Blasts from the Past
In the summer of 1962 Mr. and Mrs. Herman C. Krannert indicated their intention of making a major gift to the University of Illinois. After meeting with University President David D. Henry, they decided that their gift should fund units of a performing arts complex which had long been desired by the University. This building is the result.
The Center is intended as a unified concept where music, opera, theatre, and the dance can operate both in training and performance as interrelated and complementary to one another, bringing these arts close together both for performers and for audiences.
As we open this spring, we are in our infancy. There is much to be done before we can grow to the full potential that this unique structure offers as a training facility and as a culture Center, where standard works, new works, and experimentation in all fields of the performing arts can flourish side by side.
We hope that the Krannert Center’s varied activities will catch the imagination and merit the support of the University community and of the community of the Twin Cities. We hope to attract visitors from far afield and to become a landmark for the performing arts in the heart of the Middle West.
From the program for the Dedication Festival, April 19-May 18, 1969
The University Theatre
STUDIO at the Center
Actors don’t really have to jump in your lap to make an impression on you. What they have to do is act. And what you have to do is receive their actions. But where should this game of catch occur? Being the prejudiced avant garde, old fashioned, new fangled da da moon men that we are, we think here within this studio, within a theatre, within a cultural center, within a university rocking amidst cornfields, may be a good place to start. A place to dismiss the football field size audience of yester yore, and concentrate on a more dynamic actor-audience relationship; an arena flexible enough to sculpt into the shape of our collective spirit; a burlesque house of joy and illusion made flesh, where Lili St. Cyr may impersonate Hamlet, but where the emphasis more often will be on inspired glimpses of THE NOW.
An After Thought: there is no after thought. We only live once. So we decided to do just that right here. Right where you’re sitting. Right where you’re looking. And hopefully, deep inside you too. What we have going for us is the feeling that we have something going for us—freedom from the old tyrannies of over production, stiffness of spirit, and culture with capital K’s.
From the program for Crime on Goat Island by Ugo Betti, November 13-15, 1969
The production of the event occurred in an experimental class in learning. The participants came from such diverse fields as physics, electronics, journalism, graphics, photography, architecture, music, sculpture, dance, crafts, psychology, interior design, and computer science.
The event itself became the focal point of the group’s energies though not necessarily its major goal. The group chose instead to confront the problem of our time—how one can create a coordinated group effort while preserving the integrity of the individual.
The event may be viewed as a metaphor of our attempt to come together. If the event appears blurred and ambiguous and chaotic at times, or tight and clear and precise at other times, it is because that is what happened to us as a group and as individuals in the group. We feel that the problems facing Champaign-Urbana are analogous to our own experience in creating this event. The community can solve its problems of pollution, ugliness, poverty, and race-relations if a sense of the community as a group can be developed. But the strengths and unique contributions of all individual participants in such a community effort must be acknowledged from the very start. Coming together as a community will be a difficult task but it must be done. We can no longer be naive about our future. It hovers above the slums and riots of Chicago and Detroit; it chokes the air of Los Angeles and New York; it stares with dull eyes from the monotonous housing developments across our land.
This performance is presented to you not as a culmination of our experiences, but as a test of our determination to bring not only ourselves together, but the community as well.
We have little choice, and even less time.
From the program for !: A Rock Opera, January 16-17, 1970
P.D.Q. Bach was as unusual among eighteenth century composers as eighteenth century composers were among him. Perhaps because of this isolation, this last and least of the towering Johann Sebastian Bach’s numerous offspring wrote a great body of music that is characterized by its lack of body and greatness.
A ground round is a round sung over a ground, or repeated bass line. Its use is as old as it is infrequent, and in fact one of the oldest notated pieces of English music is the famous ground round, Sumer is icumen in. Most of the rounds in The Art of the Ground Round are of a type fancied by certain sixteenth and seventeenth century English composers: they reveal, when sung together as a round, levels of meaning that are not apparent when the parts are sung individually. Whether P.D.Q. knew what he was doing, or whether the hidden meanings were accidental, is a moot point, as is almost everything he ever did. In fact, one of the many revolutionary aspects of this much and understandably neglected composer is that, years before the blossoming of romantic “atmosphere” record albums, P.D.Q. Bach was writing moot music.
From the program for The Varsity Men’s Glee Club: The People’s Choice, October 4, 1980
The World of Kei Takei’s Moving Earth
Kei Takei’s conceptual reach is large, yet she herself is unprepossessing and diminutive. Like a bird, she alights where impulse and instinct take her. Like a bird, too, she builds a dance as if it were a nest, out of elemental scraps overlooked by others. The world that Kei Takei reveals in Light, the one she inhabits as an artist, is harsh and everlasting. There are no barriers to entering this world if one trusts her tenacious curiosity and courage.
—Sali Ann Kriegsman
From the program for Kei Takei’s Moving Earth, October 23, 1980
Trio Sonata in G Major, Johann Sebastian Bach
We want to make this an experiment in performance.
Our intent is to play this piece in a way that won’t stomp out ambiguities. To this end, we agreed for each part to link all notes occurring in stepwise sequence (in major and minor seconds), and to punctuate (add some weight to) the beginnings of all such sequences. In this way we call on the musical emphasis (downbeat) to distinguish melodic lines. By distinguishing melodic lines we hope to present to you, the listener, what we—while caring for each of our parts—are unable to perceive
—Sarah Wiseman and Lesley Olson
From the program for The Performers’ Workshop Composers’ Concert No. 2, November 18, 1980
One Plus One . . .
One Plus One . . . is a touring dance-music theatre based in Champaign-Urbana. “Dance-music theatre is the title we’ve assigned our work due to our other uncategorizable nature. The two women in the company are the primary dancers; the two men are the musicians. However, the two men also dance, and we are determined the two women may eventually play music. All four talk.”
From the program for One Plus One . . . , January 24-25, 1981
Notes by Shozo Sato
During my last visit to Japan in the spring of 1980, I attended an outdoor Noh drama performance in the evening. Moonlight and torchlight were the only sources of illumination. Rich gold-brocaded costumes reflected the torchlight, which flickered from the sudden gusts of wind, creating a perfect moment when the spider appears from the cave. This thrilling experience, which I would like to share with our Illinois audience, is the basis of this evening’s performance.
From the program for Kabuki Theatre with Shozo Sato, February 13-15, 1981
The elders are a strange lot, piping hymns to their God on the one hand, while gossiping maliciously of Susannah at their church suppers, on the other. They are envious of Susannah’s beauty and charm, and are reduced to mere insects in the powerful final scene as Susannah orders them off her property.
—Thomas H. Schleis
From the program for Susannah by Carlisle Floyd, March 5-8, 1981
The Iliad speaks to us in this time of world-wide violence balanced crazily against world-wide longing to be done with war. Why not make Kabuki theatre, why not make a cultural crossing place, from this warrior’s song?
From the program for Achilles: A Kabuki Play by Karen Sunde, January 24-26, 1991
Sadly, the themes of The Trojan Women are as timely as this morning’s newspaper, and the horrors of the Trojan War have been replayed for generations on one battlefield or another. Humans seem to forget that brutality begets revenge, and that when an individual or an army or a state goes too far in securing victory, there will be a price paid. . . . From our perspective centuries later, we have seen that their revenge could very well take the form of tens of thousands of chanting marchers in the streets or in the televised broadcast of a bloody execution. Until the day comes when Euripedes’ play is no longer relevant, The Trojan Women will continue to remind us to guard our peace, order, and reason from the powers of greed, lust, and disorder.
From the program for The Trojan Women by Euripedes, February 16-17, 22-23, and 28 and March 3, 1991
Reality came to her because her eyes were cleansed to see it, not from some far-off and spiritual country, but gently from the very heart of things.
From the program note to Six Women, a dance choreographed by Kathleen Hermesdorf for Studiodance II, February 21-23, 1991
Vdol’ po Piterskoy
Oy, oy, oy, oy, hey, ice crackling,
no mosquitoes sing.
That’s a guy bringing
a mackerel to his gal. Hey!
Hey, hey, hey, oh, my dear,
Oh, you dovey mine,
my good woman, cook this fish, won’t you?
So we’ll have us a stew. Ay!
Ay, ay, ay, ay, a fishy stew,
and with parsley, too.
Come and kiss me, my love,
come and kiss me, my dove, ah.
Ah, one more kiss, one more kiss,
my love, one more kiss! Oy!
Translation from the program for the University of Illinois Russian Folk Orchestra, March 3, 1991
It is entirely appropriate that this 21st-century premiere of Tennessee Williams’ early play, Stairs to the Roof, should be staged at this time and in this place. . . . The voice of young Tennessee Williams seems at home in the midst of the thousands of students on this college campus. . . . The young writer had personally felt the frustrations of 18 months “of penal servitude in a large wholesale corporation,” and wrote the play as an “involuntary catharsis.” If he were with us today, Williams might be a soulmate to many of the students on this campus who write plays, or poetry, or make music with a band, or go out dancing to declare their individuality to a world that seems much more interested in keeping them in the dark blue suits of the business world, or locked in the offices of “Consolidated Shirtmakers.”
From the program for Stairs to the Roof, November 2-4 and 8-12, 2000
While a dark current runs through Die Fledermaus—all these beloved characters want to be someone else—it is the joy and hope that we feel that makes this the perfect opera with which to begin our 2000-2001 season. It’s a vehicle to showcase the effervescent youth of our singers, surprise and delight you with “jokes” of our own, and let you depart lighthearted with Strauss waltzes and melodies accompanying your homeward journey.
—Thomas H. Schleis
From the program for Die Fledermaus, November 3-4 and 11-12, 2000
A Note on the Music
4-Man Weave was constructed from various field recordings of Inuit peoples. The music is a recollection of those sounds in both pure and processed form, re-formed to make a new piece for this dance. The composer gratefully acknowledges the contributions of the Inuit peoples represented and the ethnomusicologists whose documentation has been re-worked in an effort to make a new music.
From the program note to 4-Man Weave, a dance choreographed by Rebecca Nettl for November Playhouse Dance, November 10-11, 2000
A Note from Jerry Hadley
Midwesterners are unique creatures. We are the heirs of a legacy of frontier stoicism, faith, hard work, self-reliance, and self-efficacy. We are the progeny of the people who carved a great civilization out of the wilderness. We are the children and grandchildren of people who survived economic devastation, defeated fascism, and faced down communism while remaining true to their essentially agrarian and small-town values.
My generation of Midwesterners, part of the vast horde of privileged Baby Boomers, is the first generation of Midwesterners whose destinies have not been tied to the land. Yet we have been driven by those old values. We were encouraged by our families, teachers, and ministers to aspire to excellence. We were allowed to have heroes, to revel in myth, to dream the dreams of innocence, to imagine. We were given opportunities for education and self-advancement that have allowed us, perhaps compelled us, to seek our frontiers far beyond the places which nurtured us.
From the program for A Tribute to Carl Sandburg, November 14, 2000