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RASA AUR DRAMA THEATRE

RASA AUR DRAMA THEATRE
www.rasaaurdrama.com

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10 questions with scriptwriter NEHA KARGETI on writing SUCHITRA KRISHNAMOORTI starring play EK HAAN!

August 24, 2019
Deepak Sinha

Panache Media has announced a new theatrical production titled Ek Haan starring seasoned actor and TV host Shekhar Suman and singer, actor, author Suchitra Krishnamoorti in the lead. The play is based on the story of the notorious life and times of the most influential writers of his time, Saadat Hasan Manto, showcasing the socio-political and emotional turmoil of the pre and post-independence era. RASA AUR DRAMA TIMES speaks to the writer in this interaction on writing the script for the MANTO play!

Q1.) Manto stories are so well known! Why should the audience listen and watch and watch MANTO stories again?

NEHA KARGETI: Manto’s work is a reflection of the soul of our society. It presents a clear picture of the world we are living in, without prejudice and bias, just like a mirror. Times change and so does the world, but the issues we are facing in today’s time are still the same: inequality, gender bias, religious hatred, hypocrisy, materialism, and division of the society based on prejudice, capital, power and religion. Manto’s stories touch the very nerve of the system we are a part of and provide a much-needed perspective. A perspective that is not only liberal and secular but also very human at the core! These stories are and will always be relevant. Manto’s voice needs to be heard..again and again..


Q2.) It seems that you have not adapted one single story of Manto, but many and with your understanding. Could you tell something on it! Which stories and maybe why!

NK: Manto’s writings have always been considered very serious and hard- hitting. This fact distracts us from the wide range and variety of his work. Randhir was sure, from the very beginning, of the three stories we have adapted. The objective was to include stories that are widely acclaimed and well known along with the ones that bring out a side to him that not many people are aware of. So, the main story (that is a blend of fact and fiction) brings out his personal ideologies and emotions, while the three sub-stories bring out three very different sides of his work: Toba Tek Singh explores the affect ‘partition of India’ had on people and the confusion and pain it caused, through the story of a mental patient in a Lahore asylum. Kali Shalwar explores the life and emotions of a prostitute, Sulatana, who has the same problems as any other woman or a man for that matter: financial difficulties, loneliness, love ,and betrayal. ‘Akal Dadh’ explores the monotonous life and arguments between a long-married couple that seems rather funny when you see it from an outer perspective. And finally, the climax (main story) reveals a side of him that is rather unknown.


Q3.) How long did it take to adapt the script?

NK: The first draft of the script took a few weeks of research and a few days of writing. However, it was a long process to reach the final draft from the first one, as ‘Ek Haan’ is not just an adaptation of Manto’s stories; its a fictional story starring Manto himself. So, everything that comes out of his mouth had to match Manto’s sensibilities. That was the biggest challenge. The script kept evolving as I kept getting more and more familiar with Manto. In fact, I did a final round of re-writing after the actors came on board.


Q4.) What are somethings writers could keep in mind during adapting/translating a work of literature? As the writer, Jerry Pinto once put it " Translation is like taking a ship loaded with salt across the sea, which is constantly eroding! Take as much as you can ." Any thoughts?

NK: The most important thing while adapting someone’s work is to first understand the very soul of it. A lot is lost in translation when you are actually ‘translating’. But when you are adapting something, you can always borrow the soul and use your own body and your own fresh perspective to present it to the world. Try to row a boat in a freshwater river rather than sailing a ship in the sea.


Q5.) So, Did one of you write the script separately and then put it together. Or together you sat and completed the script in one year!

NK:We wrote it separately and I then put it together after receiving Neeraj’s invaluable inputs through Randhir. In fact, I only got a chance to meet Neeraj on the day of our preview (first) show!


Q6.) Can both of you speak about your writing experience in more detail for Rasa Aur Drama Times readers?

NK: It was a wonderful and overwhelming experience. In fact, more than anything else, its been a great learning experience for me. I think it is very important for writers to read and understand other writers and their work. Thanks to Randhir, I got an opportunity to write a play on one of the most legendary writers the world has ever seen. While reading and researching Manto’s work and life, I feel I got one step closer to the ultimate craft of writing and the art of storytelling.


Q7.) What are the sources that you generally use while researching a literary script?

NK: The biggest source is Manto’s collection of short stories. Through his stories, Manto has said almost everything that he felt and experienced. The rest of the information comes from his old interviews, the writings of his friend ‘Ismat Chughtai’ and of course, many online news articles!


Q8.) Any tips on scriptwriting?

NK: Every story is different and there are a hundred different ways to express the same story. Hence, as a writer its important to be clear about what you want to say, how you want to say it and how can you make it as effortless as possible. Know that less is more, avoid spoon-feeding and always aspire to create something new and original! It is also essential to keep in mind the medium one is writing for: Cinema, digital platform, television or theatre, as different mediums require a different approach to writing.


Q9.) What creative freedom remains for the actors after a script is closed and frozen. As writers does it interest you?

NK: Yes, I was very deeply involved in the rehearsals and the preparation the actors went through for this play. Shekhar Sir’s impeccable command on the language and excellent sensibility proved out to be the biggest asset for ‘Ek Haan’. He is a perfectionist who doesn’t allow any loose ends in a script or performance so it keeps you on your toes both as a writer and as an actor. He sticks to the script and is always interested in understanding the writer’s perspective. Thus, when he improvises, even a small gesture has a deep meaning and a huge impact. On the other hand, Suchitra mam’s high-spirited attitude, her deep understanding of various emotions and her melodious voice, breathed life into the entire play! Her improvisations, especially in ‘Kali Shalwar’ and ‘Akkal Dadh’, added just the required quirk.


Q10.) What is writing to you in two lines! Rasa Aur Drama Times would love to hear that!

-Writing, for me, is a way to connect with my inner self; for my inner self to connect with the world; and for the world to connect with the divine!



Posted on 24/08/2019

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Banbury Cross Players

Banbury Cross Players
www.banburycrossplayers.org.uk

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Banbury Charities benefit from Theatrical Success

Banbury Young Homelessness Project have received a surprise donation of £500 from local theatre company Banbury Cross Players as a result of a win at the Lighthorne Festival of One-Act Plays.
BCP have taken part in the Festival since its inception in 2013 and, this year, were overall winners with their production of Mike Bartlett’s Contractions. Mike Bartlett is a prolific, award-winning writer across many genres including Doctor Foster and King Charles III. Contractions started life as a radio play and was then transposed for stage. Director, Chrissie Garrett, says of the play “It’s a dystopian piece, taking the audience through a roller coaster of a ride. It asks what lengths people will go to in order to conform. It demonstrates how big business could take over your life and, ultimately, be responsible for all decisions you make. I was convinced the first time I read the play it would a winner. I am delighted to have finally taken top honours at Lighthorne for BCP”.
Director of the Festival, Rod Chaytor, says “Banbury Cross Players were the very first group to sign up to the idea of a Lighthorne Festival when we first began to canvass quality local theatre groups back in 2012, and we will always be grateful for that initial support. They are one of only three teams to have entered every year since its inception in 2013. It was an absolute delight to see them take the Trophy this year and with a production which merited it, one hundred percent. The two actors performed their roles brilliantly. It was a great show. We are thrilled BCP have been selected for the National Drama Festival Association’s British All-Winners Finals and will be there to support them.”
The Prize at the Lighthorne Festival is the largest in Amateur competition and is shared between the winning group and a charity of their choice. Director Chrissie Garrett says “I had no hesitation in choosing BYHP. Our decision to support this local charity was quickly and easily made as both director and actors have worked alongside the staff and young people that BYHP support. We are so impressed with the dedication and work of this local charity that we want to enable it to reach even more vulnerable local young people.”
As a pre-cursor to the performance at Lighthorne (and also the Oxford Drama Network Festival in Abingdon), the cast and crew went to Adderbury Library where they performed a preview. “The play was very well received” says Chrissie, “and the audience engaged in a question and answer session afterwards. This proved very useful for the cast who were able to refine their performances in readiness for the two festivals”. Profits from the Preview performance were donated to FOCAL (Friends of the Community of Adderbury Library).

Liz Wingrove, Chair of FOCAL said “Contractions was FANTASTIC. With around 30 guests watching the two female actors unravel their extremely dark story-line, we were all mesmerised, not knowing which way this extraordinary drama would play out! 45 minutes of suspense with the added bonus of being able to discuss with the cast and director what we had just witnessed. Brilliantly performed by the actors.”
This wasn’t quite the end of the story for BCP and their production of Contractions. As a result of the win at Lighthorne, they were invited to perform at the National Drama Festivals Association All-Winners Final on a much-larger professional stage at the Rhoda McGaw Theatre in Woking, Surrey in July. Competing alongside 14 other winning companies from Drama Festivals nationally, BCP were delighted to come home with The Sydney Fisher Trophy – chosen by the backstage crew for the company they most enjoyed working with - as well as The Amateur Theatre Trophy Adjudicator’s Award for cast members Nicola Dixon and Almira Brion. Adjudicator Jill Colby, a member of the Guild of Drama Adjudicators, said “They both had to be so different, but also a team, working off each other, which they did brilliantly. It was impossible to separate the two actors. It had to be a joint award.” The awards were collected onstage on Saturday July 20 2019 by the play’s technician, Robin Williams, from the hands of NDFA Patron and theatrical knight Sir Derek Jacobi.

“This has been a fabulous team production” says Director Chrissie Garrett. “I am so proud of what members of BCP have achieved. We are delighted to have been able to support the work of BYHP as well as Adderbury Library. We hope these contributions will help.”
You will have the chance to see this award-winning production at Banbury Cross Players’ Season Preview Event at The Mill Arts Centre, Banbury on 24 September 2019. The evening will also include presentations from the Directors of shows for what will be Banbury Cross Players 75th Anniversary Season.
For more details of Banbury Cross Players and what they are up to locally, see their website at www.banburycrossplayers.org.uk



Posted on 30/07/2019

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AliCaT (Children and Theatre)

AliCaT (Children and Theatre)
www.alicat.me

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AliCaT Children and Theatre - Enrolling for September

EVERY CHILD HAS A VOICE

What is the AliCaT vision? . . .
• To provide an inclusive practice for all children to access a ‘complete theatre experience’
• To build on life skills such as communication and effective relationships
• To nurture and engage active participants in developing self-confidence, self-esteem and personal growth
• To promote unique and individual theatre companies for children

What is AliCaT all about? . . .
AliCaT Children and Theatre is an exciting and established performance based theatre company for children aged 2 to 16 years and was set up in 2009 to promote the fun of the theatre.
The focus is on building skills such as acting, voice, movement and dance but also on important personal attributes such as confidence and social skills. Each class is tailored to the individual needs of the children so emphasis is placed upon the process or journey of self-discovery. Classes involve a variety of fun and stimulating games, drama activities and RYE techniques (Research on Yoga in Education) They run in term time only and work towards an annual production (per class) that can be enjoyed by friends and family. We believe in quality rather than quantity so numbers are limited per class to enable all children to have a voice!
Our use of RYE techniques (Research on Yoga in Education) within warm up games and cool downs provides an ideal activity to balance self-control with physical challenges and compliments the skills required in performance by impacting richly on each child’s emotional intelligence!

How can children get involved? . . .
What classes are available? . . .
Kittens: Aged 2-3 years – 1.30-2.30 (Wed)
Pre School: Aged 3-4 years – 1.45–2.45 (Fri)
Foundation: Aged 4-7 years – 4.00-5.00 (Tues, Wed, Thur, Fri)
Junior: Aged 7-11 years – 5.15-6.45 (Tues, Wed, Thur, Fri)
Senior: Aged 11-16 years – 4.45-6.45 (Mon) & 7.00-9.00 (Tues)

Where is AliCaT? . . .
AliCaT is based in North Somerset in the Backwell Playhouse, both rehearsals and performances take place here. The Playhouse is signposted from the main road and there is ample parking. It benefits from extensive lighting and sound equipment, a large and accessible stage area and newly refurbished changing rooms. For parents wanting to stay on premises there is a foyer with facilities for refreshments and a monitor to watch rehearsals taking place. The Playhouse is the perfect backdrop for the AliCaT sessions as it not only provides a safe and friendly environment it also promotes a real theatre experience which is integral to the vision of the company.

Who is Ali? . . .
AliCaT was founded by Alison Milton-Riddiford (BA Hons) who has worked in early year’s education for over 25 years. The company is the product of her beliefs, philosophies and experiences of how children learn and develop as well rounded, healthy, confident human beings. Her academic studies on child development together with her professional practices basically underpin everything that AliCaT has to offer. Her personal skills and attributes stem from the world of dance and choreography and together with her love of the theatre and the belief in the power of the environment this provides the magical component to the whole AliCaT experience.

More about the Venue. . .
Backwell Playhouse is a charming, intimate theatre in the North Somerset, south of Bristol. It boasts a strong and talented inhouse theatre company and a thriving film club, as well as a stream of visiting companies and classes, all nestled within the heart of Backwell.
The Playhouse is a unique space, with 99 seats raking to an open and flexible performance area. The space has been used for plays, dance recitals, music performances, films and presentations. It's even hosted productions in the round! With full technical facilities, backstage amenities and bar & foyer area, Backwell Playhouse truly is an amazing theatre.

Further Information. . .
To find out more visit www.alicat.me
Telephone Ali: 0791 762 6388 or Susie: 0795 530 8228
Email: ali@alicat.me or susie@alicat.me



Posted on 26/07/2019

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RASA AUR DRAMA THEATRE

RASA AUR DRAMA THEATRE
www.rasaaurdrama.com

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Director Gurleen Judge on art, lighting and production of DEKHO MAGAR PYAAR SE! [ India]

June 24, 2019
Deepak Sinha

Theatre Director Gurleen Judge juggles between her roles as light technician, designer, director, writer and a teacher. Gurleen is a self-taught theatre wala and takes pride in it. She chats with Rasa Aur Drama about lights, casting, scripts, and gender in this email interview; just before her show of DEKHO MAGAR PYAAR SE at Gyaan Adab Centre, Pune! Gurleen has done lighting for plays like The Hunger Artist, Tennesse Williams The Two-Character Play, Dohri Zindagi, Atul Kumar's Khwaab Sa, Manav Kaul's Peele Scooterwala Aadmi and Chuhal!

Rasa Aur Drama: Light Design and direction across plays like The Hunger Artist , The Two-Character Play, Dohri Zindagi, Postcards from Bardoli, Peele Scooterwala Aadmi and Chuhal?
What's so exciting about the direction and light design. We kind of see some perspective there?
Gurleen Judge: Jennifer Tipton often says that ninety-nine and forty-four-hundredths of the audience do not pay any attention to the lighting, but one hundred percent is affected by it. Nothing can be truer. Theatre is a visual medium after all and lighting, the image and the movement / breath with which the light moves, defines and is in turn defined by the rhythm of the piece. Light design continues to hugely influence my ideas of making theatre in a very fundamental way.
Through directing I’m able to express my most urgent need to talk about whatever it is that is plaguing my mind at that time. I also write but a performance piece allows for more abstraction.


Q2. What kind of script interest you?

Gurleen Judge: Good scripts. With urgency and grit.


Q3. Do you like to train your actors or would you be happy to fit an actor to a role ? Could you tell us something about the acting and script translation to action with the wonderful Vikrant Dhote in Dekho Magar Pyaar Se?

Gurleen Judge: Training is part of the rehearsal process but I do look for certain qualities before I cast. These change as per each show and what I think is most needed keeping in mind the vision of the play. Vikrant had already worked out the idea for the piece. We were interested in developing it together with the audience in a way and we kept editing the script through shows too.


Q4. The city Pune has witnessed a play like Saggherr Loadhii's Hijra and now DEKHO MAGAR PYAAR SE?
Are playwrights and plays like Mahesh Dattani's Bravely Fought the Queen, On a Muggy Night in Mumbai , Do the needful , Dekho Magar Pyaar Se changing or affecting the dialogue around gender, identity and prejudiced-social-construct ?

Gurleen Judge: I think it’s impossible to gauge or estimate the consequences of a piece of art. It’s a subliminal process, even if one person, maybe even a decade from now, is affected by it, that is a ‘change’ for me. All I know is that I continue to be influenced by theatre - as an audience as well as when I’m making a play. My worldview has evolved from the theatre in a way. So yes I hope and believe in the possibilities of affecting status quo. However, I see it as part of a larger process, where the society is undergoing a change in general and one can’t really identify the starting point of that process.


Q5. How did the idea of the piece Dekho Magar Pyaar Se actually come to you?

Gurleen Judge: Vikrant has developed it over a few workshops and then through Gender Bender grant . I just hopped onto the wagon :-)


Q6. Could you talk about the four stories in the play?

Gurleen Judge: Lot has been written about the four stories so I won’t go in detail - but I think what interests me most about the piece is the journey it undertakes to investigate the contours of “masculinity” and “maleness” in this Alpha -Male patriarchal world. What it means for people inside this boundary, what it means for people at the edge and outside and how does one negotiate it in an every-day manner.


Q7. What extracts of the landmark 2009 judgment on section 377 by the High Court could you have referred in the play?

Gurleen Judge:

See the full interview here



Posted on 26/06/2019

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What We Did Next

What We Did Next
www.wwdn.co.uk

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Be More Chill

Press release- Liverpool theatre company What We Did Next
presents the Broadway hit musical
BE MORE CHILL
at The Hope Street Theatre

What if popularity came in a pill?

Liverpool theatre company WHAT WE DID NEXT will be performing the North West premiere of the critically acclaimed musical Be More Chill from 8-11 May at The Hope Street Theatre in Liverpool.

'If you fed DEAR EVAN HANSEN to the LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS plant you would get BE MORE CHILL.' The New Yorker.

The thrilling story of a teenage boy's quest to become popular and talk to the girl of his dreams with the help of a pill-sized supercomputer.
Be More Chill is the ‘little musical that could’. It started in a small theatre in New Jersey in 2015 and, thanks to an incredible fan following, opened on Broadway in 2019.
Liverpool theatre company, What We Did Next, has the unique opportunity to stage the musical at the same time as its Broadway run, meaning theatre fans in the North West don’t need to look further than Hope Street to see New York’s hottest new show.
And it was all thanks to Liverpool-based superfan, Jess Sutcliffe.

'I have loved this show ever since first listening to the soundtrack two years ago. I had never directed a musical before, but I knew I wanted to direct this show and bring it to Liverpool. Being a part of this company has helped bring all my ideas to fruition and it’s so incredible to see the show come to life. I can’t wait for audiences to see it!'
Jess Sutcliffe, Co-Director.

Jess is co-directing with Andrew Ab, who previously directed Rent and I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change for What We Did Next.
'It's amazing to work on a show that has only been performed a handful of times around the world. We get to be really creative and put our own stamp on a show that’s going to get bigger and bigger. The music is so addictive and we feel incredibly privileged to be bringing this show to a Liverpool audience who will hopefully leave the theatre humming the tunes.' Andrew Ab, Co-Director.
For What We Did Next it’s an exciting opportunity to perform at The Hope Street Theatre for the first time and to add to its extensive musical theatre repertoire, which it has built up over the last ten years.
The company has previously delighted local audiences with their take on several modern and classic musicals such as ?Pippin, Bonnie & Clyde, Bat Boy, Carousel,? ?Rent, The Last 5
Years, Company and Into the Woods.
What We Did Next was founded during Liverpool’s European Capital of Culture Year in 2008, by a group of recent University of Liverpool graduates looking for an outlet for their creativity, while starting out in various careers in and around the city. A decade on, they are thriving as a company and very much a part and a product of Liverpool’s vibrant cultural scene.
The company defines itself as a team of ‘Professional Amateurs.’ Members include doctors, teachers, photographers and those who are training for a career on the stage, who come together to produce professional-standard theatre that otherwise may not be seen in the city.

Tickets for Be More Chill are £12-£15 (plus £1 booking fee) and are available from the Ticket
Quarter Box Office website here.
The Saturday 11th performance has already SOLD OUT so get tickets quick so you don’t miss out!

Notes to Editors
Be More Chill | 8-11 May 2019, 8pm | Hope Street Theatre | Tickets £12 and £15 (plus £1 booking fee)
Tickets available from Ticketquarter.
Box Office: 0344 800 0410

Amy Gormall (Producer)

Posted on 28/04/2019

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Copythorne Amateur Theatrical Society

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Press release- ‘Robin Hood and Babes in the Woods’

This Christmas Copythorne Amateur Theatrical Society are celebrating 50 years of Copythorne pantomimes with a production of ‘Robin Hood and Babes in the Woods’. In 1968 the local British Legion put on a panto to raise funds. It proved so popular that it became an annual event. In 1995 CATS was formed to continue the tradition when the Royal British Legion changed their fundraising rules. Over the years, hundreds of local people have been involved with the shows and thousands of pounds have been raised for charity.

This year’s show has been specially written to mark the occasion and includes all the characters you’d expect, plus quite a few that might surprise you, including some panto ghosts.

Robin Hood has returned from the Crusades to find that the people of Nottingham are in desperate need of help. The wicked Sheriff of Nottingham keeps taking their money in taxes and burning down their houses. Things get even worse when Prince John demands even more money and the Sheriff decides to get rid of his two young wards and marry Maid Marian so that he can get his hands on their lands.

Can Robin rescue the Babes and Marian and defeat the Sheriff? Maybe. With the help of his merry men (and women) and, of course, Nurse Nora, the dame, who knows everything there is to know about the soldiers in the castle, including the bungling Private Eye and Private Parts. A true village panto with plenty of songs, swash buckling and audience participation. The show also features dancers from the Jo Hyne School of Dance, who will bring some magic to Sherwood and a bit of Rock n Roll to Nottingham Castle.


Performances are: Saturday 24th November at 7.30
Sunday 25th November at 2.30
Saturday 1st December at 7.30
Sunday 2nd December at 2.30
At Copythorne Parish Hall, Pollards Moor Road, S040 2NZ
Tickets: Adults £8, under 16s £5, Family Ticket (2 adults and 2 children) £22
Available from Bartley Post Office, Landford Stores and Bramshaw Village Stores or by phoning our box office 02380 813415

Posted on 16/09/2018

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Classic whodunnit? Comedy comes to South Hams

Author: by Sam Acourt - Kingsbridge & Salcombe Gazette

www.kingsbridge-today.co.uk

KATS have barely had time to lay down their Fiddle and park up Tevye’s milk cart before they launch headlong into their next production.
This local theatre group are definitely showing their versatility as they move from toe-tapping, high-energy musical to classic comedy whodunnit? After their much-acclaimed success with Fiddler on the Roof, the actors are now ensconced in a classic murder mystery. Was it Lady Dorothy, in the library with a dagger? Or the maid in the dressing room with a decanter of poisoned sherry? You will have to go along to the show to find out.
Murder in Play is a play within a play. When a third-rate repertory company decides to produce “Murder at Priorswell Manor” total chaos ensues. The actors are more interested in their own egos than the quality of the production. There is jealousy, rivalry and back-stabbing, not to mention an alcoholic in charge of a fire-arm and an off-stage affair. Simon Brett’s hilarious text and the numerous red herrings keep the audience guessing until the final moments of the play.

Murder in Play was commissioned for, and premiered at, the Cheltenham Festival of Literature in 1993. Playwright Simon Brett was awarded an OBE in the 2016 New Year’s Honours ‘for services to literature’, and in 2014 received The CWA Diamond Dagger, one of the highest accolades in the crime writing world. His TV and radio credits also include No Commitments and After Henry and the wonderful Bill Nighy played the part of his detective, Charles Paris, in excellent adaptations of his novels by Jeremy Front on Radio 4.

At a time when local theatres and am-dram groups up and down the country are seeing lower numbers attending live shows, KATS are working very hard to reverse this national trend. One way of doing this is by positively encouraging new, young talent into the theatre. This production, for example, is directed by Beth Tucker a recent Drama Graduate from Aberystwyth University. For her directorial debut she is being supported and mentored by Mike Davies, an actor and director with many years of experience including his very successful production of KATS 2017 summer play, Entertaining Angels.

Live theatre is such a great experience for the whole family and priced at just £8 on Wednesday and Thursday and £9 on Friday and Saturday nights, you would be hard-pushed to find a better way to spend a September evening. This show is very suitable for anyone aged from 10 to 110.

Murder in Play is on at Malborough Village Hall, near Salcombe, from 19 to 22 September. Don’t be fooled by the village hall location, for show-week the venue is completely transformed into a fully functional theatre with 14 rows of tiered seating, a licensed bar and plenty of on-site car parking. Tickets are available from Kingsbridge Information Centre 01548 853195 and you can pay by card over the phone.

Follow KATS on Facebook to keep up to date with all our events www.facebook.com/KATSKingsbridgeDevon/ and catch up with us on our website kats-kingsbridge.co.uk

Posted on 06/09/2018

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How To Make A Backing Track Sound Like A Live Band

London Arrangements Ever since The Beatles started experimenting with multi-track recordings it’s been a mainstay of popular music with so many other artists following suit.
Whilst this makes for a great sounding recording, it’s near impossible to have so many musicians on stage at once if you try and recreate this in a live setting.
Using professional backing tracks can help you make the most out of your performance without costly overheads and the logistical nightmares involved with transporting a large ensemble.
Although often associated with amateur productions, high quality backing backing tracks are now breaking into the mainstream with artists such as Drake and Kanye West focusing entire tours without a backing band.
However, while playing direct from a backing track can often be enough for a performance, there are steps to take it to the next level and add texture, depth and an improved performance and experience for your audience.

Here are our top tips for making your backing track performance sound like a live band.

1. Add instruments, percussion & backing vocals

When you’re up performing in front of crowds, no matter how big or small, one of the key things that makes your performance, other than the sound, is whether or not you look the part.

Playing your mp3 backing track through your laptop or phone is fine, though it’s best to hide this equipment and replace it with authentic instruments, backing singers and percussion, to enhance the base music on the backing track and bring your performance to life.

Your audience will want to see you so make sure you’re standing confidently in the lights and to take it to the next level, dress up to give your audience that extra bit of authenticity.

Your clothing, makeup, hairstyle can say a lot about you and depending how you’d like to portray yourself on stage, can add a sense of showmanship, something that those in musical theatre will particularly be looking to achieve.

2. Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse

Moving on, if you’re to add instruments, percussion or backing vocals to your sound, you’ll want to make sure each of these external elements are coming in at the right time. We’ve all heard it before but timing is key.

Even if you’re not adding external factors to your performance, you’ll need to work on your vocals to suit peaks and troughs throughout the song. That, and don’t miss endings, anticipate tempo changes and practice to a metronome if needed.

The more you practice, the more chance of nailing your timings and creating a smooth-running yet thrilling performance.

3. Plan your set

Of course, once you’ve got a feel for the music, you should plan your set song by song. That way you’ll know what’s the running order of your set so your performance can run smoothly.

Your performance time will vary depending on your agreement with the venue, but as a general guide, try and plan your set as follows:

First song: Make it impactful and powerful but don’t play your biggest track too early
Second song: This can be your big hit or most attention grabbing song to get the audience on board
Third song: Switch up your tempo or instrumentation and provide a change of pace.
Fourth song: If you’re finding it hard to win the crowd, try a well known cover song.
Fifth song: A big crowd pleaser with a memorable, singalong hook or chorus to finish on a high point.

Once you’ve planned your set, it’s important to remember that although it’s known to you, it won’t be to your audience. And, as much as you’d like them to feel you’re giving a well-rehearsed, professional performance, you’ll also want to add some spontaneity.

Your audience are here to watch a show and in many cases, to see you. In order to give them a great performance, be yourself, engage with them, tell them personal anecdotes between songs and where applicable, make them laugh.

4. Mix your vocals perfectly

Learning how to mix your vocals perfectly can make a huge difference when it comes to a live performance and a large part of this stems from knowing your own vocal range and where to boost and cut certain frequencies:

200HZ - 500Hz - The main body of your vocals provides warmth but can become muddy if left untreated. If your vocals are too crisp, but seem lacking in depth boost your frequencies in this range, but if they seem messy try cutting out some of the lower frequencies.

1kHz - 3khz - This range contains the nasal sounding frequencies, so make sure to reduce the levels in this section to stop your vocals sounding pinched.

4kHz - Mastering this range is key for providing a great quality performance and standing out from other instruments. Boosting too much in this segment can result in harsh sounding vocals, but too little and you might get lost in the mix.

5kHz - 8kHz - Sibilance is the enemy of all vocalists. Those devastating ‘S’ sounds can be off putting for performers and audiences alike so rehearse well beforehand and ensure that you cut frequencies in this range to provide a better quality sound.


5. Mix the rest with the venue’s sound system in mind

London Arrangements When performing in smaller venues, performing with backing tracks with added effects such as reverb and delay can hinder your performance if the internal sound system isn’t suitably equipped to handle stereo tracks.

You can end up with a muddy performance where some of your instrumentation is lost, so do your research into the house sound systems and if in doubt use mono.

It’s important that you rehearse your planned set in this venue before the live performance - if possible. You should obtain feedback from people scattered from different aspects of the crowd.

Is is too loud for those at the front? What about those at the back? Is there booming sounds coming from either side or from the speakers?

Of course, backing tracks will require the use of speakers perhaps more so than you would with instruments. Your speakers are almost seen as your instruments. Make sure these are set up appropriately and with using our other four steps, you’ll create a stunning musical performance that sounds just like a live band.

Summary

A great performance will encourage audience participation, give excellent sound quality that’s authentic, regardless of using a professional backing track or not and offer showmanship and top entertainment.

Achieved from a well planned set, lots of rehearsals, thinking of your vocals and the environment you’re performing in and the additions of backing singers, instruments or percussion.

Nail each of these five elements and you’ll make your mp3 backing track sound great whilst allowing it to give you reliability and affordability.

To find out more why backing tracks are great for live performances, read more from us here.

Stephen Robinson, London Arrangements


London Arrangements specialises in the production of professional music backing tracks, ranging from stage and screen, swing and jazz, to classical and easy listening genres.


Posted on 01/09/2018

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Money Savings Tips For Amateur Performers

London Arrangements For anyone keen to get into musical theatre performing, it can be a daunting thought not only to stand in front of a big crowd on stage, but from a financial perspective too. Particularly when starting out, you’ll be faced with budget restraints which can limit your success as a performer, if not managed properly.

Here are 6 super easy money savings tips to help amateur performers make musical theatre affordable.


1. Use Multi-Skilled Musicians To Cut Down on Pay Whether you’re a musical theatre performer, actor or singer, you’ll often need a musician or band to help enhance your performance.

One of the most important ways to cut costs with your musician is to use talent who can offer multiple skills at once, so you want someone who can play more than just one instrument and play each well.

For instance, if you have a rhythm guitarist who can also fill in on backing vocals and the occasional bit of keyboards, you’ve essentially saved three salaries.



2. Opt for MP3 Backing Music

Opposite to having a musician play your musical pieces, using professional backing tracks is a great alternative that can provide the same effect of a live band and, in a lot of cases can be much more cost effective.

You’ll also find that they’re often a lot more reliable than an external musician who might not be as invested as the performance as yourself. If their parts are integral to your performance and you suffer from a no show, their absence could not only damage your act but also lead to wasted budget that could have been allocated elsewhere.




3. Dedicate Funds to Press Over Marketing

Of course, if you have more people coming to watch your shows, you get more ticket sales and inevitably more profit or budget to put towards the next production. Although it’s encouraged to keep enough budget back for some marketing of tickets and similar, it’s crucial to create positive relationships with press and spokespeople in the musical theatre community. But why?

The press is usually made up of influential individuals that have huge followings and a platform which they can use to talk about your performance. If you can get these people to watch your production, you can spur a conversation between their readers to improve awareness to your show and in effect have a similar effect to the marketing efforts, only on a larger scale.

This will help you to gain something back from your performance. Particularly if it’s a small production and you’re looking to make a living or extra income from musical theatre.
4. Get Savvy When Buying Props & Costumes

If you’ve been in musical theatre for a while, you’ll come to understand that props, costumes and set dressing can be extremely expensive. It’s important that you don’t pay more than you need, though particularly beginners may find it hard to know what price to pay.

Before going to a retailer and browsing through their many items, it’s best to do some preparation and research. Write up a list of what you need and look online for these products and get an idea of the prices they’re being sold at.

Tip: You can use Pricesearcher to find unbiased prices of millions of products being sold on the internet to ensure you get the best deal if you decide to buy online.

Buy From Charity Shops
A fantastic idea is to make copies of this list and take them to local charity shops and similar with your contact details. This way, when they receive new items in store, they can contact you first for you to view the product rather than putting it up for sale or worse, throwing it away in the trash - which unfortunately happens too often.

Alternatively, you can even transform your old bed sheets, curtains and similar into great costumes and props with very little cost. Even those with very basic sewing skills can create a some props or accessories and plus, wearing your own clothes on stage can be an extremely rewarding feeling. London Arrangements




5. Fundraise For Your Performance

One of the best ways to generate some budget for your performance is to host a local fundraising project a few months before the event. It’s important that this event is of value to those you’re targeting to make the most of the event.

Bake sales almost always go down a treat whether it’s in your works office, at a community dance or school, though if you’re looking to get rid of some old items try going to a carboot or similar.





6. Use Crowdfunding, GoFundMe or Similar

With social media becoming such a dominant aspect of many of our lives, sites like Crowdfunding, GoFundMe and similar have developed. They’re all pretty similar with the main aspect of the site allowing users to share their fundraiser online for people all around the world to donate through online card payments or apps like PayPal.

That makes generating some budget for your performance really easy and no longer limited to physical donations at one particular location. You can reach a wider audience and can also open the door to a community of people with similar interests wanting to help one another. It’s truly a beautiful concept.



Summary

It’s clear there are plenty of ways you can save money as an amateur performer. From sourcing your props and costumes from charity shops to selling homemade cakes.

Especially when it comes to fundraising for your performance or a musical theatre course, be creative and think outside the box and the opportunities will be endless. Now, it’s time to put your findings into practice.

If you’ve got any money saving tips you’d like to share, connect with us on Twitter and Facebook - we’d love to hear from you!

Stephen Robinson, London Arrangements


London Arrangements specialises in the production of professional music backing tracks, ranging from stage and screen, swing and jazz, to classical and easy listening genres.


Posted on 06/08/2018

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Backing Tracks Vs. A Live Band: Which Is Better?

London Arrangements Choosing whether to perform with a backing track over a live band can be difficult. Particularly in musical theatre performances, it’s deemed more difficult to generate an atmosphere and emotional connection with the audience when you’re lacking the raw sounds of real instruments on stage.

However, with technology advancing and the quality of mp3 backing tracks massively improving, could this be a money-saving way that performers should be opting for? Let’s take a look.


Why Choose Backing Tracks?

1. Heavy Style of Music

If your performance includes a heavy style of music (e.g. alt-rock, metal, pop) which incorporates lots of different instruments to add depth and texture to your songs, you’ll want to play to a backing track. This will help you perform your song so that it sounds like an actual pop, rock or metal record. Otherwise, your audience may find that it’s lacking something and hence can cause for a negative effect on their enjoyment.

When incorporating a live band to your stage, you should remember that sadly band members can be slightly flaky. Even if you choose to perform with a band, it’s vital that you have a backup version of their contribution to the song. Whether they turn up or not, you’ll be able to ensure viewers receive music that sounds how it’s supposed to sound.

2. Reduce Expenses

Regardless of the style of music, it’s common for performers to side against taking a live keyboardist or sampler to a performance and opt for a backing track instead. It reduces costs massively. Assuming the instrument can be recorded to a high sound quality, it shouldn’t affect the performance too much - if any - and hence can deliver a great show for the audience at a low cost.

Moving on, even though keyboards and other orchestral instrumentation isn’t normally easy to record and produce high quality backing tracks, artists can still get around this. By using live vocals or adding vocal harmonies where necessary, the band will be able to perform without sounding as though it’s lacking instrumentation. This is a great cost-saving alternative.



3. You Can (Usually) Depend On Backing Tracks

Plenty of band members will share anecdotes of times where they’ve sadly been let down by their own bandmates or by session musicians not showing up. One of the best ways to solve these issues is to use a backing track instead.

Other than human error in forgetting the track, it’s almost always reliable and as previously mentioned, doesn’t cost you a great deal. If you’ve already paid for a no-show band member, this can end up costing a lot for very little gain.


For musical theatre performers, they’ll know that delivering a high-quality show requires many bodies involved. There’s a need for people in different areas such as lighting, wardrobe, makeup and of course, sound. Keeping everyone in check can be hard and so, reducing the number of people involved, reduces the number of no-shows or people turning up late. Plus, it helps to keep costs low too.

Often paying someone to help with the smooth running of your performance can be more expensive than buying a backing track. Unless you’re lucky enough to obtain dedicated musicians and performers. London Arrangements




4. They Don’t Make Mistakes

Continuing with the thought that backing tracks are reliable, they never make mistakes. Other than a potential technical glitch during the performance, they play exactly how you want them to play and exactly how you’ve rehearsed. As a result, it means that you don’t have to worry that they may mess up chords, break a string or hit a bum note.

You can focus your attention on your singing or acting without thinking the band playing beside you on stage will affect the quality of your performance. This helps to keep everything professional and finely polished so that your audience can enjoy the performance they came for.



Why Choose A Live Band?

Looking at it from the other perspective, there are some cons to backing tracks which can be a put off for performers considering using them.

London Arrangements 1. Laid-Back Style of Music

In contrast to the those playing a heavy style of music, there’s those that play laid-back music. As it sounds, laid-back music involves much subtler sounds and consists of fewer, instruments. In the case of artists, they’ll often decide to perform an acoustic or stripped back version of their song, particularly if they’re playing at a small venue in front of a smaller crowd. Here, there’s potential for backing tracks to actually clutter their songs.

Keeping their performance simple with a single instrument, such as a guitar or piano, could give users more of a chance to connect with the performer on a deeper level, feeling as though they’ve seen an exclusive, unique version of your song.

For those in musical theatre, the same can apply. However, as theatre productions usually involve acting, unless a character is known to perform with an instrument, it’s best to stick to a backing track. This keeps the attention solely on the actor and allows them to focus on their lines and stage positioning. Sometimes adding an additional element like playing an instrument can be challenging, even for the best performers


2. Audio Errors

No matter how hard you try to make a performance run smoothly, even the most organised performers can experience technical issues with their backing tracks. Whether that’s the mp3 file itself corrupting, the equipment used to play it malfunctioning or the in-house PA experiencing issues. It’s always good to have backups, whether that’s multiple versions of your backing tracks, a tablet in case your laptop unexpectedly breaks or spare chargers.

Alternatively, you could look at bringing a single piece of equipment such as a guitar or keyboard to enable yourself to play acoustic in the worst case scenario. However, with technology continuing to advance and teams becoming more skilled to help refine these technical issues, this is becoming less likely to happen.



London Arrangements 3. You Can’t Be Spontaneous

Though being pre-recorded is great for ensuring the performance sounds professional and how you desired, it means that if you’d like to be spontaneous and play to your crowd’s emotions and feedback, you can’t.

This can be deemed as a dangerous game to play as most viewers will want to really “feel” your performance rather than just listening to what they do when playing the same music in their own time.

Though that’s a key point to note for artists, for theatre performers, the need for spontaneity isn’t really applicable. After all, actors are following a thought-out script. Even moments on stage that you may think are planned, aren’t. Funnily enough, if actors have to be spontaneous on stage, it means the performance isn’t running smoothly and hence, can be a performer’s worst nightmare.


4. Little Visual Impact

If you have fewer bodies on stage due to not needing a keyboardist and similar, you can end up reducing the visual impact of your performance. Sometimes having more bodies adds different dimensions to the stage, giving users from either side of the venue, people to focus on and look at.

Not only this, but some members on stage can give more energy in a performance and hence, if you take them out of the equation, you’re likely to reduce the quality of your show and hence the enjoyment for your viewers.



5. Musicians Miss Out on Work

This is probably one of the stronger cons to using backing tracks over a live band. For musicians, it can be a extremely disappointing to feel their skill of playing an instrument - which no doubt took years to master - is being replaced by an mp3 backing track. I believe that’s something most artists who using backing tracks when performing, can agree on.

However, in order to produce a backing track that sounds like the real instruments, musicians are required to give a live performance which is then recorded.

As a result, although this doesn’t open the doors for lots of amateur musicians, it means that in the future, if they can record their performances to a high quality, they’re likely to make money from either selling their backing tracks or from a live concert.



6. People Will Say You’re Doing ‘Karaoke’

Sometimes, no matter how good your performance is and how good it sounds, when using a backing track there’ll be people out there who can’t help but exclaim ‘it’s karaoke’. Sadly, that’s something that’s unavoidable.

However, that shouldn’t be a reason not to use backing tracks if you find them more reliable, affordable and that the majority of your audience still loves your performance. After all, there’s no pleasing everybody all of the time.



Summary

Of course there are pros and cons to using a backing track in a live performance likewise, there are to using a live band. Hopefully, you’ll now have a better idea of the benefits and downsides to each, to make a more informed decision.

Stephen Robinson, London Arrangements


London Arrangements specialises in the production of professional music backing tracks, ranging from stage and screen, swing and jazz, to classical and easy listening genres.


Posted on 07/07/2018

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How To Use Backing Tracks To Give A Great Performance

London Arrangements More often than not, musicians and actors believe that giving a great, engaging performance is only possible when using a live band and vocalists. However, the times are changing and many performers are captivating their audience through the use of their voice AND backing tracks.

Now, we’re not suggesting you forever ditch the drums, vintage guitars and so on but instead, don’t stress that your performance might not be first class if your keyboard player doesn’t show up. It will. This blog post will take you through the how-to’s for using professional backing tracks to give a great live performance.


#1 Understand Your Tracks

The big risk of using backing tracks is that it’s relying on technology rather than humans. If there was a mistake during the performance, a live band is more likely to recover and keep the performance running smoothly, whereas pre-recorded tracks cannot do this. So, how do you avoid messing up your set and using a professional backing track?

1. Understand how backing tracks are constructed to ensure you know what to expect when their played - that’s in a variety of environments.

2. Backing tracks with more ambient sounds are usually easier to work with.

3. Oppositely, backing tracks with distinct percussion, bass lines and other timed entrances will be a lot harder to work with - particularly for beginners.

4. It’s all about trial and error. Don’t hit the stage straight away. Giving a great performance takes time anyway, so don’t automatically assume using backing tracks will be easier but it’s not always the case.



#2 Engage With The Track

Just like you would an instrument, you must engage with the track in order to pour emotion into the performance and keep it real and “raw”. Listen to the instruments and vocals within the track and try to pick out the key sounds and harmonies that are most appealing to you. Focus on these in the performance and really think about the words you are saying during the piece. This way, you will really connect with not only the song but your audience to give them a great, engaging performance.



#3 Involve Your Audience
London Arrangements A good musician will be able to please their audience with their stunning voice and perhaps choreography. Yet, an excellent musician will not only “wow” them with this but will also make them feel like they are a part of the performance. This can be done using the below three key steps:

1. Know who’s listening. You must adopt an approach that will suit and relate to your audience if you want to become one of them. For example, if you’re performing to a small, country-like crowd, being friendly and approachable will be a great way for you to relate.

2. Know your show. It’s important that you thoroughly rehearse your performance so that you can focus your attention on the audience and their needs. Sometimes, having a few plan B’s can also help you make slight changes to the set in case things don’t go as you’d expect. If you know your set well, you can focus attentions to monitor your audience throughout your performance and respond to their actions accordingly.


3. Encourage participation during your pieces, in between or after. If you can get your audience to sing along with you during a song, go for it. By monitoring your crowd you can usually tell if they’re eager to sing along with you or not. If they aren’t, asking them an intriguing question or telling a hilarious anecdote can make you feel more human and personally connected to them.



#4 What Do You Want To Hear?

When you’re performing on stage in front of an audience, no matter how big or small the crowd is, it can be extremely daunting. In order to stun your listeners you’ll have to show you’re comfortable on stage which in turn will help you engage with them and get them involved - see above. But how do you become comfortable on stage when using backing tracks?

If you decide to perform without a live band, you shouldn’t then feel alone, lost or uncomfortable during your time on stage. To combat these thoughts, you should equip yourself with headphones, a wedge or monitor or a mixer that will allow you to hear everything you need to perform well.

    You might want to hear only click in your headphones and have the backing tracks in your wedge or monitor.

    Alternatively, you might feel more comfortable with both track and click in your headphones, or just the track.

    Finally, performers can also derive great success from running both click and track through a mixer placed nearby so that you can control each level in your headphones quickly and easily. - Tom Tom Magazine



#5 Hide The Laptop / MP3 Player

If you’re an avid gig or festival goer, you won’t be a stranger to seeing a laptop on stage during your favourite artists performance. Though, this isn’t something we suggest doing, particularly in musical theatre when ensuring the performance should be as engaging as possible.
London Arrangements Hide the laptop or device you’re using to play backing tracks. It can automatically improve the performance and create an illusion that the music is being played live.

A magician wouldn’t show you how he did his tricks, likewise, you don’t always want to show your audience how you’re creating such a great performance. Instead, you want them to watch in awe.

You may be thinking, that if you don’t have your laptop with you, how will you protect your performance if all things fail? That’s why practice makes perfect - trial your mix in different venues, big, small, long, tall and listen to the sound quality of the tracks. You can always get a trusted musician on stand-by incase errors crop up, though if you rehearse enough, you’re unlikely to come across major problems during the performance so stop stressing and enjoy!


#6 Know What Causes Problems
London Arrangements Just like a musician wouldn’t be able to belt out an amazing guitar solo the first time they play a guitar, you won’t be able to create an amazing performance using a backing track if you don’t understand the technology and gear behind it. This point is quite similar to point #1 but it’s important to stress that knowing your music is crucial to a successful show.

When you’re at a gig or show performing with backing tracks, you’re more than just a musician. Now, you’re also a tech wizard, moving from analog to digital and so, you’ll need to know what can be the cause of any audio problems, just like you would with your instruments. After all, you wouldn’t perform with an out of tune guitar, so why play with a backing track or piece of tech that’s set up incorrect?
As well as knowing what can cause problems on your backing tracks, it’s vital to understand the equipment that is actually playing the music, too. Sometimes the thing creating the poor audio is the machine itself that it’s played on. That, and things like the venue, poor wiring and so on.

Do your research before buying both your professional backing tracks and the machine or device you’ll use to play them. Both are key players in creating a great sounding performance without a live band or vocalists.

    Tip: Make sure the device you play your tracks with cannot receive texts, emails or notifications with sound.



#7 Opt For A Remix

Most musicians will know that not every other musician out there is as dedicated and great at time keeping as themselves. Sometimes, planning a performance with external pianists, drummers or similar can prove to difficult and lead to much disappointment.

However, if your performance demands a drummer but perhaps you don’t have a reliable musician to perform with, opt for a remix. Include more electronic aspects to funk up the song and give your listeners a slightly edgier show.

You don’t have to change much in the music in order to get it sounding great without your backing band. Sometimes, making too many changes can make the track sound too different, though experimenting with additional instruments and vocals can be a huge success!



Summary

To conclude, below is a revised list of how to use backing tracks to give a great performance:

1. Understand your tracks. That way if something was to go wrong such as the timing of the first song starting early or worse, late, you’re prepared for it and know how to correct it.

2. Engage with the track just like you would an instrument. This way you’re engaging with the instruments and vocals in the track, just like you would if they were happening live on stage.

3. Involve your audience by getting them to sing along. This way they’ll be less focused on the fact you don’t have a band playing your music and you’ll get more of a buzz from hearing them sing back your songs.

4. Knowing what you want to hear will help you monitor your performance and vocals as it happens. Using clicks in your headphones and the backing track in your wedge or monitor can help.

5. Don’t let the audience see your laptop. This will help the audience to keep their eyes on you so you’re performance feels more connected and personal for the crowd.

6. Understand what problems can arise from using backing tracks. If you know what might go wrong when you’re on stage using the backing track, you’ll be able to help counteract any issues to keep your performance running smoothly.

7. Remix your song by either stripping it down or adding more electronic elements to it. This can bring a new life to the song and interest the audience by surprising them with a unique version, rather than playing what they will expect.

Stephen Robinson, London Arrangements


London Arrangements specialises in the production of professional music backing tracks, ranging from stage and screen, swing and jazz, to classical and easy listening genres.


Posted on 14/06/2018

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