Written by Evelyn, a member of ENO Engage Youth Company and a Year 11 student at Kingsdale Foundation School, Lambeth.
Read Evelyn’s thoughts on the Youth Company’s third module which responded to ENO’s Production of Philip Glass’s opera Satyagraha. Working with director Caroline Williams, composer Pete Letanka and designer Rhiannon Newman, the group explored the themes in the opera of non-violent protest, equality and how to effect change, using these as a springboard to create their own text, music and design work.
‘On the 13th February I took part in the second of two workshops based on Philip Glass’s opera Satyagraha as part of the English National Opera’s Youth Company. They were led by Rhiannon Newman Brown, Caroline Williams and Pete Letanka. By taking part in these sessions I hoped to learn more about different ways to create music and text as well as learning about different art forms that I could use to express myself.
Our second session was leading up to a performance in the afternoon, so most of the work we did in the morning was finishing off tasks from the previous day. These included creating masks of characters we had developed in small groups as well as adding movement to our original composition. To create this piece of music, we took sections from the original score and created text to fit with it. Other melodies were improvised by the by the group using text we had already written. All of this was based on the idea of peaceful protest which is the main theme in Satyagraha.
Our final performance in the afternoon told the story of a group of individuals who had come together to protest about and issue that was important to them. These included women’s rights, gentrification and the treatment of minorities. They were met by the people in power: politicians and businessmen. The protesters were broken down over the course of the song by their opposition. The piece finished with our hymn for the future. It asked people to accept and care for everybody despite our differences.
Our last task of the day was to create images for a social media page. Social media plays a large part in what information people receive and how they campaign for issues that they care about. To do this we created slogans for placards that our character would carry during a protest. We were then photographed with our placard and masks. These images were then put on the ENO’s social media pages.
I enjoyed taking part in these sessions as it allowed me to create and build art which is something I don’t usually get the chance to do. I also got to see how other composers and directors work and was able to perform my own work to an audience. In the future I am looking forward to working with new people in these sessions and gain more insight into the world of performance and art.’