Pairing Mozart’s Requiem with Paradise Lost in Second Life: Part 3 – The Catalyst

At the Harpsichord
Playing at the Harpsichord

I’ve often thought that it would amazingly useful to have a photographic memory. Fortunately, in Second Life, we have the next best thing: chat logs. When recalling how Harvey and I came up with the idea of staging Paradise Lost in Second Life, these came in exceedingly handy…


“What famous scene could be set to dance, between a man and a woman?”

I asked Harvey that question the afternoon of November 10th. We sat in the Bar Moderna, brainstorming what we might do to showcase the Basilique Performing Arts Company at MiaMai’s Black Label Launch Event: The Golden Thread.

This was a great opportunity for us to get in front of a whole new crowd of people who had not yet seen our work with Romeo + Juliet. Monica Outlander of MiaMai had seen the play, loved it, and asked us to create something unique for her event.

“I thought of one, but I don’t think we want to go there…” he replied, “Mary Magdelene taking Jesus down from the cross, and the resurrection.”

“Wow, cool!!” I said with a smile.

I admire Harvey’s irreverent streak. Neither of us are religious, but I imagined we’d have a lot of fun throwing down our version of a biblical story.

“Might be a bit edgy…”, he warned.

“I sure like it!”

I paused for a moment, and said: “I’ve been reading Genesis 4, as you do… and how about Eve coming out of Adam’s side… or even, the serpent in the tree!”

For the life of me I can’t remember why I was reading Genesis then. I think it was a twitter link I followed. Yeah, that’s it, it was a link from an American church worker that summarised every chapter of the bible in 140 characters or less.

“Isn’t Genesis 4 Cain and Abel?” asked Harvey.

“That’s not important right now” I said with a smile. Clearly my studies hadn’t been as thorough as I’d hoped.

He laughed: “True… Genesis would be interesting…”

He paused and thought for a while.

“You’re looking it up aren’t you?” I asked laughing.

One of Harvey’s biggest strengths is input. He has an insatiable curiosity about so many things, gathering facts and data like a chipmunk does nuts – storing them away somewhere deep in the nooks and crannies of his wetware.

“No,” he replied, “just thinking… the fall from grace…”

“Yeah,” I said. “The whole chapter! In scenes! What a cool play that would be!”

“Oh, that would be cool!” he agreed. “Wow, interesting. Especially if we twist it a little. We need to hire James Earl Jones… for the voice of God, naturally.”

I laughed. Yeah, James Earl Jones would be great. Or Don LaFontaine the voice of God from all the movie trailers… “it’s a story, about falling in love…”

“We could definitely do this scene as a study,” I thought. “Only problem, Adam and Eve are nekkid. Not exactly working with a fashion label.”

“Not ideal for a fashion show, no” he agreed.

“Pity!” I thought some more, “But, they wear clothes in the end, as a result of the fall… leaves… because innocence is lost?”

“That could work,” he replied.

“Here’s an idea,” I continued: “After she bites the apple, Adam takes it, they start with the leaves, then it grows into full coverings, but in stages, and in a way, it’s the evolution of fashion.”

“It would be awesome.” He smiled, “Not sure how we are going to do it, but it would rock.”

“And that could be our spring show.” I realised. “It’s brilliant, a story that everyone knows.”

The more we thought about it, the more this story seemed to fit.

We’d been throwing ideas back and forth for months. Whatever we would choose to follow Romeo + Juliet had to be a story with mass appeal, needed to feature a small ensemble of actors (ideally a male and female lead), and had to be adaptable to dance. Further, it couldn’t already be a musical or dance show, because it’s in the adaptation that the creativity lives.

“Not bad for five minutes on a Sunday afternoon!”

“Naked actors,” I mused…

“Always a hit,” he winked.

That next morning, as I was running through the visuals of the story in my mind, I put on Mozart’s Requiem for a little background music as I lay, eyes closed, on the couch.

As I listened, I was reminded that Adam and Eve’s story was the story behind our mortality – what better music to pair it with than one of the most famous death masses ever written.

I’ll get deeper into what I saw as I listened, in my next post.

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