Vanishing Point and Scottish Ensemble team up for new production Tabula Rasa

Vanishing Point and Scottish Ensemble team up for new production Tabula Rasa

credit: Hugh Carswell

Timely examination of aging and death through theatre and the music of Arvo Pärt

Theatre makers Vanishing Point and Scottish Ensemble have teamed up for a new production, Tabula Rasa. Set to the music of the same name by revered composer Arvo Pärt, it imagines two characters, one of whom is dying and the other who has to cope, wondering if hospital visits are really caring enough for them.

As Vanishing Point's artistic director Matthew Lenton explains, the work is an interrogation into why Pärt's composition, created in 1977, still emotionally resonates: 'I was interested because it is so popular and ubiquitous. With audiences, they connect to it and you don't always understand why. It is so delicate, and it exists in a world of its own. To hear variations in it, you have to listen carefully. My role was to think, how does the theatre part come in?'

Lenton worked closely with Jonathan Morton, from Scottish Ensemble, who says: 'That's an interesting idea, that you can take a serious subject matter or series of complex ideas, and present them in a way that people can find a way into them.' The collaboration was a way to bounce ideas off each other, he adds. 'It's very much a two-way process, and in the rehearsals of the shows, the musicians and myself very much feed into the process and affect it in quite meaningful ways'.

With an ageing population, and cuts to the NHS and creative industries, the piece is timely. Music often has the power to comfort during dark days. Lenton concludes, 'We want to see how art can transcend our lives, the pain and the suffering'.

Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, Wed 8–Sat 11 Nov; Eden Court, Inverness, Thu 16 Nov; Tramway, Glasgow, Wed 22–Fri 24 Nov

Tabula Rasa

Theatre company Vanishing Point and string orchestra Scottish Ensemble present a co-production that sets Arvo Pärt’s masterpiece Tabula Rasa in a theatrical context, exploring the recognised role of the piece in the care of patients during their final days.