Robert Ashley's opera Perfect Lives was conceived for the medium of television and first broadcast (by the UK's Channel 4) in 1984. Partly for this reason, and also for other factors (the apparently necessary involvement of Ashley himself as narrator; the absence of a complete, fully notated score) the work has received very few live performances. In 2011 the New York City-based performance collective Varispeed reconceived the work as a day-long, site-specific event, following Ashley's available notations and recorded performances in broad outline but departing from them in creative ways. In this article Varispeed founding member Gelsey Bell describes the working processes and decision-making that informed the collective's approach to this experimental classic.
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