Obie-winning American composer David Lang and experimental scribe Mac Wellman have taken an Ambrose Bierce short story and transformed it into a world-premiere musical theatre piece, The Difficulty of Crossing a Field. Difficulty, directed by American Conservatory Theatre's Carey Perloff (The Invention of Love, Indian Ink), will feature the Kronos Quartet and opera and theatre vet Julia Migenes and play March 22-24 at San Francisco's Theater Artaud.
Wellman (Cat's Paw, The Sandalwood Box, A Murder of Crows, 7 Blowjobs) described The Difficulty of Crossing a Field in a release as "an opera in seven tellings" and "a poetic and nonlinear exploration of perception and reality." Inspired by a short story by Bierce, the music-theatre piece examines a post-Civil War Southern town, where a man walks into a field and disappears.
Migenes' theatre credits include Fiddler on the Roof on Broadway and the one-woman show, Diva on the Verge and recordings of Rags, Man of La Mancha and Kismet. The cast also features ACT's Marco Barricelli (Mrs. Williamson), Pam Dillard (chorus), Randall Gremillion (Armour Wren/The Magistrate), Lianne Marie Dobbs (the Williamson Girl), Frederick Matthew (chorus), Fred Winthrop (chorus), Jacob Ming-Trent (Boy Sam) and David Ryan Smith (chorus).
San Francisco-based Kronos Quartet, who will play the score, are known for their innovative, six-times Grammy-nominated classical recordings on Nonesuch Records. Peter Maleitzke (No for an Answer) is the musical director.
Designing Difficulty are Kate Edmunds (sets), Nancy Schertler (lighting), David Draper (costumes) and Garth Hemphill (sound). Tickets are $25-$30. Theater Artaud is located at 450 Florida Street between 17th and Mariposa. For reservations, call (415) 749-2228.
— By Christine Ehren