A look at the script for The Truth: A Tragedy

I adore Cynthia Hopkins’ work. MASS MoCA has been lucky enough to present several of her pieces either as work-in-progresses or as completed works throughout the past 11 years. Personally, I learned about Hopkins in college and then was floored when I had the opportunity to see the final piece of her Accidental Trilogy, The Success of Failure (or, The Failure of Success) at MM as a work-in-progress last year. I have always enjoyed seeing works that break genres and for me Hopkins is at the forefront of genre breaking. Although her work is most often tagged as theater, once you have seen her perform you will walk away praising her stunning singing voice and musical arrangements, her use of new technologies such as video and projections, and her amazing ability to gracefully move about the stage in a dancer like fashion. I think the New York Press captures these sentiments the best, ““Cynthia Hopkins is the definition of postmodern artistry. Her work… transcends single genres and mediums and defies definition.”

Needless to say, I was delighted to see that Hopkins was returning to MASS MoCA this fall to present The Truth: A Tragedy, a tribute to her father, which she workshopped here last December. Although all of her wok is personal, this time Hopkins really bares all her feelings and emotions relating to her relationship with her father and her interactions with him during the last few years of his life. Our press photos (like the one above) capture Hopkins in her full costume of her father’s belongings, including a skirt made of his ties. The script is beautifully written and captures in eloquent passages the true dilemma children feel as they become charged with the care of their aging parents and the pain and confusion they feel as they begin to process what will inevitably happen next. In true Cynthia Hopkins style the script is peppered with a variety of characters and hauntingly beautiful songs (Listen to Undertow now).

I don’t want to spoil the show for you, but for anyone sitting on the fence about attending this event on Saturday, October 9, I thought a few passages from the script might give you an idea of exactly what to expect from The Truth: A Tragedy. Below are a few passages of text from the script:

“My father never throws anything away,

not even if it’s used or broken beyond repair, not even if

it’s not the kind of used item you’d want to re-use, such

as a used q-tip. Some of the items he retains, however –

torn and used clothing, chipped dishware, old glasses

frames without lenses – ARE re-usable, so upon first

glance there appears to be a practical aspect to my

father’s retention of all objects, born of a childhood spent

during the depression, followed by an adulthood raising

a family on the paltry wages of a grade school English


“There aren’t that many people that I love. I’m as fickle as

my father, and as annoyed; as childish, crude, witty, self-

defeating, morose; as helpless, as romantic, and as

funny. But no one is exactly like my father, and that is

why it’s a tragedy that he is dying.”

“So you recognize that, right? It’s from ‘Onions’. But

maybe you don’t know ‘Onions’. ‘Onions’ was a musical

comedy my father wrote when I was a little kid, about a

man on a ledge, trying to get up the courage to jump off

the ledge and commit suicide. And it’s a bit of a struggle,

because he doesn’t have the… well as his secretary

Matilda puts it: “Ah Harold, you don’t have the ONIONS

to jump!” onions being a euphemism for balls or testicles

or… nuts. But maybe you don’t know ‘Onions’. It was

given its premiere and only performance by my father’s

10, 11, and 12 year old students at the Pike School in


“I like the theater, because everyone has

to sit down, and shut up. Ritual, repetition, reflection. His

thoughts and speech seem slow, delayed. He says

“you’re the best.” He asked Tom to give him a hug. Are

these uncharacteristic displays of affection due to brain

damage? I thought I was having déjà vu, and then I

realized: it’s just a repeat of the same situation, with

people saying the same things, over and over again. I

remember eating at a Mexican restaurant with him

before he was even diagnosed with Parkinson’s

Disease, and halfway through the meal he looked up and

said “is this Mexican food?” And it’s that kind of

comment that holds a zen-like charm for everyone

except his children, for whom it’s either mildly disturbing

or annoying, depending on whether you attribute his

bewilderment to insanity, or some sort of comedy


Cynthia Hopkin’s will perform The Truth: A Tragedy on Saturday, October 9, at 8 PM in the Hunter Center. Guests will also be able to peruse a small collection of Hopkins’ father’s belongings before and after the show.

Hope to see you there!

Posted October 6, 2010 by Brittany Bishop
Filed under BLOG, The Truth: A Tragedy, Theater
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Dinner + Theater = $40

We’re pairing up with our friends at Taylor’s Fine Dining to offer you a very attractively price dinner & theater package. On October 9, You can enjoy great food at Taylor’s (including a glass of wine!) and a great show at MASS MoCA (Cynthia Hopkins’ The Truth: A Tragedyfor just $40!

Here are the details.  Prix fixe dinner at Taylor’s includes: Read the rest of this entry »

Posted September 30, 2010 by MASS MoCA
Filed under BLOG, Dining, North Adams, The Truth: A Tragedy
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