“I wonder if there is an exact moment / When I gave up the idea of permanence.”
Budapest is a performance piece in verse for a single actor and a trio of female vocalists. It sits in the ancient tradition of solo versed performance with live music that connects us to Homer and the oldest forms of live theatre in the Western tradition. Budapest is the third in a series of original works for theatrical performance with live music exploring the nature of memory and why we hold on to certain memories of place and story at the expense of others.
In The Memory Cycle, playwright Damon Falke and I explore how live music can function as a character in a live theatrical performance. Not music as a backing piece, but music as a key voice in the dialogue. In Budapest, the three vocalists are sirens that call to the speaker across time and space. They echo his words and pull him off balance. The Memory Cycle began in 2010 with The Sun is in the West , which featured a blues guitarist and trio of braided narratives. It explored the power of place, story, and the search for consequence in the span of each human life. The Sun is in the West was produced by Square Top Theatre and Santa Fe Performing Arts. In 2014, Now at the Uncertain Hour, a piece for live performance, online streaming, and broadcast radio featured an actor speaking a poetic narrative, a reel-to-reel recording of a soldier’s memories of war, a fretless banjo, and a modular synthesizer. The show was produced by Square Top Theatre, North Country Public Radio, St. Lawrence University, and New York Council for the Humanities. It reached a combined audience of 46,053 in its premiere run. The script and recording have since been included on theatre and American literature syllabi at universities in the U.S. and Norway.
Now at the Uncertain Hour asked what can we take hold of that will go on, that will not be lost. Budapest poses a response to that question. Through its evening length monologue and 3-part harmonies, Budapest suggests that perhaps in a life of transience and loss, love and imagination are the only things that remain to us and of us.