Excerpt from the Hopscotch album, Track 16. Composer, David Rosenboom
“Chapter 26 is where the Orpheus myth is most literally folded into the story; it’s the climax of the nightmare sequence – following the previous two chronological chapters, Chapter 24 and Chapter 25 – as Lucha arrives at the River Styx (the LA River). Lucha first encounters a boatman – the same boatman who ripped Jameson out of his experiment in Chapter 20. He and a trio of furies try to keep her from descending into the river, but her resolve and her strength is too mighty to keep them: she passes and sees Jameson by the river. She entreats him to return, eventually throwing down a rope and descending into the sunken river herself. He refuses her, and when her father appears to tell her, ‘This isn’t your time,’ she is rushed back to the surface.
“A younger Lucha in Chapter 7 re-cast the Orpheus story so he succeeds in bringing Eurydice out of the underworld: ‘What if Orpheus never looked back? What if we could decide our own story?’ But in this nightmare, Lucha becomes Orpheus and fails to even win the opportunity to start leading her lost love out of the darkness. This chapter became a decisive one in the character’s confrontation with a reality she cannot always control. The Orpheus thread concludes in Chapter 31, as Lucha receives an aria of mourning entwined with the immortal lament of Monteverdi’s Orpheus.
“Although performing on the river posed many challenges, none proved more difficult than the ‘Access Road,’ a narrow stretch of dirt path that offered the only geographic opportunity to connect this chapter with Chapter 29. The only way to keep the Green Route running on time was for us to make the connection between the two chapters at a narrow spot where the access road met the main road – which required the US Army Corps of Engineers to approve our plan. That was an 8-month process of persistence, but we finally got permission with the great help of Sean Woods, the director of the California State Parks. But our problems hardly stopped there.
By 2020, using over a billion dollars fromthe US Army Corps of Enigneers, the LA River Corp is going to turn the 11 mile stretch of The LA River from Griffith Park to downtown, into a bustling recreational space full with water purifying wetlands, coffee shops and restuarants, kayaking, fishing, green parks, barbeque and fire pits, bike lanes, a large pedestrian walkway, and more. They plan to extend this 49 more miles in both directions. Learn more and help out at RiverLA.org
Rebekah Barton reminisces about her adventures as an athlete-opera singer
“The only way to get to the access road was via a steep dirt incline that turned sharply onto the road. Even doing this descent was terrifying once – and we needed to the driver to do this back and forth, 24 times a day! We first imagined the Chapter 29 car would be an SUV that would descend the incline, but after trying it once, the driver refused it as too dangerous. We then added a smaller SUV to the River scene, just to take the audience back and forth along the access road – but getting the car to turn itself around to go in the other direction was an absolute nightmare. At the rehearsal, we looked on in horror as the top-heavy SUV almost tumbled into the river. Clearly that was never going to work! With no other options, we were forced to go an alternate route, taking either the 5 freeway or surface streets for the dress rehearsal. It was a timing disaster: Chapter 29 ran 15 minutes each time, cutting the river scene so short sometimes that several groups didn’t do anything but arrive at the river before being whisked into the next car. In the week between dress rehearsal and the first preview, all our attention was focused on solving the access road problem, because without it, we did not have a functional Green Route.
“I’ve gone to the ends of the city.
I’ve endured a hundred sleepless nights.
I’ve finally crossed into this horrific realm,
and no terror will seperate us now.”
“Finally, our friends at Wilshire Limo came up with the perfect solution that was part of their inventory: a Jeep! The Jeep’s lighter weight and durability in rough terrain made the access road trip feel like a safari.
“We crossed into land owned by the Union Pacific Railroad and considered whether the Jeep should jump unused rail tracks, until an alarmed representative of Union Pacific accused us of trespassing. We sped away and decided not to push our luck: it was enough of a relief to have figured out how to make the access road work.
“We were all so euphoric in the Jeep that we drove around exploring whether a more adventurous route was now possible.
Performer Jennifer Weiss speaks about the mental and physical challenges of her days as a river voice on the banks of Styx.
“While it was a particular challenge for everyone involved to be stationed on the side of the river, special mention has to be made of Rebekah Barton, who sang standing in the back of a fast-moving Jeep before climbing down into the river, only to clamor back up and do the whole thing all over again – 24 times a day!
“I can’t imagine anyone overcoming those physical challenges so willingly while also singing and acting so beautifully.”