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Original Fluxus Performance Typescripts

Four Original Early Typescripts.

New York: Dick Higgins, 1958-1961. Quarto (28 x 22 cm). Original typed manuscripts, stapled at upper left corners; 15 leaves, 33 leaves, 28 pages on 14 leaves, and 21 leaves. Some light scattered spotting and browning, light oxidation to staples, a few leaves loose but present, overall good condition.

This collection represents four original early typescripts by the important Fluxus artist, composer, poet, and publisher Dick Higgins. The first is a 15-page typed manuscript, printed recto only, the title page of which reads "Stacked Deck: an opera made by Richard Maxfield, book by Dick Higgins," and dates to circa 1958. According to Higgins, "John Cage's composition class, which I had attended, adjourned at the end of July. In the class, besides others, I met the composer Richard Maxfield and been impressed by him. We agreed to do an electronic work together." The work is divided into thirteen different 'characters', each of which is given specific stage directions to follow which cover a variety of situations. In the introduction to the piece, Higgins lays out what he calls the "rules" of the work: "The performer is never to miss an entrance or an exit cue. All other cues are to be followed up to seventy per cent of the time, being missed according to the whim or taste of the performer. Lighting cues given by combinations of such colours as blue and green are to be interpreted as giving both sets of cues. The performer chooses which to follow...Action cues should not be elaborated on. All movements must be thoroughly understood and reduced to simplicity and grace. The duration of each actioin or the possible speed at which it is accomplished is a matter for the director to determine...Blocking must necessarily be flexible. The phrasing and timing of lines is up to the performers, but there must be variety without repitition [sic]. As a rule of thumb, each performer should be prepared to perform each line in any of twelve different ways, and each action in five." The various roles include The Anonymous Man, The Burly Man, The Sandwich Board Man, The Skeletal Woman, The Seer, and others.

The second manuscript is 33 typed leaves, printed recto only, titled "Three Landscapes Decorated With Witches", 1960. There are three separate pieces contained within this volume: I. The Peaceable Kingdom (for one to six women); II. Two Generous Men (two men and a voice); and III. Four Men Weighing Chance (four men). Four Men Weighing Chance in particular has very abstract and incredibly specific stage directions within the piece, along with various speeches in unintelligible language. These are Higgins' notes for how the piece ends: "The Man in Overalls climbs up the ladder...The Tropical Man tries to balance his hat upside down on his head. The Man in Overalls looks very pensive. The Man in Tails takes his jacket off and offers it to the Man in Overalls, who accepts it and puts it on. He falls fastasleep, almost at once. The Man in Tails becomes a posturing statue. The Tropical Man offers the Manin Overalls his hat, waking him up so violently that he falls off the ladder, as before. The Man in Tails very gently and graciously helps the Man in Overalls up, dusts him off, and sets his hat on his head. Then he jumps on his foot. The Raggy Man turns the tape recorder off and goes up the ladder. He seats himself at the top with great dignity. The Man in Tails, the Man in Overalls, and the Tropical Man describe glamorous women's figures with their hands. Then they milk invisible ten foot cows at the extreme upstage, back to the audience, while the curtain falls slowly."

The third piece is titled "What the Theater Can Be, a lecture for Matti Haim to be given at the Living Theater, New York City on April 30th, 1961." Comprised of 28 typed pages, printed recto and verso, this volume differs from the others in that it is not a theatrical script but rather in the form of an essay which, as the cover page notes, was delivered as a lecture. Matti Haim was a Jewish dancer, teacher, and choreographer who studied under Martha Graham and ran the School of Contemporary Dance in New York. During the course of the essay Higgins touches on Luigi Pirandello, Jean Genet, Samuel Beckett, John Cage, Christian Wolff, George Brecht, Allan Kaprow, and others.

The fourth typescript is titled "The Musical Wig" and contains five sections: "To Everything its Season"; "Vocal Composition, January 1959, 'The Sound of the Animals Dying Thirteen to One'"; "Comments"; "Wintherthink Piece for Piano"; and "Symphoniae Sacrae". Dated from 1961, this work consists of 21 pages printed recto only. A program note on the cover sheet reads: "It is my intention to reflect the life and struggles of the American people in a music as vivid and realistic and earnest as possible, to exemplify musicaly the general principles of our Founding Fathers." Each piece in The Musical Wig contains directions for how to perform these experiences, often using props of some sort such as sound-producing instruments, dice, chalk and a blackboard, acetate sheets, typewriter paper, and colored index cards. The performance instructions for "Winterthink" vary based on the weather, audience size, and ambient noise. "Symphoniae Sacrae" is incredibly abstract.

Accompanying these four original typescripts are three additional later typescripts with cardstock covers: "Towards an Allusive Referential" from A Dialectic of Centuries (1977); "The Post-Cognitive Era: Looking for the Sense in it All" (1976); and "Styles of Cognitivism and Exemplative Works of Art: Two Essays Written on May 16, 1976" (1976).

Book ID: 52707

Price: $6,000.00