Samuel Beckett

Ping: Beckett strips down. “All known all white…” using not a word that isn't completely integral, not a word placement or order which isn't absolutely necessary; no fat, only what is essence and essential.

What Where: Amazing to watch Beckett in his editing mode, looking at the film and watching his lips move at one with the actors, his eyes widening, his hands fidgeting with excitement…and also for me, the music of the text:  the precision of the sound, the floating faces…

Becket speaks, 1987.

For my impropera video opera, I had always seen the 3 female singers' faces flowing above their actual stage presence. I imagined that they would appear/disappear and be processed/transformed based on random modeling. And ‘then I saw this…"what where" and it seemed these floating faces were so similar to the way I saw the faces being projected in my impropera.

John King, impropera
An improvised, chance-determined opera using mobile devices as transmitters and receivers of the libretto, sound and video. composer, live electronics performance: John King vocalists: Gelsey Bell, Samita Sinha, and Maria Stankova video design: Benton-C Bainbridge

I saw Rockaby at La Mama in 1981 performed by Billie Whitelaw. The entire evening lasted 25 minutes, and I was completely taken elsewhere and remained dazed for weeks if not months. I remember the keening refrain, “the close of a long day.” 

Samuel Becket, Rockaby, 1980.
Stéphane Mallarmé: Un Coup de Dés

Mallarmé, in his introduction to this poem (what he called his ‘great poem,’) wrote that he saw the words on the page like a musical score, with the size of the fonts being the volume of the words, the spaces in between the words like silences, the different ways the words cross the page as though different melodies. It’s a very visceral evocative text which I immediately fell in love with.


James Joyce: Joyce fills to overflowing

Finnegan's Wake: “Well, you know or don't you kennet or haven't I told you every telling has a taling and that's the he and the she of it…”

Aeschylus: Orestiae

The twisted stories that turn on infanticide, patricide, matricide, war, the infallable gods (perhaps), the historical scope and all the histories tied within this 3-part journey that only comes to a kind-of end.

The great comedian Aristophanes…of course The Frogs.

It is my metaphor for a certain collection of music I've been writing where I liken the singers/chorus/instrumentalists to frogs!! When all the frogs collect in a pond they make a sound which they all recognize as meaning, "we're all in the pond together," at which point they may leave the pond, one by one, some hopping high, some low, each going at their own independent pace, until one finds the next pond, and then sending out a sound which says "come join me," and all the frogs hop over to the next pond, some hopping fast and some hopping slowly and, in their own way and direction, they are finally all in the new pond together and singing or sounding that signal…as which point one frog leaves for the next pond…


Anne Carson

Anne Carson inspired me to learn ancient Greek through her translations of Sappho, If Not, Winter: Fragments of Sappho. This got me into Stesichoros and….it goes on…


Merce Cunningham

I would have to say Merce Cunningham also, for the great gift of freedom he showed me, and showed and shows all his audiences, the gift of co-creation with the work, co-attendant involvement in completing the work of art (Marcel Duchamp).


Marcel Duchamp

“The creative act is not performed by the artist alone; the spectator brings the work in contact with the external world by deciphering and interpreting its inner qualifications and thus adds his contribution to the creative act.”  - Marcel Duchamp

I once heard John Cage give a lecture where he began by saying "many people feel Picasso is the most important artist of the 20th century….I disagree. Marcel Duchamp was for me the most important artist of the 20th century." I'll go along with Cage on that one.

John Cage

 - for his works, ideas and openness; and his great generosity of spirit and support for me through his commissioning me for the first time for the Merce Cunningham Dance Company in 1985. I'll always remember each meeting I had with him, hanging out in the pit before MCDC shows, his laughter and insight, the tours we went on together and the dinners and stories.