Golden Cage Study Script, Audio & Video
About “The Golden Cage”
A Two-Character Fantasy Musical by Deborah Henson-Conant
Boris – a fantastical half-bird, half-man character – has spent his entire life on a quest to find the elusive “Golden Cage,” the ultimate symbol of security in Birdman mythology.
When he finally finds it, carved into a 500,000-foot-high granite cliff, it’s everything he’s dreamt of … except for one thing: there’s a woman who’s trapped inside – and she, Alphea, says the cage is made of cement and iron.
After that: Murder. Illusion. Desire and Transformation – as the two discover the secret that traps you in the cage – and the only way you can escape.
The struggle between freedom and security is timeless and universal, the compulsion to strive … or to hide … are the human impulses that lead to both success and addiction.
Alphea and Boris epitomize the human experience of longing for security, getting trapped in isolation, unaware that freedom comes through connection to each other – and to who we each most deeply are.
Workshop Reading – Jan. 2020
A few months before the pandemic of 2020-2021 we did a workshop reading of the full piece. Below is the script, audio clips (excerpted from the reading) and the archival video of that reading
Archival Video (2020 Reading)
Meet The Characters: Boris & Alphea
Alphea J. Simpson-Hughes is a melodramatic diva who can’t remember how she became imprisoned, and tries on different costumes to suit her mood.
VOICE RANGE: Soprano/Mezzo (or Tenor/Baritone if played by a male)
BODY-TYPE, AGE, RACE, EHNICITY: Irrelevant
Stage, Costumes & Basic Tech
RUNNING TIME: Approximately 75-90 min without intermission
ORCHESTRA: Piano (or piano, cello & drums)
SET: Single unit set
SETTING & STYLE: The play takes place in a time out of time on a remote mountaintop, above, around and inside a Golden Cage which is built into a craggy cliff, 500,000 feet in the air.
The inside of the cage is filled with shelves, nicknacks, costumes, marble collections, wigs, bottles, instruments and books – and in the middle of the cage is an immense desk.
COSTUMES: Boris is a red birdman with wings, tail & crest. Alphea changes costume to fit her mood, pulling on a Wagnerian breastplate, a Marie-Antoinette wig filled with hair curlers, an apron, a sword, etc. Later she has her own gold wings, tail and crest.
CURRENT PRODUCTION STATUS: Currently in development through NOMTI (New Opera & Musical Theater Initiative – Boston), readings and feedback sessions with Paul Gordon, writer/composer of Broadway’s “Jane Eyre” and “Daddy LongLegs,” and his creative team.
“Deborah Henson-Conant’s genius is on full display in her stunning musical THE GOLDEN CAGE. A musical and lyrical masterpiece, the score is deeply satisfying in its harmonic inventions that will remind you of both Sondheim and Guettel – but is truly the composer’s own unique voice. The lyrics and the dialogue are expertly woven into this two-person musical that will delight sophisticated audiences”.
Audio Excerpt from 2016
Below is a YouTube clip of a musical excerpt with conceptualizations of the characters and scenes by artist Ellen LeBow
“Humor Her Madness / Then at Last” (from the 2016 Workshop)
Realizing that Alphea is obsessed with the mystical, tragic nature of her imagined imprisonment in the cage, Boris realizes that he can use imagination to get her out of the cage – and he hatches a plan to do it.