A unique collaboration occurred this fall between two programs in the Department of Music and Performing Arts Professions this. The Program in Educational Theatre and the Program in Percussion Studies worked together on a new production of Sam Shepard's play Tongues.
Dr. Nan Smithner, Clinical Associate Professor in NYU Steinhardt’s Program in Educational Theatre, directed and Jonathan Haas, Director of Percussion Studies, oversaw the percussion ensemble. Written in 1978 by Sam Shepard and Joseph Chaikin, Tongues is a series of monologues set to percussion that was first performed at the Magic Theatre in San Francisco. Chaikin and Shepard work in a dramatic form stripped of plot elements and reduced to essentials of sound and utterance. Through movement, words and sound, the percussionists interact spatially, musically and emotionally with the actors, creating a dynamic and visual soundscape.
The actors from the Educational Theatre program were Andrew Anzel, Heleya de Barros, Ashley Hamilton, and Clare Hamoor and the percussionists were Abigail Fisher, Robert Guilford, Brandon Nestor and Sean Perham. The actors contributed to the realization of the piece with inventive aesthetic suggestions, while the musicians worked creatively with the actors to bring the text to life using a variety of unusual and inspired percussive instruments.
This NYU collaborative production culminated in a presentation at the Percussive Arts Society International Convention, on November 13, 2013, in Indianapolis, Indiana. The piece was also performed at NYU on Monday, November 25, as part of the NYU Contemporary Music Ensemble concert.