Tuesday, September 10, 2013

artistic director journal | top ten thousand music : vancouver magazine

Vancouver Magazine:

First, I am wondering how the list of the "top ten thousand" songs was generated, and exactly how many songs are actually on the list. (How many are mentioned in the play?) Second, are many songs played throughout the performance? Just trying to get a sense of the role of music in the play. Third, how do the songs fit into the story/theme of the play?


The show is pretty much wall-to-wall music. It's entirely set inside a broadcast studio - though, admittedly, a kind of eccentric, do-it-yourself broadcast studio. The script moves back and forth between the DJ's on-air talk about the music (and whatever else comes to his mind), and his off-air conversations and reminiscences while the songs are actually playing.

Over the course of the evening we hear about 25 of the songs in the Top Ten Thousand countdown, starting around number 6,397. And I'll admit, not only have I not created the entire list of 10,000 songs, but neither has the DJ - while he does have a list, he freely departs from it whenever he feels like it. If a song comes to mind, he plays it, and rearranges the rest of the playlist accordingly. He's that kind of DJ. It's that kind of radio station.

Which begins to answer your question about how the songs fit with the themes and narrative of the play. While it's true that some of the songs are just there because the DJ likes them, most of the time he's choosing them - consciously or unconsciously - because they connect with the events that are going on, or whatever is on his mind. In many instances the connection is explicit: in others, the song selections are almost like a puzzle for the audience, providing hints about what's going on under the surface of the story. Because in fact, the play is built around a mystery - who is this guy, and what kind of radio station is this? What's going on here?

It's also fair to say this: on my own personal Top Ten Thousand, a lot of the songs in the show would be in the top, say, 250. And one in particular is definitely in my Top Ten. But no, I'm afraid I can't tell you which one….

the poster image above was created by Dirk Van Stralen
for Top Ten Thousand touring performances in the mid-nineties

november 2013 remount celebrates thirtieth season at PT 

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