“Chapter 33 was one of the big climaxes of the whole piece: Lucha has to say goodbye to the illusions of ever knowing what happened to Jameson. She finds herself on a rooftop and sees and hears a trumpet player on a faraway rooftop, dressed as Jameson, and sings a distant duet with him. She turns a corner, and a trombone on another rooftop, also dressed as Jameson, gives her a second chance to say goodbye. At the end of this scene, she gets back into the elevator and claims a feeling of serenity so strong as to be almost supernatural: ‘I feel my powers now. The city is orchestral: I lift its baton.’
“I feel my powers now
cars move toward me-
clouds thrill me.
I feel my powers now
the city falls in step with me.
I feel my powers now-
this city is orchestral.
I lift its baton.”
“This chapter alone felt like Hopscotch in miniature: it required its own massive coordination and communication system to bring three different rooftops into harmony. One of our most passionate and committed advisors, Yuval Bar Zemer, somehow sweet-talked the home-owner’s association of his building, the Toy Factory Lofts, to allow us to have the primary musical action on that rooftop.
“Yuval Bar Zemer also introduced us to the owners of the Ito Building, the door factory on the same block, where Jonah was perched all day long for his dramatic solo.
“We were so grateful that so many of the building’s residents actually enjoyed the surreal occupation of their building – they seemed to mostly appreciate the strange ability to step into an operatic performance just by walking into their elevator!
“Tony’s solo from a top floor balcony on the neighboring Biscuit Lofts was possible because Michelle Shocked was busy performing in Chapter 28 on the Yellow Route – so she wasn’t bothered by him being stationed in her apartment all day long.
“Before we knew it we had our trio of rooftops, giving the impression that the whole city was a site of memory and music.
“Ellen and I worked on the dramatic arc of this scene perhaps more than any other. During the preview performances the scene ran as originally written: Lucha went in a tortured state to the top of the building to ritualistically cast off the memories of Jameson, and then emerged at the other end as a transformed and tranquil soul. Somehow that arc was too much to try and encapsulate in the relatively brief 10 minutes of the scene. Moving around the roof also made it difficult to truly follow the minor gradations in her journey towards peace – for those that were so transfixed by the sight and sound of the instrumentalists on the rooftops, they missed the character’s turning point, and the ride back down to street level was just confusing. Finally, the first version of the score was routinely 15 minutes long, and each chapter had to be precisely 10 minutes – including elevators up and down! – if it wasn’t going to throw the whole route into havoc.
“After we got the Red Route on its feet for its preview, we all went to work on staging the Yellow and Green Routes, which gave us a lot of perspective on what worked and what didn’t in time to make corrections. Once the entirety of Hopscotch was on its feet, it seemed clear that the chapters that communicated the most effectively were ones of isolated moments and atmospheres – less large-scale dramatic arcs and more essential states. Ellen and I agreed to have this piece framed by a sense of Lucha’s peace – her music on the way up to the roof and down from the roof expressed a similar acceptance, with the interlude on the roof as the last and perhaps most difficult disturbance. I loved the sense that enlightenment is a gradual process: even when the light-bulb turns on, there are relapses that still have to be overcome. To keep the chapter at a predictable 10-minute running time, Ellen made some internal cuts that kept the story and character clear. By the time we opened, the scene was as focused, direct, and strong as the other chapters.
“The collaborative creation of this chapter was just one example of the kind of flexibility and openness to improvements that everyone involved in Hopscotch had to accept – and the great thing was that they didn’t accept it begrudgingly but whole-heartedly, with joy.
“I think for many people it set a benchmark of what was possible, right down to the compositional level, and I think that transformative process we underwent was communicated directly to the audience.”
“I think the chief thrill of creating Hopscotch was the iterative process that defined everything, from the route mapping down to the actual music, which everyone saw as a great opportunity to create far outside their routines.