Crazy Jane

Text and original music by David Crandall

I wrote the text for Crazy Jane in 1983, and originally scored it for mixed chorus and a chamber ensemble of flute, clarinet, cello, marimba and percussion. It was premiered in that form at Tokyo Union Church in September 1983.

With the founding of Theatre Nohgaku in 2000, there was new demand for English-language plays set to noh music. With the help of Rick Emmert, noh drummer Mitsuo Kama, and others, I fashioned a new musical accompaniment to be played by a traditional noh ensemble. This revamped version was given its world premiere by Theatre Nohgaku in spring of 2007 at the University of Puget Sound as part of a Pacific Northwest tour.

The story of Crazy Jane is quite simple. A young man, disturbed by dreams of the sea, travels to a seaside village and seeks shelter for the night at a church. The church warden advises him to go elsewhere, because a deranged woman called Crazy Jane is about to make her nightly visit and will surely disturb his rest. Undaunted, the young man enters and finds himself a quiet corner to sleep in. Jane arrives in her usual confused state, looking for a lover named Tom who left her long ago. Sensing an affinity with the young man, who reminds her of Tom, she recounts how she and Tom had once danced together on the village green, and how he had disappeared, leaving her heartbroken. Caught up in her memories, she begins to dance, drawing the young man in as her partner. The play ends with Jane herself disappearing in the midst of the dance, leaving the young man to wonder what became of her, and beginning another cycle of loss and madness.
[David Crandall]