The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current, October 23, 1990, Page 10, Image 10

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    ‘Slow Fire’ give commentary
through music, theater, motion
By Julie Naughton
Senior Reporter
Unusual musical theater is the
closest one can come to describing
the performance art of the Paul Dresher
Ensemble, which performed “Slow
Fire” in the Lied Center’s Johnny
Carson Theater on Saturday and
One of the most avant-garde theat
rical renditions to recently play Lin
coln, the ensemble performed an eclec
tic combination of music, theater and
“We’re a group that doesn’t fit
neatly into a category,” said the man
for whom the ensemble is named,
artistic director Paul Dresher.
“Slow Fire” is the story of one
character, Bob, portrayed by Rinde
Eckert. Dresher, on keyboards arid
guitar, and percussionist Gene Reffkin
are seen in the background through
out the performance. Bob is a wacked
out hit man, and throughout the work,
he recalls moments with his equally
wackcd-out father.
In Act 1, Bob remembers his fa
ther, and asks questions. He recalls
advice that his father gave him — to
buy land. In a strange twist. Bob keeps
singing “What state are we in now,
Dad?” every few lines. The answers
come “Nebraska,” “Wyoming,”
“California” (this with a disgusted
tone of voice.) Finally, we hear more
locales: Vietnam, Cambodia, finally
“real estate.” Dresher does both Bob’s
voice and Dad’s voice, with Dresher
and Reffkin filling in with electronic
effects and music.
As the work progresses, more weird
aspects are revealed. Bob’s father kept
telling him to buy real estate, to shoot
into the clouds and to make duck
decoys that the ducks would believe
were real.
Near the end of the work, it is
revealed that his father shot himself
in front of Bob when Bob was a young
boy. And that Bob is a hit man, who
dresses in a khaki vest, tic, pants,
jacket and hat.
Dresher said that the ensemble’s
compositions, including “Slow Fire,”
are motivated by strong feelings and
opinions in political and social is
sues. He said that the compositions
are intended to be “commentary on
our culture.”
The “core group” of the Paul
Dresher Ensemble consists'of nine
people, including Dresher, as artistic
director; Eckert, as a writer and per
former; Robin Kirck, as producer and
Gene Reffkin, as percussionist.
Other core group members arc
Melissa Weaver, production manager,
and Larry Neff, lighting designer.
The Ensemble evolved from
Dresher’s work with solo electronic
music, chamber music and experi
mental music theater. According to
Dresher, each composition the group
performs is a collaborative effort; he
says that there is no “hierarchy of
importance.” Each member is impor
tant, and has valuable input, Dresher
Dresher frequently mentioned
Rinde Eckert as an important part of
the ensemble, noting Eckert’s per
formance and writing skills.
Dresher said that Eckert, the prin
cipal performer in “Slow Fire,” has
“personally evolved” the idiosyn
cratic movement featured in the work.
Eckert is an athlete by training, Dresher
said, and has worked with Dresher
and other members of the ensemble
to perfect the work. Eckert has worked
with Dresher since 1980.
The Paul Dresher Ensemble will
return in February to perform “Pio
neers” on the Lied’s Main Stage.
Dresher compared sizes of the two
‘“Slow Fire’ is a chamber work,”
Dresher said, “While ‘Pioneers’ is a
full-scale orchestral work. There is a
huge leap in scale.”
Dresher said that he looks forward
to returning to Lincoln.
Paul Dresher
Continued from Page 9
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