Mood Music and Mind Control at SoLow Fest

Republished by kind permission from the FringeArts blog.

musictolaugh1Music accompanies modern life, whether it’s a new band your friends like, the on-hold music of doctor’s office or half your office going to see Beyoncé last Sunday. But what happens when music takes control?

“In the digital age, we are inundated with the subliminal effects of music and media. Being affected by these stimuli is a part of our modern life that we take for granted,” says physical theater artist Lesley Berkowitz, co-creator of Music to Laugh To, a clown show set to premiere at The Whole Shebang June 16th as part of SoLow Fest.

Hank Curry was reading the dramaturgy notes for a Fringe show last year, and he read that Muzak was designed to stimulate productivity in the work place. The notion that music was “scientifically” designed to have manipulative effects fascinated him, inspiring him to approach Lesley with the idea of a clown show. Hank and Lesley researched early Muzak and watched silent film era clowns, exploring people’s desire to control others through music. The music for Music to Laugh To was composed with the intention of imitating the Muzak style. (The composer, Andy Thierauf, is also performing a solo concert called The Post-Modern Percussionist in SoLow Fest.) As for the show’s title, Berkowitz and Curry were searching for something that could evoke the essence of mood music albums of the 1950s. “This one made us laugh,” they explain.

To prepare for the show Berkowitz and Curry are working on the balance of precision and spontaneity in their choreography. Although physical details can be fine-tuned and prerecorded music is ready to go, Berkowitz says, “The clown lives in front of an audience in a way that it cannot in a rehearsal room,” adding that they have everything to learn from their SoLow Fest audiences.

Music to Laugh To
Hank Curry and Lesley Berkowitz at SoLow Fest
June 16-18, 7pm
The Whole Shebang (1813 South 11th Street)
Champagne available for a $6 donation
Tickets: Reserve by emailing music2laughby@gmail.com

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