Hard Knock Skin: A Poetry Jazz Opera
World Premier Performance: Saturday, August 11th, 2012, at Silvan Ridge Winery's Amphitheater, Eugene, OR
He stares through wolf eyes
From his hard-knock skin
He shares his deepest hope
With only the whispering wind
Again and again
The wind whips his skin
Sometimes he cries inside
Sometimes he sighs inside
Sometimes he dies inside
He's the man on the corner
With a cardboard sign
-The Opening Lines of Hard Knock Skin: A Poetry Jazz Opera
Hard Knock Skin is a poetic, or "spoken," opera for two voices, male and female, performed by Jeanettete Rasnack and Kit Chell.
Composition accompanying the words draws heavily from both Modern Jazz
and Minimalism, and is performed on Flute, by Michael Hess, Upright Bass, and a 1930's Harmonium, by Jack Niedermann. Elements of improvisation are heavily woven into the score.
Opera tells the story of one old-time "drifter" panhandling on the Eugene
streets, and how he got here. Through reminiscence with the spirit of his former
lover (who has long since died) and discussions with his "Guardian Angel" the past is revealed. An apparently wasted life caught up in changing times. Hard Knock Skin is hard-hitting, experimental, and thought provoking. It's language is free verse, often overlapping. It's duration is about 120 minutes.
The opera flows through time much the way the human brain really functions, with images, memories, dialog, imaginations, tears, and laughter all swirling at once. The opera is a road map of one souls journey, and since his tale is disjointed, the progressions start out disjointed, gaining clarity once the whole epic is reveled. An audience member may think: "Oh! Now I get it," at the end of the show, or on the way home, or the drive to work the next day, or weeks later. It is our goal to insert a high energy artistic charge into the consciousness of the audience to be resolved by them at their own pace. We are not seeking simple answers to very complicated questions, like the story of one person's life.
The Opera will be performed Saturday, August 11th, 2012, at Silvan Ridge Winery's outdoor amphitheater. A exquisite setting under the Oregon sky in some of the Willamette Valley's premier wine real estate.
Our little group has already come very far down the road in this project. We have staged two episodes out of the the complete ten. Cowfish, a local Eugene hotspot, was kind enough to host us last July and then again in October. We were able to feel out the grand nature of the work during the very brief rehearsals and performances. (The video and pictures are from the second Cowfish performance, Hard Knock Skin, Installment #2: Clothesline.)
Based on the success we encountered, I placed a deposit down on the winery performance space in February. August 11th was the very last available weekend night of the whole summer! I took it.
Not really knowing how I would pay my people for their time, or how I would cover investments in such things as a P.A. system, strobe light, slide projector, lighting, etc., I soldiered forth, always believing that I was on the right track.
I am engaging with you for assistance on this journey.
It is our intention to stage the World Premier on August 11th, then tour the show next winter (we'll be back for more funding for that!) Our performers are the very best of creative souls. All have a diverse background which informs them on the nature of the presentation. Common ground is always sought, and has always been found quite amicably. Would you like us to bring the show to your town?
For the August 11th World Premier, we need the following.
Performance Space Rental @ Silvan Ridge Winery: $750.00
P.A. System (minimum 150 Watts): $300.00
Special Lighting / Props: $ 50.00
For Time and Expenses Each Performer Will Receive: $100.00
Grand Total: $1500.00
We need this money as a guarantee, because we simply do not know how many audience members will be there. We seat at least 200 people, and are asking a modest $10.00 admission charge, but, we cannot be left holding the bag for the space rental. It is due the day of performance, and our deposit of $130.00 will be forfeit if we do not have the cash. (Not to mention the HUGE bummer of not getting to stage the Premier after nearly a years work!) The P.A. will need to be picked up soon.
Any over-funding we receive from KickStarter will be dispersed to the cast in equal shares.
Any ticket revenue we make will go into a holding account and be applied to the future tour.
Please Green Light this project with a little love, and get a cool remembrance to read, listen to, and/or watch!
We humbly thank you for taking the time to read this.
- Kit Chell & the Cast of Hard Knock Skin
P.S.: If you are nearby, or within a days drive, why not come out and see the show? There will be one opening act, beginning at 7:00pm, the Opera starts at 8:30pm. . .bring a picnic dinner and quaff some Pinot Noir.