At the conclusion of the 1919 Spanish Flu, a murderer crept through the streets causing mass hysteria. And apparently he loved jazz music. He wrote an op-ed to the Times-Picayune addressing the townsfolk of New Orleans, instructing each and every one of them, to play jazz music and a life would be spared. Presented as a radio drama for a trio of actors and accompanying jazz-based chamber ensemble, Axeman delves into the psychology of making profit off human suffering and an exploration of the American Dream. The work is scored for instrumental quartet, singer, and two voice actors (in addition to optional sound design).
Composer Whitney George and librettist Bea Goodwin have worked on three pandemic-themed radio dramas since 2020: HOME; an adaptation of Charlotte Perkin’s Gilman essay during the tuberculosis crisis (2020), AXEMAN; the tale of a New Orleans axe-murder during the Spanish Flu (2021), and most recently PAPER DAUGHTER; the cautionary story of racial hate alongside the bubonic plague outbreak in turn of the century San Franciso’s Chinatown (2022-23).
The tradition of community oral storytelling has aided in the remembrance of events past, and serves as foreshadowing events future.These three stories in IN THE THROES OF DEATH dissect the power of fear mongering in three separate times and locations. Echoes of current day issues of racism, capitalism, and consumerism are prevalent in each of these three narratives.
music by Whitney E. George
text by Bea Goodwin
Recorded at Scholes Studio
Brooklyn NY - March 2021
Mastering by Evan Tyor