Synopsis: Just Play It is a two-hour “conversation” between two pianists comprised of both dialogue and music. In two parts, the first half takes the form of a piano lesson. Blind piano student, Hsu Zhe-Cheng, travels to his teacher’s house for a 9AM lesson. John Vaughan, an American piano teacher who has taught the blind prodigy for over a decade, wakes up to the sound of his doorbell and class is immediately in session. George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue is the catalyst for what begins as a history lesson on blues, before turning into a lively competition over whose culture produced the “blue-est” blues. To regain control of the woefully sidetracked lesson, the teacher turns to Bach and uses excerpts from the Goldberg Variations to illustrate aspects of Bach’s life and contrapuntal ways. The student is more concerned about the mysteries of life, and the lesson takes another leap back in time. Bolcom’s Garden of Eden Suite and the Butterfly Lovers’ Concerto provide the musical tapestry for a whimsical discussion on man, woman, and the complications of love. The second half is comprised of 9 sections, each beginning with a question: What is the most difficult piano work to play? Can music be used as a weapon of revenge directed toward a disruptive audience? How about the coldest piece? Is there such a thing as stinky music? Each question provokes revelations, both musical and personal, that strengthen the bond between student and teacher. But things turn physical and tensions rise as musical cooperation self-destructs into a wild, but playful, fight that takes place at, between, around, and on two pianos. After things calm down, teacher and student explore the nature of color to Satie’s Gymnopedie. In the final scene, each gives his own answer to the oldest question of all: What is Life?
Just Play It Posts
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