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1985 Bach Variations

 Play Title 

Bach Variations



11st June 1985


 Play Synopsis 

As the curtain opens, the twelve actors are each laying on a square of a chessboard like newborn babies.  As the prelude and fugue from “Fugue No. 1 in C Major” in Bach’s The Well-Tempered Clavier plays, the actors slowly stand up and then begin to move in their square with highly individualized actions.  At the beginning, there are several very simple and clean diagrams on the stage and several actors on cubes are reciting monologues, each speaking to a different unseen person.  To the side there is also a bus driver who is directing people on and off a bus.  After this, several people with varying forms of relationships with each other slowly begin to slice through the story.  There are conversations between lovers, pet family members, and fortune tellers and their clients among others.  During the second act an enormous sphere slowly rises from underneath the stage until it disappears.  The last monologue-speakers enter the stage and, unlike the speakers of the first act who spoke to loved ones of the past, these speakers are talking to people in the future, or to people in the wide universe. Their voices interjecting, they read fragments of letters.  At the end of the act, a large mailbox is lowered from above and a postal carrier blows a whistle.  The speakers seal their letters and place them in the mailbox.  Everything ends in the final musical movement.  A convict crouches on a cube, laying out a journal.  The criminal speaks slowly as if he or she has not spoken in a very long time.  A warden contemptuously reads out the contents of the journal, the creator reads out his or her writings, and Bach languidly emerges from stage right and crosses onto the stage with a blank expression on his face.  The last phrases of the fugue end, and the stage is empty, quiet.