anon a mouse
An Ooppera by Laurie Spiegel and Furry Friends
Music: Laurie Spiegel
Performers: Rodents and Canines
Squeakbretto: (translated to a libretto by Laurie Spiegel)
Artwork: Laurie Spiegel
Copyright: 2003 Laurie Spiegel (ASCAP)
In a clanky old stove of a big warehouse loft waits a family of Mice. At about this time every day, a kindly Human drops food for them through the grill work of this old metal stove. All this happens under the gaze of a very large and frighteningly interested Dog. But underneath and inside of the stove, the Mice feel safe and at home.
After receiving the food, while happily munching and playing, the Mice find themselves interrupted by the Dogs antics as he tries to demonstrate how much he wants to join their little group and to play with them as they are playing with each other.
The Dog tries squeaking one of his toys, running around the Mice, trying to sound and act as much like them as he can, hoping to convince them that he would fit in.
But the Mice consistently refuse the Dogs companionship and, sticking together, they complain vociferously to each other about the giant furry being who is far far too big and strange to join them. Eventually, they leave the Dog by himself.
The piece ends as the Dog, now all alone, laments the Mices rejection and departure.
Squeakbretto translated and abridged by Laurie Spiegel from the original, as recited and sung in UMVEL* by the participants.
* UMVEL (Universal Mammalian Vocal Expressive Language) is a name I made up for a language Ive heard all my life but never had a name for. It could be described as the how you say it part of human speech without the what you are talking about part. Its the part that is common enough, in its various dialects, that we and dogs and horses and mice and cows and sheep and probably many other mammals can manage to communicate on a functional level with other individual mammals.
The Characters / Personaggi
Human a woman
The Mice Alpha, Mama Mouse and the Runt - A family of mice
The Dog An ordinary domestic canine.
Note: Each mouse played several rodent roles to sound like more than 3. The single canine role was performed by 2 different dogs.
I recorded the materials for this on DAT in my kitchen and other parts of my loft over a period of several months, and then edited, assembled and processed them using a Macintosh 9600 computer with a Kyma-Capybara system and Evemtide H3000 and DSP4000 digital signal processors.
Laurie Spiegel, New York City, March 2003
0:00 (The kitchen of a New York loft, formerly a warehouse. It is late evening.)
Time to feed the Mice.
My god its noisy outside tonight.
Your favorite food.
Hi Mr. Dog.
Food for me too?
(The Mice are heard rattling around inside old iron stove but they dont say anything yet.)
(Sounds of Human rattling a cellophane bag and breaking apart rice cakes into little pieces.)
Heres a bite for you.
A bite for you Mr. Dog.
(The crunch crunch of cellophane bag is heard, then the sounds of rice cake pieces being dropped for the Mice into the big safe stove where they wait, all trying to hide from the giant Human and giant Dog.)
Ok little meese.
Come and get it little meese.
Dinner for mice.
Lets see if anybody shows up.
Here they come.
|Act I / Parte Prima / Atto Primo
1:27 (Bits of rice cake are dropped into the big old echoing stove for the Mice and land with a loud thunk.)
Shes finally giving them to us, the rice cakes.
Did you find that piece?
I think theres another one over here.
Its snowing rice cake pieces all over the place!
Let me have that one.
I want one too!
Hey that piece was mine.
Mmm... so crunchy and fresh!
(The Mice continue to munch and play and talk with each other for some minutes. Some of their specific meaning will be obvious to any fellow mammal, while other parts either could not or should not be translated.)
Alpha and Mama
|Act II / Parte Seconda / Atto Secondo
Can I play too?
I want to play with you too!
(At first the mice are speechless, running around in surprise before finding their voices again.)
Hey what did that dog say?
He wants to play with us?
Its out of the question.
Hes far too big.
Not with us, he cant play!
(The Mice are heard talking with each other on and on, at some points quite excitedly, in an extended discussion on this alarming topic.)
Then why cant I play with you?
(no response from the mice)
Well, thats not very nice!
(The Mice still franticly talking amongst themselves, virtually ignore the Dog.)
Please dont reject me!
(Finally addressing the dog)
We meant it! We meant what we said. You cant play with us!
Go away. Stay with your own kind!
(Then to each other)
How dare he even think that?
The absolute nerve!
(Thinking to himself)
Maybe if I sounded more like them
Where did I put my squeak toy?
Ah here it is!
(Dog picks up toy and starts squeaking it.)
The Kid (a.k.a. The Runt)
|5:53 Squeak squeak squeak.
If I sound more like you,
So I can play too! Squeak squeak squeak
(All the Mice stampede away, dumbfounded and really quite put off. Trying to ignore the Dog but unable to, they complain about him to each other indignantly.)
(The Dog continues running around, intermittently squeaking his toy, trying to show he can act and sound like the Mice but increasingly frustrated by their rejection.)
7:00 (To get their attention, and in frustration, the Dog throws the squeak ball hard and it bounces around.)
(to each other)
Oh no! He sounds like hes really upset with us. Its getting dangerous here. We better go someplace safer.
Do you think he wants to eat
our food or to eat us? Lets go lets go!
(With an increased urgency, the Mice start gathering the remaining food to take with them as they begin retreating to a safer place. Meanwhile the Dog squeaks and throws his toy, getting frantic.)
Hey! Mice! You are mean! And this is too frustrating! Oh why do you hate me? Am I that bad?
8:38 (As the mice recede into the distance we hear the Dog drinking.)
Oh, they have driven me to drink. How hard it is,
wanting to belong but being.
Oh these dear little Mice,
they have driven me seriously to drink!
Time for a Drink
|Epilogue / Scena Ultima
Where are you, little ones?
Where are you?
They are gone.
I am left all alone,
bereft of your company, my fellow furry ones.
Will you ever let me play with you?
Will you ever even come back?
How I miss you!
How I wanted to belong, to be part of your pack!
Please come back!
I just wanted to be with you.
9:49 End / Fine