Fade unfolds in
real time, shortly before
sunset inside a
large mountain estate in the Adirondacks. Gertie and Albert—a
wealthy couple who commissioned the summer home—have just arrived in
the living room. The room is chock-full of moving boxes. The
Housekeeper, a young woman hired from a neighboring town, is busying
herself with unpacking.
classic society lady—the last of her kind, in a way. While she
never had a formal job, she has spent years involved in variety of
charities. These include raising money to fight poverty and famine in
developing countries, AIDS prevention in Africa and most recently,
environmental causes. She was the chief organizer for a large dinner
party where Al Gore spoke.
up. GERTIE comes from old money but ALBERT
had to work for it. He
retired recently from his position as CFO of a large accounting firm in
the city. They have a penthouse on the East Side.
(Mezzo-Soprano) has been separated from her husband for a little over a
has two kids at home. She makes very little money. High-school
graduate, but no college. Attractive, dressed in jeans and nice
button-up shirt with somewhat stylish jacket. She works hard and
parties hard with friends but has vowed to stop dating deadbeats. The
HOUSEKEEPER came recommended by a local landscaper who worked on the
This house was
custom built for ALBERT and GERTIE. He had the old house (falling
apart for decades) bulldozed and built a "green," opulent mansion on
the same spot. GERTIE can remember the summers she spent
as a child
playing there. She inherited the house. The nearest town is a five-mile
drive down mountain roads.
When the action begins, it is roughly thirty minutes before sunset,
the complete extinguishing of light on the horizon. The single location
is one of the house’s large, comfortable, modern living rooms. There
might be a large, unseen bay window downstage, allowing the fading
light of the sunset to enter the playing space. Since this is ALBERT
and GERTIE's moving day, there are boxes
stacked in the room. Besides
the boxes, the room includes a sofa, chairs and a table.
Housekeeper introduces herself and the three get to know each other. We
learn that the new house was built on the demolished remains of
Gertie's grandmother’s estate. The couple goes upstairs with their
travel bags. Left alone, the Housekeeper muses cynically on her new job
as a maid (“Slavery was abolished ages ago”) and sorts through the
boxes with curiosity.
and Gertie come back down to announce that he wants a drink. He
offers the Housekeeper one, but she’s driving. Albert asks the
Housekeeper what she thinks of the house. Environmentally concerned
Gertie expected it to be more eco-friendly. Albert replies that it is
(“It’s thirty percent Green”). Gertie isn’t convinced and thinks
there are too many rooms.
The Housekeeper excuses
herself to prepare dinner. Gertie gazes out the bay window and sees
the setting sun reflected on the lake (“Look, look at the light”). In a
nostalgic reverie, she recalls the summers she spent at the estate as a
girl. Meanwhile, Albert, not listening, is irritated that he can’t get
a signal on his cell phone; he grumbles that the landline hasn’t been
installed yet, either. He pours himself another drink.
there’s a blackout. The only light comes from the setting sun through
the windows. The Housekeeper enters. Neither she nor Albert knows how
to fix the fuse box, or whether a half-solar house even has a fuse box.
They decide to wait it out. Tension arises in the silence. Gertie
becomes more nervous, alluding to sinister news that day. Albert
brushes it off. Gertie, her mind racing, begins talking about the
poor and her work in charity. Albert replies cynically that the poor
the Housekeeper, worried about her two children back in town, announces
that she must go to them, since she can’t call. Gertie initially
objects, but Albert quiets her, saying that they understand. The
Albert and Gertie
sit in the gathering darkness, as the tension grows. Gertie worries
about their families, frets that the Housekeeper might not work out.
Then she tells Albert to get the keys, they should go. Albert, who has
been drinking steadily, heads off but stumbles into a piece of
furniture, painfully stubbing his toe. Tipsy and furious, he sits and
sulks in the gloom.
Gertie is transfixed by the
sunset. She invites Albert
to come watch it with her, but he refuses. Slowly, the light dies.
Fade is a
contemporary slice-of-life tale with dark undertones. It
begins in a spirit of light satire and comedy; there’s a crack in the narrative with the blackout;
proceeds to a nervous, dislocating
piece is meant to resonate on a number of levels. It contains several
oppositions: wealth and privilege versus poverty and dependence; architecture versus the
land; consumerism versus conservationism;
modernity versus tradition; and connection versus isolation.
becoming preachy or
is a story about America in this
piece charts a
journey from comedy to a more ineffable mood of fear, paranoia
and—oddly—rapture (Gertie can’t
take her eyes away
from the setting
Both in its
language and music, Fade
simple but gripping mood piece that covers a spectrum of emotions and
ideas, providing performers, designers, directors
and players a chance
to collaborate on a haunting chamber work.