Grand Army Plaza Memorial Arch

Todays Date: 12/10/19
Last Update: 05/22/06 08:58:23 PM

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Subway Info: Take the 2, 3, 4, train Grand Army Plaza

History of Productions View Current and Upcoming

The Bass Saxophone  | Open: 05/27/06 Close: 06/25/06
"The Bass Saxophone" highlights a group of jazz-obsessed youth in 1944 German-occupied
Czechoslovakia, who risk their lives to attain 'inner' freedom by playing, in the words of Goebels, "decadent judeo-negroid music," or "jazz." The teens give new absurd German and Czech titles, authors, and lyrics to forbidden swing standards, and thus find a way to fool the occupation authorities. One of the young men, the author's perennial alter ego, Danny, is an aspiring saxophone player and a would-be womanizer. One day, in front of the town's decrepit old hotel, Danny catches a glimpse of a bass saxophone, an instrument more legendary than real, as it is being unloaded for a traveling German dance orchestra. Attracted by the "brass monster" Danny is drafted to carry the instrument into the dilapidated labyrinthine hotel, where he meets a bizarre Wehrmacht band of crippled and malformed musicians. The freak band entices him to jam with them, mixing kitchy Mittel-European musical trash with Danny's beloved, forbidden Swing tunes. In a transcendental moment of human togetherness, the "inferior race" youth jams with the motley crew of German Army musicians, blotting out the war reality for one memorable night.

Characters are portrayed by both puppets and live actors, as the marionettes reveal the story's contradiction between inner dream life and outside harsh realities. The puppets symbolize the state of humanity in wartime - when people are not masters of their own fate, and the furies of war control their every move. Music symbolizes the antidote for that powerless existence. At times, music drives the action and the puppets are choreographed like a dance. At other times, improvised music is layered over the puppets' and puppeteers' actions. Often the musicians follow the action and create incidental music and sound effects
reminiscent of a 1940s radio drama.

The Bass Saxophone  | Open: 09/30/05 Close: 10/30/05
In wartime Czechoslovakia occupied by Nazis, young jazz lovers risk their lives to play prohibited swing music

"The Bass Saxophone," the newest production of Czechoslovak-American Marionette Theatre (CAMT), is based on a brilliant, ironic and compelling short story by Czech born writer, Josef Skvorecky (1924-). The tale is an intricate story of the liberating force of music in war-torn Czechoslovakia.

Horejs' play, "The Bass Saxophone," begins outdoors, where the audience meets with the hapless Danny and his clandestine band of enthusiastic musicians under the Grand Army Plaza arch. All follow the pied piper's call into the arch, and up the spiral staircases. During the climb, the audience passes tableaux scenes on small side platforms depicting the atmosphere of the time. At the transom of the Arch, the Wehrmacht musicians congregate on an ancient canopy bed that transforms for each scene into a puppet proscenium, a hotel ballroom and other story locations. Along the exit staircase, ghosts of the past appear, echoing both the bloodshed and blissful interludes of European history from the Crusades to the Balkan Wars of the post-Soviet era.

Live music includes international swing standards from the period and music written and improvised for the action. Musical director is John Hyde, who appears on keyboard. Colin Stetson appears on Bass Saxophone and other Saxophones.

Characters are portrayed by both puppets and live actors, as the marionettes reveal the story's contradiction between inner dream life and outside harsh realities. The puppets symbolize the state of humanity in wartime - when people are not masters of their own fate, and the furies of war control their every move. Music symbolizes the antidote for that powerless existence. At times, music drives the action and the puppets are choreographed like a dance. At other times, improvised music is layered over the puppets' and puppeteers' actions. Often the musicians follow the action and create incidental music and sound effects reminiscent of a 1940s radio drama. Power struggles arise between puppeteers and puppets, which are resolved by puppeteers taking on puppets' attitudes.