The Memoirist


story/music/puppeteer/set design by Phyllis Chen
video/cinematography by Rob Dietz

PART I: The Tale for toy piano, music box and frying pan
PART II: The Memoirist for toy piano, sampling keyboard, video
PART III The Dream for toy piano, bowls, video, pillow

The Memoirist is a three-part multimedia piece using toy pianos, sampling keyboard, bowls,props and video projections. This piece captures the child-like nature of the toy piano through a bizarre tale featuring an old  childhood friend that comes in the form of a stuffed bunny. A memoirist is like an archivist, a being that is responsible for preserving memories from someone else’s life.

The piece begins with a music box playing a familiar Humpty Dumpty nursery rhyme while a small figurine of Humpty dances along with the music. This miniature puppet-like character inspired the toy theater aesthetic I created in the following movements.   In The Tale, I decided to personify Humpty Dumpty in a more 3-dimensional manner as an egg.

The miniature set  design and puppetry in the second portion of this work is constructed from cardboard, felt, and found objects as a toy theater set.The sampling keyboard is made entirely of  recorded kitchen utensil sounds such as tea-balls, forks and bowls to create a tinkling percussive part that goes along with the toy piano.

The Dream is a continuation of the story by projecting the rabbit’s dream on a pillow above her bed. The bed is placed on the toy piano as I perform it with three gong-like mixing bowls.