(Powers of Two, Act 4)

electroacoustic music theatre for four singers, two dancers, and eight digital soundtracks


The Woman (soprano)

The Journalist / Sappho (mezzo-soprano)

The Artist (lyric tenor)

The Man (baritone)

Male & Female dancers

Libretto by the composer

  Sound Example available
Audio taped singer: Sue McGowan

Powers of Two : Beyond is a piece of music theatre that explores the quest for unity in a space beyond our own, as portrayed by an undifferentiated visual space referred to as a "ganzfeld" that is created with brilliant lights contained within a knife-edged frame. The act begins with a requiem in remembrance of the dead, specifically addressed to the "too young departed", and concludes with the Woman being escorted into the Beyond by the dancers.

The two other singers (The Artist and The Journalist/Sappho) enter together from the house, each clad in the kimono and cape in which they have finished Acts II and III. They move symmetrically with each other and are attracted by the dim outline of the dancers in the ganzfeld whom they kiss exactly at the knife-edge boundary before they enter to unite with those figures.

Although initially terrified by the sight of the Beyond, The Man is irresistibly drawn towards it by The Woman who is already in that space. In a reversal of the Orpheus and Eurydice story, she warns him not to look at her and tells him to approach her backwards and rely on hearing her voice. After several failed attempts, The Man is once again urged to approach by the dancers and give up his reliance on sight and reason. He finally ceases to resist and is guided backwards across the knife-edge, where he is clothed anew and is re-united with The Woman. The act ends with the joyful song "We are the stars which sing", a traditional First Nations text.

The sung text consists of poetic excerpts from Aphra Behn, Katherine Philips, Anne Finch, Jalal al-Din Rumi and R. M. Rilke. The tape is composed solely from the sounds of breathing, digitally processed (using granulation and resonators) with the composer's PODX system and diffused through Harmonic Functions' DM8 signal processor.

This work is the continuation of the previous acts: Powers of Two: Repetition, Powers of Two: The Artist and Powers of Two: The Sibyl.