Suzanne Vega Meets McCullers

In 1940, at just 23, a young Southern writer — a woman no less — wrote a novel that somehow captured the racial tension and moral isolation of those times in Georgia with such compassion, apprehension, tenderness and humanity that it still inspires today.

Her name was Carson McCullers and the book was The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter.

The latest artist to be inspired by the book is singer/songwriter Suzanne Vega, who is in residence at the Yard working on Carson Talks About Love, her play with songs about the writer and provocateur Carson McCullers.

Longtime Vineyard seasonal resident Kay Matschullat is directing this music-theatre work-in-progress at the Yard in two intimate presentations, on August 28 and 29 at 6:30 p.m. The piece will premier at New York’s Rattlestick Theatre in April of 2011.

Ms. Vega, in the role of Carson McCullers, presents her theory of love, exploring and divulging the secrets of the human heart. McCullers often repeated, “nothing human is alien to me,” and her story and the stories of her characters run the gamut from touching to terrifying.

The creators hope that as she speaks and sings her way through a labyrinth of love, audiences will experience the comedic Carson, the pained Carson and the provocateur she became. She strives to conquer the demons that intrude on the course of love, which for her and her characters never runs smoothly. Accompanied by guitar and by a pianist who also takes on characters, Ms. Vega moves seamlessly from spoken word to song and back again, to channels McCullers in a way that reveals the meeting of two souls through a work of art.

Collaborating with her on the music is composer/performer Duncan Sheik, winner of two Tony Awards for his music in Spring Awakening.