About Mary Lou
My theater works are not plays, nor are they musicals. I see theater as an opportunity to expand my approach to music composition. I integrate the various performing arts into a hybrid form to best illustrate the ideas that ignite my artistic passion. Each work has its own organic structure as dictated by the themes of that work. The words, music, visual art and dance play equally important roles. Each separate element augments the power of the others — sometimes as support, sometimes as foreground, sometimes as independent but simultaneous tracks. The result is a collage, which illuminates for the audience:
The Melody of Personality
The Rhythm of Space
in the context of Time suspended, extended beyond the clock
into a Polyphony of music, visual art, poetry and dance.
My work is about transformation and connection, from my approach to individual sounds in the score, to the characters onstage, to my own experience of creation. I seek to turn the subjects over, around, and under to reveal multiple ways of perception. The recognizable becomes abstract; the concrete becomes re-contextualized to create new meaning in combination with other disparate elements. We all have our own stories that shape our perspective and change over time, so I tell stories in layers, sometimes overlapping, sometimes concentrically. Because of my particular non-linear and plot-less approach, each audience member can come away with a slightly different experience of the performance, depending on how they process the material.
My inspiration comes from the exploration of social issues and my belief that art can provide a safe forum to see from the “other’s” eyes. Through my work I seek to promote the idea of common ground, empathy, compassion and growth toward wholeness.
“Street Angel Diaries” looks at homelessness from the perspective of the lives of homeless people themselves. The stories are first hand accounts from current or formerly homeless people. There is an epidemic of homelessness – a homelessness of the spirit that seems pervasive in contemporary life. We have more ways to communicate than ever, yet disconnection and interrupted discourse is the norm. Maybe the homeless are a flesh and blood symbol of our society’s sense of isolation, broken-ness. The disconnection we hide is made manifest in their existence. They are the parts of ourselves we can’t face. We don’t want to look at them because we might see ourselves – we are not so different from them. We are a lot closer to falling apart than we are willing to admit. Creating this work moved me in ways I never imagined, and I met many beautiful souls in the process.
If “Street Angel Diaries” is a mosaic, “Breath of Trees” is a tapestry.
“Breath of Trees” explores the relationship between modern man and nature through live music, poetry, storytelling, humor, science and dance. Each character relates to the natural world from a different point of view and each struggles with his/her own feeling of disconnection. Trees are the perfect metaphor for active balance in nature – they breathe in carbon dioxide and exhale life-giving oxygen. They are an example of a quiet, interior, purifying life cycle. The focus of the work is to defy the dualism of body and mind and come back to the wild, elemental self: spontaneous and present.
“Breathing Room”, A Chamber Symphony for Two Actors and a Musician in Four Acts, is a play within a concert, and structured as a symphony. “Breathing Room” follows two neighbors in a Los Angeles suburb – Marilyn, an artist, and the Professor, a high school science teacher. The two of them struggle with “modern technologic vertigo” as they negotiate living with hummingbirds, meatball eating bears, coyotes and backyard chickens. With evocative music performed live on stage by Mary Lou, they explore personal relationships with nature, quantum physics and embodied spirituality through playful, humorous storytelling. “Breathing Room” is a convergence of music, drama, science, poetry and spirituality.