Beyonsense : vocal theatre in 3 Acts based on translations of texts by Russian Futurists
by Victor Khlebnikov, Alexei Kruchonykh and Caroline Wilkins (2015)
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Beyonsense : vocal theatre in 3 acts for 1-4 performers / Caroline Wilkins ; libretto by Victor Khlebnikov and Alexei Kruchonykh.
Library shelf no. 782.14/WIL 3 [Available for loan]
A playful vocal theatre piece complete with gramophone horn. A compère appears amidst the public, addressing them through a 'megaphone', and introduces the arrival of three characters from a crazy Cubo-Futurist Opera of 1913, 'Victory over the Sun'. We witness a rapid shift from one - The Bully, The Frightened One, The Aviator - to the next as they take the stage and sing their solos. The songs stem from Russian Cabaret traditions of the time. Act 2 takes its title from the Russian word meaning beyonsense - 'zaum' - and consists of 3 staged, short, nonsensical solos. Act 3 explores a more mystical side to Russian Futurism, invoking sounds and voices that border on the non-human, invoking gods and nature.
The work's title alludes to its largely onomatopoeic source material, operating between the borders of sound and meaning.
Instrumentation: 4 contrasting performer-voices (preferably 2 male, 2 female) ie. SATB, gramophone horn, quadrophonic playback, CD player or laptop, Sound mixing desk, Lighting, Overhead Pulley to lower cable, performance score-scrolls (provided by composer), black box stage with access to auditorium (ie. same level), low small table covered in black cloth, cushion behind table, upright piano (optional), ratchet (small, hand-held), bubble-blower, 4 commedia masks, 4 music stands. pre-recorded materials (provided by composer). costumes / make-up in Russian Futurist style.
Duration: 55 min.
Difficulty: Advanced — Sprechstimme, non-semantic texts, both movement and voice required from performer
Contents note: In 3 acts.
First performance: by Caroline Wilkins — 7 Aug 14. Tete-a-Tete Opera Festival, King's Place, London
The composer notes the following styles, genres, influences, etc associated with this work:
her own works: 'Zaum: Beyond Mind' (2012), and 'Phonurgia' (2010), and Russian Futurist style of early 1900s. Precursor to Dada performance and poetry. Wordplay, onomatopoeia, cabaret, Surrealism. Performance poets such as Jaap Blonk, Valeri Scherstanjoi. Australian Composer/Performer/Linguist Zachar Laskewicz (see AMC artists).
Libretto by Victor Khlebnikov and Alexei Kruchonykh.
Sound Theatre engaging voice, pre-recorded sound, choreography, lighting and staging.
Can be performed by less than 4 people by doubling roles. Each Act can be performed separately.
Resonate article: Insight: Composing performance - Beyonsense by Caroline Wilkins
Performances of this work
7 Aug 14: Tete-a-Tete Opera Festival, King's Place, London. Featuring Caroline Wilkins.
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