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Beyonsense : vocal theatre in 3 Acts

by Victor Khlebnikov, Alexei Kruchonykh and Caroline Wilkins (2015)

Work Overview

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.

The work's title alludes to its largely onomatopoeic source material, operating between the borders of sound and meaning.

Work Details

Year: 2015

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

Libretto by Victor Khlebnikov and Alexei Kruchonykh.

Sound Theatre engaging voice, pre-recorded sound, choreography, lighting and staging.

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.

Can be performed by less than 4 people by doubling roles. Each Act can be performed separately.

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