Awed Behavior is a 1993 Ensemble opera theater production inspired by the lives and works of Mary and Percy Bysshe Shelley. Drawing from Mary Shelley's masterpiece Frankenstein, AWED BEHAVIOR, transforms the early 19th century European locale into a free-ranging modern landscape of arctic ice flows, deserts and a seascape in a hurricane. AWED BEHAVIOR features two lovers. a poet and a novelist reminiscent of the Shelleys, as they explore their individual creative processes as well as personal interactions that range from the sublime to the ridiculous. In their struggles with intimacy and the loss of individuality, each character envisions fantasies and nightmares of the other, blurring the fact and fiction of they mythic relations into monster of their own creation, AWED BEHAVIOR is written and directed by Rinde Eckert, with music composed by artistic director Paul Dresher, and features singer/actors Amanda Moody and Spence Stephens Jr., Phil Aaberg on keyboard, set and lighting design by Alexander Nichols, and costumes designer by Sandra Woodall.
1993 Production Credits
and Directed by
Lighting Design by
ROBIN KIRCK and The Paul Dresher Ensemble
Costume Design by
AMANDA MOODY as Jane and SPENCE STEPHENS, JR. as Arlyss
PHILL AABERG - Keyboard
GENE REFFKIN - Percussion
PAUL HANSON - Woodwinds
PAUL DRESHER - guitar, electronics
MELISSA WEAVER : Production Director
WENDY ROGERS: Choreographic Consultant
JUSTIN HERSH: Technical Director
SOUND DESIGNER AND ENGINEER: Oriol Galofre
DAVID MC CULLOUGH : Assistant Technical Director
DELPHI: Technical Services and Design Consultant
The production traveled
with four musicians, two singers, a sound designer and three
technicians. It premiered in San Francisco in March 1993 and
toured to Iowa City, Champagne-Urbana, Chicago, Burlington
Vermont, Boston, Dartmouth College and UCLA in Los Angeles.
Authors Program Note
They go from the end of winter to the beginning
And all the while the sea is right beside them
He says: nature stutters I mean all this practicing at form repeating the same gestures over and over...the same patterns over and over...even the apparent chaos of cracking ice, say I mean...laws are at work...physical laws...rhythm...waves...weather...blood...all repeating the same movements...for years...in rhythm...practicing...just to get the body right...millions of years of practice...just to perfect the body....much less the mind...and then there's love ...love is a completely new development
She says: I like to establish the parameters before I start the actual writing. I proceed from a notion or order of literature (say romance)
I will then narrow the scope of my investigation in order to develop a concept. I usually put this in the form of a "what if" question. For instance: What if a man's conceptual faculties become too sophisticated and outstrip his expressive capacities. I mean in his mind he can imagine skating but there is no word in his language for ice. This , of course, is a crude example.
They meet at the masquerade ball
They leave together
world without shadows or perversity,
world of pure sex and aromatic flowers,
hands bearing only pleasure,
doors opening to admit only welcome guests,
and every wind an aerial prosperity,
all tempests but an illusion
Their sleep is less than perfect
She feels its time to write her novel
Story line: In their unsettled sleep they make strange dreams of each other. He is pictured growing monstrous. She is poised under the moon.
She imagines him: Mouth like a tear in a gray sail,
arms thick as anchor chains....
but the mind is noble, supple...God....but the mind
He imagines her: picture her graceful, maternal, amusing, and shy
picture her full of surprise
see her with the sun in her eyes
swatting flies over blue-berrypies
or telling jokes
or telling lies
Jane has a nightmare
Arlyss has a burning question:
if I could find the right tree...like the Buddha ...but I got the soul of a peasant...it's genetic...this desire to move...to have to use your hands...to have to build, and destroy
The distance widens between them
They drift apart
He says: "We are like two people in a small boat; one of us is looking at the moon, one of us is looking at the reflection of the moon."
She says: "I see you growing paler by the minute, while I'm getting rosier with age. Clearly, we can't go on like this and we can't go back."
He goes off sailing
She buries herself in her work.
She finishes the book
The moon rises on the new year
the first snow falls