charles mee

the (re)making project

The Plays

Solos
Duets
The Trilogy: Imperial Dreams
Other Tragedies and History Plays
Comedies and Romances
Dance Theatre Pieces
The Lives of the Artists
Fragments

Solos

The House of Cards

A man builds a house of cards, while memories of beauty and horror cascade through his skull: exquisite things and memories of war, the beauties of the passing seasons and the recollections of techniques of torture, love songs and bits of opera, and the effort to wrest from it all some consoling philosophy of life. [1 actor]
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Life is a Dream

A solo, with dance and text that fuses public and private nightmare and dreamscapes, with texts taken from the notebooks of Sei Shonagon and the memoirs of survivors of the Hiroshima bombing and other moments of beauty and horror. [1 actor]
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Salome

A solo, with dance and text that takes the Biblical Salome into a modern world of sexual transgression and murder, incorporating texts taken from, or inspired by Catherine Millet, Gustave Flaubert, Camille Paglia, Annie Sprinkle, Colette, www.bethworld.com and various other texts posted on the internet. [1 actor]
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Duets

First Love

Two people in their seventies fall in love—for the first time in their lives. And, as they work their way toward one another through the accumulated baggage of their lives, they move in fits and starts toward sabotaging the last chance for love they'll ever have. [3 actors]
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Limonade Tous les Jours

Jacqueline is a young Parisian cabaret singer; Andrew is an American in his 50s, both of them recovering from recent ruined love relationships. When they meet at a Paris cafe and then, without quite meaning to, spend the day wandering through the city together, they speak of all the reasons why they shouldn't fall in love. And so: they do. [3 actors]
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The Trilogy: Imperial Dreams

I. Iphigenia 2.0

The play by Euripides, set in the world today, in which a great imperial power steps into the world to go to war—taking an action so wrong that it sets the empire on the road to complete self-destruction. Proving, as Agamemnon himself says on the brink of the Trojan war, "we see from the histories of empires that none will last forever and all are brought down finally not by others but by themselves." [11 actors]
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II. Trojan Women: A Love Story

The play by Euripides, set in the modern world, in which we see Troy in ruins, and a world reduced to such disarray and anguish that it will never recover again, but will, instead, spread death and disorder out into the world in all directions. [13 actors]
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III. Orestes 2.0

The Euripides after-war play, re-set in the world today, in which the veterans return from the Trojan War, to find that the disorder and nightmare of war has come home with them and rendered their homeland to ruins forever. [13 actors]
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Other Tragedies and History Plays

Agamemnon 2.0

Aeschylus's play, set in the world today, in which Agamemnon returns home after the Trojan War, to find his wife Clytmnestra has been waiting for him the entire war to repay him for the horrible act he committed to set the war in motion, the murder of their daughter Iphigenia. [9 actors]
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The Bacchae 2.1

The first world meets the third world, the insiders meet the outsiders, the defenders of the old meet the challenge of the new, the champions of reason meet the champions of passion, the men meet the women, and Valerie Solanas, Georges Batailles and Joan Nestle's Lesbian Herstory Archives find their place in Euripides' classic piece, set in the world both then and now. [13 actors]
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Bedtime Stories

Three pointless bedroom conversations, mundane and postcoital—about the man who grew so fat he choked himself to death with his own shirt collar, and looking for a good Hollywood agent and how, when Hinckley shot Reagan and the doctors stripped Reagan down in the emergency room they couldn't find his dick, and other random observations on the world today—interspersed with performance pieces, in a post-world of post-people. [4 actors, 3 performance pieces]
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Full Circle

The story of the Chalk Circle, set in Berlin as the Wall came down, backstage at the Berliner Ensemble. The Americans are there already, looking for investment opportunities, kidnapping babies, and careening through the old spas of Eastern Europe—as communism falls, capitalism moves in, and the guests at the wedding banquet table wonder drunkenly if, given this unhappy choice between the old and the new, there isn't some third way. [11 actors, 10 with doubling]
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Global Warming

A group of people sit on the terrace having brunch—talking about shopping
at Saks, and how to cook quail, and how it is to swim in the bay at
Acapulco, and whether blue hydrangeas and Sicily and loofah sponges are in
or out, and the time the peasants chopped down the Vienna Woods. In the
beginning, the stage is dry. During the piece, water slowly rises, until
everyone is underwater and has drowned.. [8-10 actors]
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Jesus

Nearly all the awful things you can imagine, and then, at the end, a prayer. [10 actors]
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The Rules

God knows what this piece is. Scenes and performance art pieces, and everyone ends up running for their lives. There's talk of the first Thanksgiving dinner, and some tips for wearing rubber, recollections of the good old days at the Mutaigha Club, and an agonized rationalization for selling one's own body—if that's what one has to sell—in an effort to arrive at a new set of conventions to live by, now that the old ones are gone. [6 actors]
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Time to Burn

The poor, homeless, and disaffected, just trying to get from day to day, living in an abandoned factory in Chicago, a relic of an industrial age that no longer provides employment. It seems, for the most part, they are simply trying to survive hard economic times, and then it turns out, probably, they are just living under the shadow of mortality, like everyone else. Inspired by Maxim Gorky's Lower Depths. [12 actors]
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True Love

Based on Euripides' Hippolytus and Racine's Phaedra—but placed in America's trailer trash world, in which Phaedra does not restrain herself from sleeping with her fourteen year old stepson, and all the townspeople sit around the gas station talking about the extraordinary relationships they have had or known of, living in their normal world—each of them as true a love as human beings are capable of. [11 actors]
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Utopia Parkway

On a street in Queens—the only spot on earth where 46% of the population is foreign born—a young woman is treated badly, then treated worse, then treated worse than that, and finally tried and executed for a murder she didn't commit—so she rises from the dead and murders everyone, proving you can turn even the sweetest young woman in the world into a homicidal maniac, if you treat her badly enough. Inspired by a thirteenth century Chinese play. [8 actors]
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The War to End War

A triptych: Part I is the Paris Peace Conference of 1919. Part II is a Dadaist vaudeville, as the Dead Soldier rises from the grave as a minstrel comedian and Wittgenstein and Brockdorff-Rantzau become vaudevillians in a variety revue seemingly hosted by Kurt Schwitters, the German artist who created word poetry. Part III is a poker game at Los Alamos. [7 actors]
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Comedies and Romances

Big Love

Fifty brides flee their fifty grooms and seek refuge in a villa on the coast of Italy in this modern re-making of one of the western world's oldest plays, The Danaids by Aeschylus. And, in this villa on the Italian coast, the fifty grooms catch up with the brides, and mayhem ensues: the grooms arriving by helicopter in their flight suits, women throwing themselves over and over again to the ground, pop songs and romantic dances, and, finally, unable to escape their forced marriages, 49 of the brides murder 49 of the grooms-and one bride falls in love. About the same odds as today. [9 actors]
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Cardenio

Shakespeare's lost play, re-made in collaboration with the great Shakespeare scholar Stephen Greenblatt, and set—like many of Shakespeare's romances—in the hills of Italy, has its own website, where the Greenblatt/Mee re-make has also been re-made by others for productions in Croatia, Poland, Spain, Japan, India, Egypt, Serbia, Turkey, and Brazil, among other countries. Visit the Cardenio Project.

Fetes de la Nuit

Louis XIV used to stage what he called Fetes de la nuit at Versailles--spectacles full of music, dance, hunting dogs and fireworks. Here are the Fetes as he might have staged them today, with the music and dance and rage of the Third World rising up amidst the stereotypes of old Paris. [10 actors]
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Fire Island

A young couple gets on the ferry on Friday evening to go to Fire Island,
and, after they get there,
there are 758 love affairs in the summer house,
on the beach, on the porch,
in the bedroom and kitchen and living room,
and then the couple gets back on the ferry on Sunday evening
to go back to work on Monday. [10-20 actors]
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The Mail Order Bride

A souffle of five Molieres, whipped together with a pinch of Wycherley—in which an older man orders up a young Asian bride for delivery, to the outrage of his sister, his two daughters, and even his personal trainers. They ask him: does he think he can just buy a bride? And he asks them: do they think it would be better if he were just to rent one? [10 actors, 8 with doubling]
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A Perfect Wedding

Love, romance, marriage: it all comes apart in the woods, until two gay wedding planners decide to get married—and then everyone's faith in the institution of marriage is restored by their example. With a big Bollywood dance number toward the end. A little froth on the barricades. [20 actors]
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Paradise Park

A guy goes into an amusement park and and finds the park opens up into all of America. Featuring a ventriloquist and his dummy, a fruit cake toss event, a roller coaster ride, an Esther Williams underwater ballet, a dance hall, a Polynesian dive shop, a square dance, and some star gazing. [9 actors]
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Summertime

A sweet, dreamy, romantic comedy from the world of As You Like It and Midsummer Night's Dream and The Cherry Orchard and Moliere and Magritte. This play is a companion piece to Wintertime, which has the same characters and setting, set in another season. [13 actors]
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Wintertime

A sweet, dreamy, romantic comedy from the world of The Winter's Tale and The Cherry Orchard and Moliere and Magritte. This play is a companion piece to Summertime, which has the same characters and setting, set in another season. [13 actors]
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Dance Theatre Pieces

Another Person Is a Foreign Country

A one and a half foot tall woman with the voice of an opera singer, a deaf man who signs, a transvestite, a pair of conjoined or identical twins, an immensely tall African American man-all take their places around a dinner table-and we join them for this most basic and universal of social activities, the breaking of bread. [8 actors, and, if possible, a chorus of fifteen people with Down Syndrome, a blind choir from the Lighthouse, and a rock band composed of musicians recently discharged from a mental hospital]
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Café le Monde

A dozen tables, a sidewalk, lovers and philosophers and sisters and arguing married couples having coffee. Street performers of all sorts, human statues, dancers, opera singers—a world not of one plotline, one story, one narrative, but a landscape of multiple stories, myriad vivid impressions, and total pleasure. Like life. [12 to 16 actors]
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Coney Island Avenue

A stroll down Coney Island Avenue, through the neighhborhoods of Turks, Pakistanis, Jews, Muslims, Italians, Sikhs, Russians—ending with everyone in their swimming suits dancing on the beach at Coney Island to a Beach Boys number. A dance theatre piece—but, then, what, among these plays, isn't? [12 actors]
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Daily Life Everlasting

Several lives and destinies pass through the landscape at a yard sale—under the observant eye of a boy named Odysseus 2.0. [10-12 actors]
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Eterniday

Life passes. Every day. Forever. Morning, noon, and night. And then a baby is born. [9 or 10 actors]
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The Four Seasons

Trees with buds on the branches, and, then, later on, there will be summer leaves, and then, fall foliage, and, at the end, bare branches, and then, finally, spring blossoms. And the clothes the actors wear: at first the clothes of spring, then—if they are not all naked, like a nineteenth century French painting of a picnic—they are in bikinis and summer shorts, and then the sweaters of autumn, and, finally, winter overcoats and gloves and scarves—while some random couples go through the four seasons of life, and love. [8 or 9 actors]
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Heaven on Earth

The world has come to an end. It lies in ruins—shrubs growing out of the bits of rubble, sheep grazing amidst tufts of grass and vines in the rocks. History has come to an end, and: life goes on. With music and dancing. [10 or 12 actors]
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The Life Of George Washington

A backyard barbecue with George Washington, Walt Whitman, Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Aunt Eller, Curly, Bambi, and some guys dancing with rifles and some bloggers—because: how it is, always, when you check into the old folks' home, or you go to your deathbed, you think you're finished, but you're not. And George Washington: he lives on in all of us.
[12 to 16 actors]
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Memory Palace

A man sits at a café table, outdoors.
He is dying.
And, as he speaks of his loss of powers,
the odd things that are happening to his eyesight,
his sense of balance,
the occasional painful spasm in the sole of one of his feet,
his life passes before his eyes
in the form of dancers and musicians and small children.
And, in the end,
we don't notice when he leaves the stage
and life goes on without him. [8-9 actors]
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Night and Day:

Two dance theatre pieces-
with some text and a lot of physical performance—
that can be performed together or separately.
In the first, inspired by the classic tale of Thyestes,
it is all nightmare and despair and darkness.
In the second, inspired by the classic tale of Daphnis and Chloe,
it is all love and loveliness and light. [10-12 actors]
      Night (Thyestes 2.0)
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      Day (Daphnis and Chloe 2.0)
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Our Times: On the Street Where I Live

In the olden days people lived in small towns and villages. These days they live in cities. And so, when they go out the front door to get a cup of coffee somewhere, this is how the world looks. [8 or 10 actors or more]
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Queens Boulevard

Inspired by a Kathakali play from India and set down in Queens today. When the bride and groom return from their wedding, the bride mentions how she loved a flower someone gave her. And so the groom slips out to get another one just like it—and is thrown into a series of adventures in the streets of Queens that finally puts him in jail before he gets back home with the flower. [12 actors]
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Tunnel of Love

A couple enters the Tunnel of Love—along with what seems to be another 763 couples and all their complicated relationships—and, at the end: they emerge.
[6 or 7 actors—or 10 or 12 with less doubling—or 21 actors]
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Vienna: Lusthaus

Vienna at the turn of the century, where the modern world was given birth, attended by Freud, Hitler, and Egon Scheile. Incorporating texts from the case studies of Freud, the letters of the imperial family, the diaries of Arthur Schnitzler, the dreams of his contemporaries, and an undertaker's manual. [11 actors]
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A Walk in the Park

On a sunny afternoon, at a café in the middle of a park, a young man flirts with a young woman, while an old man nearby goes on and on with talk as crazy as Picasso, and a woman on the other side of the café replies in the words of Gertrude Stein—as dancers and musicians and contortionists and gymnasts and circus performers all do their thing and men in baseball caps and Brooklyn T-shirts rain down from the sky. And the young man gets the girl. [8 or 9 actors and some performance artists]
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The Lives of the Artists

bobrauschenbergamerica

A wild road trip through our American landscape—in a play made as one of America's greatest artists, Robert Rauschenberg, might have conceived it if he had been a playwright instead of a painter: a collage of people and places and music and dancing, of love stories and picnics and business schemes and shootings and chicken jokes and golfing, and of the sheer exhilaration of living in a country where people make up their lives as they go. [11 actors]
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Hotel Cassiopeia

The American artist Joseph Cornell made wooden boxes filled with pocket watches, coiled springs, maps of the stars, a forest of thimbles, parrots, seashells, broken glass, children's alphabet blocks, brightly colored balls, soap bubbles, whales' teeth, a colored lithograph of the moon in the night sky, star fish. How would it be if those boxes could speak? About art, about America, about compassion and longing and loneliness and heartbreak. [7 actors]
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Matisse's Self Portrait

An artist gets up in the morning, gets a cup of tea, walks into his studio, and despite all the bad reviews, and the other things that can go awry—lives happily ever after.
[10 actors]
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Picasso's Masterpiece

In his studio in Montmartre, Pablo Picasso paints his masterpiece—Les Desmoiselles d'Avignon, the painting that many say gave birth to modern art—while his friends drop by and suggest that he throw the painting away.
[8-13 actors, depending on doubling]
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soot and spit

The world of James Castle, who made art not to get rich, not to get famous, not to be cool, but because he needed to. We see his drawings projected on the walls of the ice house that his family gave him as a place to work. Full of songs and dances, the music of John Hartford, the shape note songs of the the Alabama Sacred Harp Singers, songs by Blind Lemon Jefferson, by the Memphis jug band, in which one of the members played an empty whiskey bottle, by the blind Louisiana guitarist Didier Hebert, by Cannon's Jug Stompers (led by Gus Cannon, whose parents were born into slavery, and whose first banjo was made from a bread-pan and a raccoon skin head). [9 actors and a chorus of a half-dozen performers with Down Syndrome]
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Under Construction

A collage of America today—scenes and songs and dances inspired by Norman Rockwell of the fifties, and scenes and songs and dances inspired by the installation artist of the present day, Jason Rhoades: Rockwell and Rhoades juxtaposed side by side—then and now, the fifties and the present, the red states and the blue states, where we grew up and where we live today, a piece that is, like America, permanently under construction. [7-9 actors]
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Fragments

Gone

There are a few fragments here from the lost plays of Sophocles—who wrote 123 plays, of which only 7 survive intact: fragments from the plays of a playwright long gone, from an ancient world and a people long since disappeared, along with some bits of Proust and Daudet and Pliny and Allen Ginsberg and blogs from the internet, fragments of people long since gone, as, one of these days, we will be, too. [4 actors]
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Requiem for the Dead

Composed entirely of fragments from the lost plays of Sophocles, Requiem resurrects random moments of ordinary, mundane, extinct daily life. As one of the characters says, "Time makes all things dark and brings them to oblivion. First you will see a crop in flower, all white; then a round mulberry that has turned red; lastly old age of Egyptian blackness takes over." [9 actors]
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