Constellation Theatre is offering a unique new production of “Mysticism & Music.”
The show runs in-person through Nov. 7 and on demand from Nov. 2 to Dec. 31.
“This is an unusual project for Constellation,” musician and composer Tom Teasley told WTOP. “I’m trying to bring a combination of American concepts mixed with Chinese concepts. … Having a musical dialogue where the music can express what words can not, how Americans and Chinese can work together to create something unique and beautiful.”
The music will feature Chao Tian playing the Chinese dulcimer.
“This show is a very big challenge to me because most of the music is experimental,” Tian said. “I’ll play the Chinese drum, traditional Chinese opera cymbals, the glockenspiel. We want to create multi-dimensional senses to make this show more compelling.”
Teasley will play his own hybrid brand of percussion.
“I’m still using elements of the hybrid kit with the cajon, jinbei, Venezuelan maracas, [but] “I’m trying to honor the American tradition of mysticism as it relates to jazz,” Teasley said.
Between the music will be readings from Dante, Langston Hughes and The Bible.
“There is one of my favorite Langston Hughes poems, ‘I Dream a World,’ which is a prayer for mankind, and a pretty long recitation of the Book of Job,” Teasley said. “It does not go chronologically nor geographically. … It’s more based on the feeling being portrayed.”
The goal is to seamlessly tie together the music and the text.
“It’s 85 to 90-percent underscored,” Teasley said. “It’s not one of those things where it’s text, text, text, sound cues, then it goes back. I’m greatly enjoying that aspect of this project where I feel like the [music] is going along in synchronicity with the dialogue.”
The actors who read the text will also dance.
“There’s a very energetic fire dance that features everybody,” Teasley said. “There is also a New Orleans second-line rhythm groove that morphs into a samba. … There is a section where there is a cross-section between American beat-box and Indian Konnakol.”
Even in masks, the goal is for audience interaction.
“We’re hoping we’ll break down that fourth wall where the audience becomes an active participant at times,” Teasley said. “We’re looking for ways to bring everyone together, not just the Chinese and American concept, but all of the people who attend this show. … If we build a community in the theater, that feeling and vibe radiates outward hopefully.”