Carson McCullers Sings About Love

Suzanne Vega, Duncan Sheik, and Kay Matschullat

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Singer/songwriter Suzanne Vega, composer Duncan Sheik and director Kay Matschullat are in residence at EMPAC in January to explore the sound challenges provided by a music-theater piece that combines songs with conversation. Designers Louisa Thompson and Lenore Doxsee will also work with the director to experiment with set and light elements, creating a piece that floats in time and moves between forms. The informal work-in-progress showing will include songs and text from the show, with a chance for discussion with the artists.

In Carson McCullers Sings About Love, Suzanne Vega, in the role of Southern writer Carson McCullers, presents her theory of love, divulging the secrets of the human heart. McCullers often repeated “Nothing human is alien to me” – a quote from the ancient Roman playwright Terence; her own story, as well as the stories of her characters, run the gamut from touching to terrifying. As she speaks and sings her way through this labyrinth of love, we experience the comedic Carson, the pained Carson and the provocateur she became. Accompanied by a guitarist and pianist who also take on characters, Vega moves seamlessly from spoken word to song and back again. She channels McCullers in a way that reveals the meeting of two souls through a work of art.

Carson McCullers Sings About Love will premier at New York’s Rattlestick Theater, David Van Asselt, Artistic Director, in April of 2011.

Hélène Lesterlin

In 1985, singer/songwriter Suzanne Vega released her stunning self-titled debut album. 25 years and 7 million albums sold later, Suzanne is widely regarded as one of the most brilliant songwriters of her generation. Her song “Luka” about child abuse was a surprise hit. Vega was the first artist on the main stage at the very first Lilith Fair. Her voice and song “Tom’s Diner” was used in the refinement of the MP3, earning her the nickname “The Mother of the MP3”. She recorded “Tom’s Diner” a cappella but it has since been remixed upwards of 50 times. She was also the first major label artist to perform a concert on Second Life in the form of an avatar. Suzanne Vega is an artist that continues to surprise. A pioneer among singer-songwriters, she has embarked on a project to re-imagine her own songbook in a stripped down and intimate manner, creating four new thematic albums that will be released over the course of 2010-2011, the "Close-Up" series.

Duncan Sheik, Singer/Composer. Theatre credits include; Spring Awakening (2007 Tony Awards for “Best Orchestrations” and “Best Original Score”, 2008 Grammy Award for “Best Musical Show Album”), Whisper House, American Psycho (currently in development), Alice in Wonderland (currently in development), Nero (Another Golden Rome) (currently in development), The Nightingale (currently in development). Recorded works include; Whisper House (Sony/Victor 2009), White Limousine (Rounder 2006), Daylight (Atlantic Records 2002), Phantom Moon (Nonesuch 2001), Humming (Atlantic Records 1998), Duncan Sheik (Grammy Nomination “Best Male Vocal”) (Atlantic Records 1996). Film Scores include; Harvest (2009), DARE (2009), Little Spirit: Christmas in New York (2008), Capers (2007), The Cake Eaters (2007). Producer Credits include; Holly Brook O’ Dark 30 Thirty, Micah Green (2008), Spring Awakening Original Cast Album (Universal 2007), Chris Garneau Music for Tourists (2006).

Kay Matschullat, Director, has created theater with some of the world’s greatest artists and writers. She directed the world premiere of Pulitzer Prize winner Derek Walcott’s To Die For Grenada and the New York premiere of his Pantomime, the world premiere of Ariel Dorfman’s Widows and the English language premiere of Vaclav Havel’s The Conspirators. Matschullat has directed repertory and new plays in major theatres around the country, including Williamstown Theater Festival, Boston Shakespeare, Actors Theatre of Louisville, and the New York Shakespeare Festival. At Williamstown, she also served for four years as Director of the Second Stage, originating the Festival’s new play program, producing premieres by Tennessee Williams, Trevor Griffiths, and A.R. Gurney. Most recently, she has written and adapted several works for performance: Don’t Fuck With Love, Red Bull Theater, Fast, A Play on the Devil Story, The Yard Festival for the Arts, End of Beginnings Beginning of Ends at the Czech Art Center in New York in collaboration with six actors and two rock bands. She is currently finishing a music theater piece with composer Elizabeth Swados, DANCE OF DESIRE, which she adapted from writings by Lorca.

Carson McCullers Sings About Love
January 18, 2011, 7PM

EMPAC 2010-2011 presentations, residencies, and commissions are supported by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Dance Project of the New England Foundation for the Arts (with lead funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation; additional funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Community Connections Fund of the MetLife Foundation, and the Boeing Company Charitable Trust), and the New York State Council for the Arts. Special thanks to the Jaffe Fund for Experimental Media and Performing Arts for support of artist commissions.

Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation
National Endowment for the Arts
NEFA - New England Foundation for the Arts
State of the Arts - NYSCA