Drinking in the Green Room Reaps Benefits, 3 Decades Later


Back in the days when I used to stay up late and drink more than a mere medicinal amount of alcohol with dinner, I worked at a theatre company as an usher. Naturally, I’d hang out with the artists whenever an occasion called for it, which is where I met Elizabeth Stepkowski-Tarhan, powerhouse, actor and singer.

We stayed in touch over the years, at least partly because of her interest in flamenco.

Turns out, she’s branching out into directing. She figured a great way to make inroads is to create a production of Lorca’s House of Bernarda Alba with a new translation by playwright John Murrel and flamenco singer, dancer & choreographer Oscar Nieto is providing melodies and movement. I’m writing the music and will be performing in the finished work. Hopefully, several times.

As a person who makes things happen, Elizabeth managed to land a last-minute, week-long residency at the Banff Centre for the Arts last month, which was amazing! In the time we had together, we went through the script and decided where there should be music and which flamenco forms (sub-genres) we’d use. How cool do you think I felt, running my business remotely while making art with a stunning view from every single window in the place?

Elizabeth’s vision for the play is spectacular. She knows flamenco well enough to appreciate its very essence, and the play will be infused with duende (the spirit of flamenco). The actors will be chosen for their ability to naturally express that essence, though it’s unlikely that they’ll have had any prior flamenco training. The flamenco melodies will be sung to English lyrics and the all-female cast will be wearing flamenco shoes – yes, so that they can dance and make sound! I’ll be the only performer on stage with substantial flamenco training. 

Now that I’ve got my marching orders for the year, in my spare time I’ll be diving into some flamenco forms that are relatively new to me. In a perfect world, I’ll be going to Spain again to study their underpinnings so I can really channel their essence into some fresh musical ideas. The plan is that next year, we’ll test-drive the ideas on actors to see how they respond to the material. 

I can’t wait to share the next instalment!