Those who chant together, work together. Or so it seems with playwright Steven Sater and pop music sensation Duncan Sheik. Both Sater and Sheik are Buddhists. Recently, they struck up a friendship during chanting sessions. Sater eventually mentioned that a play of his, Umbrage, was scheduled to open at HERE in New York on Feb. 11. Sheik expressed an interest.
The play tells of an unlikely friendship between Ulysses, a reclusive factory worker trying to come to terms with his ravaged life, and Smith, a young, would-be musician. Sheik was intrigued by the musical aspect of the work and asked to read the play. Soon Sater and Sheik were collaborating on music for the piece, Sater writing lyrics and Sheik composing the music. Show spokesman Ron Lasko said several songs are performed in Umbrage. Furthermore, following performances, exiting patrons can hear Sheik himself sing the tunes over the loudspeakers.
Singer-songwriter Sheik burst onto the music scene a couple years back with the single "Barely Breathing." He recently released his second album.
Sater's Umbrage won the Steppenwolf New Play Prize. His Asylum was recently presented by Naked Angels. Other plays include Carbondale Dreams and Perfect for You Doll.
Rob Sedgwick (Kyra's brother) and Jaime Sanchez star in Umbrage, which runs at HERE through Feb. 28. Marya Cohn directs. Umbrage is produced by Five Bucks Unleaded, with recently presented Damage & Desire at the Present Company Theatorium.
For information, call (212) 647-0202.
--By Robert Simonson