Penelope Freeh

Ordinary Trees (a line from Four Saints in Three Acts)

Posted by on Mar 17 2016, in Uncategorized

Two more nights of dress rehearsal then two precious performances of the opera Four Saints in Three Acts. It is a bright and shiny show, with amazing sets by Paul Herwig. Bright and shiny too because of the amazing vocal performances of the 30 Vocal Essence singers who grace the stage. And bright and shiny finally because of “the movers”, the tremendous and smart dancers of Black Label Movement with whom I’ve had the pleasure to work since November.


The poetry of this show shatters me sometimes. It must be read (I have a score) but not necessarily. It must be heard, yes, for sure that. The language inspires me to let go, to forgive imperfection and embrace abbreviated pith, to dare to be brief, to explode and elaborate an idea until it is nonsensical. Fun to consider the dance equivalent and just in time…


Tomorrow, before Four Saints rehearsal, I begin work with eight current and former students from the U of MN. They are the “cloud corps” and extras in my new collaboration Helisocope with Donna Schoenherr (for The Right Here Show, April 1 – 3 at The Illusion Theater). This is the project that began in Cassis, France in November and has been a long time coming to fruition if you count the twelve years since Donna and I last collaborated. We’d been searching for a way to work together again when both The Right Here Show and the Cassis residency took hold.


Donna arrives Monday and so we begin our reconstruction process. Meanwhile I will have created the cloud section with our corps (Cloud Formations), accompanied by the brilliant and brand new piano composition by Joe Strachan. This music thrills and inspires me. I am so lucky to have made such friendships wherein I can make collaborations like this one happen practically spur-of-the-moment. The students will be so thrilled tomorrow.


It is late. I am tired yet wired. Haven’t felt like this since Abu Dhabi, creatively speaking. I fear, I thrill. I want to mentor the students as well as shepherd the best possible piece to the stage. I think both can happen; they are not mutually exclusive.


Tonight I go to sleep feeling a little restless and more than a little thankful, my usual state these days. Life is bigger than I think, I think. It can be shiny like operas, nonsensical and unspeakably, painfully, ordinary and beautiful.