Theatre in Wales

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Michael Kelligan talks to Rachel Dunston who will beSinging her Way to Utopia at Somerset House on 27th August 2016.     

Michael Kelligan talks to Rachel Dunston who will beSinging her Way to Utopia at Somerset House on 27th August 2016.
Michael: Are you from Cardiff ?
Rachel: I’m living in Cardiff now, I grew up in the seaside town of Weston-super-Mare. I studied at the University of Glamorgan and gained a 1st with honours in Performance and Media. Cardiff is a fantastic hub for arts and culture so I decided to stay and carve a career as an Actor and Arts Marketer.
Michael: How did you first get involved in singing?
I’ve always been interested in performing but, to begin with, it was mainly dance that grabbed my attention. My grandparents were keen ballroom dancers and at a young age I wanted to follow in their footsteps. It wasn’t until I started performing on stage in local productions that I fell in love with singing as well. The main turning point for me was when, as a Brownie in the Girl Guides, I joined Weston-super-Mare Gangshow; a production created and performed by local members of the Guiding and Scouting community. I befriended many interesting people and was introduced to a fantastic singing teacher who entered me in an array of competitions. From there, I took leading roles in musicals and competed in a national singing competition which took me all over the country. It’s fair to say that my love of singing has definitely grown from there and stayed with me into my adult years.
Michael: What kind of singing do you enjoy most?
Rachel: Musical Theatre will always be my first choice, though I enjoy performing a variety of different music genres as well. Musicals combine my main interests; singing, dancing and acting, and what better way to express a moment than by bursting into spontaneous song. There’s also something special in the way musical theatre songs are written where they can convey true emotions that sometimes can’t be explored through dialogue alone, and a few jazz hands along the way are always a bonus.
Michael: How do you fit singing in with work studying etc?
Rachel: I regularly perform in productions which involve quite a lot of singing so most of my spare time is spent rehearsing for these. Aside from theatre though, it’s difficult to find time in busy schedules to sing, but it’s also one of the only musical instruments you can play anywhere – you don’t need to carry extra equipment to be able to sing. I try to sing every day, even if it’s just around the house, to keep my voice flexible and I’ll always be listening to new musicals and songs on my phone to keep up with the latest trends.
Michael: How did you hear about the Paths to Utopia project?
This fantastic opportunity was advertised on the National Theatre Wales Community website with the strap line ‘Do you like to sing? Would you like to perform in London?’ That was all I needed to peak my interest. The project is an installation in the Utopia 2016: A Year of Imagination and Possibility exhibition at Somerset House, and its aim of presenting a fragile utopian moment in a bold experiment was something I was eager to be part of.
Michael: Was there an application process or do all who apply get accepted?
We had to apply for a place in the scratch choir. From all the applications, 50 were personally chosen to roughly represent the UK’s demographic make-up as recorded in the 2011 census. On the day, the choir will be travelling to London from places including Newcastle, Leeds, Bristol and Cardiff.
Michael: How are the pieces divided up?
The piece is approximately 15 minutes long and is divided up into a four-part harmony. I’ll be singing the alto harmony and together we’ll be singing a cappella in three live performances throughout the day.
Michael: How was your piece chosen?
The music has been created especially for this installation from a series of workshops that took place earlier in the year. Through development of the music and ideas, the final score was created and represents what it’s like to live in Britain’s cities today; including the things we love and the things that drive us mad!
Michael: What arrangements are in place for you to practice?
This bold experiment relies on creating a unique and fragile utopian moment by bringing a scratch choir together for the first time at the live performance. This means that each singer, including myself, has had to learn the piece of music and harmonies individually, without any rehearsals with the rest of the choir beforehand. In order to learn our parts, we’ve been provided with some really useful files that include our individual harmonies and lyric sheets. The first time that I will sing this music with the rest of the choir is on the day during our live performance, in public and hopefully, in perfect harmony.

You can catch We’re Here: Singing Our Way to Utopia at Somerset House on 27th August 2016.

We're here: Singing our way to Utopia is part of Kings College’s Paths To Utopia, a collection of new art works resulting from collaborations between artists, performers, architects, technologists and King’s College London academics to celebrate the 500th anniversary of Thomas More’s inspirational book Utopia.

Chloe Nelkin Consulting  
web site
Katy Eynon
Sunday, August 21, 2016back



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