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TAKE FIVE; Charlie Barber, composer and director of Sound Affairs, convinces us to buy tickets to The Fall of the House of Usher.

Byline: Charlie Barber

1. Edgar Allan Poe's macabre works are recognised as masterpieces of American Gothic literature. This silent cinema classic is inspired by his short story of the same name, about the cursed House of Usher and its bizarre inhabitants, Madeline and Roderick Usher. It is considered the best example of Poe's"totality", where every element and detail is related and relevant.

2. The film is directed by French film-maker Jean Epstein and is probably his best-known work. It is considered a pioneer of cinematic horror, with its overlapping visual textures, experimental camera movement and otherworldly, ethereal imagery. Epstein wrote the screenplay with Luis Bunuel, who was originally assistant director - but Bunuel actually quit the film after clashing with Epstein over the latter's decision to basically ignore Poe's original story.

3. I've composed a brand-new score that will be played live at each screening of the film by a talented 16-piece ensemble put together especially for this tour. In composing the new score, I returned to Debussy's uncompleted opera La Chute de la Maison Usher for inspiration, to bring further depth to the atmosphere of this cinematic tour de force. The concept of "live cinema" - the juxtaposition in live performance of two art forms - can provide a unique, stimulating and illuminating experience. The present production explores the atmosphere, emotion and terror of the Usher story through the resulting synergy of the "alive" (music) and the "unchangeable" (celluloid); between a present-day aural experience and vintage dramatic imagery - hopefully creating an entirely new audio-visual experience for a contemporary audience.

4. One of the ensemble, Niamh Ferris, taught Benedict Cumberbatch the violin for his lead role in the BBC's Sherlock! Niamh joins many other Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama students and graduates in the ensemble, as well as the winner of Making Music's Award for Young Concert Artist, Alberto Casadei.

5. It's the perfect way to celebrate Halloween - if you're brave enough. The tour visits Theatr Brycheiniog in Brecon on October 31.

The Fall of the House of Usher tours to the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff on October 23; Aberystwyth Arts Centre on October 24; Theatr Brycheiniog in Brecon on October 31; and Galeri in Caernarfon on November 4. Visit

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Oct 18, 2014
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