Tempest musical exploration

Shayna Goldberg (photo from Music on Main)

The Tempest Project is a roving musical adventure that will see audiences taken on a journey, both literally and figuratively,” Shayna Goldberg told the Independent.

“Audiences will be led through the entire Vancouver Playhouse by guides, moving between spaces, through the theatre, hallways and stairwells, through the usual lobbies to the very unexpected,” she said. “While The Tempest Project is not a re-telling of the famous work, it is filled with storms and magic and wonder, and we believe it will leave audiences breathless.”

Goldberg is artistic planning and operations manager of Music on Main, which presents The Tempest Project July 17-22 at the Playhouse. She co-leads the production with artistic director David Pay.

“Audiences can expect a unique opportunity to listen together,” said Goldberg. “While traveling through the Playhouse, our hope is that audiences will experience what David Pay says music does best: convey emotions and feelings that cannot easily be put into words.”

On the route through the theatre, there will be live performances, recordings, projections, audio-and-optical illusions, and more. 

Pay began thinking about The Tempest Project in 2017, but development began in 2020, when the pandemic started and in-person gatherings weren’t permitted, said Goldberg. The first production was As dreams are made, “a beautifully intimate experience for one audience member with one musician (very pandemic friendly) and a sensational soundscape with a recording of a speech from Shakespeare’s play,” said Goldberg.

“Following the success of that first experiment into this project, we began working with local artists to explore the themes from The Tempest and how they could fit into a full-scale production,” she explained. “We did a lot of ensemble work with The Tempest Project Company, exploring how their insights, musical backgrounds and lived experiences could all contribute to devising creative ideas. Working with these amazing musicians over the past five years has certainly been a highlight to this entire process.

“As we enter the final phase, we are taking all of the things we learned as a team to create the world première! We knew that we wanted The Tempest Project to be something memorable and I think that, with the expert team we have assembled and by being in the Vancouver Playhouse, we’ll definitely achieve that.”

The musicians are Julia Ulehla, vocals; Paolo Bortolussi, flute; Aram Bajakian, guitar; Saina Khaledi, santour; Dailin Hsieh, zheng; Julia Chien, percussion; Jonathan Lo, cello; and Rachel Kiyo Iwaasa, piano. Dramaturg Melanie Yeats and production manager Alexis Douglas are part of the creative team.

Pieces have been commissioned from Khaledi; musician and storyteller Gabriel Kahane; Nancy Tam, who specializes in sound creations; and Alfredo Santa Ana, whose compositions range from the classical to electronic. There also will be improvised arrangements based on Solange’s “Things I Imagined,” and other works.

“David chose musicians who connect with audiences, have widely different but complementary music-making practices, and who reflect different aspects of the city we live in,” explained Goldberg. “The instrumentation of the ensemble is super varied…. It’s definitely not a typical ensemble! But the friendships and working relationships we’ve all forged as artists was one of the outcomes we were hoping for back in 2020 when we first invited everyone together.”

Goldberg has been working with Music on Main and Pay since 2018, when she joined the organization. 

“I’ve been lucky over the past 10 years to work with multiple companies, including almost five years at Pi Theatre. When I saw the posting for Music on Main, it felt like just the right challenge to me and, fortunately, they thought so, too,” said Goldberg, who has known from a young age that she wanted a career in the arts.

“I’ve always been a bit of a performer, maybe a tad dramatic, and I found that arts management was the right place for me and where I could help bring productions to life!” she said.

“While working with the Classical Theatre Project in Toronto, I felt a need to do more than be a group sales and company manager, and that led me back to school,” she said. “I never imagined that I’d complete an MBA, but the MBA with an arts and media management diploma from the Schulich School of Business was exactly what I was looking for. It provided me with the education to take my career to the next level, and the guts to move out to Vancouver, something I had always wanted to do.”

Since becoming a Vancouverite, Goldberg said she has “invested time in finding a strong and supportive community, and that has been primarily in the Jewish community. Shortly after moving here,” she said, “I was welcomed as a resident into the Moishe House and built some incredibly strong connections and friendships from that time. Also, through work with Na’amat Canada and the Axis Young Professionals program through Jewish Federation, I’ve really found my place here.”

And that includes, of course, her place at Music on Main.

“When I interviewed with David,” shared Goldberg, “I asked him what his next big project was and he said a large musical adventure exploring The Tempest. Now, coming from the theatre world and with a sincere love of Shakespeare, I was immediately excited. It took us awhile, but, when we were finally able to start the process, it was very much a labour of love on both our parts.”

For tickets to The Tempest Project, visit musiconmain.ca.