Cygnus Ensemble: Tara Helen O'Connor, Flute; James Austin Smith, Oboe; William Anderson, Music Director, Guitar & Tingsha; Oren Fader, Guitar; Pauline Kim Harris, Violin; Chris Gross, Violoncello; in collaboration with The Studio Theatre in Washington, DC: Kathleen Chalfant & Holly Twyford, Actors; Joy Zinoman, Founding Artistic Director

World Premiere Performances – Live
September 14, 2012 (preview)
September 15, 2012 (opening night)
September 23, 2012 (matinee)
Classic Stage Company
New York City


Footfalls (after Beckett) is a musical response to Samuel Beckett's play, Footfalls (1975). The play itself has a clear and stunning musical structure. It incorporates markers – a fading bell and an increasingly faint strip of light – that delineate the four major divisions of the play. In addition, there are nine subdivisions of the larger structure highlighting the importance of the number nine. May, the only character on stage, slowly paces nine lengths, turns ("wheels"), and relentlessly retraces her steps. Her pacing is one of nine elemental ideas that become textual clues for the musicians in their interpretation of the score; they suggest the deep feelings that lie at the basis of both Beckett's play and my music. Not in keeping with Beckett's structure, my sequencing of these ideas is as follows: Amen|Vespers; Cross; Pacing|Revolving It All; Bell; May; Strip of Light; Mother; The Semblance; and Old Mrs. Winter & Amy. This musical response focuses on the play as a haunting and observes its characters – real? imagined? disembodied? interchangeable? – as they, like smoke, gradually evaporate and return to stillness.

Footfalls (after Beckett) was commissioned by the Roger Shapiro Fund for New Music for Sounding Beckett, a collaborative project between The Studio Theatre in Washington, DC, Joy Zinoman, Founding Artistic Director, and Cygnus Ensemble, William Anderson, Music Director. It was produced by Marsyas Productions and premiered Off Broadway at Classic Stage Company, New York City, in September 2012, featuring Kathleen Chalfant as the Woman's Voice (Mother) and Holly Twyford as May. Originally produced by the Library of Congress in Washington DC, the project expanded into a presentation of three of Beckett's late plays, Footfalls (1975), Ohio Impromptu (1980), and Catastrophe (1982, written for Vaclav Havel), alternating with premiere compositions representing diverse musical responses to the plays.

Note: There is an alternate version scored for flute, oboe, piano, violin and violoncello, where the piano replaces the two guitars and there are no tingsha.

Read more about Footfalls (after Beckett) (original) here »

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