| Mirror Man
Act 1, Jack & The General
Produced by David Thomas.
Cooking Vinyl COOK CD175 (US & UK) 3/22/99 cd.
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"....this world shrunk
to one lone brakeman's face
stuck out of darkness -
long white forehead
like a bleached skull of cow -
huge black sad eyes -
high-peaked cloth cap, grey-striped
swings his railroad lantern high, close up
as our window whizzes by -
his figure splashed upon it,
very grave, very tall,
strange skeleton -
Who stole America?
Myself I saw in the window reflected"
'Starting from San Francisco' by Lawrence Ferlinghetti
Act 2, Bay City
Produced by David Thomas.
Available only as audio download from hearpen.com, $10.
David Thomas and foreigners
This cd is essential to Mirror Man, it was conceived as background / back story material.
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Links and Background:
Reviews • FAQ • The theatrical production • The libretto • Production notes • Manifesto
Mirror Man is a kind of music cum theatre cum storytelling. It was commissioned by the South Bank and performed April 3 1998 at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, London, as part of the David Thomas: Disastodrome! festival. David Thomas wrote, directed and conducted. The backbone of the Pale Orchestra is the duo, Andy Diagram & Keith Moliné, who feature in David Thomas and two pale boys.
Mirror Man, Act 1 was recorded at the production's 1998 premiere. Mirror Man Act 2 was recorded during the production's UK tour in 2001 and is revised from the original. Bay City by David Thomas and foreigners is a companion album that represents various stories that were not included in the productions for reasons of time.
The stage is littered with gutted refrigerators, a mangled shopping trolley, traffic cones, reflector tape, a bathtub, cannibalized bits of engines, and scrap metal. Suspended overhead stage right is a washing machine, gutted. A light shines inside. Overhead stage left, turning slowly in the air, are two oversized, double-sided traffic signs that read:
Avoid Trite & Unnecessary Talk
There are no landmarks. The backdrop is a scrim. Shadows and lights on the scrim are in constant, lateral motion; sometimes in one direction, other times in both.
From stage left, from time to time, comes a flickering suggestive of neon in the wilderness, islands of light in the darkness. Or a carnival at night. Between lights and darkness is a twilight zone, the grassy ring that surrounds every carnival, the wasteland that buffers the darkness at the edge of every town, the space between here and there, memory and place. Detached you float. This is the light in which Mirror Man begins and finishes. A fractured soundtrack is heard as if in the distance. The light at the beginning is as dawn, angled and soft. It moves overhead, briefly, bright and without shadow and from there proceeds to twilight.
The players and singers are arranged in a broad semi-circle suggestive of a minstrel show. The singers are characters who are passersby, travelers through, residents in transit. Each steps forward to tell his or her story. Some are linked.
Far to stage left is the radio announcer setup: microphone on a studio boom, stool, and an "On Air" light. Bob Holman's poetic narrative is delivered from here. His voice projects from speakers at the back and to the sides of the auditorium, disembodied and "on the air." David Thomas' narratives are delivered in more intimate contact with the characters, as an observer or as a character himself.
The Pale Orchestra for Act 1, conducted by David Thomas is
The Pale Orchestra for Act 2, conducted by David Thomas is
Production Notes, Act 1
The cd for Act 1 runs 65 minutes without natural breaks. The 11 track points are located according to a numerical system that serves to drop the listener close to hoped for locations. The recording was made on an 8-track Tascam DA-38 digital recorder.
Production Notes, Act 2