1000 Airplanes on the Roof

A Science Fiction Music Drama


Philip Glass, David Henry Hwang and Jerome Sirlin
Introduction by John Howell

Peregrine Smith Book ISBN 0-87905-343-7


July 15, 1988, saw the world premiere of a radical new form of music theatre at the Vienna International Airport Hangar #3. Throughout its subsequent North American tour, 1000 Airplanes on the Roof has astonished audiences and sent critics scrambling for new descriptive vocabulary.

Michael Walsh (Time) called it “part Freud, part Kafka, and part Steven Spielberg” and declared that “operatic design may never again be the same.” Peter Goodman (New York Newsday) said, “the powerfully hallucinogenic musical monodrama … is a child of the ’80s in every way.” Michele May (Potomac News) called it “a light show, a ballet, a spoken opera, an art exhibit, a lesson in Zen. Above all, it is a totally innovative entertainment form.”

1000 Airplanes recreates the original production with color photographs of Jerome Sirlin’s holographic set projections accompanied by David Henry Hwang’s compelling script. It is the story of “M.,” a New Yorker who is apparently abducted by aliens, probed and questioned, then returned to Earth and told to forget the event. The ambiguity of M.’s experience – was it real or hallucinated? – is never fully resolved; it is a parable on contemporary’s man’s search for identity in a bewildering world. Philip Glass, David Henry Hwang and Jerome Sirlin stage a vivid, intense journey through M.’s world – inner and outer – which challenges our very notions of reality and sanity. We experience the full force of M.’s dilemma: no place could be as alien as the world has become.

Composer Philip Glass is famous for his innovative theatrical collaborations, perhaps most notably with director Robert Wilson on their epic opera, Einstein on the Beach.

Playwright David Henry Hwang’s play, M. Butterfly, was honored with the 1988 Tony, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle, and John Gassner awards.

Designer Jerome Sirlin has created stage and scenographic designs for a wide range of productions in theatre, opera, dance, and film, ranging from West Coast experimental performance art to Wagner’s Ring Cycle and Madonna’s Who’s That Girl tour.

Published in 1989 by Peregrine Smith Book, Salt Lake City, USA.
(c) 1989 by Dunvagen Music Publishers, Inc.

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