Brian Lobel is a performer, teacher and curator who is interested in creating work about bodies and how they are watched, policed, poked, prodded and loved by others. The New York-born, London-based performer has shown work internationally in a range of contexts.
Ahead of this year’s showcase, Brian answers a few questions about 24 Italian Songs & Arias and what it means to be part of caravan 2016.
How would you describe the show that you’re taking to caravan?
24 Italian Songs & Arias is a conceptual classical music recital made in collaboration with Gweneth Ann Jeffers, which looks at failure, what it means to try your hardest and what it means to be ‘good enough’. We are currently in development of the show and hope to tour it in 2017. The piece is about my failure to get into the State Choir when I was 17 and how this minor, now-meaningless missed opportunity has stuck with me.
What can audiences expect from the show?
They can expect, first and foremost, a lot of beautiful Baroque music which is rarely ever sung. 24 Italian Songs & Arias – the classic Schirmer song book – is a staple for students, and features some of the most beautiful songs – Caro Mio Ben, Amarilli Mia Bella, Su Tu M’ami etc – that you rarely hear interpreted by professional singers.
Aside from the music, I hope audiences can expect to be moved by the story. As I hope with all my work, 24 Italian Songs & Arias begins from a very conceptual, even silly place, and then moves to much deeper, more intimate content. We’ve all found the making of the show to be profoundly emotional and empowering, and we hope this energy spreads to our audiences.
Why did you apply to take part in caravan?
This performance is a major step forward in my practice – it is one of the first times creating work with others, there are 12 people in the show, it’s IN ITALIAN!, it was first presented at the Royal Opera House! Oh, and my mom is in it! – all of these things can actually be quite intimidating for an artist. I’m mostly used to developing texts while sitting on my bed in my pyjamas, and 24 Italian Songs & Arias demands a different sort of practice. It also demands a different sort of producing partners, who are more active from the beginning. We are hoping to get people excited to help fully develop the work, and to bring the show around the world.
What does it mean to you to be part of the showcase?
It is a great honour to be on such an exciting bill. The artists are amazing, the producing venues are fab, the programmers who come are fun and smart. I guess it’s nice to be part of a festival where my work doesn’t have to be 100% done – for caravan, I’m pitching about the show, giving an interactive talk about it, and look forward to the conversations that might come out of it. Being a part of showcases like caravan (which I have been in in 2012 and 2014) has always been a great way to get professionals (both in the UK and abroad) to know about my work. And to hear about exciting possibilities throughout the world which inspire even more ideas about performance.
What opportunities do you hope the showcase might create?
We hope to find partners who are excited to bring 24 Italian Songs & Arias to their home venues. Because 24 Italian Songs & Arias is built for fancy-schmancy opera and classical music venues, I’m hoping to meet people who want to start that journey with me. While professionals who come to caravan (a theatre and performance showcase) won’t necessary be from fancy-schmany opera and classical music venues, I trust the people I’ve met there to help me think about wild producing ideas and strange curatorial opportunities.
What other work are you excited about in the showcase?
I am dying to see Of Riders and Running Horses again, which I absolutely loved when I saw it last year. I am also so excited to catch up with Selina Thompson, who’s just recently completed a cross-Atlantic journey for her new work, Salt. I cannot wait to hear about it.
Oh and Sue Maclaine’s Can I Start Again Please. Love. That. Show.
Keep up to date with all the latest news from this year’s showcase @caravan_theatre #caravan16