Zakia Fawcett shares her insight to working on The Lover

Growing up in a creative, home educating household allowed me to invest my time in the subjects I was truly passionate about and I always knew that I ultimately wanted to collaborate with dance and theatre, but I never imagined an opportunity would arise so early in my career! Just as I started my first term studying a BMus in Composition at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, I received the staggering opportunity to work with not one, but two inspirationally strong female directors: Jemima Levick and Fleur Darkin.

Following an initial meeting with the wonderfully warm and embracing Jemima, my preparation for the project consisted of reading the Marguerite Duras texts, laboriously pouring over the recordings and lyrics of Camille tracks, and enjoying quite a few critical essays regarding desire, power and gender politics. This is all felt very close and familiar to me, and was quite a contrast to the first day of the actual production – meeting the whole team; realising this project was so real and truly physical in a way that I hadn’t experienced before. Everything was fresh and electric.

For the sound placement I worked shadowing the passionate and engaging Torben Lars Sylvest, whose work I had loved in TuTuMucky. In terms of The Lover, our work initially involved researching the soundtrack and exploring different types of music to go with scenes; evaluating how they would interplay with the visual elements. Then later in the process it became much more mixing and levels based – aiming to make the presence of sound as smooth and seamless as possible. This production was fairly sound heavy, as a great deal of dialogue in the show was pre-recorded to be lip-synced by dancers later, so a lot of time was spent recording and perfecting tracks. It was a logistically disorientating concept to a production, and the overall approach had to be thought over multiple times to make it work on stage.

In retrospect, the most stimulating aspects of the placement were the challenges between what was envisioned and what could be achieved in reality. In particular I remember Fleur’s request for Torben and I to trigger a baseline free version of LCD Soundsystem’s Change Ur Mind. This was initially baffling as the sound was so heavily involved with the baseline, but after hours of research I found there was a way to process the sound and mix it with extra elements to produce the desired effect. I felt an incredible sense of satisfaction. Sadly, this scene was later cut from the production, but I didn’t feel my work had been pointless. On the contrary, because of my connection to the scene – with its shapes and emotional context, alongside my attachment to the sound – it left a strong impression on me and I am currently writing a new instrumental work inspired by what was discarded.

On the whole I feel I have learnt that theatre is utterly fluid as each creation has the potential to be ephemeral, or something that deeply marks and effects the final result. It’s impossible to be precious with ideas, and I now think there is a certain beauty to this constant element of changeability as nothing fully disappears, it is simply absorbed so that it may nourish new creative moments.

Zakia Fawcett