YOU GOTTA HAVE ARTback
The stage is an industrial setting, an older two-storey manufactory building, with little cubicles scattered here and there. There is activity in each, painting, music-making, photography, weaving, sculpting, and so on. People move freely about, chatting quietly, sipping beers, having a smoke.
Laz is building his cubicle as the curtain opens. He is at centre stage, the ethereal chorus of artists behind, and the loathsome Mr. Dyck, City Building Inspector, is entering from stage right, to close Laz's studio space forever with a legal notice forbidding occupancy.
Laz, oblivious to the Loathsome Mr. Dyck, opens with an upbeat song, supported by the ehtereal chorus, YOU GOTTA HAVE ART. Not to the tune of.... This is also the working title of the opera, so this song will repeat if we can get to an upbeat ending.
The Loathsome Mr. Dyck, City Building Inspector, opens with YOU BOYS WILL BE MOVING OUT SOON as he affixes the legal notice to the door of Laz's studio.
The chorus falls in behind Laz, supporting him through a give and take duet with The Loathsome Mr. Dyck. Laz sings the tentatively titled FUCK YOU, MR DYCK , a call and answer song with the chorus, while Mr. Dyck sings FUCK ALL YOU ARTISTS to the same tune.
The Loathsome Mr. Dyck leaves, and Laz is left with the hauntingly poignant HEMORRHOIDAL RECTAL TISSUE, whose redundant title is echoed in its repetitive, expletive structure, sung in the direction of the Loathsome Mr. Dyck's exit.
The act ends with the exit of Laz, while the chorus sings an expository song, telling the epic tale of how Laz came to be in this position, and how the RED TAPE GAMES do trap artists in general. It also introduces The Lord Mayor Developer, The Rubber Stamp Council, and The Canada Cash Cowncil. These are phrases in the song, to alert the audience to what is coming next. Tne song passes along the chorus, each taking a turn for the verse, each exiting after her/his part.
The Lord Mayor Developer sings a paean to development, BUILD ME A CITY, A WORLD CLASS CITY, while the Rubber Stamp Council hums the melody. They occupy a raised staqe, oblivious to the rabble in the lunch room below on the lower stage. There, the boasting Loathsome Mr. Dyck struts and swaggers about, singing KICKING ASS IS A GAS while the coffee flows freely. Huge cups are brandished, emptied and refilled, as the various inspectors listen with glee to the braggard Dyck. They each take a turn with verses of their own. The action on both stages is intertwined, silence on one being a cue for the other to sing.
The overall impression is a desire to develop the city for development's sake, and who cares about cheap spaces for artists. These songs are tough, hard-nosed lyrics with a welling heavy, imperious tune.
The upper stage is panelled with hand-carved oak. lush with velvet upholstered furniture, original oil paintings decorate the walls. It is a splendid chamber.
The lunch room is a pest hole.
Laz at centre stage, with a telephone. He sings a couple of different songs, and the second spotlight picks up the person he called. These are real call and answer songs. He sings to a bureaucrat at the Canada Cash Cowncil WHERE IS MY MONEY?
She replies with THE CHECK IS IN THE MAIL.
He phones various artists, and enjoins them to demonstrate with him at City Hall regarding the closure of the studio space. They agree or disagree, depending on their wealth. He sings the same old song, WE CAN BEAT CITY HALL, IF WE TRY, over and over, a short song, and they reply.
As they hang up, if they agreed to join him, they are seen dialling and singing his song in sotto voce, while he sings it again to a new call. A network is happening here. Finally those on stage, who agreed, and some from offstage surge onto and about the stage.
An unruly mob, they all move to exit left.
The lunchroom stage is now a facade of the front steps and lawn, while the council stage is behind a facade with large doors. Windows in the lower facade reveal the braggart, the Loathsome Mr. Dyck , and other inspectors. Police are on foot. Camera crews, and news photographers mill around.
Laz sings hauntingly beautiful THE PROBLEM MUST BE REPAIRED AND RESOLVED through a bull horn, the mob cheering and stomping their feet in time. The mood is slightly festive, slightly restive.
As his song ends, the upper doors open, and the Lord Mayor Developer sings THE PROBLEM HAS BEEN REFERRED, FOR STUDY from the upper stage. The words are different, sweet, and syrupy, but the tune is unmistakably FUCK ALL YOU ARTISTS. The unseen Rubber Stamp Council hums the melody. THere should be a choral number here, the mob responding to the Lord Mayor Developer.
The act ends with the artists leaving. They take all the art from the City with them. A stream of them exits, carrying framed art, fabric art. doing performance art, singers sing, dancers dance, musicians carry off their instruments, sculptors carry pieces away with them. Finally the facades are lifted, revealing a bare set, a faceless place. The stage crew leaves, and finally the orchestra leaves, walking up onto the stage with their instruments in cases, and carrying them off. The last musician is a trumpeter, wailing away as he walks off the stage. Perhaps a "Taps" kind of number here.
The lights fade.
A spotlight picks up Laz, working on a drawing at a table. Behind him a rich tapestry of art, a collage of media and form. This tapestry extends half-way across the stage.
The other half has a heavy concrete-grey drape. The lights come up to reveal this.
Also revealed is the Lord Mayor Developer, sitting at a desk, back to the audience as he contemplates the gray backdrop. He turns slowly, and picks up the pnone. He dials, and waits.
Laz fumbles through a pile of sketches, and what have you, to find his telephone. He picks it up.
The Lord Mayor Developer softly croons YOU GOTTA HAVE ART. (a capella)
As he sings, the tapestry moves full width across the stage, the orchestra gently blends in behind the Mayor, Laz turns toward him and sings along. The tapestry lifts to reveal a skyline, and art everywhere. Dancers, musicians, painters scurry about before the skvline, the stage crew is painting the skyline backdrop, singers join behind Laz and the Lord Mayor Developer, who meet at mid-stage, and then walk towards the footlights, belting out the finale.
The Loathsome Mr. Dyck stands at stage right, mute and defiant. He will fight this fight again.
(Thunderous applause, bravos, "author, author").