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James Harrison Monaco and Jerome Ellis

Production Photo of Theater Residency

Production Photo of Theater Residency

Production Photo of Theater Residency

Production Photo of Theater Residency

Production Photo of Theater Residency

Project Created: “The Conversationalists” / “A Non-Existent Film”

Bio: James & Jerome are a storyteller-composer duo based in New York. Their work is dedicated to the blending of story and music, often with a strong international and literary bent. Their shows take various forms, including evening-length works of musical tales with food and drink, hyper-literary narratives with electronic music, and customized tours of art museums. These shows have been directed by Rachel Chavkin, Annie Tippe, and Andrew Scoville. Previous projects include: Piano Tales (Lincoln Center, Joe's Pub at The Public Theater, La MaMa), Ink (The Brick, BRICLab residency), Aaron/Marie (Incoming! @ Under The Radar Festival, Ars Nova), and They Ran and Ran and Ran (HERE Arts). They often work as a composer/sound-design duo for directors such as Andrew Scoville and Rachel Chavkin, and they are scoring and co-creating an upcoming project by The TEAM, called Reconstruction. They were selected as part of The Public Theater's inaugural Devised Theater Working Group in 2015. They are also professional translators of Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish.

Project Description: The title of this project was A Non-existent Film. The basic premise of A Non-existent Film was that an original movie was described shot-by-shot to the audience by James (a narrator), while a small chamber orchestra also onstage (led and conducted by Jerome) played the fully-realized score to the film as it was described. The audience never saw a single shot from the film, they simply heard a detailed (impassioned) description of what was seen onscreen at each moment and how the images cut from one to the next. The piece was experienced at once as a piece of theater, a cinematic event, a concert, a sort of radio play, and a night of story.

The “movie” was an original one that James and Jerome wrote together. Its storyline was an international melodrama in the style of Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar. It followed the intense (and occasionally combative) friendship between a female Latin American female pop-star and a male Lebanese owner of a chess shop in New York City over a number of years. The storyline was also heavily inspired by a classic work of Persian literature, The Conference of the Birds, stories from which are told by characters throughout the piece. 


Residency Public Sharing: 6/29/18