Composition Seminar – James Cave and David Gothard discuss ‘Returns’

Returns: a new opera, based on the play by Joshua Casteel

A discussion between David Gothard (director) and James Cave (composer), chaired by Prof Nicola Lefanu

Joshua Casteel (1979-2012) was an Iraq veteran-turned-peace campaigner and playwright. His work attracted widespread attention in the UK and US, including performances at the Royal Court. Casteel’s play, ‘Returns’ was based on his own experience of post-traumatic stress, and revolves around the struggle of the central character, James, an Iraq veteran, to organise his memories into a coherent narrative, hinging on the line ‘what was it like?, a question frequently asked of war-veterans by their families. ’The other characters each represent aspects of James’ fragmented consciousness.

The director and composer will discuss the process of creating an opera based on the original play, and will present a video of the opening 20 minutes of the opera, staged recently at ‘Rough for Opera’, at the Cockpit Theatre, Marylebone.

David Gothard (Director) is the former artistic director of Riverside Studios where he worked closely with John Cage, Samuel Beckett, Tadeusz Kantor, JoanMiro, Shuji Tereyama and many others. As a director he works between the Abbey Theatre in Dublin, and the Writers Workshop in the University of Iowa. In London he is a guest speaker at the Slade and he teaches at Chelsea College of Art and the National Film School.

James Cave (Composer) is a singer and composer based at the University of York, where he is currently studying for an AHRC-funded PhD in Composition. Recent projects include ‘Latrabjarg’, for the York Spring Festival, supported by the Terry Holmes Award, and ‘God’s Keyboard’, supported by the Sir Jack Lyons Award. He was Composer-in-Residence at the Banff Centre, Canada, in March 2015, and participated in the inaugural Banff World Music Residency.

Joshua Casteel (Playwright): Joshua Casteel (1979-2012) served eight years in the US Army, including seven months as an interrogator and Arabic linguist in the Iraq War. He was honourably discharged as a conscientious objector and was an MFA graduate of the Iowa Nonfiction Writing and Playwriting Programs, and a graduate student of University of Chicago Divinity School. His plays have received staged readings at the Royal Court (UK), the Abbey Theatre (Dublin), and the McCarter Theatre (Princeton). A new edition of his ‘Letters from Abu Ghraib’ is forthcoming in 2016.

With the kind support of the Joshua Casteel Foundation