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Stations; A Multimedia Performance for Eight Players

  • Author(s): Giracello, Robert Francis
  • Advisor(s): Labor, Tim
  • et al.
Abstract

Stations combines staged theater, live and recorded music, video installation, and electronic audio effects via ChucK music processing software to create a "tragic drama." Symbolically, Stations retells the story of the traditional Via Dolorosa, the Catholic Stations of the Cross. The theatrical, symbolic, and metaphysical manifestations of elements of the Via Dolorosa that exist in Stations create an aesthetic phenomenon wherein an object's perceived identity conflicts with its physical presence in reality. The works of James Joyce, Ulysses in particular, served as an artistic model for Stations, because the fictional story of Ulysses serves as a symbolic signifier for the quasi-historical events in Homer's epic poem. Similarly, the actors in Stations exist simultaneously as performing musicians (their reality), characters in a play, and symbolic icons of the Via Dolorosa, making a consistent allusion to the Christian ceremony.

The musical and theatrical design of Stations reflects the influence of three American composers for theater, Broadway's Stephen Sondheim, American composer and musicologist Arthur Farwell, and avant-garde opera composer Robert Ashley. Sondheim's muti-faceted treatment of ensemble, presenting large groups as a Greek chorus as well as a party made up of individuals, influenced the character and story development of Stations. Farwell's dedication to American folk music and the presentation of community dramas as a unique American art form became the inspiration for the source material of Stations, the American hymns "Were You There," "In the Garden," "Beach Spring," and the Venezuelan Christmas Carol "Nińo Lindo." Ashley's Perfect Lives utilizes video as a commentary on the action, in the same way that the electronic elements of Stations act as an actor in the drama.

The form of Stations reflects the dichotomy between the biblically accurate accounts of the Via Dolorosa and the apocryphal, traditionally accepted events. The representations of true historical accounts, fictional events, and commentary on religion and the afterlife combine to create the tragic drama in a multimedia theater environment.

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