I rather like rhetorical triplets, as in “I came, I saw, I conquered” or Birds, Beasts and Relatives, the title of a Gerald Durrell book). Not that the three items in my triplet today are connected, other than all being loosely linked to training.
First, the book. I have to confess that I know precious little about jazz, so it was with interest that I turned to The Jazz Standards: a Guide to the Repetoire by Ted Gioia (Oxford, published in the UK on September 27) when it landed unbidden on my desk, as books tend to.
And fascinating, informative stuff it is too. Gioia lists lots of songs and numbers, alphabetically from After You’ve Gone to You’d Be Nice to Come Home To. For each one he writes an article — upbeat, sparky and not in the least earnest — about the piece’s genesis and development and the versions it has been performed in as well as listing the recordings available. I was particularly taken with the information about songs such as Somewhere over the Rainbow and Someday My Prince which, of course, didn’t start life as jazz numbers but attracted the attention of jazz performers. So it’s definitely a training book. There’s a lot of useful information here for singers and music theatre students.
The show I saw this week which made me think — as usual - about training in all its guises and forms was Schiller’s Mary Stuart in a new version by Daniel Millar and Mark Leipacher(NDT) where it is part of the Faction Theatre Co Rep season until September 22. It’s a thoughtful, rather spare interpretation with a very talented cast.
And what has all that to do with training? Quite a lot. Tucked away off Euston Road, in the five years since it was built the New Diorama has quickly established itself, under the enterprising, imaginative David Byrne, as a venue which has made a real, and very unusual specialism of supporting the work of developing companies which, by definition, have to learn a great deal as they go along. And it’s going so well that expansion is in the wind so that ever more young performers, fresh out of drama school can use it to create work of their own.
Thirdly, did I mention a school? New schools open all the time and some close just as quickly or simply never get off the ground so I don’t take too much notice usually. But this one caught my eye because it’s right in the heart of “my” area - I live in North Kent. Starquest, which opens this month based in Chatham High Street is offering a two year full time course for over 18s to train as performers and/or teachers. It is also running a one year foundation course for over 16s. Further details are available on 01634 400177. The same company also produces commercial shows (although I haven’t seen any of them), offers an events management service and runs a performers’ agency. I wish them all the best.