Play Toys with Rhythm, Order, Pattern, Sound
Delicious Rivers, a
musical play originally produced by Talking Band, a New York
theatre company, will receive its New England premiere at
Smith College this weekend.
The play, which will open Friday,
Oct. 27, at 8 p.m., was written and composed by OBIE Award-winner
Ellen Maddow in collaboration with Marjorie Senechal, the
Louise Wolff Kahn Professor in Mathematics and History of
Science and Technology at Smith.
The production, directed by Paul Zimet, professor of theatre
at Smith and also a multiple winner of the OBIE, will continue
Oct. 28 at 8 p.m., Oct. 29 at 2 p.m., and Nov. 1-4 at 8 p.m.
in the Hallie Flanagan Studio Theatre, Mendenhall Center for
the Performing Arts.
The production of Delicious
Rivers is in conjunction with “Mathematics, the
Arts and Other Surprising Connections: A Festival of Discovery,”
Oct. 26-28, a series of lectures and workshops honoring Senechal’s
retirement, following this academic year, after 41 years at
Set in a New York City post office,
Delicious Rivers follows the lives of four postal
workers and three neighborhood apartment dwellers as their
lives intertwine. Through a variety of surprising twists and
turns, it explores the areas in which the interests of theatre
and mathematics intersect: the pleasures of deductive reasoning;
the solution of a mystery; the links between order and the
unexpected; and the delight in discovering patterns of meaning
in everyday life.
Senechal’s research on
the mathematical discoveries of Robert Ammann, a postal worker
with an unusual mathematical mind, imbues the work. He appears
as a character in the play, which follows the ebb and flow
of a diverse community of people in an urban environment whose
lives rub up against each other producing unexpected revelations,
mysterious cul de sacs, and events that erupt out of nowhere
and repeat at unexpected moments in different places and with
different combinations of people.
Maddow’s music book follows
the mathematical structure of “non-periodic tilings”—familiar
patterns that crop up in novel ways and in unexpected places.
Three live musicians (bass voice, bass trombone, and string
bass) appear standing on line with the apartment dwellers
at the post office, and together they weave two parallel sound
worlds: the light staccato quality of human conversation and
the deep contrapuntal harmonies of the three instruments.
The Talking Band held a reading
of the play in August 2005 at Canada’s Banff Centre
during the Bridges Conference, an annual international event
exploring the mathematical connections between art, music,
Delicious Rivers received
its world premiere at New York’s La MaMa Club Theatre
that year under the same award-winning creative team that
staged Painted Snake in a Painted Chair in 2003.
Tickets for Delicious Rivers
are $7, general, $5 for students/seniors. Call 585-ARTS.