John Moran


My work has always been based on compositions made up of thousands of individual sounds, which, in tandem with recorded vocals, describe detailed sequences of action. That it’s always been designed to be performed live, in silence, to such a score, so that an acting performance is integrated with the notion of being ‘scored’ in advance. Emotional responses to dramatic events along with their movements are sliced and diced into various melodic structures, often shifting character multiple times in a single statement. There are bits from many different disciplines involved in this technique. Mime, dance, acting, musical composition and staging combine into a unified expression, with a historical reference to techniques in animation. Performers are given an introduction to the principles I’ve learned about such an approach, by using short examples from recent works, etc. Then I usually encourage performers (or groups of performers) to (in some way) try such ideas in their own dramatic compositions.


John Moran is considered a protégé of composer Philip Glass. He was born in Lincoln, Nebraska in 1965, and began his career with the debut of his first opera in 1989. His works as a composer and theater artist are unusual, in that actors or dancers are generally expected to work silently (as mimes) to a score of highly edited voices and sound-effects. These works are known for such specific interaction between sound and movement that they have sometimes been categorized as dance. Whatever the description of Moran’s works however, what most have agreed is that they defy any conventional classification.
Over the last 2 decades, his work has featured performers such as Uma Thurman, Allen Ginsberg, Julia Stiles and Iggy Pop, at venues like Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, American Repertory Theater, New York Shakespeare Festival / Public Theater and many more internationally. Despite his remaining relatively unknown to commercial audiences, publications like The New York Times have frequently referred to Moran as “one of the leading vanguards of American music-theater.”


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