2010, we decided we'd like to do something with Gertrude Stein's
beautiful and befuddling text Tender Buttons. So we formed a band.
started writing songs, using the text from different sections as our
lyrics. The rhythm of Stein's words informed our choices, and in
many ways the songs wrote themselves.
Aptly called The Tender Buttons band, it featured Gary Heidt
(bass & primary songwriter), Cassandra V. Chopourian (vocals),
Jared Hayley (guitar), Matt Metzgar and later David Gould (drums), and
firehorse the dj (turntables/digital).
...and yesterday yesterday we had it met.
We called our creation Tender Buttons: A Derriere-Garde Rock & Cooking Cabaret. We premiered it at NYC's Medicine Show, with costumes by Bayard and lighting by Christopher Weston.
Tender Buttons at Medicine Show, 2011
took the show to Leipzig, Germany, where we worked with more great musicians: Martin
Cikanek (keyboards), Roman Hampacher (guitar), Nathanael Erler (drums)
and performed it at the beautiful Schaubühne Lindenfels.
We also performed a modest 2-person acoustic set along the way at an underground literary club in London called Blacks.
finally, we performed it at Obsidian Art Space in Houston, TX, thanks
to the efforts of Jennifer Decker and her theater company Mildred's
Umbrella (named after a part from Tender Buttons...it was all clearly
meant to be). We were joined by Ray Serphim Porter (bass, guitar, melodica) and Kirk Suddreath (drums/percussion).
We kept describing the work as "in progress."
In 2012, we decided to attempt something insane: to do the entire
text. While Stein wrote many plays, Tender Buttons is not, I
repeat, not one of them. It is a long text. And there are
no characters, there is no story, and in fact you are lucky to find a
single sentence that makes sense in in traditional way.
Why in the world would we choose Tender Buttons as
source material? Well, the more you read it and speak it, the
more you realize it's true: it does not make one single bit of sense. It makes sense in a hundred ways all at the same time. It is exploding with meaning.
And that makes for very fertile material for the theater.
...connecting that consideration
thought it would be interesting to have three separate directors tackle
each of the three sections of Tender Buttons...completely on their own
Gary decided to direct OBJECTS as an operetta, and decided to get our band Fist of Kindness to make the music for it.
Niki Tulk agreed to take on FOOD, directing it is a trio.
And Cara Scarmack joined Christopher Weston's directorial efforts for ROOMS, and then added in Priscilla Holbrook...and ROOMS went from solo to duet.