AN IDIOT DIVINE
An Idiot Divine premiered and ran in January 2001 at the 45 Bleecker Theatre in New York and combines two previously produced solo works - The Idiot Variations and Dry Land Divine. The production received sensational praise from the New York critics.
This play enraptures with its combination of fierce intellectual rigor and sensational stagecraft... Horizon is so smart, so original, and so rich in its flow of ideas that it can easily overwhelm anyone who might wander into the theater thinking that a work with only three actors on a seemingly simple set (designed by Alexander V. Nichols) is just a little piece of theater.
After the wild success of Highway Ulysses, composer and performer Rinde Eckert and director Robert Woodruff are joining forces to create another world premiere - A new riff on the ancient myth of Orpheus and Eurydice.
Slide is a concert-length work that features actor/singer Rinde
Eckert, composer/performer Steve Mackey, and the Grammy Award-winning
new music group eighth blackbird. Eckert plays Renard, an enigmatic
psychologist who runs an experiment examining reactions to in- and
out-of-focus slides in this multidisciplinary work about the seduction
and manipulation of the American psyche.
Highway Ulysses (2003)
In this contemporary musical response to Homer's Odyssey, a reclusive war veteran, Ulysses, receives an urgent call in the middle of the night and embarks on a journey to find his son. On his way, he gets waylaid by a kaleidoscopic mix of characters: a waitress at a truck stop, a trio of sirens in a jail cell, a one-eyed librarian, a woman in a tattoo parlour. These bizarre characters embrace Ulysses, forcing him to confront his violent past and propelling him toward the fateful meeting with his estranged son.
Related Links : http://www.amrep.org/ulysses/
Ravenshead is based on the true story of Donald Crowhurst, as envisioned by Nicholas Tomalin and Ron Hall in their book The Strange Last Voyage of Donald Crowhurst. A British businessman, Crowhurst attempted to sail a solo, nonstop race around the world between the autumn of 1968 and summer of 1969. Through the character of Richard Ravenshead, the opera captures his boastful charisma, his brazen quest and his dark inner journey.
Originally motivated by practical business concerns (he had designed and manufactured a navigational device that needed publicity) and his wish to make a mark in a class-conscious society, Ravenshead’s trip becomes a doomed test of his constitution and morality. Despite his confidence and flamboyance, he is unprepared for the journey. The trip begins to unravel from the outset with adverse winds, the failure of his steering device, missing equipment and a boat that was taking on water. Ravenshead begins to lie about his progress with fake log entries and radio reports that exaggerate his speed. He fills his log with religious and philosophical speculations. Eckert’s portrayal of his spiral into madness “left its New York audience hanging on the edge of their seats,” according to American Theatre magazine.
Related Links: http://www.dresherensemble.org/newmusictheater/ravenshead.html
The Navigator (1999)
An opera for children commissioned by California's Opera Piccola and premiered in 1999, conceived, composed and directed by Eckert.
SLOW FIRE (1998)
Slow Fire gives us a glimpse into the thoughts of one man in isolation. Through operatic aria, speech, frenzied falsetto and declamatory incantations, his language vacillates between common clichés and poetic soliloquy. The first of three works in the "American Trilogy," Slow Fire conjures up the imbalances and dark passions lurking behind the "normal" veneer of middle-class American life. Writer and performer Rinde Eckert plays 'Bob,' a man caught between the American dream of success and consumerism and the alienating psychoses of contemporary urban living. Although the action takes place all in one weekend, Bob's story unfolds through memories and fragmentary thoughts; only at the end are his deadly secrets finally revealed. Bob's life balances precariously on the banality of day-to-day practicalities and the intricacies of a disturbed psyche. Through his reminiscences we hear the voice of Bob's father, who conjures up an old-fashioned rural wisdom and reverence for land, clashing with Bob's urban consumerism. Haunted by paranoia, he sleeps with the lights on and panics when he hears a knock on the door; Bob also has the ability to transform ordinary objects (a cardboard tube, a flashlight) into personal, mystical totems.
"A rare piece of music theater, a tour de force of intellectual and emotional artistry. It is, to put it simply, a masterpiece"
- San Francisco Chronicle
"Outrageously funny, often scary, ingeniously constructed and consistently communicative...a monodrama made monumental...firmly places Dresher in the forefront of a new breed of American composers".
- San Francisco Examiner
Related Links: http://www.dresherensemble.org/newmusictheater/slowfire.html
Romeo Sierra Tango (1998)
Loosely based on Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, the narrative premise concedes that Romeo has awakened in his tomb, the poison with which he tried to kill himself having instead rendered him slow to age. We catch up to him several hundred years later, after he has wandered throughout the world, replaying the play (as it were). The setting is a World War I battlefield. Romeo awakens in no-man's land among the bodies of slain soldiers of both armies, once again taken for dead. Unsure of which way to retreat, or even which side he is fighting for, he turns to his fallen comrades. Searching their pockets, Romeo discovers each is carrying a copy of Shakespeare's play. Confronting his fate once again in this chaotic place of mud and gas among the rusted instruments of war, Romeo approaches a spiritual apotheosis, singing, speaking and dancing his way through this furious elaboration of an age old story.
"A rare blend of the physical and the literary, Eckert takes remarkably little time in seducing the audience with his language, wit and intelligence."
Power Failure (1998)
Power Failure is concerned with the exercise and responsibility of power, particularly power as wielded by persons who are removed from the actual human consequences of decisions taken and goals pursued in the isolation of a corporate institution. In the course of the piece, each person faces their own dilemmas resulting from courses of action each set in motion and each must make choices with an awareness of the consequences of those choices.
Pioneer celebrates and exposes American explorers and the myths of the Pioneering spirit. In examining the destruction and greed of colonialism, Pioneer completes a thematic circle, which began with Slow Fire, the first of three works in the "American Trilogy." Pioneer deals with issues of expansionism, sexism, blind ambitions and progress. It is also an emotionally riveting love story, full of humor and warmth. The three performers, Rinde Eckert, John Duykers and Jo Harvey Allen, assume roles that are at once wicked, pathetic, humorous and strong-willed. Eckert plays 'Junior,' a history buff explorer who speaks to us from cryogenic suspension hoping to be wakened to explore the future, the last frontier. Allen plays Junior's grieving widow, and Duykers moves between his central role as the 'other man,' a sleazy lounge lizard, Columbus, Cortez, and President McKinley. The sub-plots employ actual quotes from these historical figures as they move among vignettes in the past, present and future. They further reinforce the theme of conquest and greed in the guise of protection and religion. Pioneer explores these themes at the personal and political level.
The set is constructed almost entirely of sofas, the most banal symbol of American comfort, representing everything from mountains to phone-booths. As the musical fabric resonates with songs, arias, Tex-Mex music, and experimental electronics, Pioneer forces us to rethink our most precious American myths, and speaks to us of our fascination with uncharted territory. Pioneer breathes new life into American mythology by confronting our origins and speculating on our future.
Eighteen Songs of a Nomad Flute is a contemporary opera based on the true story of poet/musician Cai Wenji from the Han Dynasty (206 BCE - 210 CE) in China. The story follows a scholar's daughter who becomes a prize of war, torn between two worlds. "The tale is pulled from the magical suitcase of a poor storyteller, filling the stage with light and color as the characters come to life," explains director Eckert. With a libretto sung in English and Chinese (with bilingual supertitles), the music incorporates influences from Chinese Beijing opera to contemporary Western music.
"...[a] beautifully crafted piece that's conveyed in clear gestures, spare but not elliptical."
- The New York Times, February 7, 2002