Written and Composed by Andy Teirstein
Produced by Animal Stone Productions
Inspired by the writings and illuminations of William Blake
Performers in 2015 LABA workshop
Kick John McGrew
Pano Joshua Peck
Woman Alison DeFranco
Man Jonathan Matthews
Captain Rust/Mans Voice Timothy Thomas
The Vagabonds is a new music-theater work, created by composer/writer Andy Teirstein as part of the 2014-15 LABA workshop at the 14th Street Y in Manhattan. Loosely based on the writings and illuminations of William Blake, the piece tells the story of Kick, an older man who wanders the street spouting a prophecy-lingo, drawn from Blake’s writings, and his side-kick Pano, a 12-year-old boy who appears to be mute. The two perform a street act in the style of an old family circus. A veiled cart is pulled through the street, and the curtains are drawn, revealing two dancers, a timeless couple— man and woman. They, the show within our show, are presented as a kind of diorama in a cage. We first see them as primitives, arriving at a place where they might camp and live. But periodically, when Kick falls asleep, the boy, Pano will drop props into the cage—a Viking helmet, a cell phone—things that enable the couple, when next presented by Kick, to appear in different time periods, always enacting the same story of relationship and arrival at a place of dwelling. They live in the realm of silent movement, but their thoughts and speech are sung by a chorus of two men and two women. As the boy’s nightly contributions to the scene increase, things get out hand, as in The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. The piece will challenge the audience to consider notions of time as a cultural agreement. Kick and Pano are on a journey, pursued by Captain Rust, a kind of policeman. The nature of the players is left unspecified, whether Kick and Pano are archetypal figures on a timeless landscape, contemporary drifters, or whether it is all a dream of Kick, the artist.
The script and music is in progress. Here's an article from LABA Journal which features Andy talking about The Vagabonds.
Kick A ruffian/poet. 60. Someone of the street, who has that sense of living on the edge. He has a wild madness, but he is also intelligent, views himself as a prophet. Wears the kind of worn, dusty khaki pants and plaid, ragged shirt you might find on a depression-era worker.
Pano A ten-year-old boy. Dressed similarly to Kick. Appears to be mute (late in the story we learn he is not). Expresses himself through movement.
Captain Rust Protector of the streets, an authority. His official provenance lies equally in the realms of police and military, but a glint in his eyes makes us uncertain whether he remains within the bounds of the law. He wears a grey uniform with badges, keys and pockets, a shoulder rifle, daggers and bullets in his belt, and a hip pistol.
Chorus Three women, three men. May be played by two and two. Dressed in black. Not robes, but loose clothing that shows their limbs and curves when they move.
Man and Woman Dancers.
About William Blake
William Blake (1757-1827) — artist, poet and irritated ecstatic — listed as his primary residence the Imagination, a combination of creative command post and psychological refuge where, as he put it, the eternal and the real meet. He was an English poet, painter, and printmaker. Largely unrecognized during his lifetime, Blake is now considered a seminal figure in the history of both the poetry and visual arts of the Romantic Age. His prophetic poetry has been said to form "what is in proportion to its merits the least read body of poetry in the English language." His visual artistry has led one contemporary art critic to proclaim him "far and away the greatest artist Britain has ever produced." He produced a diverse and symbolically rich corpus, which embraced the imagination as "the body of God," or "Human existence itself." Considered mad by contemporaries for his idiosyncratic views, Blake is held in high regard by later critics for his expressiveness and creativity, and for the philosophical and mystical undercurrents within his work.