text by Djuna Barnes, music by Cal Folger Day
"Cal Folger Day makes me nostalgic for a past I don’t deserve. Her performance was elegance married to awareness; I was thrilled by the pure life that was brought to stage. At The Roots Of The Stars is one of the finest pieces I have ever seen. Fun, reflective, beautiful, important." Scott Holzman, Chase Public
Oops, I wrote on operetta -- read more here
Almost 100 years ago, a woman wrote and performed this work, and from reading it in a collection we can know that it was not the work of a subjugated imagination, not at all. And yet it could be said that its legacy has been subjugated by anonymity. What is there, in a certain work and the worker, to be both very good and also basically forgettable over the past century? And then, interesting again to another in another time and place? What do both of those phenomena have to do with femininity?
This work has not been democratically elected by the ages to a position of familiarity and exposure. So these have been the questions that have been on my mind over the past six months while I've been setting it to music.
At the Roots of the Stars was originally a short play written in 1919 by Djuna Barnes while she was a member of the Provincetown Players in NYC. It has been ten years since Mageen's son Ulan left home to seek his fortune, and while she waits for his return, she's not leaving the subterranean flat where she lives under a dirty inn. Maze serves as a caretaker and housekeeper, and is a speaking rather than singing role.