Skip to content


Created out of a hundred earworms, five singers roam through a forest of speaker chandeliers in a warehouse event somewhere between an arena-style decathlon and channel surfing, in work that is “operatic in scope, unfolding in layers that constantly reveal new meanings” (Culturebot)

Performance / Installation

Sunday, September 8, 7-9:30pm

with Starr Busby, Michael Chinworth, Soomi Kim, Paul Pinto, Dax Valdes co-directed by Ashley Tata; mixing by Mike Rugnetta; music direction by Kerry Ryer-Parke

the warehouse @ studio 153,  153 Coffey Street, Red Hook, Brooklyn

Come and leave at any time. Full performances start on the half-hour.


Decameron is a music/theater piece that uses earworms to create an immersive sound performance and installation. The piece is loosely based on Bocaccio’s 16th-century Decameron, in which ten youths, retreating from the plague, tell one-hundred stories. The piece weaves sampled collages with physical theater, using a groundbreaking style developed in shows at Lincoln Center Festival, HERE, Mass MoCA and other venues. On September 8, 2019, Decameron will be installed at the gigantic Coffey Studio warehouse, part of the burgeoning arts district in Red Hook Brooklyn.

In the Cabinet’s Decameron, interviews about earworms inspire one hundred 15-second miniatures, each an intricately designed collage. A dense sound score of samples, foley, and counting ties together the hundred fragments, and a gestural vocabulary is developed in lock-step with these 100 vignettes. The performers guide the audience and traverse the space, and the stage, an open-arena black box, is dotted with circular platforms and specially designed speaker chandeliers. letting the audience wander anywhere. The final production is an installation, lasting a half-hour, but looped for three hours, in which the audience comes and goes, ushered in by the five performers. The stage evokes something of an arena-style decathlon, charismatic possession, and a recovery ward of musical exorcism.  The end installation is a surreal, collaged yearbook of how identity is revealed through day-to-day listening, and reflects on the original Decameron’s themes of retreat and morality in a time of plague. The result is visceral theater with meticulous sound design, “operatic in scope, unfolding in layers that constantly reveal new meanings.” (Culturebot)

Performers are Starr Busby, Paul Pinto, Dax Valdes, Michael Chinworth, and Soomi Kim. The production is co-directed by Ashley Tata and mixed by Mike Rugnetta; music direction by Kerry Ryer-Parke; stage management by Julia Crowley.

*          *          *

By using identifiable samples, The Cabinet turns musical culture on its head, making work that can be challenging, surreal, and accessible. Productions start as a collage of many recordings, which the Cabinet learns to imitate and lip-synch, creating a physical theater in lock-step with the samples. Each piece examines the aurality of a culture: white musical Americana in Border Towns; the function of 1950s “work music” and Muzak in Time and Motion Study. Reworked Taylor Swift samples become a reflection on torture; collaged Springsteen becomes an exploration of speaking in tongues.  The work confuses and complicates musical culture through often multi-lingual and international musical sources. As such, the work often attracts people outside well-worn arts communities, and our group seeks out alternative spaces to widen this impact.

“[Brooke] intricately mashes up a dense collection of familiar and obscure musical quotations along with commonplace noises to make a fascinating score. It’s hard to not be impressed by Mr. Brooke’s meticulousness… Like Mr. Dylan himself, this show proves that you can be completely derivative and original at the same time.”  —  NYTimes

This production has been generously funded by a Foundation for Contemporary Arts Emergency Grant, Bennington College, and an anonymous donor.



Starr Busby (performer) is an experimental avant-garde artist. You may have seen Starr playing solo shows with her loop station, Francis, or fronting Brooklyn based experimental soul band People’s Champs. Starr has also supported artists such as The Gorillaz, Esperanza Spalding, X Ambassadors, and Alice Smith. Selected appearances include: Octet(Signature Theatre; Paula); Apollo Cafe Live: Soul Cypher; #BlackGirlMagic Show (Jack;  composer/performer);  Mikrokosmos (Steirischer Herbst, Graz and Nottingham Contemporary); The Girl with the Incredible Feeling (Spoleto Festival di Mondi); Where Love Lies Fallow(The Shed; Nia 1) as well as various concerts and solo shows. Starr also enjoys working as an arts educator through organizations such as Carnegie Hall’s Lullaby Project, Beats 4 Peace, Exploring the Arts and Brooklyn Music School. She is looking forward to continuing the development of (pray) with nicHi Douglas and Jerome Ellis at Ars Nova. Her music is available via all streaming services and Bandcamp.

Michael Chinworth (performer) is a composer, actor, vocalist and recording artist based in Vermont and New York. He makes work through a solo practice that can be found in concert venues or in record form and creates and appears on stage in works of vocally-driven experimental opera and theater. He has recorded and toured nationally and internationally as a vocalist and instrumentalist as a solo act and with the groups Anawan, Pat Hull, Horse’s Mouth and Bennington (a male vocal sextet led by Tom Bogdan). He has appeared onstage in works by Nick Brooke and Joe Diebes at HERE Arts, Arete, Roulette and Mass MoCA, and in self-produced work at Triskelion Arts.

Soomi Kim (performer) is an actor/performing artist. Credits as a lead artist/performer: Chang(e) (2015, HERE Arts Center), “Dictee: bells fall a peal to sky” (2012, Women Center Stage Festival) and “Lee/gendary” (2008, HERE Arts Center and Samuel Beckett Theater). All three shows were devised in collaboration with director Suzi Takahashi. Her solo show “MLCG (My Little China Girl)” was commissioned by Dixon Place and was recently presented at COHO Theatre in Portland, Or. Kim’s career expands from downtown and regional theater, indie film to live staged martial arts industrials. Residencies: HERE Arts Center, Mabou Mines, Marble House Project, Asian Arts Initiative and Hemispheric Institute.

Paul Pinto (performer) is a composer, writer and multi-disciplinary performer.  He founded the music collectives thingNY and Varispeed with whom he creates immersive, durational and dramatic chamber and electronic music.  His latest album with Jeffrey Young is the operatic political satire Patriots, which had its fourth U.S. tour this summer.  thingNY’s album minis/Trajectories features eight of his verbose chamber compositions.  Paul has recently played the lead in Eight Songs for a Mad King, originated the role of Balaga in Broadway’s Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812, arranged and performed the works of Robert Ashley, and premiered his own psychedelic electroacoustic opera Thomas Paine in Violence with Joan La Barbara.  In September, Paul premiered and toured 15 Photos, a new song cycle for solo vocalist.  In 2019: a new album from Varispeed, performances at the Kitchen, and commissions for Iktus Percussion, Quince, Cameron Leach, Rhythm Method, and Nouveau Classical Project.

Dax Valdes (performer) is an actor, choreographer, director and teaching artist based in NYC. With Nick Brooke: Border Towns. As actor, credits include: The King and I (2nd National Tour), Seussical (Cape Fear Regional Theatre), Spamalot (Millbrook Playhouse), Beardo (Pipeline Theater Company), Trade Practices, Lush Valley, (RUS)H, Orpheus (HERE), A Dream Play (NAATCO), 3 Sisters (Old Vic New Voices – Eve Best, dir.). Work as choreographer and/or director has been seen at Ma-Yi Theater Company, Prospect Theater Company, Leviathan Lab, Walnut Street Theater, Millbrook Playhouse, among others. He is an actor with Only Make Believe, on faculty for The Art of Science Learning, has served as Associate Producer for the annual Career Transition For Dancers Galas (2004-2017), and has produced Capezio’s 125th and 130th Anniversary Galas. Education: BFA Musical Theater – Point Park University; Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts. Hudson Artists Agency.

Ashley Tata (co-director) is a director and designer of multi-media works of theater, contemporary opera, performance, live music and immersive experiences. Her work frequently sits at the intersection of music, installation and performance and has been presented in venues and festivals throughout the U.S. and internationally including LA Opera, Austin Opera, The Miller Theater, Mass MoCA, National Sawdust, The Kitchen, EMPAC, BPAC, Dixon Place, Roulette Intermedium, HERE Arts Center, PROTOTYPE Festival, The Crossing the Line Festival, the Holland Festival, The Big Ears Festival, The National Centre for the Performing Arts in Beijing, Fargo-Moorhead Opera, and the Bard Fisher Center. She earned her MFA at Columbia University and has taught or guest taught at Harvard University, MIT, Marymount Manhattan College, Colgate College, Bard College, LIU Post and NYU. She is a member of the Lincoln Center Theater’s Directors’ Lab, the recipient of the Lotos Foundation’s Emerging Artist Award in Arts and Sciences and a winner of the 2017 Robert L. B. Tobin Director/Designer grant.

Mike Rugnetta (sound mixer) is a Brooklyn based writer, composer and digital producer. He is the creator of Reasonably Sound, a podcast which explores human experience through audio and was the co-creator, writer and host of Idea Channel, an award winning PBS Digital series about philosophy and popular culture. He hosts the World Mythology series and Theater series for Crash Course on YouTube and co-produces series for Atlas Obscura and Longreads. He was a 2018 Kickstarter Creator in Residence, and a launch artist for their new crowdfunding platform drip.

Julia Crowley (stage manager)  is a NYC based actor, dancer, and all around production handyperson. In the year since she graduated from Bennington College, she has worked in various capacities with Waterhouse Collective in their premier performance of new works, White Owl Productions in Retro-City the web-series, trained with Atlantic Acting School, and has had countless other adventures.