Theater review: John Cage 101 is a delightful introduction to music icon

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From the April 4, 2013 edition

In 1937, composer John Cage wrote, “I believe that the use of noise to make music will continue and increase until we reach a music produced through the aid of electrical instruments which will make available for musical purposes any and all sounds that can be heard.”

In other words, Cage may be the most foresighted and influential composer of the past century whose works you likely have never heard in a concert hall. And his most renowned work, 4’33”, is renowned as much for what you don’t hear as for what you do.

The “silent” four minutes and thirty-three seconds of 4’33” close “John Cage 101,” Available Light Theatre’s delightfully loving homage to the iconoclast who died in 1992. To those unfamiliar with Cage, “101” serves as a succinct introduction. To those already familiar with the master of chance and the inventor of the prepared piano, “101” recalls just how incredibly important he was.

Acacia Duncan, Meghan Durham Wall, Drew Eberly, and Ian Short share the stage with microphones, turntables, tape machines, keyboards and noisemakers ranging from thundering metal sheets to crunching celery sticks. Matt Slaybaugh performs his accustomed directorial magic. And the spirit of Cage’s creative and life partner, choreographer Merce Cunningham, hovers nearby to inject his own sensibility into what may be Available Light’s most dance-infused show.

Besides, you might be sure that no other performance you attend this year will invite you to leave your cell phone and any other “electrical instruments” turned on.