On this episode of Arts & Letters, we talk with percussionist Kevin Sims, composer Scott Wollschleger and poet Abby Minor about their experimental monodrama, “We Have Taken & Eaten.” The piece is performed with an array of traditional percussion and non-traditional instruments, including cassette tape players, temple bowls and light bulbs.
I tried to construct a musical language that was composed of sound materials that might have been left over in the dustbin of history. I imagined the soloist acting as the last human scavenging through the garbage heap of culture and then trying their best to construct a story from the fragments of trash. The story is about what we did to ourselves and the planet, and it’s also a story that attempts to create a new narrative for ourselves as we move into an uncertain future.
The collaborative work grew from questions and ideas raised from three sources: the origin stories in biblical Genesis, the journals of John Smith, and Englishman Thomas Hariot’s Narrative of the First English Plantation of Virginia, a 16th-century account written in support of North American colonization.
We think of this music as one impression of the intimate emotional traces left by these master narratives as they continue to move, glacier-like, slowly over and through us, as they continue to undergird our lives in perplexing and powerful ways.
What ensues is “a non-linear meditation” on the relationships among “relentless productivity and punishment/oppression.”
Support for this program was provided by the Arkansas Humanities Council and the National Endowment for the Humanities.