Let’s talk about your theatrical work. Tell us about your work on Macbeth at the National Theater.
Macbeth was such a special project to work on, and it was such a pleasure to work with clarinettist Sarah Homer and instrument-builder Simon Allen. Simon was building entirely new instruments for the performance to fit in with the post-apocalyptic world on stage, and Sarah and I were involved in the making of these incredible (and pretty weird!) instruments.
I remember the first session we had with Simon, where we had all these pieces of metal for us to test out. It was quite a surreal experience! I had just finished playing Amadeus at the National Theatre, which was just such a joy. Macbeth was very dark in contrast, with this post-apocalyptic world on stage and everything quite gloomy! Orlando Gough, a composer, and I had worked together before, and I knew he would push the boat out with the new instruments to see what might be possible.
I’ve learned so much from the National Theatre and from working with the superb actors there. I really admire their dedication, sense of fun, and the openness and desire to create something new that could have the potential to give classical music a lot more energy. The group dynamic of an acting company is also just so special — every person is valued in the process of making the play a success.
Did you ever do any drama growing up, or was this something brand new?
My first experience was actually walking through the doors at the National Theatre! One lesson I really learned from being on stage as a musician was how to draw the audience in. This is something actors and musicians share, although, in my experience, actors seem to talk and discuss ideas about how to reach the audience much more than musicians do. It seems like a far more collaborative experience and is an area that I am hugely interested in.
One particular actor, Lucian Msamati, who played Salieri in the production of Amadeus that I was part of, is phenomenal. He led the company from within, and everyone fed off his energy. Before every show, Lucian gave everyone a hug and told us all to have fun. He encouraged us to make a fresh, new experience every night.