blend of text, physical theatre and urban/lyrical dance, choreographed to an original soundtrack remixing Purcell’s opera of the story with a new sampled, beat-driven soundscape.
Jonathan Young is the artistic director and also plays Aeneas. ‘I knew Purcell’s opera, which has some stunning music in it.
‘With this fusion of dance and drama, we like to take music that appeals to a certain type of people – classic music is generally white middle-class – and mixing that with something new, and attracting an audience that draws on both elements.
‘The tragic story of Dido is a very potent tale, and we were deciding last year with my choreographer what the next piece would be and she also knew the story, but she knew it from the Aeniad, the actual text. It’s a glorious book. That obviously goes into a lot greater detail about Rome and Carthage and the Punic Wars.
‘The story of the Trojans leaving from Troy after the Trojan war seemed to resonate very much with the current plight of refugees and immigration, and all this kind of thing, which tied it into a more societal story, but also the personal tragic love story of these two.’
As part of each performance, up to 12 people per venue will act alongside professional actors, via free workshops exploring the speed at which xenophobia can be spread via rumour.
Participants will devise their own take on key passages, making each venue’s show different. Anyone interested in taking part, should email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. Workshops take place on November 16 and 18, 5pm-9pm.
‘There’s a lot of variables,’ adds Jonathan. ‘It’s open to people 14-plus of all abilities, young or older.
‘We’re just looking for people to get involved and give it their all.
‘Each group of participants we get involved will be different, so we have to be ready to adapt.’