Composer Philip Glass and performer-director Phelim McDermott (Improbable) have worked together on acclaimed opera productions in London, New York and beyond, and Tao of Glass is their most personal collaboration yet. Inspired by a dream, this world premiere marries ten meditations on life, death and Taoist wisdom with ten brand new pieces of music from Glass, presented by McDermott with an ensemble of musicians and puppeteers.
Part-concert, part-performance, Tao of Glass is a storytelling tapestry, soundtracked by Glass’s mesmerising music and shot through with Improbable’s trademark theatricality.
Was at the first performance of this last night. It is, it has to be said, somewhat self indulgent - written, performed and directed by Phelim McDermott who delivers a monologue accompanied by puppeteers with some old and new pieces by Glass. The bits where he talks about his relationship with Glass’s music and his personal interactions with Glass, and talks through the genesis of this piece, worked well. Other bits (eg a lengthy section about an expensive coffee table which got broken) less so. Plus the website and text sent pre-performance said it was 1 hour 45 straight through, ended up as more like 2 hours 45 with an interval. No announcement of this so a lot of people thought it had finished
Anyway it redeemed itself with a bit featuring an auto-piano playing Glass’s performance of a new piece, followed by McDermott putting on an LP of Glassworks and pretending to listen to that while ACTUAL PHILIP GLASS wandered on and played the piano. Not sure if this will happen every performance
Glass was sitting a few seats away from me in the first half and seemed to enjoy it, chuckling away when McDermott described a meeting where Glass fell asleep - “I managed to send Philip Glass to sleep, when he’s sent more people in concert halls to sleep than anyone else!