Workshop performance at Prototype Festival, January 2015
Co-produced by Beth Morrison Productions and VisionIntoArt
A new music-theatre work, AGING MAGICIAN is a composite of sonic and visual elements that paints an allegory on time, youth, and the peculiar magic of ordinary life, and, perhaps, the ordinary magic of a peculiar life. Accompanied by a string quartet and a choir of young people, Aging Magician moves us along with Harold from the surgical repair of a timepiece to the magic show of time itself, lives and deaths, appearances and disappearances. The man’s vibrant last adventure is brought to life by a team of multidisciplinary artists who combine music, theatre, puppetry, instrument making, and scenic design to create an enduring work for the stage. This work features vocalist Rinde Eckert, a musical set by Mark Stewart, and the Brooklyn Youth Chorus and string quartet.
Co-created by writer and performer Rinde Eckert, composer Paola Prestini, and director and designer Julian Crouch Instruments made by Mark Stewart Co-Scenic Design by Amy Rubin Video Design by Katy Tucker and Josh Higgason Lighting design by Josh Higgason Featuring Brooklyn Youth Chorus, conducted by Dianne Berkun-Menaker
The genesis of my work often begins with a simple seed of an idea that I deeply want to explore. The idea is often prompted by a literary or visual foray, life experience, or person.
For Aging Magician, my inspiration was a man named Gus, who was my mother’s lover for many years.Today, at age 86, Gus remains in my life. Despite all of his success, Gus is now alone and is experiencing the endless emotions of an end of life. He always wanted to sing and make beauty and, though all who benefit from his love and generosity see the beauty within him, Gus never saw it himself. In my mind, Gus is the Aging Magician. However, each lead artist in Aging Magician sees and identifies with the protagonist in a personal way, and this is what I believe ultimately, will bring universality to the theme at hand.
The combination of artists in Aging are unique artists with very different aesthetic entry points–uniting these disparate threads is at the center of my own artistic voice. At a residency, I met instrumentalist/instrument maker Mark Stewart who, at the time, created small “personal” instruments out of stethoscopes and ice cream spoons. Only the person wearing the stethoscope, which was cleverly attached to a small fret board, could hear the music. I knew that Stewart would be the perfect collaborator to create a magical instrument that would transport the Magician to his next life. I wanted the instrument to be immersive with the ability to be climbed on and played in multiple ways, which would highlight librettist and performer Rinde Eckert’s virtuosity. I ultimately knew I wanted to work with the Brooklyn Youth Chorus and that Julian Crouch’s whimsical and brilliant sensibility would add the the magic we needed to direct and design this work.