The Intoxicating Rose Garden: a performance adaptation of Persian poet Hafez
Laurie Irvine, Jila Peacock, Michael Popper and Red Note Ensemble to perform score by Sally Beamish
Even the name of Sally Beamish’s latest score is something that sounds out of the ordinary. Delve further into what The Intoxicating Rose Garden is all about, and it’s clear that it is a new piece of work which is quite different from anything even the innovative and groundbreaking Red Note Ensemble have previously presented. Actually much more than Beamish’s evocative music, the piece is based on her settings of poetry by the 14th century Sufi mystic, Hafez, but now includes music, song, animated image and dance, which is choreographed and performed by the extraordinary Michael Popper.
‘I’ve admired Michael’s work for some time,’ says Beamish, ‘and it’s very exciting to be working with him on this piece.’ The visual element is courtesy of artist Jila Peacock’s book, Ten Poems from Hafez, which are poems shaped by the calligraphy of Hafez’s original Farsi text. Together, Beamish and Peacock began to conceive that their interpretations of the poetry could be further realised through the human body and dance.
‘The music I’ve written for Jila Peacock’s translations of Hafez has already gone through several incarnations,’ explains Beamish. ‘Adding dance and film into the mix is an inspiring new departure, and it’s now possible to include Jila’s artwork, as realised by filmmaker Laurie Irvine.’
Themes explored in The Intoxicating Rose Garden are longing and separation, as well as belonging and completeness, so elements of the poetry which both conflict and complement. Beamish’s music takes inspiration from traditional Iranian music, birdsong and even insect calls.
It is a highly ambitious undertaking in which all the different strands interact with each other to form a rich polyphony. ‘I’m delighted that Red Note have taken the project on board,’ says Beamish, ‘and I have tailored the music to four of their outstanding musicians.’
Tolbooth, Stirling, Thu 15 Nov; Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, Thu 22 Nov.