Music from the Yorkshire Actors Company Production of 'The Cabinet Of Doctor Caligari'.
Title on front: Das Kabinett 'The Cabinet Of Doctor Caligari'
Title on spine: Das Kabinett
Title on labels: Das Kabinett (The Cabinet Of Dr. Caligari)
Tracks are numbered sequentially on cover and labels.
Front cover photograph from the film "The Cabinet Of Doctor Caligari" with kind permission of Miracle Films.
℗ & © 1981 Happytronics Ltd
Made in England
In 1919, German film director Robert Weine made what was to become one of the classics of the silent cinema, 'The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari'. Using stark, expressionistic sets and highly stylised acting techniques, Weine created a nightmare world with insanity and murder at its core.
The two central characters in the story are the evil Doctor Caligari and Cesare the Sonambulist, a zombie-like creature who (from within the confines of Doctor Caligari's Cabinet) is exhibited as a bizarre fairground attraction by day, but by night, becomes an instrument of murder orchestrated by Caligari's demonic powers.
To quote Lotte Eisner from her book 'The Haunted Screen': "The characters of Caligari and Cesare conform to expressionist conception; The Sonambulist, detached from his everyday ambience, deprived of all individuality, an abstract creature, kills without motive or logic. And his master, the mysterious Dr. Caligari, who lacks the merest shadow of human scruple, acts with the criminal insensibility and defiance of conventional morality which the expressionists exalted" (reprinted with kind permission of Martin Secker & Warburg, Publishers).
Some sixty-two years later, early in 1981, I was approached by the Yorkshire Actors Company, to provide a musicial score for a modern adaptation of the Caligari story. The company's director, Andy Winters, wanted to preserve the stylised, expressionistic gestures of the film whilst introducing elements of mime and even dance. The production would rely heavily on the performers acting techniques as very few stage settings or effects were to be employed. Although this was not the first play I had been involved in musically (I provided an electronic score for a production of Ibsen's "Peer Gynt" in 1966), I found the whole idea extremely challenging and set to work taking notes and timings during the play's early rehearsals.
The story starts and ends in an asylum presided over by Dr. Caligari. The action in between involves, amongst other things, a fairground, a caravan, a prison and the crooked streets and rooftops of a small medieval town known as Holstenwall.
The music was recorded on the same domestic four track machine I had previously used to create the 'Sounding The Ritual Echo' album and as the music had to be delivered to the Yorkshire Actors Company in time for them to complete their final rehearsals, a high degree of self discipline was in order. After several days intense work and a certain amount of last minute editing the 'Soundtrack' was complete.
The Yorkshire Actors Company have since taken the production all over England and have played a residency at the Edinburgh festival. For those who have seen and enjoyed 'The Cabinet Of Doctor Caligari' this record is a souvenir. For those who haven't I hope that the music will convey some of the strange beauty and corrupt power of the story.
Bill Nelson, 1981.