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“A Gesture towards Perfection”: Announcing a Full Performance of Robert Ashley’s “Perfect Lives” in Brooklyn

For those in or near New York City, I just found out that one Dave Ruder is organizing a full-performance of / tribute to Robert Ashley’s early 1980s opera, Perfect Lives (on Tuesday, 7 June).

I am of the opinion that Perfect Lives is one of the greatest artworks of our time, so I dearly wish that I could be there. The details:

Armed with two copies of the libretto, our goal is to read (in a performative fashion) the text of each episode at the appropriate hour at an appropriate location.  We’ll start at McGolrick Park in Greenpoint at 11 AM and continue to the Alligator Lounge on Metropolitan Ave at 11 PM.  While we observe the roman/italic = leader/chorus balance as written in the libretto, and while we will have minimal musical accompaniment for some episodes, we are not trying to authoritatively perform Perfect Lives at all.  We’ll alternate lead reader over the course of the day, each bringing out our own personal connections to the text (everyone’s got their own favorite episode).  Our aims are chiefly to experience the work on a greater level and to bring the piece to a wider audience.  Additionally, we are performing this in part as a tremendous thank you to your collaborators, and if you would like any more information on what we’re aiming to do or why we’re doing it, we’ve posted a schedule and a few thoughts here.

With the deepest respect & sincerest gratitude,
Dave Ruder, Gelsey Bell, Brian McCorkle, Paul Pinto, and Aliza Simons


If you can’t make it to all (or any) of the goings on tomorrow, you can stay up to date via Twitter.  Paul will be leading the tweeting charge via thingNY‘s twitter feed [thingNY is a marvelous new music group that features Paul & Gelsey among others].  If you’re having a hard time finding us, check the twitter feed, or just consult the info below!

The schedule (check the site, though, for any updates!):

We’ll start at 11 AM at McGolrick Park in Greenpoint.  It’s between Nassau & Driggs, between Russell St & Monitor St.  We’ll be in the middle of the park.  We’ll probably be on the move about 45 minutes after each start time.  This is Episode 1, The Park.

Next up is the Big ol’ HSBC Bank on Broadway and Driggs Ave at 1 PM.  We’ll be outside the bank.  This is Episode 3, The Bank.

Then we go to the Key Foods on Grand St near Lorimer St at 3 PM.  We’ll be both inside and outside the supermarket.  This is Episode 2, The Supermarket.

5 PM takes us to the large Russian Orthodox Church at 228 N 12th St (btwn Union & Driggs).  We’ll be outside.  This is Episode 6, The Church.

7 PM takes us back near the supermarket to Gelsey’s Backyard on Maujer St (between Union & Lorimer).  Give us a call to find the spot.  Dave’s number is area code nine one four DASH seven one five DASH one five six four.  This is Episode 7, The Backyard.

9 PM will be in the same location (in the Living Room attached, not in the Backyard…).  This is Episode 5, The Living Room.

11 PM will likely be in the back room at the Alligator Lounge (Lorimer & Metropolitan). We’ll keep you posted via Twitter on this front.  This is Episode 4, The Bar.

If anyone reading this does go, I’d love to hear more about it! Meanwhile, here’s more from Perfect Lives, for those of us who can’t go…

  • A. D. Jameson is the author of five books, most recently I FIND YOUR LACK OF FAITH DISTURBING: STAR WARS AND THE TRIUMPH OF GEEK CULTURE and CINEMAPS: AN ATLAS OF 35 GREAT MOVIES (with artist Andrew DeGraff). Last May, he received his Ph.D. in Creative Writing from the Program for Writers at UIC.

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