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About '13 Fruitcakes
                  : Musical Vignettes'


'13 Fruitcakes: Musical Vignettes' premieres in June 2019 at La MaMa to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots where, for the first time in U.S. history, the American LGBTQ community raised their voices as one for their basic human rights. The show is also dedicated to those who were able to influence humanity through their great achievements in the arts, politics, philosophy, science, even though they had to live through secrecy and prosecution as homosexuals, who ultimately made the Stonewall Riots possible.


Poems by queer writers such as Oscar Wilde, Virginia Woolf, and Arthur Rimbaud are set as art songs by Gihieh Lee, a celebrated Korean composer. Byungkoo Ahn, a Korean-American director, transforms the song cycle into a series of musical vignettes about 13 LGBTQ figures who changed the world through their work. Although the characters and the poets lived in different time periods and cultures, most of them had to exist in the centers of society while hiding their own true identities in order to survive the discrimination and prosecution. However, these gay résistance expressed their true selves through their works of art during the difficult times in which they lived. Without them, there would not have been the voices of their descendants who came out to the streets of Greenwich Village in 1969 for the Stonewall Uprising. '13 Fruitcakes: Musical Vignettes' captures and revitalizes those moments of truth in the queer foreparents’ lives through the power of art songs and queer literature of the 19th and 20th centuries.


'13 Fruitcakes' is a sequel to 'Voyage: Musical Vignettes' by 'The Singing Actors Group' and ‘The Los Angeles Laptop Collective.’ Since ‘Voyage’ premiered at La MaMa Spoleto in 2013, it has been performed in Berlin, Hamburg, and Seoul. ‘Musical Vignette’ is a theatrical form created by Byungkoo Ahn and refers to a very short musical theatre piece that is less than five minutes. A narrative with powerful yet beautiful images and intense emotions is compressed into an art song through theatrical elements. The first work of the Musical Vignette series, ‘Voyage,’ is an observation of birth, growth, and death in our lives with a more macro cosmic and objective point of view on life. Those moments are captured in staged versions of 13 songs of Schumann, Schubert and Strauss performed by opera singers.


This production is a collaboration between the Singing Actors Repertory Company (Artistic Dir. Byungkoo Ahn) that has been actively performing experimental operas in Korea, Italy and Germany in the past 7 years, and the Los Angeles Laptop Collective (Artistic Dir. Dr. Martin Herman), an American laptop computer orchestra that has been experimenting with interactive computer music and theatrical elements in a variety of staged collaborations with dancers, actors, and singers since 2012.


Aspects of the thirteen people’s lives that have been concealed by the society because of their sexuality are illuminated like a kaleidoscopic phantasmagoria on stage at La MaMa, New York in June 2019. These historical fragments give us the opportunity to reflect upon and contemplate the nature of justice, equality, and peace that enabled the Stonewall Riots in 1969, and let us consider what it means to be human and how we choose to live our lives.

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