Down The Rabbit Hole

live video by Rob Dietz. music and puppetry by Phyllis Chen. conceived by Rob Dietz & Phyllis Chen.

LookingGlassRewondered-3384crop3x4Down the Rabbit Hole was commissioned for Phyllis Chen by Concert Artists Guild with funding from New York State Council on the Arts. Additional production support and residency provided by EMPAC and CUNY City Tech College, Brooklyn.

Down The Rabbit-Hole is a multimedia work for toy pianos, music boxes, live-electronics, live and edited video, and amplified objects. Inspired by Lewis Carroll’s Alice stories, this work is not a re-telling of a beloved fairy tale but a new work using objects and themes from the novels. The peculiar objects and sets themselves are so rich in symbolism, that I believe another narrative can be told through sound and visuals alone. Aside from toy pianos and a music box, there are many elements taken from the novels that are used sonically and visually such as the ticking of a pocket watch, the shuffling of a deck of cards, or the clattering of a tea set. With the use of microphones/amplification and a magnifying glass/live video camera, commonplace objects are brought to life and the audience is invited into this strange world.

Found objects have a kind of special aura in fairy tales throughout the years. Whether it be the matchbox from Little Matchgirl or the pea from Princess and the Pea, unassuming objects become potent with magical powers to transform every day life into a much more imaginative world. Down the Rabbit-Hole focuses on such mysterious objects that become musical through unexpected manipulations.

The piece is a rich mix of scored and open-scored audio and visual components. With an over-arching plan in mind, some sections are still defined by chance-based operations that happen during the performance. With the idiosyncratic visual and musical language, we hope that Down the Rabbit-Hole is a playful experience that crosses between what we see and hear in real life and in our imagination.

The live video for Down The Rabbit Hole was accomplished by mounting the video projector on its side (portrait orientation) and doing a rear projection onto a screen enclosed by a magic mirror stage prop. Modul8 was the software used to mix the video live. Two small USB webcams provided the live camera angles. Rob performed the video off stage-left in order to be able to see the action on stage and coordinate timing cues with Phyllis.

Down The Rabbit Hole was given 4 performances at the Voorhees Theater, CUNY City Tech following a month-long residency.