New Normal, is a co-creation, produced by Soundstreams and Red Note Ensemble, between Ukrainian-Canadian composer Anna Pigdorna and Northern Irish composer Brian Irvine. The piece is a whimsical exploration of social isolation and strange world events which have occurred during the time of global pandemic.
Anna and Brian are creating interleaved works, which loosely interact with one another through a series of episodes hooked together through shared, but misinterpreted objects and ideas.
Anna’s part is Inspired by the Pentagon’s recent release of possible UFO footage, which went largely unnoticed by the public during the pandemic. Her work examines our current experience through the lens of curious outsiders. A collective, androgynous alien entity portrayed by three singers visits Earth unnoticed by humans who are utterly preoccupied by the pandemic and other world events. The alien entity explores the space around Irvine’s isolation room, interacting with objects discarded by its occupant. The collective alien entity sings in close harmony and rhythmic hockets using a largely made-up language sprinkled with mispronounced human words. Curious about the human’s project, which the entity can observe through the window, it will also contribute objects for the human’s use. Wrapped up in his attempt to reach beyond his isolation room, the human is comically and tragically unaware of the alien presence just beyond his walls.
Brian’s part is the insider, confined in his apartment. Inspired in part by the installation “The Man Who Flew Into Space From His Apartment” by Ilya Kabokov Brian’s collection of fragments explores activities of isolation. The humorous, the absurd imagined flights of fantasy, the potency and catalyst of frustration – where dreamer meets explorer/investigator. Populated by
screen freezes and digitised, delayed stuttering voices it explores the very essence of communication and our relationship with the world beyond. This is a one room confined space that becomes both the theatre and the dream and the obsession and the therapy. Using collected and redacted text, instruction manuals, articles on keeping busy, public forum lectures, trash TV samples as well as audio extracted from composer recordings and monologues, the piece mangles together a portrait of a time and a method of living and a psyche that is tinged with the colour and experience of restriction and the absence of other real human being.
We’ve now done two workshops working simultaneously and livestreaming from Scotland and Toronto, Brian working with Soundstreams in Toronto and Anna working with Red Note Ensemble in Scotland.
We’re very excited to see where the development of this one-of-a-kind, hybrid opera will bring us in the next year!