The Program in Educational Theatre has been taking part in a unique collaboration with the Department of Music and Performing Arts’ Program in Percussion Studies, on a new production of Sam Shepard’s play, Tongues. Written in 1978 by Shepard and Joseph Chaikin, Tongues is a series of monologues set to percussion, and was first performed at the Magic Theatre in San Francisco. Chaikin and Shepard explored a dramatic form stripped of plot elements and reduced to essentials of sound and utterance. Shepard writes: “Tongues is a play about voices. Voices traveling. Voices becoming other voices. Voices from the dead and living. Hypnotized voices. Sober voices. Working voices. Voices in anguish.” In this lyrical and poignant theatre piece, the inherent philosophical themes are hunger, work, family, death, and the poetic sense of human possibility.
Dr. Nan Smithner is directing the piece, in collaboration with Jonathan Haas, Director of Percussion Studies, who oversees the percussion ensemble. The actors from our program are Andrew Anzel, Heleya de Barros, Ashley Hamilton, and Clare Hamoor. They have contributed greatly to the realization of the piece with inventive aesthetic suggestions. The percussionists, Abigail Fisher, Robert Guilford, Brandon Nestor and Sean Perham, have worked creatively with the actors to bring the text to life using a variety of unusual and inspired percussive instruments. Through movement, words and sound, the percussionists interact spatially, musically and emotionally with the actors, creating a dynamic and visual soundscape.
This NYU collaborative production is going to culminate in a presentation at the Percussive Arts Society International Convention, on November 13, 2013 in Indianapolis, Indiana. The piece will also be performed at NYU on Monday, November 25th at 7:30pm in the Loewe Theatre, 35 West 4th St.