Saturday, October 29, 2011

Rare Performance of Theatrical Adaptation of John Cage's James Joyce, Marcel Duchamp, Erik Satie: An Alphabet


[The Fisher Center at Bard] John Kelly as the Narrator in Alphabet. ©John Cage Trust.

Performed in the Fisher Center’s Acoustically Superb Sosnoff Theater
Presented by the John Cage Trust and New Albion Records
 ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y. – The Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts presents John Cage’s James Joyce, Marcel Duchamp, Erik Satie: An Alphabet on Friday, November 11 and Saturday, November 12 at 8 p.m. The rarely performed theatrical piece stars John Kelly and is directed by Laura Kuhn, with music and sound design by Mikel Rouse and set design by Marco Steinberg. The program is produced by the John Cage Trust at Bard College andNew Albion RecordsTickets are $15, $25, $35, and $45. To purchase tickets call the Fisher Center box office at 845-758-900, or go to

Cage’s Alphabet began life as a highly imaginative radio play in 1982, a commission from Klaus Schöning and Cologne’s West German Radio (WDR). Working on the principles of collage, Cage created a cast of unlikely characters— the three title artists, Henry David Thoreau, Buckminster Fuller, Robert Rauschenberg, Brigham Young, and seven others. The result is a remarkably democratic intermingling of perspectives, suffused throughout with humor and irreverence for the particulars of history.

In 2001, nearly a decade after Cage’s death, director Laura Kuhn created a theatrical version of the radio play, directing its premiere in Edinburgh that same year. Sound and music designer Mikel Rouse collaborated with Kuhn and a team of composers, musicologists, and performers, collecting and cataloguing sounds for Cage’s score, which consists of almost 200 sounds “as varied and suggestive as the dialogue itself: a lawn mower, x-rays, an earthquake, a Xerox machine, a bullfight, and a marriage ceremony, to name just a few,” says Rouse.

Acclaimed actor John Kelly will perform the role of the Narrator, which he created for the theatrical version of the work. The cast also includes Mikel Rouse as James Joyce; Larry Larson as Jonathan Albert; Joan Retallack as Buckminster Fuller; Emma Reed as Mao Tse Tung; Victoria Miguel as Thorstein Veblen;Richard Teitelbaum as Robert Rauschenberg; John Seidman as Marcel Duchamp; Ferran Carvajal as Oppian; Trevor Carlson as Brigham Young; and Robin Preiss as the wife of Brigham Young. Erik Satie will be played by Merce Cunningham (on tape).  Ralph Benko, in the role of Henry David Thoreau, has dropped out and is replaced by Rebeccah Johnson. 

This production of James Joyce, Marcel Duchamp, Erik Satie: An Alphabet celebrates the onset of John Cage’s centennial year, the first of many events scheduled to take place around the world. It also celebrates the fourth year of the John Cage Trust’s residence at Bard College. 

For tickets and information call the Fisher Center Box Office at 845-758-7900, or go to
The John Cage Trust at Bard College was established in 1993 as a not-for-profit institution whose mission is to gather together, organize, preserve, disseminate, and generally further the work of the late American composer John Cage. Its founding trustees were Merce Cunningham, artistic director of the Cunningham Dance Company; Anne d’Harnoncourt, Director of the Philadelphia Museum; and David Vaughan, Archivist of the Cunningham Dance Foundation, all long-time Cage friends and associates. Laura Kuhn, who from 1986 to 1992 worked directly with John Cage, serves as both a founding trustee and ongoing executive director.

New Albion Records was founded in San Francisco in 1984, to explore the world of art music. Its current catalogue includes 138 releases. In recent years, with the onset of the Internet, its focus has moved from recording projects to concert events. New Albion has partnered with the John Cage Trust and Merce Cunningham Dance Company.

No comments:

Post a Comment