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"The Man at the Piano Is Not Here"

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Suzanne Sturn as Clara Schumann in "The Man at the Piano Is Not Here"
in her tour of upstate New York.
Photo by Jim Dusen.


Bobkoff, Ned (American director, educator, 1934-____), “The Man at the Piano Is Not Here,”

a 60-minute concert play in English, with music, set in Clara Schumann’s sanctuary, 1856,

1f; © 1986 by Ned Bobkoff; • in Ned Bobkoff’s The Man at the Piano Is Not Here (Rochester, New York, U.S.A.: The Author, 1986); • script/rights available from Ned Bobkoff, 380D Calm Lake Circle, Rochester, New York 14612, telephone 585-621-2813, e-mail nedbobkoff@msn.com, scriptcreator@hotmail.com. • Cited by Ned Bobkoff via e-mail, November 22, 1996; Bobkoff says,

§ Dramatis Persona Clara (f), wife of composer Robert Schumann.

§ Synopsis “Scene one occurs immediately preceding composer Robert Schumann’s death in a mental asylum. Clara is not allowed to see him and anxiously waits for word on his condition. Her diary inspires memories of their life together; their passionate romance, brilliant musical careers, the bitter confrontation with her father over Clara’s desire to marry Robert, and Robert’s heart breaking slide into insanity. Memories that are interwoven with classical piano music, creating a dynamic for Clara’s emotional changes and the lyrical mood of the play. Scene two occurs a few months after Robert Schumann’s death. Clara describes their final moments together. After years of child bearing, she pulls herself together to prepare for her first piano concert in years. We are the witnesses to her courage, resilience, and will to survive and rebuild her career against odds.

§ Comment “The intense and lyrical monologue combines words and music. It can be staged with live music or music recordings. • A classic romantic story on the life of Clara Schumann, the dramatic monologue highlights the life of the eminent 19th century classical pianist, wife of the romantic composer Robert Schumann, and mother of seven children. Occurring shortly before and immediately after Robert Schumann’s death in an asylum, 1856, this dramatic monologue challenges a female performer to portray Clara Schumann’s stature, courage, depth, musical sensitivity, and instinct for survival. Clara revived her career after Robert’s death. She lived with dignity and eminence for another forty years, hovering over the keyboard like Beethoven. George Bernard Shaw called her ‘the greatest living pianist, male or female.’ • World premiere: New York, 1986, at Dowling College, Oakdale, New York, U.S.A. The play has toured New Zealand, has been staged at the Manchester and Norwich cathedrals in England, and the State University of New York in Brockport. Selections from the play were also performed at a Lupus Foundation fund raiser at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, and a production is scheduled at the Bristol Valley Playhouse in Naples, New York (October, 2000). • Addendum November 20, 1998: “Every once in awhile manna drops from the sky. My play, ‘The Man At The Piano Is Not Here,’ about the courageous life of classical pianist Clara Schumann, has been staged in New Zealand and will soon go on tour. My proud conclusion is that New Zealanders have not lost their sensitivity to things great and small.” • Brian Turner wrote: “Ned: I’ve just returned home after the opening of your play. We had a full house, Jane’s performance was brilliant as was the audience’s response. We have an excellent production here and I wish you could have seen it. Thank you very much for this play, we all feel it is something special. Brian, b.turner@clear.net.nz, http://homepages.manawatu.net.nz/~bturner/plays/index.htm.” Addendum July 5, 2000: “Lewis, a note to let you know that ‘The Man at the Piano Is Not Here’ continues to tour New Zealand. It was also staged at the Manchester and Norwich Cathedrals in England, the State University of New York in Brockport, the Bristol Playhouse in Naples, New York, starring Suzanne Sturn, and the International Theatre in Vienna, Austria. Selections from the concert play were also highlighted at the famed Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, to help raise funds for Lupus victims." • “35 years experience working with people from all walks of life in a variety of cultural & community settings - throughout the United States and abroad. The Firebugs * Established 2 theatres. Directed/produced over 80 theatre and mixed media events. Published plays, essays, fiction and reviews covering the arts. Earl Boen as Tom Paine * Teaching venues include educational institutions servicing indigenous and international student populations: The Institute of American Indian Arts (Santa Fe), The American University in Bulgaria, The National Konservatuvari for Music and the Performing Arts (Turkey) Rehearsal of The Visit (Turkey) * Selected as an Artist-in-Residence in New Mexico, Wyoming, North Carolina and Virginia. David Casiano & Friend in Stage Directions * New York State Council On The Arts grant for exploratory video work. Wurlitzer Foundation Playwriting Residence (Taos, NM). Dramatist Guild Playwriting Grant. Actors Studio (Director’s Unit) & Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers workshops, New York City.”— Ned Bobkoff’s Home Page, http://www.artsrochester.org/artists/bobkoff/background.htm, accessed January 31, 2005. • Addendum November 21, 2004: Bobkoff in 2004 began writing reviews and essays on-line for Scene4: International Magazine for Theatre, Film and the Media, http://www.scene4.com.

§ Themes biography, bitterness, career, comeback, concert, courage, death, diary, farewell, father-daughter relationship, health, history, insanity, marriage, memory, mental asylum, motherhood, music, musical composition, passion, piano, resilience, romance, Schumann (Clara Schumann, German pianist, wife of Robert Schumann, 1819-1896, Schumann (Robert Schumann, German composer, husband of Clara Schumann, 1810-1856), survival, will power.

See also Ned Bobkoff’s

This Website continues under construction and welcomes new citations and comments.

Page mounted November 23, 1996, and updated November 20, 1998, April 30, May 1, 4, 1999, July 5, 6, December 9, 2000, June 16, November 10, 2001, November 22, 2004, February 1, 2005, by the site Webmaster.

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