29 October 2009


Below is the first draft of our text for the program of the Re:Happening

“Ideas are one thing and what happens is another.”

Welcome to the Center for the Study of Modern Art’s reinstatement of the celebrated first happening. Originally conceived by John Cage and performed at Black Mountain College in 1952, Theatre Piece No. 1 simultaneously brought together unrelated events in a single, multi-focus organization. The Black Mountain performance had no assignments or fictional characters, and integrated the performance with the audience space, allowing the performance to take place both in front and around the viewers. Theatre Piece No. 1 included readings by John Cage, M. C. Richards, and Charles Olson, a display of four of Rauschenberg’s all white paintings, projections of movies and still pictures by Tim LaFarge and Nick Cernovich, music on a prepared piano by David Tudor, and dancing by Merce Cunningham. Rooted in chance as a legitimate method of composition, Cage’s Theatre Piece No. 1 freed its performers to decide and develop their individual roles within its strict compartments of time.

Thanks to Maddy for creating this text.

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