Day 10: How the Good Man Rebuilds (4/10/12)

Posted: April 11, 2012 in Production Process, Singers
Tags: , ,

The highlight of today was a meeting between the phenomenal bass-baritone Cedric Berry and Mason to discuss to the Good Man and his activity in the shack. It was great hearing Mason talk through the components of the shack and what the Good Man will be doing throughout the opera.

I love how Mason sees the shack as an open-ended object that will be filled with Cedric’s performance and his physical impact on the structure. Based on Cedric’s building or taking away of Mason’s pieces, the sculpture will change from the beginning of the rehearsal process to its final iteration on May 27. It’s a piece to be lived in and “taken over” by another artist, a tangible example of the collaboration between a singer and visual artist in the course of this process.

Douglas Kearney‘s libretto describes the Good Man as obsessively rebuilding his home in the wake of the hurricane:

“The Good Man re-builds compulsively. He cannot stop. His house should look like layers and layers of building have gone on. When short on materials, he moves wood from one spot to another, then patches that new void. He has become increasingly isolated as no one returns to the neighborhood he has seen destroyed.”

We went through a number of iterations of the Good Man and his relationship to the Shack. For a while we discussed a tether that keeps him attached to the Shack, which is how several people in the Lower 9th Ward of New Orleans saved themselves from being taken by the waters of the broken levees. The image of the Good Man still tethered to the shack one year later gives a strong sense of his relationship to his remnant of a home. But although I liked the image, it started to feel too obvious and reductive. Mason’s idea of the Shack involving various abstract shapes and objects I think keeps his process fascinating and never fixed into something predictable; it frees up the associations and possibilities of the Good Man in this more abstract cityscape.

Mason is also playing with a large rotating sculpture that can act as a kind of shed for the Good Man in his “backyard:”

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