SEVEN VELVET SUITS: Premièring at BasicSpace16

Andre Flynn playing Conrad Satie | Seven Velvet Suits | workshOPERA © Pete Le May

Following last night’s sold-out opening performance of Seven Velvet Suits, workshOPERA will continue to bring this “haunting little gem” to life through matinée and evening performances, everyday this week.

Nothing can prepare performers for the reality of site-specific and immersive theatre. For an actor to ascend to the high-point of their character’s emotional arc, focus and intensity are key. A single audience member, unknowingly twitching and tapping, could potentially throw the performance offtrack in 10 seconds. Andre Flynn, starring as Conrad Satie, remarks, “acting is an exercise of concentration. You’re not just trying to speak the words: you’re trying to instigate an emotional state. You have another human body 10 cm in front of you, that lives and breathes and moves; it’s a reminder that what you’re creating isn’t actually real. That interference can be a real barrier to your imagination.”

From a directorial perspective, Anna Pool’s concerns are perhaps more practical. “There’s no distance for you to get away with anything. The cast cannot be told, ‘this will be your eye line’ — it changes every night. As the director, I have to find a way of striking the right balance between style and realism, which is all-important in this kind of space.”

Aside from the — ahem — challenging thermal conditions inherent in working at a derelict Victorian house, it’s been a lovely week. Amongst other things, we’ve had delightful well-wishes from Alice Coote, Judith Weir and Jonathan Dove; we’ve had the pleasure of meeting and greeting our audience after every performance; we’ve also had the joy of eating home-cooked Italian food for lunch at Francesco’s awesome Oi Spaghetti + tiramisù. Can we extend this production of Seven Velvet Suits, please? Cheers.