13 May 2013 at 12.34pm | Comment on this article
Raven Girl, a dark fairytale produced in collaboration between Wayne McGregor, author/visual artist Audrey Niffenegger (Time Traveler's Wife and Her Fearful Symmetry) and composer Gabriel Yared (The English Patient) premieres at the Royal Opera House later this month. The work is based upon Audrey's illustrated novella of the same name.
Before curtain up, Wayne and Audrey took part in an ROH Insights session featuring the ballet in rehearsal. Sarah Lamb and Eric Underwood worked with Wayne on a scene from Raven Girl. Following this, Wayne and Audrey spoke about their creative process and what it was like for Audrey to create a piece for the stage, as opposed to a novel or visual art work.
'I tried to make the characters a little more psychologically complex than you find in your average Grimm story,' said Audrey, 'I tried to make the characters bulletproof so the story could be pushed and pulled.'
Of Audrey's images for the book that has inspired the ballet, Wayne said: 'Audrey draws very physically. Her drawings have an implicit visual grammar and I found that extremely useful in translating those [illustrated] plates into dance'. As part of the session, Audrey explained the complex process of creating an aquatint, used by the artist and author to create the illustrations.
Wayne also spoke of the three stages intended for the Raven Girl project: a book which would have its own life, the stage version which would deviate in some ways from the book ('Some characters are absent. The bones of the story are there but we're telling it in a different way', noted Wayne), and a film version.
There's a lot that happens in the story. From a practical point of view, how is it that you tell the major story points? We want to make it like a piece of visual theatre; a series of visual images that stack up against each other. One of the things that Audrey spoke to me about early on was the anatomy of a fairytale; you don't have to do all the explanation.'
Watch highlights from the event:
Generous philanthropic support has been provided for the production from The Taylor Family Foundation, Mr and Mrs Brian Capstick, David Hancock, Linda and Philip Harley, one anonymous donor and The New Ballet Works Syndicate.