Out of Time

A monodrama by Michael Henry and Dwight Frizzell (1997)



Solo Voice, Tape, Multichannel Sound Projection and Chamber Orchestra

Out of Time is dedicated to Patricia Johnson (New York City Opera) and newEar

The Scientific method presents us with a most dehumanizing theatrical scheme. An almost mindless repetition of tasks, the objectification of test subjects, the elimination of variables, and the voyeurism of a observation team all characterize the kind of experimentation that forms the structure and setting of Out of Time.

Inspired by research into human biological time-sense (circadian rhythms sleep-deprivation and isolation experiments) in which the subject is deprived of any chronological demarcation (no sunlight, clocks, communications media, reproduced music, etc.) Out of Time takes us deep underground into the timeless chambers of a cave, where Our Subject (Patricia Johnson) is isolated from the  solar cycle and social contact. Her writing desk, the bone-chilling cavern seething with dripping water, long reverberations of the escape hatch high above, the electrodes and cameras from which she is observed and a mercurial mirror define the physical parameters of the world she both accepts and resists.

Out of Time is a collaboration between composer/sound designer Michael Henry and sound artist/writer Dwight Frizzell, who in creating the sonic landscape, made subterranean recordings in Devil’s Well, Greer Springs, and White’s Cave in the Mark Twain National Forest in south central Missouri. The work is scored for 13 instrumentalists, coloratura soprano soloist and a multichannel sound mix of pre-recorded and real-time sound projections.  Through the use of various interactive technologies, the soloist is given real-time control over various sound elements.

With out of Time, the distinction between stream-of-consciousness (dream-logic, libidinal drives, fantasy, interiorization) and steam-of-existence (aleatoric constructs, montage, cut-ups, structuralization), loses its meaning. Technology as metaphoric appendages to the body is questioned.

The work emphasizes transmissions that go nowhere yet are accessible everywhere, narcissistic feedback circuits full of highly orchestrated disarticulations, the metamorphoses of multiple selves, a circumvention of correspondence between the visual and the auditory, voice sampling and theatrical experiment, stasis contrasted with the ceaseless eternal nature of one’s perception of time, and the breakdown of meaning due to the objectification of the body.

  1. -Michael Henry and Dwight Frizzell, May 1997