Professor's original play draws world class talent
The internationally renown Borromeo String Quartet will perform as a part of BartÃ³k Night.
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This weekend will be the Colby premiere of Bartók Night, a play written and directed by Chair of the Theater and Dance Department, Lynne Conner.
The play is a dramatic rendering of the life of the modern composer Béla Bartók and explores the relationship between his personality and his music. Conner described Bartók as a complicated person, “a true loner who found musical inspiration in isolation” but who also was “a leading figure in the classical music industry.”
Bartók Night is unusual in that it is written for a solo actor and string quartet. “There is a natural affinity between the intimate setting of chamber music and the intimate story-telling of theater,” Conner said in regards to the combination.
Conner’s collaboration with the Borromeo String Quartet, quartet-in-residence at the New England Conservatory of Music, a truly world class and highly sought after ensemble, is especially exciting. “The members of the Borromeo Quartet are breathtakingly good musicians,” Conner said, “and the opportunity to create a play that captures their artistry is beyond exciting.”
Not that the solo actor is any less spectacular than the quartet. “I must say that the actor who is playing Bartók, Robert Bonotto, is also world class.” Conner said. “I was thrilled when he responded to my audition call in Boston last summer.”
The project started when Conner was living and teaching in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. “The Pittsburgh Chamber Music Society was interested in producing a season of concerts around the work of Béla Bartók,” Conner explained of the impetus for the play.
“Though I didn’t know much about Bartók’s life at that time, I loved his string quartets and was very excited about the possibility of creating a theatrical piece around his life and music.”
Conner spent a great deal of time preparing for this play. “Doing justice to the inner life of Béla Bartók is no small challenge,” she reflected. “I did a lot of research on his life—read biographies, his personal letters and interviews, watched film footage of him, listened to the string quartets over and over—before I started to write. The result, I hope, is a play that lets the audience inside the man and his music.”
Bartók Night will be performed this Friday, October 29 at 7:30 p.m. in Strider Theater, in the Runnals Building.
It is free and open to the public. Tickets are distributed on a first come, first served basis, so come early to ensure your seat.