I’m Karen Gillingham and I’m directing ‘Silver Birch’, which is a story about a family that are threatened and split up by the impact of war that ultimately their love brings them closer together. I think the impact of a project like this, on the local community is vast, it invites people in to be part of Garsington at Wormsley. We rehearse in lots and lots of separate groups the adult company, youth company, primary company, and now they’re all coming together as one so it’s intergenerational which is really exciting but they’re all on a journey to perform one thing and I just find it remarkable to be around the energy on that stage is so moving! Hi, I’m Dougie Boyd, I’m Artistic Director
of Garsington Opera, and I’m honoured to be conducting ‘Silver Birch’. To see the kind of joy of making music together, sometimes I have to hold back tears, it’s absolutely one of the most moving things I’ve been involved in, and I think when you see this community come together you see that the power of music is something that we should celebrate as much as any, anything that happens in schools. So after a recruitment process, once we’d got our company on board, we began weekly rehearsals so most of the participants have had 10 to 12 weeks of evening rehearsals, so those rehearsals were 2 to 3 hours each, where they were learning the music they started with some basic staging skills before we started actually staging the opera itself we were working in a lovely school hall but it didn’t represent the size of the stage that we’re working on today and I think, for most people, they didn’t really know quite what they had got themselves involved in and coming together like this and seeing the set being transformed around
them they’ve been working on a framework but today they’re going to come
in and see the most amazing set that’s formed around them and I think we’ve basically been placing them together, as we go, stage by stage. Hi my name is Natasha Khamjani, I’m the Movement Director and Assistant Director on the ‘Silver Birch’. In this particular show there’s a big training camp scene where it’s involving a lot of movement and also a battle, so that’s two huge sections in the show where we’ve had to really look at the movement and build people up to a certain level of physical fitness and careful falling, rolling, jumping, twisting and all sorts! Part of the joy about this project is being able to bring 180 cast members to Wormsley coming onto site and I guess one of my best moments is watching the primary company arrive and just the responses of “WOW! Look at this place!” because you can’t describe it it’s an area of outstanding natural beauty and I really think it’s fantastic that all of these young people get the opportunity to come here and make it theirs, it’s their home for
the next nine days. It’s as important as maths or science or anything else, in fact you could argue it changes lives to a degree that other subjects can’t reach. We’re really excited to share this project with the world and we really hope that you enjoy watching it.