We have just completed a series of three open rehearsal evenings where we invited the audience behind the scenes of Berlin to New York. We are working with a new drummer – another Nico – and Markus’s idea was to combine the process of introducing him to the show with a public event where we could delve deeper into the themes we touch on: The Berlin Years, New York and Broadway and The Upheavals of War.
After the success of “A Entendre les Arbres . . .” in the wonderful setting of Daniel’s large room above his artisan bakery, we were delighted to be invited back for these three discovery evenings.
Thursday is one of Daniel’s big baking days and each evening, as we arrived to set up, he and his team were just tidying away and packing batches of crusty loaves ready for market early the next day. The air was warm and fragrant with the smell of fresh bread, and the buttery scent of his croissants, pains au chocolat and killer brioches.
Our events drew in an audience of around thirty people each evening and many of them commented on how interested they were to witness the ongoing work and the amount of attention to detail which goes into the creation of a show like this one.
Of course we are privileged to have a bunch of wonderful musicians with us and this was a great opportunity to work on the finer points of the musical arrangements. But as a feature of En Coulisses we also wanted to talk about the life and times of Kurt Weill, the development of his music, his collaboration with Bertolt Brecht, his rejection of Germany and his new life as an American composer. We discussed the power of popular songs in wartime and looked at their use as propaganda and counter propaganda. We also focused on the theatrical elements of our show and how we use them to give as much context as possible to an audience who do not necessarily understand the texts.
All this sounds a bit heavy, but we can rely on the ensemble not to take themselves too seriously and there was a lot of banter and laughter from both ourselves and the audience.
The atmosphere was relaxed but attentive and it was great to be able to work on the show with the live feedback of an audience.
As the evening progressed, a new and appetizing smell wafted up from below. It was soon time to wrap up and settle down with a glass of wine and one of Daniel’s delicious pizzas for more discussions and chat. Each of the three evenings was different and special – how lucky we are to live here, surrounded by so much talent and enthusiasm for unusual cultural events!
Our next full performance will be on May 20th. To give you an idea of the show, we have put up a little video, recorded live by our friend Pascal. You will find it on the far right of your screen if you are reading this on a desktop. On a tablet or smart phone, click the three bar symbol on the top right and scroll down.
This afternoon, when we went to collect the last of our stuff, Daniel and Jacqueline had the bakery all set up as a boulangerie. They sell their products on site on two evenings a week so if you happen to be passing on a Tuesday or Friday this is what will greet you!