SACRED FOOLS | MAINSTAGE 1998 - virtual motion

"Often fascinating and strangely poignant." -L.A. Times

virtual motion
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August 6-15, 1998
Return engagement Nov. 19-20, 1999

A World
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virtual motion is a one-man opera with all the roles played by the composer himself.
virtual motion employs both traditional live singing and experimental lip-sync techniques through a stylized physical theatre set to a riveting score peppered with "hyper-real" as well as cartoon sound effects. At the heart of virtual motion lies a traditional opera story. A man and a woman fall desperately in love, but are terrified to tell each other. At work they collaborate on the creation of an underwater virtual reality simulation. After a fearful, tortured courtship, they finally express their love for each other and, as in all good opera, one of them dies immediately after the epiphany.

David Rodwin has toured Virtual Motion far and wide since the Sacred Fools premiere.
details and booking information, visit



All roles played by David Rodwin

Produced for Sacred Fools by Gerald MacClanahan
Directed by Valeria Vasilevski
Story by David Rodwin
Composed by David Rodwin
Sound Design by David Rodwin
Lighting Designer - Aaron Francis
Sound Engineer - Amy Bryson


Violin - Mark Zaki
Electric Guitar - Lester Lewis
Keyboards, Navajo Flute, Percussion
and all vocals - David Rodwin

August, 1998

  • L.A. TIMES
    However much we acknowledge the importance of challenging the old cultural guard, experiments in the opera run up against a formidable legacy. David Rodwin takes the O-word for a spin in his engaging project, "virtual motion," billed as a"one-man hyper-opera," which had its premiere at the Heliotrope Theater on Thursday and continues tonight and next weekend.

    The tragicomic tale of Mike, a hapless virtual reality designer facing existential, romantic and automotive woes, the work is often fascinating and strangely poignant. It is brought to life by a hyper-hyphenate: Rodwin serving as composer-cast-narrator-mime-choreographer-dancer and generally a self-reliant conceptualist.

    Surface effects--Rodwin's dazzling and literally multifaceted performance, for instance--are clever enough to momentarily distract us from the simmering angst. Throughout, themes of dislocation and alienation hover over like dark clouds, as does the specter of looming catastrophe, whether a fatal automobile accident or the doomed flight of the Challenger or lost love. Rodwin gamely juggles several roles, splitting personalities right and left, and right.

    Still, questions dog us: For one, is this, in fact, an opera? A textual-musical component runs throughout, but usually without a melodic line, and when songs do appear, they tap into a bland language of pop and Broadway. In its best passages, the sonic framework is based on precise, rhythmic fragmentation passed through a sampler and woven into a fairly simplistic fabric of Rodwin's electroacoustic sounds, Lester Lewis' guitar and Mark Zaki's often doubled violin parts.

    The sum effect can be a bit too canned. Then again, artifice is part of the aesthetic equation. Nothing is quite as it seems. The empathetic qualities of the vignettes are kept at bay through a disarming blend of lip-syncing and live speech, with occasional--and serviceable--singing. Cartoon sound effects punctuate the proceedings, adding to the "virtual" ambience. The story itself is told in jigsaw-puzzle chronology, gradually revealing itself.

    A spare but effective scheme by lighting designer Aaron Francis and director Valeria Vasilevski help maximize the minimal setting. But the stage truly belongs to Rodwin. If less than a musical triumph or an operatic innovation, his "hyper-opera" serves as a psychodrama of his own admirable invention, and execution.

    -Josef Woodard, 1998 LA Times