CoDI Buddies Workshop 1: Libretto
Derri Joseph Lewis + Flatpack Opera (Ruth Rose, librettist and director)
Tuesday, 7 May 2019
Ruth and I were lucky enough to be joined today by three RWCMD students from the vocal and composition departments to read through the libretto that Ruth has been working on for our CoDI Buddies collaboration. ‘The Coblyn’ is an informative exploration of the use of children in the coal mines of Wales as covered in the KS2 Welsh Curriculum in schools — our focus in this workshop was to find fun ways to include key facts about the history of the industrial revolution and the conditions of the coal mines without darkening the tone too much. The opera is about the discovery of a mischievous Coblyn that helps children stay awake when they’re working down in the mine all day.
We gave the text a read through and had a great discussion afterwards about ways to keep the mood light and give the audience a story that they care about whilst still maintaining the important educational information that we are keen to deliver. “To make the text more suitable for children I will rework my current draft to exaggerate the language and characterisation for comic effect while keeping the educational and factual aspect,” said Ruth Rose, librettist and director from Flatpack Opera. It was great to have this workshop time to play around with the ordering of the text, to begin to think about which lines could be repeated, and whether the narrative is coming across at face value.
Ruth began blocking a basic run-through of the text like a play — this helped me to start thinking about where to place interludes within the piece to aid with scene changes, and also how the music could aid with the characterisation. By the end of the session Ruth and I had a greater understanding of the next steps we need to take to develop the text further. Over the next few weeks I will begin sketching some musical ideas that we will workshop with some more students from RWCMD. “It was useful to have the chance to workshop the text before any music has been written to acquire line-by-line and word-by-word feedback from the perspective of composers and singers,” Ruth said about the incredible opportunity to have a text-only workshop. “This has given insight into issues of plot and characterisation which can be adapted in following drafts.” We are both very grateful for the support from Tŷ Cerdd that allows us to explore our craft in a friendly workshop setting.