The world premiere of brand new musical Stages comes to VAULT Festival this March, written and composed by Christian Czornyj and directed by Adam Lenson.
The cast is WhatsOnStage Award nominee Anna-Jane Casey, Olivier Award nominee Andrew Langtree, Max Alexander-Taylor and Aitch Wylie, and runs at VAULT Festival 3rd – 8th March 2020.
Stages is coming to VAULT Festival, what can you tell us about it?
It’s a new musical that uses the framework, sound world and visual language of video games. It tells the story of a family dealing with a cancer diagnosis and learning to process their new reality. Sixteen year old Aiden plays a lot of video games and when his real life starts to become difficult to comprehend, he uses the familiar, comforting world of video games to learn to cope.
How did you get involved with Christian and Stages?
I was first introduced to Christian via an initiative called Musical bites run by Mercurcy Musical Developments. He was writing an electronic, science fiction, dystopian show called Remember Remember which we then went on to workshop together. I quickly realised him to be a profound genius and an expert at creating electronic scores coupled with highly original and imaginative ideas. I had long wanted to make a musical that used an 8-bit, chip tune score and had a feeling Christian would be the person to do it. I gave him a couple of book suggestions and asked him to write a show, and he wrote Stages.
This is the first musical from your production company, why was it the right fit for you?
I always look to make work that is artist-driven and that disrupts traditional ideas of what musicals look like, sound like or are about. Stages does all of these things. I am also eager to make musicals that for mature audiences. I am bored with only seeing new musicals that are made for families or children. Music is capable of allowing us to interrogate and process the biggest questions and I like musicals that do the same. I am eager to make musicals, that are weird, different, disruptive and thought provoking and Stages is sure to be all of those things. I was also very keen that my first produced show was a big gesture of the sort of ideology I hold for this form and I am very proud of it. Plays are allowed to be anything, no one dismisses Caryl Churchill or Harold Pinter for being thematically off kilter or distinct. I am keen that musicals in this country stop being seen as merely entertainment but can also aspire to be something more.
What do you think will be the biggest challenge in directing a show that could potentially be different every night?
There have been a lot of challenges in building the show technically so it can be performed in any order. The sound, video and lighting have to be designed in separate stacks which can be triggered live. There is a lot of discussion about midi triggering and time coding to make it all as seamless as possible. We also spent a lot of time looking at structure diagrams and charts. But thankfully we have an exceptional team who are making this all possible. Whenever it begins to seem impossible though we just remind ourselves how exciting it is that no one has ever done this before and that we really are on a new theatrical frontier.
Why is VAULT Festival the ideal venue to premier Stages?
VAULT Festival is such a wonderful environment to experiment and try something new. There is such a buzz and the audiences are so eager to be there at the beginning of the journey of bold new work that responds to our contemporary moment.
What would you say to anyone thinking of coming to see Stages?
This is a beautiful and relatable story told through a really exciting theatrical mechanism. The cast are extraordinary, there’s a fully programmed LED screen, you can literally choose the show you are watching and it has some incredible songs.
Main Image: Adam Lenson