Director Joy Zinoman and Cygnus Ensemble Reinvent Samuel Beckett One-Acts With New Music, Starting Sept. 14 in NYC
By Kenneth Jones
One-acts plays by Samuel Beckett are paired with original music compositions performed by Cygnus Ensemble in Sounding Beckett, getting a Sept. 14-23 Off-Broadway engagement.
The new music pieces by contemporary composers are "written expressly in response" to the plays being performed — Footfalls, Ohio Impromptu and Catastrophe, all from late in Beckett's career, 1975 to 1982.
The cast includes award-winning actors who are stars in the Washington, DC, theatre community: Phillip Goodwin, Ted van Griethuysen and Holly Twyford, along with the voice of the Tony-nominated and Drama Desk and two-time Obie Award-winning actress Kathleen Chalfant (Angels in America, Wit).
This world-premiere production is directed by the award-winning theatre director Joy Zinoman, founding artistic director of The Studio Theatre in Washington, DC. The music will be performed live by Cygnus Ensemble (William Anderson, music director). Read the Playbill.com feature about Zinoman, the DC fixture making a rare appearance in New York City.
The evening had its roots in a one-night-only event directed by Zinoman at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC., in March, when Ohio Impromptu, performed by Ted van Griethuysen, was followed by composer Dina Koston's work "Distant Intervals," performed by Cygnus Ensemble. The experience has now been expanded.
Zinoman said in a statement, "When asked to pair these plays with composers and musicians inspired by modernists, it seemed like a natural fit. Filled with disembodied spirits and doppelgangers, Beckett's tiny masterpieces are brimful of silences and sounds — of pacing and knocking and what Beckett himself called 'the distant sound of applause.'"
Beckett's niece, Grace Bouton, who attended the Library of Congress event and participated in a pre-show discussion, will join Zinoman for a similar Q&A following the Sounding Beckett performance on Sunday, Sept. 16.
Sounding Beckett's creative team includes set designers Debra Booth and Luciana Stecconi, lighting designer Michael Gianniti, costume designer Helen Huang and sound designer Jeremy Tressler.
New music compositions are by the composers Chester Biscardi and Laura Schwendinger (Footfalls), David Glaser and Laura Kaminsky (Catastrophe) and John Halle and Scott Johnson (Ohio Impromptu).
The music is performed by Cygnus Ensemble members Tara Helen O'Connor (flute), James Austin Smith (oboe), Pauline Kim (violin), Chris Gross (cello), William Anderson (guitar, mandolin) and Oren Fader (guitar).
Performances play Fridays and Saturdays at 8 PM and Sundays at 3 PM Sept. 14-23. Tickets are $50 and $75.
Performances will play Classic Stage Company's home at 136 E. 13th Street. Tickets are now on sale. For more information, visit soundingbeckett.com or call (866) 811-4111.
For more about Cygnus Ensemble, visit cygnusensemble.com.
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