ILIAD

A multimedia retelling of the final weeks of the Trojan War.

Between 21st September – 3rd October 2015, performances took place of National Theatre Wales’ ILIAD at Y Ffwrnes in Llanelli, South Wales. The production was based entirely on Christopher Logue’s interpretation of Homer’s Iliad, and was realised by directing duo Mike Pearson & Mike Brookes.

Spread across four unique and contrasting episodes,  it follows the story of the Trojan War and Greeks’ 10-year siege of Troy. The performance lasted around 6-hours in its entirety, and audiences were offered the choice of two marathon performances and individual performances of each episode.

A group of six narrators (Claire Cage, Daniel Hawksford, Guy Lewis, Richard Lynch, Melanie Walters & Llion Williams) guided the audience through the story, while a group of four constructors (Rosa Casado, Ffion Jones, Richard Huw Morgan & John Rowley) built the set around them using only white plastic garden furniture, recycled tyres and wood. The Gods were portrayed by local teenagers and interacted with the narrators via television screens.

This was one of my first major projects working with John Hardy Music, collaborating with John Hardy himself and colleague Pete Smith. Together, we composed the 6-hour soundtrack to this epic endeavour. From start to finish, the composition process took almost 6-months, with an intense period of about 2-months leading up to the performances. Many of the sounds heard within the production were either recorded in the studio at John Hardy Music, or on a ‘sound forage’ in rural North Wales with my handheld recorder.

After collating all of our sourced sounds, we underwent a process of creatively working and composing with the ingredients, creating long and evolving soundscapes, rhythmic textures that bubbled with tension, as well as ambient sound that set the production in a world of its own. The 6-hour production called for continuous sound accompaniment, which had to function in several ways:

  • Continuous ambience (emanating from a large screen displaying a rotating Welsh landscape)

  • Scene-specific ambience (to further immerse the audience in the drama)

  • Reactive cues (in response to the text)

  • Voice manipulation (to open up the performance space and create the impression of importance among characters)

The production received wonderfully praising reviews, including a 5-star review from The Guardian’s Andrew Dickson who described it as the ‘theatrical event of the year. It may be the theatrical event of the decade.’