Block title

Work Samples

Shanthi - edit.mp3

"Shanthi," from He Do the Police in Different Voices, a new music theater work based on T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land.

Hyacinth Girl.mp3

"Hyacinth Girl," from He Do The Police in Different Voices, a new music-theater piece based on T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land.

Stranger Kindness

Excerpt from The Acme Corporation's "Stranger Kindness," directed, adapted and arranged by Stephen Nunns and Lola B. Pierson. Sound design by Stephen Nunns. Video by Thomas Kessler. Stranger Kindness was a misinterpretation of the American classic "A Streetcar Named Desire." "Scene 3: Stanley and Stella argue about Blanche." (Performer: Britt Olsen-Ecker)

Share:

About Stephen

Baltimore City

Stephen Nunns's picture
Stephen Nunns is the cofounder of the Baltimore theatre company, The Acme Corporation, where he has co-directed, arranged and adapted, composed music and designed sound for a number of productions, including Follow No Strangers To All The Fun Places (“Best Play – 2018,” Baltimore Magazine) Stranger Kindness (a “misinterpretation” of A Streetcar Named Desire, which received “Best Play – 2017,” from Baltimore City Paper) and the company's 24-hour production of Samuel Beckett's Play (“Best Production” -... more

He Do the Police in Different Voices

He Do the Police in Different Voices is a new theatrical re-contextualization of Eliot’s classic 1922 poem, The Waste Land, that explores the polyphony of voices in the work in a contemporary musical context. While there have been previous theatre adaptations of The Waste Land, all of them have been within a monologue or duologue format. He Do the Police, on the other hand, embraces the noisy, multiple perspectives of the piece—what the poet Ted Hughes referred to as “an assemblage of human cries”—all within a popular musical framework. The Waste Land is less a traditional poem offering up the perspective of a single writer, and more a drama for voices—a precursor to the verse plays Eliot wrote in his later career. Among the characters in the piece are a drunken cockney woman, a clairvoyant and a disillusioned office typist. Perhaps most importantly, the text of the poem also tracks the slow psychological disintegration of two people and their relationship—T.S. Eliot and his first wife, Vivienne Haigh-Wood Eliot.

A work-in-progress of the piece was presented at Towson University in the spring of 2019. He Do the Police in Different Voices will be workshopped in New York in the fall of 2020 (during my sabbatical from Towson University) and then will be produced by The Acme Corporation in the spring of 2021.

"Shanthi," "Hyacinth Girl," and Mrs. Porter were recorded during the workshop presentation of He Do the Police in Different Voices performed at Towson University’s Dreyer Laboratory Theatre, May 9 and 10, 2019.

Voices
Molly Cohen
Kaya Vision
Deirdre McAllister
Molly Margulies

Musicians
Piano/Bass................................................................... Samuel O’Farrell
Guitar.......................................................................... Kevin Krause

"Dry Bones," "Water" and "Unreal City" recorded in the fall of 2019 at Towson University.

Voices
Molly Cohen
Deirdre McAllister
Morgan Wenerick
Griffin DeLisle

Keyboards, guitar, and drum programming:
Stephen Nunns

Complete recordings are available at https://soundcloud.com/stephen-f-nunns/sets/he-do-the-police-in-different-voices

  • Dry Bones.mp3

    From "He Do The Police in Different Voices," a musical adaptation of T.S. Eliot's "The Waste Land."
  • Hyacinth Girl - live.mp3

    From He Do the Police in Different Voices.
  • Unreal City.mp3

    From "He Do The Police in Different Voices," a musical adaptation of T.S. Eliot's "The Waste Land."
  • Mrs. Porter.mp3

    From He Do the Police in Different Voices.
  • Water.mp3

    From "He Do The Police in Different Voices," a musical adaptation of T.S. Eliot's "The Waste Land."
  • Shanthi - edit.mp3

    From He Do the Police in Different Voices.

Follow No Strangers To All The Fun Places

Co-director and composer. Produced by The Acme Corportion in 2017.

Follow No Strangers To All The Fun Places by Lola B. Pierson deconstructed the audience’s experience of watching. The play lovingly followed two characters’ repeated—and constantly interrupted—attempts at making a piece of theatre.

Short vignettes of various styles of theatre and performance were presented: A short play in the style of Samuel Beckett; a Phillip Glass-style composition presented in a manner vaguely reminiscent of Einstein on the Beach; and a German-language puppet show were among the pieces presented. Meanwhile, audience members were at various times instructed to listen--via individual headsets--to a narration that deconstructed the experience of watching the piece.

Through constant breaks, disruptions and disconnections, the show broke down theatrical narrative; explored the relation of fiction to real life; and ultimately tried to answer the question of why anyone would want to make art in the first place.

"Best Play - 2018" ~ Baltimore Magazine

"[Follow No Strangers] is next-level stuff. And it’s brilliant."
~ Cassandra Miller, DCMetroTheaterArts

“...if there’s one thing Acme doesn’t do is odd and weird for its own sake. There’s an intentionality behind every element of the presentation… if you allow it, this Acme production encourages you to start thinking about everything else you consume in different ways. Take the red pill.”
~ Bret McCabe, Bmore Art

  • Follow No Strangers To All The Fun Places

    "Follow No Strangers To All The Fun Places" (co-director and composer, The Acme Corporation, 2018)
  • follow no strangers.mp3

    "And now it is and there's nothing left to say," from "Follow No Strangers To All The Fun Places." Composed and performed by Stephen Nunns. The play lovingly followed two characters’ repeated—and constantly interrupted—attempts at making a piece of theatre. Short vignettes of various styles of theatre and performance were presented. Live performance recording from May 2018. Vocals: Molly Cohen, Deirdre McAllister, Kristina Szilagyi and Caelyn Somerville.
  • Follow No Strangers To All The Fun Places

    Follow No Strangers To All The Fun Places (co-director), The Acme Corporation, 2017
  • Follow No Strangers To All The Fun Places

    "Follow No Strangers To All The Fun Places"

Stranger Kindness

Co-direction, adaptation, arrangement and sound design. Stranger Kindness was a misinterpretation of the American classic A Streetcar Named Desire. Using the actions, intentions and emotions of the original script, the piece alternated between a play and a video being live filmed for the audience.

Williams' play was distilled down to a four-character hour-and-a-quarter performance. The dialogue from the play was substituted with other texts: Blanche DuBois' lines came from various Samuel Beckett plays and prose, Stella's lines were pulled from Thornton Wilder's "Our Town, and the character Mitch spoke lines from a variety of feminist theory texts. Stanley Kowalski's language was actually pulled from the soundtrack of the classic 1951 film, so Marlon Brando's disembodied voice was the only trace left--language-wise--of Williams' text. Portions of the performance were presented via live video to twenty small monitors that were situated in front of the audience members.

"Best Play - 2017" ~ Baltimore City Paper

"Acme offers up probably the most radical and punk rock art thing happening in the city right now. And yet, it's faithful to the Williams play in the ways that matter—namely, mood, message, and atmosphere."
~ The Baltimore City Paper

"The whole experience is uncanny, difficult, and exhilarating."
~ Abraham Burickson, Odyssey Works

Killer's Head

(Director) This Sam Shepard monologue–the last fleeting thoughts of a man about to die in an electric chair–was performed by Chris Ashworth and produced by the Acme Corporation in 2013.

The play was staged it in the bell tower of St. Mark’s Church, a claustrophobic, stone-encased, dungeon of a room that fit approximately 18 people per performance. In a mere 10 minutes, Ashworth’s bravura performance went through a myriad of thoughts and emotions during the condemned man’s final moments.

Selected by The Baltimore Sun as one of the “Best on Baltimore stages in 2013,” Sun reviewer Tim Smith referred to Ashworth’s performance as one of “virtuosic nuance and arresting intensity.”

Play

Play, co-directed with Lola B. Pierson, took Samuel Beckett’s stage direction—“repeat play”—at the end of the script literally: the piece ran repeatedly for 12 hours starting at 12 p.m. on March 15, 2013 (concluding at 12 a.m. on March 16), and 24 hours starting at 12 p.m. on March 22 (concluding at 12 p.m. on March 23). Audience members came to performance anytime during the 12- or 24-hour run of the piece.

This was partially an experiment in endurance—the company was particularly interested in seeing how the piece would “break down” over an extended period of time. Such temporal concerns are not that uncommon in the world of performance art, but it is not something that one normally encounters in traditional theatrical settings.

There were a total of four iterations of the play, with each repetition taking approximately one hour. (The text normally takes about ten minutes to perform.) First, the play was presented in a more or less “traditional” way, with individual lights illuminating each of the characters as they stand side by side reciting their lines. The second iteration was a typically British bourgeois cocktail party that broke down into a drunken revelry. The third was a metatheatrical moment in which the actors relaxed, ate and recited the lines out of character. The last iteration were monologues created for each character from the text.

Play was recognized as Best Production in the City Paper’s Best of Baltimore for 2013 and one of the performers, Sophie Hinderberger, won best actress for 2013 in part for her work in the piece.

  • Play

    Play (co-director), The Acme Corporation, 2013.
  • Play

    Play (co-director), The Acme Corporation

Not I

(Director) Not I was produced as part of Acme Corporation’s Rogue Waves—an evening of short plays in February 2012 at the Bell Foundry. The presentation of the piece was a radical rethinking of Samuel Beckett's play. Rather than presenting it in the traditional way—“a stage in darkness but for a mouth . . . faintly lit from close-up and below”—the actress, Sarah Lloyd’s face was totally lit and her voice was amplified by a visible microphone. At the end of each section of the play, Lloyd put her head in a 50 gallon fish tank filled with water, with a video camera underneath. The image of her face under water was shown on a television screen stage left.

  • Not I

    Not I (director) - The Acme Corporation, 2012
  • Play

    Play (director) The Acme Corporation 2012

Connect with Stephen

website: