Play On – Shakespeare and Silent Cinema, was released a few months ago by both the British Film Institute and Shakespeare’s Globe as one of our many collaborations during the Shakespeare 400 season. For this project, I conducted and supervised a score composed by five Globe composers – Academy Award winner Stephen Warbeck (Shakespeare In Love), and other Globe stalwarts – Alex Baranowski, Jules Maxwell, Olly Fox, and Sophie Cotton. Each chose an Act to compose, all for six incredibly multi-talented musicians hand-picked from the group at large that we call The Musicians of Shakespeare’s Globe.
The footage is astonishing – from Herbert Beerbohm Tree’s 1899 King John, the earliest, to to Asta Nielson’s 1921 Hamlet, made in Finland and a great innovator and benchmark in the silent film era (the use of the Ghost had never been achieved before, and is still rather spooky!).
The 70 minute feature is a creative archive made by BFI editor Bryony Dixon, and was premiered at the BFI on Southbank performed live. The music was later reprised at the Midsummer Festival in Moscow sponsored by the British Council.
As part of their Shakespeare Lives series, the BBC commissioned a fabulous ‘making of’ documentary of the music that you can watch by clicking the link below. It features all the musicians and composers creating this multi-headed hydra, and collaborating together in a way none of us had yet done before. After all it’s rare to work with many composers.
I produced, supervised, conducted, and occasionally arranged this score.
The documentary, made by Oliver Cheetham can be seen for free on the Globe Player.