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Marilyn Forever

by gavin bryars

Libretto by Marilyn Bowering 

more reverie than reality, marilyn forever, with its sultry, film noir musical pallet, is at once amorous and distant, accessible yet mysterious. this us premiere is a celebration of marilyn monroe's life, flashed before our eyes through a series of hollywood vignettes as told by the men who surrounded her. join us to celebrate a true american icon known by all, desired by many, understood by few.

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About marilyn forever

Marilyn Forever examines Marilyn Monroe’s intellectual and emotional relationship to death and love. As the work progresses, the performance interweaves what is taking place on stage with the trajectory of Monroe’s life through relationships, fame and myth. Ultimately, the characters of the musicians as performers and men in Monroe’s life fuse with the forces that lead to her death. Marilyn Monroe is often looked at as a sex object, victim or fantasy. In this work, we are given through Monroe’s own voice, her combination of sensitivity and exhibitionism, allied to the narrative of the “chorus”, a view from the ‘inside’ of the conflicting emotions and ambitions of this compelling and timeless personality.

ABOUT GAVIN BRYARS

Gavin Bryars was born in Yorkshire in 1943. His first musical reputation was as a jazz bassist working in the early sixties with improvisers Derek Bailey and Tony Oxley. He abandoned improvisation in 1966 and worked for a time in the United States with John Cage. Subsequently he collaborated closely with composers such as Cornelius Cardew and John White. His first major work as a composer was The Sinking of the Titanic (1969) originally released on Brian Eno's Obscure label in 1975 and Jesus' Blood Never Failed Me Yet (1971), both famously released in new versions in the 1990s on Point Music label, selling over a quarter of a million copies. The original 1970s recordings have been re-released on CD by Virgin Records.

His first opera, Medea was first staged by the director Robert Wilson at the Opéra de Lyon and Opéra de Paris in 1984. Following the success of the original production, a revised version was given in concert in 1995 by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. His second opera, Doctor Ox's Experiment (based on a story by Jules Vernes and with a libretto by Blake Morrison) was staged by the Canadian film director Atom Egoyan for English National Opera in 1998. A separate production of Doctor Ox's Experiment appeared in 1999 in Dortmund, Germany. The third opera, G (libretto again by Blake Morrison), was commissioned by Mainz Opera and was premiered in February 2002, staged by Georges Delnon, in the newly refurbished Mainz Opera House.

Among Gavin Bryars' other works are three string quartets and a great deal of chamber music, much of it for his own ensemble. Since 2006 he has collaborated with Opera North Projects, initially with the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) on Shakespeare sonnets Nothing like the Sun (2007) and subsequently on Mercy and Grand (2007-8) – a project on the songs of Tom Waits and Kathleen Brennan. Since 2006 he has worked with the Irish singer Iarla O'Lionaird on settings of eary Gaelic texts. Gavin Bryars has a particular association with dance and the visual arts: choreographers who have used his work and commissioned new pieces from him include William Forsythe, Lucinda Childs, Carolyn Carlson, Maguy Marin, Jiri Kylian, Siobhan Davies, Edouard Lock and David Dawson. His hugely successful collaboration with Merce Cunningham, Biped, was in the Cunningham Company's repertoire and played world-wide.

Among Gavin Bryars' numerous recordings are Three Viennese Dancers, After The Requiem, The Black River and Vita Nova on ECM New Series, The Last Days on Argo (1995), and Jesus' Blood Never Failed Me Yet (1993), The Sinking of the Titanic (1994), Farewell to Philosophy (1996), A Man in a Room Gambling (1997) and Cadman Requiem (1998) on Point Music. In 2000 he started his own label GB Records with an initial release of Biped. This was followed with a number of other albums: Lockerbie Memorial Concert (2003), A Man in a Room, Gambling (2003), Oi me lasso (2005), On Photography (2005), A Listening Room (2005), Glorious Hill (2007), Silva Caledonia (2008), Amjad (2008), Season of Mists (2008), I have heard it said that a spirit enters (2010), Live at Punkt (2010), I send you this Cadmium Red (2010), Al Suon dell'acque scriva (2010), New York (2010).

The Gavin Bryars Ensemble, founded in 1981, performs internationally, including appearances in France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Norway, Finland, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Hungary, Czeck Republic, Belgium, Germany, Holland, Mexico, Norway, Austria, Japan and Australia, as well as giving occasional concerts in UK.

ABOUT MARILYN BOWERING

Marilyn Bowering was born in Winnipeg, Canada and moved with her family to Victoria, B.C. as a child. Her first writing was as a poet after study with Robin Skelton and important friendships with the poets Dorothy Livesay and PK Page. Her first book, The Liberation of Newfoundland, set in Newfoundland — to which her father’s family had emigrated in the early 19th century — combined lyric poems, prose and photographs. She then turned her interest to the British Columbia coastal landscape and mythology in which she had grown up. During this period she published several volumes of poetry, including One Who Became Lost and The Killing Room; a book of short prose, The Visitors Have All Returned; and co-edited the seminal anthology of Native Canadian Indian poetry, Many Voices. Subsequently she began the first of a number of extended periods in Europe, spending a year in Greece and several years in Scotland. Out of this period came the books, Sleeping with Lambs, several pamphlets with Martin Booth’s Sceptre Press, and Giving Back Diamonds.

In the mid-1980s, after publishing a volume of selected poetry (The Sunday Before Winter — nominated for a Governor General’s Award), she turned from lyric poetry to narrative work, writing on the First World War (Grandfather Was A Soldier), Marilyn Monroe (Anyone Can See I Love You, the space dog, Laika (Calling all the World) and George Sand (A Cold Departure). Each of these works (with the exception of A Cold Departure) was published in book form and also dramatized for either BBC or CBC radio and some were also performed on stage, garnering a number of significant nominations such as for the Prix Italia and the Sony Prize.

Marilyn Bowering’s first novel, To All Appearances A Lady, was published in Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States where it was a 1990 New York Times Notable Book selection. In 2003, the English Composer, Gavin Bryars, set a section of To All Appearances A Lady as a song.

In 1997 Visible Worlds, Bowering’s second novel was published in Canada. It received the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize and was short-listed for the prestigious Orange Prize. Marilyn Bowering’s third novel, Cat’s Pilgrimage (2004) tells a story that crosses the boundaries of literary and fantasy fiction. What It Takes to be Human, Bowering’s fourth novel, was published in 2006 in Canada and 2007 in the UK. Green poetry (2007) is a synthesis of formal and improvisational techniques and a series of conversations rooted in her love of the poets Rumi, Lorca and Ritsos. In many ways it is a statement of her abiding concern with cultural confluence. Marilyn Bowering’s new novel-in-progress, The Story-Tellers Academy, pushes this awareness to the extreme and finds its heart in a nest of stories that punctuate 2000 years of women’s history. If there is ongoing degradation—of the environment and of love—then there is also survival and curiosity and compassion—the themes at the heart of Bowering’s work all along.

Marilyn Bowering is married and has one daughter. She lives in British Columbia, Canada.

ABOUT MARILYN MONROE

In 1926 a girl was born in the charity ward at the Los Angeles County Hospital who would become one of the most celebrated and enduring icons of all time – Marilyn Monroe. Norma Jeane Mortenson’s childhood was volatile as she was passed from family members to family friends and frequently stayed in orphanages as a result of her mother’s mental health. To avoid another orphanage stay a family friend orchestrated a marriage proposal when she was sixteen years old. When her husband was sent to the Pacific with the merchant marine, Norma Jeane began working on an assembly line at an aeronautical plant.

In 1945 a photographer took a snapshot of the stunning brunette while at the factory and within months she became a successful model securing dozens of magazine covers and a screen test with 20th Century Fox. Studio executives, directors and photographers immediately recognized her ability to capture and hold the attention of anyone on the opposite end of a camera lens. By the end of 1946 her hair had become a platinum shade of blonde and her name was changed to Marilyn Monroe.

Over a little more than a decade Monroe captivated audiences through a multitude of comedic and dramatic roles. Audiences loved her breathy, blonde bombshell appeal combined with her light comedic approach in How To Marry A Millionaire, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, The Seven-Year Itch and Some Like It Hot. She was serious about her craft and delivered believable, flawed characters in Don’t Bother To Knock and Niagara. She worked closely with Lee Strasberg at The Actor’s Studio who referred to her as one of the two students out of “hundreds and hundreds” that stood out above the rest. The other was Marlon Brando. In 1956 the New York Times film critic Bosley Crowther reported on her breakthrough role, “HOLD onto your chairs, everybody, and get set for a rattling surprise. Marilyn Monroe has finally proved herself an actress in Bus Stop. She and the picture are swell!” Although it didn’t get good reviews The Misfits is one of Monroe’s most staggering and indelible performances. She received a Golden Globe award for her performance in Some Like It Hot and a Golden Globe nomination for her performance in Bus Stop.

In 1962 Marilyn Monroe bought her first home in Brentwood and began decorating it with purchases from a trip she had made to Mexico. She died that same year in her new home under controversial circumstances. Regardless, Marilyn Monroe’s personal history, achievements and contributions have made her one of the world’s greatest icons. She inspired musicians, writers and artists like Madonna, Elton John, Lady Gaga, Joyce Carol Oates and Andy Warhol to name just a few with her timeless glamour and extraordinary character. More relevant today than ever Marilyn Monroe lived a life and left a legacy that continues to excite fans all over the world.

Synopsis

Marilyn Forever examines Marilyn Monroe’s intellectual and emotional relationship to death and love. As the work progresses, the performance interweaves what is taking place on stage with the trajectory of Monroe’s life through relationships, fame and myth. Ultimately, the characters of the musicians as performers and men in Monroe’s life fuse with the forces that lead to her death. Marilyn Monroe is often looked at as a sex object, victim or fantasy. In this work, we are given through Monroe’s own voice, her combination of sensitivity and exhibitionism, allied to the narrative of the “chorus”, a view from the ‘inside’ of the conflicting emotions and ambitions of this compelling and timeless personality.