Modern Dance Drama  
Jeffry Steele and Friends
Performance Offerings

Clear Away: A Fisherman's Farewell

PHOTOS & MUSIC

Story in Photos & Music (MP3)

 

Photos by Thomas Nola-Rion (B&W) and Frank Molinsky (Color)
Taken during most recent performances, Columbus Day Weekend 1999
Gloucester City Hall, Massachusetts

Carl Thomsen
Choreographer, Artstic Director, Producer

INTERVIEW WITH CARL

Jeffry Hamilton Steele
Composer of Music & Lyrics, Music Director

CD & NOTES

If you would like to sponsor a perfomance of Clear Away in your community, call (978-282-3106) or send an e-mail.
Contact us also if interested in complete score and performing rights.

Audio Clips are approximately one minute each.
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Synopsis

George Thompson & Michael O'LearySet in the days of Gloucester schooner fishing -- when thousands of men were lost at sea -- the show begins with a schooner crew Recruitment Song. . .
Come learn to tie bowline,
Know windward from the lee;
But if you're no good at swimmin'
Don't know how to talk to women,
You won't learn that at sea!
[MP3 download: Envy of the Seas (852 K)]. . . concluding that "A schooner out of Gloucester is the ENVY OF THE SEAS!"

The ensuing sadness of the story is then foreshadowed by the lead vocalist [MP3 download: Flame without end  - v.1 (952 K)] leading into a haunting dance of the Sea Spirits.

Next, all the townsfolk gather to dance the night before the fishermen are to depart for Georges Bank. [MP3 download: Fisherfolks' Reel (948 K)]

Fisherman flirtsFisherman's Vow
One Fisherman heads home with his wife and daughter. Fueled by anxiety over his imminent departure as well as the fact that he was flirting with another woman at the dance, the tension between husband and wife flares into a fight. [MP3 download: Baile Enojado (872 K)] But just as he is about to beat her, he stops short. Filled with remorse, he dances a solo about how much she means to him. [MP3 download: Fisherman’s Vow (840 K)]She reciprocates with a solo to him and they reaffirm their love in a pas de deux.
Dancers Carl Thomsen & Anna Shoub Dancers Carl Thomsen & Anna Shoub
Dancers Carl Thomsen & Anna Shoub

 
Flirtatious Woman - Dancer Patricia Kane
Dancer Patricia Kane
Fisherman & Wife bid Daughter goodnight
The next scene opens on The Fisherman and his daughter, skipping stones and playing together. Women, children and fishermen then process to the pier, where the chorus sings them a farewell round. [MP3 download: Kind Be the Wind (956 K)] The Fisherman and Wife exchange tokens, bandanas they each tie around the other's neck. No sooner has their vessel passed from sight do the women busy themselves with chores, pausing with apprehension to sense each change in the wind.

Over a song about yearning for a mariner's return, we are then given a look at the inner world of the Flirtatious Woman (from the dance scene), as she attempts to keep painful memories at bay by busying herself. [MP3 download: Gloucester Wife (680 K)] The exact nature of her loss we can only guess. The Wife happens upon her. Showing the vulnerability thus far kept hidden, the Flirtatious Woman reaches out to the Wife, but the latter shuns her.

Lovell sets sailThe first half of Clear Away concludes with a story related to the daughter, by her Grandmother, of an old man who would die before giving up his boat. [MP3 download: Lovell(836 K)] A song gives voice to his memories as a schooner skipper. [MP3 download: Sailing Home(608 K)]

Beginning the second half, a solo Sea Spirit conjures the elements, asserting her power over the fishermen. We find the men at sea, where their becalmed vessel is suddenly overtaken by a gale. The Fisherman volunteers to lash himself to the wheel, and keep the schooner pointed into the waves, while the others seek safety below deck.

Meanwhile, The Wife lights a candle in the window of their cottage and tries to calm herself. Another dancer, her "Inner Woman", gives voice to turmoil The Wife attempts to conceal.

Back on deck, the fisherman struggles against the rising seas. At one point, he is nearly washed overboard while trying to retrieve the the bandana The Wife gave to him. [MP3 download: Allegro (880 K)] The next sea that envelops the deck is even more powerful, however, and he has no choice but to be swept away with it.
The Wife wakes with a start from a nightmare. She tears the curtains from the window. The Inner Woman steps into The Wife's space for the first time, holding and rocking her. [MP3 download: Flame without End - v. 2 (844 K)]

The schooner approaches the harbor. Rounding Eastern point, the crew makes a virtuosic three-point landing under full sail, a spectacle to befit the lost man.
Dancers Martin Ray, Joseph Stigliano, Mark McAllister, Doug Fiero & Dave PleulerFishermen at their tasks
As families greet their men, The Wife has her worst premonitions confirmed; the skipper hands her The Fisherman's duffle bag. She is reduced to a state of distraction, despondent to her daughter. [MP3 download: Flame without End (1.2 MB)]
Dancers Anna Shoub & Molly Booth
Dancers Anna Shoub & Molly Booth
Dancers Anna Shoub & Juliana McGovern
Dancers Anna Shoub & Juliana McGovern

The Grandmother steps forward with the message that life must go on, that she should be looking to her little girl.

.Wife pleading
Wife lifts Daughter high
The Flirtatious Woman approaches The Wife; they finally understand and open to each other. The townsfolk circle The Wife and daughter
Final Goodbye Pose - Company
Together, they send blessings to all the men who have not returned. [MP3 download: On the Banks (904 K)]
 
-- Jeffry Steele


For another synopsis -- told from the choreographer's perspective -- song lyrics and other information see liner notes for the Flame without End CD.

Goodbye in color

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