Act Without Words I

For it’s inaugural season, which was dedicated to the music and influences of Gyorgy Ligeti, Bard Music West commissioned new music and a new production of Act Without Words I by Samuel Beckett.

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In his Act Without Words I, Samuel Beckett pulls his protagonist through a gut-twisting gamut of emotions in a single scene. Our affable friend is flung into an unfamiliar desert and soon discovers, to his increasing dismay, that his surroundings are not only arid and desolate, but maliciously ironic. In the course of just a quarter of an hour he goes from artless and curious to utterly paralyzed, passing first through absurd if heroic efforts at survival and, barring that, agonizingly foiled attempts at self-destruction. All this, never uttering a syllable.

In our production the solo clarinet forms a sonic partner to the man in Beckett’s mime-play. Its musical presence gives expression to our friend’s inner voice, but pivots in an instant to embody his tormenting desert mausoleum. Motifs and textures trace the man’s tragicomic interactions with scissors, rope, tree and water, transforming and intertwining along with his awakening view of his world. From its position both outside and within the man’s experience, the music offers us perspective on the play as a whole, and grapples with the wider implications of Beckett’s extraordinary parable.

Clarinet – Renata Rakova
Man – Michael Mohammed
Technician – Kate McKinney
Directed by Mark Streshinsky.

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