“This must have been one of the most puzzling chapters for audiences: it was darkly funny and strange but also terrifying in its own way, and it’s the last time we see Jameson in the piece. The animation in Chapter 13 established his obsessive devotion to neuroscience and introduces the image of a headband capturing brainwaves. In this chapter, the audience became the guinea pigs of Jameson’s experiment: each one wore a headband, and their real-time reactions to Jameson’s increasingly terrifying questions produced musical events. Jameson finally breaks down with a mini-aria: ‘Hell is in the mind, waiting, waiting…’ Suddenly a mysterious figure in a white suit, Lucha Libre Mask, and oar appears in the window, rips open the door, and pulls Jameson out. With that, he disappears from the story. The mysterious figure reappears in Chapter 26 as the boatman on the river to Hell.
“David Rosenboom introduced the idea of using headbands early on; he had been wanting to explore using the audience’s own brainwaves as material for a participatory concert. The headbands by Muse were connected by Bluetooth to a computer carried in the front seat by the assistant stage manager for this chapter, and they actually worked: when audiences were terrified, the music became more layered and louder.
Thanks to Interaxon for Muse™ brain-sensing headbands.
Composer David Rosenboom laughs about how art imitates life, especially in Hopscotch.
“I loved how the audiences entering this car were suddenly thrust into a new form of spectatorship – active participants in a story they probably didn’t really understand. One of the strategies in disorienting the audience was constantly changing the relationship between them and the artists: some scenes inspired a more detached spectatorship, like Chapter 32; others created an immersive environment, like the Bradbury Building in Chapter 25; and chapters like this one and Chapter 15 involved the audience in a direct, participatory relationship to the narrative. Audience members were forced to constantly renegotiate their relationship to the piece, chapter by chapter, car by car.
“The scene where the boatman rips Jameson out of the limo took place right on 3rd Street and was the sight of many hilarious run-ins with bystanders. Some would yell after the boatman, ‘Get him!’ Others tried to help the desperate Doctor Jameson with advice: ‘You can take him!’ Even police officers who stumbled onto the scene nearly got involved – and they didn’t take it too kindly when the assistant stage manager tried to say, ‘Don’t stop them, they’re in the middle of a performance.’ The three performers in this scene – David, Clayton, and Jonathan – were so committed for each and every performance that they convinced people who didn’t know otherwise that something terrible was happening.”
“Jason styled the interior to create a laboratory feel – including a monitor of the assistant stage manager’s computer in the front seat so the audience could see how strong their brain waves actually were. The design within each car also contributed to the audience’s constant renegotiation from world to world, as well as the seating configuration from car to car. When you also take into consideration the different technology and power needs from chapter to chapter, and how specific each of the routes were, it became imperative that we used the same limo and the same driver for each rehearsal and performance – an enormous task that became one of production manager Ash Nichols’ many, many responsibilities. Wilshire Limo worked with us tirelessly to achieve this – and we felt like we completely lucked out when they offered us a brand new white limo for this chapter with the strangest LED lighting inside.
“Now I know why I’m living while dying. Flames scald my flesh, waiting to destroy me. It lies in wait for us, it bides its time, it burns slow, and in the end consumes. Hell is in the mind, waiting, waiting.”