A Drama for Music Theater by Andrew Thomas Kuster


Synopsis

The Soulless is a musical drama about love’s torments, the sorrow of loss, and finding joy in the unexpected. RICHARD and VIOLET’s marriage is broken; secretly both have sought passion elsewhere, but nobody’s satisfied. Violet’s dishonesty with her psychoanalyst and lover JACK and Richard’s torrential one-night-stand with lively BRIGIT have blasted everyone into their own emotional crises. And mysterious DIANA can no longer hide her grief behind her smile. Tonight fate throws everyone together at the memorial service of a common acquaintance, and facades shatter.

The drama starts as people arrive in the lobby of an upscale hotel for the memorial service, and to everyone’s relief a competent bartender keeps the drinks coming. Richard and Violet bicker, try to keep emotionally steady, and attempt to deflect each other from romantic exploits with Brigit and Jack. (It takes Richard a while to realize he already had seduced Brigit a couple months earlier—she required an extreme makeover to rebalance.) Meanwhile, Diana discovers the memorial to be a fantastic opportunity to connect with people—at first professionally and then romantically with Jack. Just as everyone’s exploits get out of control, the memorial service starts and Act One closes.

Act Two begins as the service ends, and people stream out with demeanors and costumes subtly and beautifully transformed. Violet insists that Jack explain their affair to Richard, but increasingly-attractive Diana keeps getting in the way. Richard and Brigit realize that their connection is very deep—their unforgettable one-night-stand had consequences: Richard is in love and Brigit is pregnant. And as the terrified Brigit ferociously defends herself against Richard’s continuous aloofness, Violet comes to his rescue. Meanwhile, Diana confesses her love to Jack, who rejects her for Violet. And the play closes with everyone’s hearts a little sadder, and a little fuller with love.

Performers

Dramatis Personae

(2 Men, 3 Women, 2 Unspeaking)

JACK, an earnest psychoanalyst
RICHARD, a disheartened businessman turned struggling writer
VIOLET, an overachieving professor who no longer can hold back her emotionality
BRIGIT, the deceased’s former tango instructor with a heartbreaking past
DIANA, a cheerful architect who longs for love, but who underneath carries deep grief
SILENT MAN, unspeaking, a mysterious dancer who joyously mingles and then vanishes
BARTENDER, unspeaking
A VOICE, offstage
GUESTS (optional ensemble)

Orchestra

(4 Players)
Piano, Guitar, Drum Set, Bass

Technical Information

Setting is present day in a tasteful, modern hotel lobby, a large bar with a BARTENDER in the center back. The first act costumes are contemporary dress attire. The costumes for the second act are subtly changed to reveal an elegant brightness, as if about to blossom into subdued colorful patterns.

The play contains several vocal narrations to be recited by A VOICE, an off-stage actor accompanied by music, the words projected onto the scenery, while the SILENT MAN and/or GUESTS dance. The words that the entity A VOICE speaks should sound as if they come from beyond the abyss, as if the misspellings and odd constructions are as close to this entity’s truth that words—the medium of communication—allows A VOICE to communicate. A theatrical interpretation that incorporates the bizarre nature of the words is preferred, but never so much as to obscure the listener’s understanding of the words; rather, an interpretation should enhance the words’ meaning. However, the director may opt for the words to be read in the simplest and most understandable transliteration, the unearthly nature of A VOICE enhanced by projections that preserve the words’ original syntax.

Musical Numbers

The Soulless is an evening-length show performed in two acts with one intermission. It has thirty musical numbers—twenty songs and ten dances totaling 92 minutes of music—that heighten and underscore the dramatic action of the plot.

Act One

1. folw (A VOICE)
2. Next Time (JACK)
3. What’s His Beauty? (BRIGIT)
4. Why Didn’t I, Or I Did (RICHARD)
5. What I Do (1) (BRIGIT & JACK)
6. capeable (A VOICE)
7. Simple Things (VIOLET)
8. womben (A VOICE)
9. See Through Me (DIANA)
10. Maybe We Will Again Soon (VIOLET & JACK)
11. What I Do (2) (VIOLET)
12. Be Fabulous (BRIGIT, DIANA, & VIOLET)
13. fourgetting (A VOICE)
14. Seduce Me (Ensemble)
15. lovedeath (A VOICE)

Act Two

16. timenes (A VOICE)
17. This Rare Thing (Ensemble)
18. angl to see (A VOICE)
19. Out To Play (DIANA & JACK)
20. The Whole Story (RICHARD)
21. metabefore (A VOICE)
22. Even When I’m Not (VIOLET)
23. The Tell (DIANA & BRIGIT)
24. Anyone (VIOLET)
25. What I Do (3) (DIANA & RICHARD)
26. point (A VOICE)
27 Baby Be (BRIGIT)
28. The Kind (JACK)
29. It Is (Ensemble)
30. manifest (A VOICE)

The Author's Work



In my work, I seek to reveal how real people become aware of human urges—life and love—through which each individual comes to comprehend their unique experience of being alive. I try to express powerful emotions (especially the many shades of love) that color a person’s interactions with others and flavor a person’s understanding of his or her self. I try to depict how a person experiences resisting or succumbing to instinctual behaviors, how that person learns to use memory, reflection, and sacrifice to construct meaning, and—by the emergent awareness of behaviors that bring satisfaction at different stages of life—how a person realizes who he or she is as an individual. Although my work explores philosophy, mysticism, eroticism, power, gender, family, and religion, really what I’m trying to tell are love stories.

I take the substance of my work from my own life experiences and my education. I also draw inspiration from the delightful writings of Daumal (A Night of Serious Drinking) and Calvino (Invisible Cities), particularly how their light and engaging style so simply opens up to immediate and profound poignancy. My thinking about perception, psychology, metaphor, and memory is deeply indebted to Jung’s scholarly writings on the alchemical process of individuation and his Red Book, the clarity and honesty of Jaspers' Philosophy of Existence, and Crowley’s The Vision and the Voice, an attempt to tear open how mind, metaphor, and archetype function. And I’m humbled by those composers who have so earnestly tried to express their individual understanding of love, humanity, and divinity, especially Messiaen and Mahler in his Eighth Symphony.

I compose love songs. I try to enhance the listener’s experience of the viewpoint of a character by using musical elements appropriate to the meaning of the words and drama. I seek to compose beautiful and singable melodies that utilize modality, vocal range, and articulation effectively and appropriately. Likewise, in my orchestration I attempt to heighten the lyrics and drama by using appropriate instrumentation (from classical orchestra to rock) and large-scale formal construction that incorporates dance-forms and over-arching areas of harmonic suspension and arrival.

Of those writers and composers who address archetypal human behavior, I most highly regard the plays of Ibsen, Molière, and Wedekind and the collaborations of Brecht and Weill, especially in Seven Deadly Sins. I too attempt to depict instinct, but I focus on how an individual internally struggles with conflicting instincts. My poetry represents enraptured speech, or rather: emotion at the level of becoming words. I try to avoid metaphors and poetic forms that might distract from the expressivity of a character or the unfolding of the dramatic whole. Instead, I try to enhance the emotional density the character is experiencing using real, impassioned language. Thereby, I hope to depict through words, music, and drama the externalization of a person’s essential humanity (or, how that individual comprehends life, love, and divinity).

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Buy audio of Soulless Dances at Soulless Dances.

Download The Soulless sample script below, get a script from Lulu, or inquire for perusal materials.

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Andrew Kuster,
Nov 21, 2015, 7:07 AM