Monday, 31 July 2017

Ami and Tami and Dramaturgy: Floating Tower @ Edfringe 2017

Ami & Tami
A Musical Fable

Music by Mátti Kovler Book & Lyrics by Mátti Kovler and Aya Lavie Translated by Spencer Garfield Directed by Doug Fitch 

August 11th – 24th
Underbelly Cowgate 
10:30am – 11:35 (1.05hr)

Fantastical Forests! Wicked Witches! An… an Imf? 

Following a sold-out run in New York City, Israeli-American composer Mátti Kovler and his music theatre company Floating Tower bring their reimagined story of Hansel & Gretel – Ami & Tami 
to the Underbelly at this year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe. 

Ami and Tami, trapped inside by their overbearing parents, escape their humdrum house to find adventure in the enchanted forest. Their journey sends them into the clutches of the Evil Humm, the lair of Yaga the Witch and the depths of their own imagination. 

What was the inspiration for this performance?

The inspiration for the performance comes from Floating Tower's cross-cultural mission. Ami and Tami was originally written in 1999 in Jerusalem as an Israeli take on the classic Hansel & Gretel folk tale. The story offers audiences of all ages something familiar, while presenting them with cultural traditions, tropes and musical styles that they may not have heard before, in this case introducing children to operatic music and aspects of Jewish folk music. 

Floating Tower continues to perform Ami and Tami to international audiences in the hope that our work will spark the curiosity of audience members and inspire them to learn more about music. 

Is performance still a good space for the public discussion of ideas? 

Performance is definitely one of the best spaces for a public discussion of ideas. Floating Tower tries to create work that will foster conversation among audience members. For example, we staged a 15-minute satirical opera,The Drumf and the Rhinegold (guess who that's about), days before the US election. 

We felt it was our small contribution to the discussion around politics at the time, and we hope that it offered audience members a chance to see some of what they were feeling reflected in a performance. I think it gave everyone involved, onstage and off, a sense of catharsis. 

How did you become interested in making performance?

For starters, it's just great fun! We are constantly amazed by the people that we get the opportunity to work with and the audience members we meet. On a more serious note, Floating Tower's mission is to create meaningful experiences through music. We became performers so that we could reach out to people. 

Is there any particular approach to the making of the show?

The show is driven by it's music. The words, the movements, everything flows with the complex musical accompaniment. Most importantly, all of the participants in this production, actors, composer, children's choir, play musical instruments and help create the atmosphere through sound. 

Does the show fit with your usual productions?

Floating Tower has an incredibly diverse range of productions. Ami and Tami reflects our mission statement, and Floating Tower's commitment to musical quality, but we produce shows as diverse as a 15-minute satirical opera about Donald Trump to an orchestral concert piece reflecting on the notion of 'the soul' in 4 languages. 

What do you hope that the audience will experience?

Ami and Tami is surprising, engaging, and just good fun. We want kids to feel like they're on an exciting adventure with Ami and Tami. As the siblings climb through their bedroom window and out into the forest, audience members are right there with them, laughing at the ridiculous Imf, running from the terrifying Ogre, singing along with Yaga the Witch and smiling when it all works out in the end. 

What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?

This show has been performed in multiple versions, from performances with a full orchestra to tiny cabaret shows. But with all of those differences, we always approach the show with the same strategies. 

We are here to bring the music and the story to audience members in as full and engaging a way as possible. With the smaller version of the show, this means integrating music into the blocking, with the cast playing their own instruments and a chorus featuring local children. 

Directed by Doug Fitch (New York Philharmonic), the sophisticated musical fairytale features six versatile actors, who all sing and play musical instruments, and a dancing children’s choir. The lively familiar story is replete with new characters and witty unexpected twists that will engage and delight both kids and adults. The performance is headlined by the renowned author Prudence Steiner as Storyteller and Ami and Tami's composer Mátti Kovler performing the actual role of Composer on stage.

Join us for the European premiere at the Underbelly, Cowgate. Beware of the Evil Humm, who chases passersby through the woods, and Yaga the witch, who runs a surprisingly sophisticated restaurant. Follow Ami and Tami as they find their path in the dark forest, and discover how the power of imagination can bring a family together.

“The best day of my life so far”
(Maya Reuven, 8 years’ old)

Listings information
Show:  Ami & Tami
Venue:  Underbelly Cowgate
Dates: August 11 – 24th Time: 10:30am – 11:35am
Tickets: £10.00| Conc £9.00: 
Underbelly Box Office: 03333 444 167
Underbelly Press Office: 0844 545 8242

PMK Link to pictures

Founded in 2011 by composer Mátti Kovler, Floating Tower is a cross-cultural musical theatre company aiming to create high-impact, immersive work that opens up dialogue among audience members of all ages.

Doug Fitch’s creative life began with his family’s touring puppet theater. While studying visual arts at Harvard, he collaborated with Peter Sellars on Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen. Fitch directed several projects conducted by Alan Gilbert for the New York Philharmonic, including Ligeti’s Le Grand Macabre (cited as the top opera of 2010 by The New York Times, New York Magazine, and Time Out New York), Janáček’s The Cunning Little Vixen (2011, New York Magazine’s “Best Classical Event of the Year”), A Dancer’s Dream: Two Works by Stravinsky (2013, later screened in movie theaters worldwide); and HK Gruber’s Gloria – A Pig Tale (2014, with forces from The Juilliard School as part of the NY PHIL BIENNAL).  Mr. Fitch was the inaugural WBFO visiting artist at SUNY, where he created an opera of images, How Did We…? He has created productions for Los Angeles Opera, Los Angeles Philharmonic, and Santa Fe Opera, and directed projects for Canada’s National Arts Centre, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra, and Tanglewood (Elliot Carter’s What Next?,screened at The Museum of Modern Art).

MÁTTI KOVLER Composer; Artistic Director, Floating Tower
Mátti Kovler is an Israeli-American composer and creator of new musical theatre. Described as “a potentially estimable operatic composer in the making,” (New York Times) Kovler’s music has been commissioned by the Tanglewood Music Centre, Carnegie Hall and the Israel Philharmonic. Born in Moscow, Russia, he was raised in Jerusalem, Israel, and is currently based in Brooklyn, New York. He is a member of the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop, the foremost training ground for new musical theatre, where the writers of A Chorus Line, and The Book of Mormon, among others, learned their craft. 

Erin Simmons is a producer and comedian who has worked in London, Edinburgh, Oxford and NYC. Her past credits include Edinburgh Fringe 2015 Sell-out Adventures of the Improvised Sherlock Holmes, Diva Magazine's 'one-to-watch' Manic Pixie Dream Girls and large scale events at Lincoln Centre, the Tower of London and the University of Oxford.

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