It’s about starting a conversation.
That’s what Mountain drummer and Greenport resident Corky Laing said in a recent phone call about “Playing God — The Rock Opera,” his collaboration with Finnish bioethics professor Dr. Tuija Takala. The duo will give a preview of the production at Castello di Borghese Vineyard in Cutchogue, Saturday, Jan. 31 at 2 p.m. Admission is free and includes a Q&A session with Laing and Takala, a 20-minute video of the show and an acoustic performance by Laing.
The rock opera, which will make its U.S. debut April 23 at The Kaye Playhouse in Manhattan, explores topics like artificial insemination, immortality, cloning, suicide, deities, the afterlife and the concept of “savior siblings,” Takala, an instructor at the University of Helsinki, said. She co-wrote the production with her husband, Matti Häyry, who teaches philosophy at Aalto University School of Business in Helsinki and is a founding member of the International Association of Bioethics. The show has already been performed in Helsinki; Brussels; Paris; and Basel, Switzerland.
“These are the sort of issues people are increasingly coming across in their own lives,” said Takala, who began writing the opera in 2010. The show’s themes about genetic engineering are explored in the form of a musical narrative.
“Babies are routinely tested for certain genetic conditions,” she continued. “The commercial genetic companies are pushing more and more tests on people.”
That’s not to say these concepts are good or bad, Takala said.
“We’re just saying stop for a second and think, because you might actually have to make decisions about these things in your life,” she said.
Laing, 67, might be better known to the public as the mind behind Mountain’s 1973 megahit “Mississippi Queen,” but he said he became intrigued by the concepts explored in Takala and Häyry’s production when he met the couple after performing with Mountain at a Helsinki concert. He then quickly agreed to help write the music and lyrics for “Playing God.”
“Personally, it was an honor to do this kind of repertoire because I had a chance to write and not really do anything but communicate the story,” said Laing, who also plays drums in the show. “The opera has been a blessing. It’s a real gift.”
Takala said she hopes the 70s-style rock music featured in “Playing God” reaches people on a different level than a play would.
“It allows you to feel more,” she said of the songs. “Again, these questions are complicated and we don’t want to give answers. If you’re doing a play, it’s more about words. And if you’re using words you’re directing people.
So we’re hoping the music allows people to reach levels within themselves,” she continued. “You don’t have to verbalize everything.”
To learn more about “Playing God — The Rock Opera,” visit playinggodrocks.com.