My Coma Dreams at Montclair

We’ve heard this show is going to be really cool.

My Coma Dreams chronicles a turbulent period in early 2008 when jazz pianist Fred Hersch was in the grip of AIDS-related dementia and fell into a two-month coma. In total septic shock, he was maintained on a ventilator and by dialysis. His eventual recovery involved an arduous regimen of physical therapy: learning to sit up again, to walk, and eventually to regain the use of his hands, which had atrophied during the illness.

Based on eight dreams and nightmares experienced while in the coma, Hersch’s dream stories have been shaped into a continuous narrative by writer/director Herschel Garfein (Elmer Gantry, the opera) that illuminates an extraordinary journey to the dividing line between life and death. The theatrical experience is made all the more urgent by the presence of Fred Hersch himself, who leads a versatile ensemble of instrumentalists in music that captures the clarity and enigma of dreams, as well as the poignant intensity of his own struggle for life. Actor Michael Winther (Songs from an Unmade Bed) narrates, sings and plays all the characters in the drama. Animation artist Sarah Wickliffe contributes an evocative stream of visual imagery to create dream worlds and real environments side by side.

MY COMA DREAMS, World Premiere
A Multi-Media Music/Theater Project by Fred Hersch
Written and Directed by Herschel Garfein

Featuring: Michael Winther, actor/singer
 and The Fred Hersch Ensemble:
 Ralph Alessi, trumpet; Mike Christianson, trombone; Adam Kolker and Steven Lugerner, saxophones and woodwinds; Joyce Hammann 
and Laura Seaton, violins; Ron Lawrence, viola; Dave Eggar, cello; John Hollenbeck, drums/percussion, John Hébert, bass; and Fred Hersch, piano

Saturday, May 7 at 8pm; Sunday, May 8 at 3pm
Peak Performances @ Montclair, Montclair State University


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