Chopin and Felderby Jacqueline Bull September 6, 2019
“Does it change the perspective of the music if I’m going from his perspective? I think to a degree. I don’t want to pretend that I’m him. I’m doing an impression of him, so to speak, because that is the best we can do. An impression to leave the audience to somehow feel magically they were in the presence of this guy,” Hershey Felder said about his new, old show.
“Monsieur Chopin” will be hitting the intimate Space Theatre for a limited engagement with San Diego REP (Sept. 13-Sept. 29). “Monsieur Chopin” originally appeared in 2006, and Hershey is bringing it back and has “retooled” it for a new experience.
“I wanted to make it less broad in terms of its execution … I think small adjustments make a huge difference in how something is reacted to by an audience … I changed the set and the costume. You know, I felt that I wanted it to more intimate, more definitely in the room in quotations,” he said.
He also changed the music selections and sometimes adjusts the music from performance to performance.
“It also keeps it updated. It makes it contemporary even though it is a couple hundred years old … And so I think that it is important. I think artistically it is also important to look at pieces and to make that happen in general. And because I’m the author of the piece, I’m still around to do it [laughs].”
“No one is stopping me. And no one is trying to do what’s in my head. And I hope when I stop doing these kinds of things and other people do them, that they use their ideas which is important. You know, lots of directors take on old shows and want to revive them with their own bent. I’m an old person taking on an old show, so I get to play around with something I created you know 15, 17 years ago.”
And why revive this show? What about Chopin has captured him?
“The genius of the music time and time again; it is shocking. There is so much of
it. You look at and you realize it is the basis of all piano playing. It is the basis of all we consider great piano music. It is astonishing that, above all that, it came really out of nowhere. Where did it come from? These things have to come from somewhere and yet, at the same time, it is not as if he came up with a little idea based on what everyone else was doing, it was brand new wholesale, so that is the kind of amazing thing … Well I think nowadays there is so much information out there that it is hard to be entirely original and he was entirely original sort of miraculously so frankly.”
Hershey explained that as he gets older, he is less preoccupied with a specific notion that he wants the audience to take away with and more about focusing on what he can bring to his performance. His goal is to give the most realistic and honest performance he can and be entertaining while doing that (“I am only as good as I am”).
“Satisfaction as an artist nowadays is coming up with an idea and seeing it to fruition. You know satisfaction–I’m never satisfied, who am I kidding. There is always something to be done. There is always something that wasn’t done quite well. There is always something that can be done better. I think the satisfaction comes in the sense of there is no final satisfaction. Satisfaction comes in the understanding that I get to do this again tomorrow and I must in order to make it better … I think that is what is happening to me as I get older is the sense of I just want to continue doing the work and making it better and that is satisfying.”
“I think that is the end goal: try and be better than last time because that is the best I can do.”