The Water Palace

Music Theatre Workshop


Tuesday 28 & Wednesday 29 July, 2015

George Bernard Shaw Theatre, RADA, Malet Street, London, WC1E 7JN



I first conceived THE WATER PALACE about eight years ago as a tone poem with narrative interludes, based on a dream-­‐like fairy tale by Rabbi Nachmann of Bratslav in which a young girl is murderously pursued by her jealous husband, a king, and finds sanctuary in a mysterious and wondrous place, the Water Palace. Years later, when a dear friend described a haunting dream about being trapped in a mental hospital, it made sense to write an opera combining these two elements. Having cared for relatives who use NHS mental health services, I was keen both to channel some of my experiences and provoke discussion about a subject that is still taboo and tends to be hidden away. In Act 3, I have dramatised voice dialogue work, an exciting new technique whereby a patient can express their distressing voices directly to a third party.



In the opera, after a bruising interview with her doctor, the heroine Marina identifies so strongly with the Water Palace story that she becomes a part of it: it becomes her total reality. One of the other patients, Charlie, becomes her friend and mentor, both in the world ofthe hospital and that of the Water Palace.


The hospital environment in which the patients are expected to jump through hoops before they are considered well enough to leave is also a reflection of modern society, where the pressures to conform are enormous.



The Water Palace

Music: Stephen Shulman

Words: Sam Brown

Director: Sam Brown

Assistant Director: Nick Pitt

Designer: Loren Elstein

Choreographer: Morgann Runacre-­‐Temple

Costume Supervisor: Bex Kemp

Stage Manager: Adam Tripp

Répétiteur: Elspeth Wyllie

Producer: Andrew Leveson

Musical Director: Jonathan Gale

Charlie: Paula Sides

Doctor: Benedict Nelson

Marina: Elizabeth Cragg

Linda: Joanna Foote

Violin: Stephen Shulman

Violin: Alyson Zuntz

Viola: Anne Trygstad

Cello: Jessica Burroughs

Horn: Mark Bennett


Stephen Shulman attended the Purcell school and RAM. He worked with the Netherlands Ballet in Amsterdam before joining the Orchestra of Opera North. He plays in chamber ensembles, gypsy and klezmer bands. Recent performances of his compositions include settings of Sylvia Plath poems sung by Paula Sides andSarah and Isaac.


Sam Brown is a theatre and opera director. He trained on the MFA in Theatre Directing at Birkbeck College and was Assistant Director at West Yorkshire Playhouse and Opera North. In 2011, he won the European Opera Directing Prize and the Ring Award. This is his first collaboration on a


Nicholas Pitt trained at Bikbeck on the MFA in Theatre Directing. As an assistant director, he has worked with Roxanna Silbert, Paulette Randall, Michael Vale, Nick Walker and Pete Rowe(Birmingham Repertory Theatre). He is a Creative Associate at Idle Motion, who – with the British council – have toured their work all over the world.


Loren Elstein is currently designing Pia de Tolomei (ETO). Design: Polymer (Udderbelly Festival), A Room of Her Own, Mimbre (Southbank Centre-­‐WOW Festival), The Man Who Almost Killed Himself (Edinburgh Festival, BBC iPlayer). Art direction: FatBoy Slims’ The Collection 30”, Mcbusted’s Most Excellent Adventure Tour Music Videos.


Morgann Runacre-­‐Temple trained at Central School of Ballet and London Contemporary Dance School. She has created works for English National Ballet, Ballet Central, London Children’s Ballet, The Print Room, Images of Dance, and Royal Ballet Chance to Dance. Morgann is Choreographer-­‐in-­‐Residence at Ballet Ireland.


Bex Kemp is a designer and supervisor. Designs: Othello (UK Tour), Becoming Mohammed (The Space), About Miss


Julie (King’s Head). Supervision: Citizen Puppet, Push (New Diorama), The Low Road, Man of Mode, The Good


Person of Setzuan (RCSSD). Asst.: Boris Godunov (ROH), Carmen (Salzburg Festival), Duchess of Malfi (Punchdrunk).


Adam Tripp graduated from CSSD and joined ENO in 2009. Notable ENO ASM credits include collaborations with Complicité (Dog’s Heart), Young Vic (Return of Ulysses) and Improbable (Perfect American). DSM credits: Mikado, Madam Butterfly and Sweeney Todd. SM credits: Duchess of Malfi (collaboration with Punchdrunk).


Elspeth Wyllie trained at RAM and has twenty years of performing experience as a soloist and ensemble player. She specialises in chamber music and accompaniment – working with singers, instrumentalists, choirs and ensembles. Prizes/Awards: RAM Club Accompanist, Vivien Langrish, Newby Trust, Oldhurst Trust, Caird Trust.


Andrew Leveson recently returned to the theatre as a producer, following several years as a commercial lawyer. He has worked as a director and assistant with companiessuch as ENO. He is currently working with Nick Starr and Nick Hytner at London Theatre Company and recently attended the Stage One workshop for new producers.


Jonathan Gale studied conducting at the St Petersburg Conservatory. He was repetiteur/pianist for Tête a Tête’s very first productions in 1998-­‐2000. He has been a prompter for the Royal Opera, chorus master for Grange Park Opera, repetiteur at Salzburg and assistant conductor at the Aix festival and ETO.


Paula Sides received the Tagor Gold Medal (RCM) and Karaviotis Prize (Les Azuriales International Competition). Roles: Norina Don Pasquale, Gilda Rigoletto (Preggio Opera Festival), Eleonora L’assedio di Calais, Mimi La bohème (ETO). Concerts: King’s Place with Roger Vignoles, Philharmonia Orchestra concert series, Peroni advert.


Benedict Nelson is one of the most exciting singers of his generation and has attracted comparisons to Gerald Finley and Simon Keenlyside, among others. Next season’s plans include a Salzburg Festival debut, as well as operatic debuts in Torino, Hamburg and New York.


Elizabeth Cragg trained at the RCM. Operatic highlights include: Amanda in Ligeti’s Le Grand Macabre (Essen), Ninette L’Amour des Trois Oranges (Netherlands Opera), Flowermaiden Parsifal (The Royal Opera), First Niece Peter Grimes (Salzburg Easter Festival and Berlin) and Zerbinetta Ariadne auf Naxos (Garsington Opera).


Joanna Foote holds a Masters from UCLA, California. Career highlights: Rose Maurrant Street Scene (Liceu,


Barcelona), Najade Ariadne auf Naxos (YAP, Seattle Opera), Zerlina Don Giovanni and Marie La fille du

Regiment (Diva Opera), and Valencienne The Merry Widow (St John Smith’s Square). Joanna is a Samling Scholar.


Alyson Zuntz is a member of the BBC Philharmonic and a freelance violinist. She has played in and organised workshops in prisons and is currently exploring the world of jazz with the help of jazz pianist Jean-­‐Claude Orfali in Paris.


Anne Trygstad attended St Mary’s Music School, Edinburgh and the RCM. She has been Principal Viola with the Southbank Sinfonia and World Youth Orchestra and has worked with BBC Scottish, Scottish Opera, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Liverpool Philharmonic and Hallé. Anne is Sub-­‐Principal Viola with Orchestra of Opera North.


Jessica Burroughs is currently Section Principal Cello with the Orchestra of Opera North. She has performed as a guest Principal with City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, BBC Philharmonic, as part of the BBC Proms and Royal Philharmonic Orchestra with whom she has performed as a soloist at theRAH and on CD (Orchid Classics).


Mark Bennett studied for his undergraduate and postgraduate degrees at the Royal College of Music under the tutelage of Tim Jones, John Ryan and Jeff Bryant. Since finishing his studies, Mark has been freelancing with many of the UK’s top orchestras.