Monday, February 11, 2013

20th Anniversary Memories: The Velvet Oratorio

Tony Torn and Peter Bean in The Velvet Oratorio
Tony Torn (soon appearing on Broadway in Breakfast at Tiffany's) tells his memory of The Velvet Oratorio, performed in honor of the 20th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution.  We had a performance at the Walter Bruno Theater at the Lincoln Center Library, then at the beautiful Bohemian National Hall, for a Czech audience.  We plan to revive the show for the 25th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution!

When we performed The Velvet Oratorio at the Bohemian National Hall, we were all very nervous to perform before a Czech audience, many of whom had lived through the events depicted. The show itself was full of gremlins that night. Lots of small things went wrong.  In my scene as a drunken police interrogator, I set down my glass of beer a little too hard and the entire table flipped over. Fortunately the glass was plastic and the smell of spilled beer gave the whole scene a atmospheric veracity. But later, in a climactic moment, the chorus in which I was part got confused and completely lost the choreography that Henry had so painstakingly mapped out. It was a hair raising night on stage for sure. But the ovation was so warm, and the gratitude of the crowd so overwhelming, that this performance became one of my most cherished experiences in the theater.

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