Press Room

For Press Inquiries, contact Camille Cintrón Devlin, Assistant Director of Marketing & Communications at 703-993-8794 or


February 13, 2005
Contact: Press & Media Relations Coordinator (703-993-8794)

For general information about tickets, seating, parking, etc., for performances and events happening at the Center for the Arts, please contact the ticket office directly at 703-993-2787.


Fairfax, Virginia, February 11, 2005—"Erase your images of opera. This is a multimedia experience
that shatters boundaries of conventional thinking," stated a review from UPI after the 1994 premiere of Mikel Rouse’s Failing Kansas. Rouse brings his evocative, electrifying one-man show to George Mason’s Center for the Arts’s Harris Theater on Wednesday, March 30 at 8PM.

Based on Truman Capote’s chilling ‘nonfiction novel’ In Cold Blood, Failing Kansas, says Rouse, "[explores] a new vocal writing technique [drawing a parallel with Capote's desire to initiate a new art form] to capture the intention of this story without resorting to a re-telling of the tale." While the opera focuses on the events surrounding the 1959 murder of the Clutter family in Holcomb, Kansas, and the subsequent execution of the two killers, Failing Kansas goes further, exploring the minds of the killers.

Rouse performs Failing Kansas on an empty stage accompanied by electronic music, pre-recorded by the artist. At the same time, film projections edited to fit the music are shown in the background; the interaction between the images and the text of the play is subtle though highly evocative.
Failing Kansas was the first of Rouse’s operas to explore counterpoetry, the artist’s own invention. This highly influential technique utilizes many unpitched voices in counterpoint, with Rouse overlaying his own voice on taped tracks to create the multiple layers.

To impart the themes of religion, social justice, and fate throughout this powerful performance, the libretto contains actual transcripts and testimony combined with fragments of verse and songs by Perry Smith, who along with Dick Hickock, was responsible for the murders. Pentecostal hymns heard during this period (most notably those of the composer C. Austin Miles) are also juxtaposed with the spoken texts.

Other works that explore Rouse’s counterpoetry technique include Living Inside Design (1994), a collection of extended spoken songs, and Autorequiem (1994), for strings, percussion, and voices.

In 1996 Mr. Rouse premiered the opera Dennis Cleveland, which explores the late 20th century phenomenon of television as ritual. The opera was hailed by The Village Voice as the "most exciting and innovative new opera since Einstein on the Beach and Perfect Lives."

1 Prelude
2 The Last To See Them Alive
3 Like My Dream
4 Persons Unknown
5 A Brief History Of My Boys Life
6 Answer
7 The Private Diary Of Perry Edward Smith
8 The Corner
9 In Cold Blood

FAILING KANSAS is approximately eighty minutes in
length and is performed without intermission.

# # #

Tickets for MIKEL ROUSE: FAILING KANSAS, Wednesday, March 30, are $20-adults, $10-students. Charge by phone at 703-218-6500 or visit The Center for the Arts complex is located on the Fairfax campus of George Mason University at the intersection of Braddock Road and Route 123. Paid parking is located in the deck adjacent to the mainstage Concert Hall and FREE parking is located in
university lot K.

Friday, April 1, 2005, 8PM, George Mason Univesity’s Harris Theater

a Washington, DC-based performance group focused on the performance of contemporary solo and ensemble literature & new works in music and technology!
Concert features compositions by
Steve Antosca and George Crumb, and an interactive brain wave controlled animation using EEG and biofeedback by
Paras Kaul.

GREAT PERFORMANCES AT MASON is a program of George Mason University’s Center for the Arts, the professional presenting arm of the College of Visual and Performing Arts. The College of Visual and Performing Arts exists to create an academic environment in which the arts may be considered both as individual disciplines and as interdisciplinary forms that strengthen each other. Believing that an education in the arts is deepened by regular contact with the work of distinguished visiting artists, the College draws on a variety of professional presenting and producing units where artists from across the country and around the world regularly perform, give master classes, work with students during extended residencies, and interact with the community in a variety of other ways. These programs at the Center for the Arts Concert Hall, TheaterSpace, Galleries, Harris Theater, and other venues, provide a diverse selection of challenging and entertaining cultural experiences for the University community, as well as Northern Virginia and the greater Washington, D.C. area. The College houses four academic departments: Art and Visual Technology, Dance, Music and Theater.