While I was at the American Academy in Rome in 2008–09, I had the opportunity to create a work for puppet theater called Fratturato Teatro (2008–2009). Fratturato Teatro is a work for ceremonial puppet theater, with the music driving the narrative. It is a retelling of Livy’s (59 BC – 17 AD) ancient account of the story of Romulus and Remus, and the formation of Rome. The work was premiered on May 30, 2009, at the American Academy in Rome, by The Left Coast Chamber Ensemble.
Puppet Design: Maryann F. Kranis
Puppet Construction: Maryann F. Kranis, Heather Freedman and Michael Aitken
Starling Videos: Jennifer Coates
Flanking Panels: David Humphrey
The River: Marie Lorenz
The Hills: Jeff Williams
Lighting: Clement Coleman
Direction: Rosa Lowinger
Choreography: Brenda Way
Stage Design: Andrew Kranis
Puppeteers: Members of the American Academy in Rome (2008-09 term): Nadja Barlera, Carrie Benes, Margaret Fisher, Heather Freedman, David Humphrey, Annie Labatt, Rosa Lowinger, John Parker, Gregory Tentler, Margaret Zamos-Monteith
Music performed by The Left Coast Chamber Ensemble:
Eric Zivian (piano), Tanya Tomkins (cello), Chris Froh (percussion), Jeff Anderle (clarinet)
Video: Timothy Allen and Hisham Bizri
Special thanks to Martin Brody, Anne Coulson, and the American Academy in Rome
Artifacts (2011–12) is a piece composed for the Twentieth Anniversary Season of the Left Coast Chamber Ensemble, and was premiered in October 2012. The work was commissioned by Meet the Composer/Commissioning Music USA. It is a piece that fuses abstractions in two different art mediums; my music with the video art of painter Frances McCormack, through the means of an original story by writer Susan Moon. The music initiate the flow of the video images, and the narrator responds in kind as a response to these actions. The story begins in a place of clarity and reason and history, and gradually moves toward a place of intimacy and personal memory.
A series of animations and sounds of contrasting lengths are triggered randomly by the movement and position of the viewer. The viewer consciously becomes a participant in the creation of the overlapping images that are projected onto a wall that has a line-painting of the forest on its surface. Meanwhile, pre-recorded sounds accumulate, ebb and flow over and across the dynamic visual landscapes on the three walls. Rooted in a far away corner, the host log video loops a life cycle of growth, bloom and decay, endlessly living a quiet life over and over. In the next version of the installation, this gallery will be the first space a visitor will encounter, becoming Gallery I.
The work drawings created for the animations are displayed. In the corner of the gallery is a video of "Spanky the Dog" on a walk of his own in the woods: A camera is attached to his collar and to the belt of his walker, giving a perspective along the path. Captured are their engagements and interactions with others along the way, as well as investigations into the stream and locations slightly off the paved path. Altered sounds of nature from various locations throughout the United States fill the room. The next version of the installation will include a more complete assembly of the full work drawings, showing drawings from the various stages of the animation process. In this next version, this gallery will be at the end of the installation, not at the beginning, becoming Gallery III.
A walk along a path in the woods is projected on all four walls accompanied by an elegiac melody. Each wall depicts a different moment along the same path: Although the videos are not synchronized, they are all showing the same journey. At random moments during the walk, there is a sudden shift, and all four videos anchor themselves to brief synchronized animations of a swimmer and fluttering moths. The swimmer is relentless, moving to and fro, looping onward without every reaching a destination, setting her stroke to the encroaching rhythmic music. The moths circle and dissolve, radiating an otherworldly quality. Suddenly again, the scene returns us to the juxtaposing views of the walk along the path. At the center of the room is a sink, where the swimmer resides in her own private space, continuing on her endless lap of life. This room is the second space the visitor visits as part of the installation, occupying Gallery II.