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Co-created, Composed, and Performed by Ben Neill & Mikel Rouse
Co-conceived by Ben Neill, Mikel Rouse & Bob MCGrath
Directed by Bob McGrath

The Demo is a music-theater work based on Douglas Engelbart’s historic 1968 demonstration of early computer technology. The piece reimagines his demonstration as a technologically infused music and media event, a new form of hybrid performance, equal parts meditation, elegy, and fantasia, set simultaneously in the 1960s and today.

The Demo concludes our Live Context: Art + Ideas series, which begins with Haydn: Patronage & Enlightenment and continues with a performance by the Nile Project.

Mikel Rouse is a composer, filmmaker, performer, director, and visual artist. A quick review of his biography provides a snapshot of his accomplishments: a trilogy of operas, books of string quartets, two feature-length films, awards from leading funding organizations, and at least one album recorded every year for the past 20 years. He blends tradition and technology with an artistic voice that resonates in contemporary thought. Rouse’s works based on pop culture continue to prove themselves artistic masterpieces long after the moment of “popularity” has passed. He is, according to the New York Times, “a composer many believe to be the best of his generation.”

Ben Neill is a composer, performer, producer, and inventor of the “mutantrumpet,” a hybrid electro-acoustic instrument. Neill’s music blends influences from electronica, jazz, and minimalism, blurring the lines between DJ culture and acoustic instrument performance. Neill has recorded nine CDs of his music, which has also been featured on numerous compilations. He has composed original music for two films: Guest of Cindy Sherman and 9-11/9-11. Active as a sound and installation artist, he has been presented widely in venues such as London’s Tate Modern and New York’s New Museum and PPOW Gallery. He was also featured in the PBS documentary Imagining America.

Director Bob McGrath is co-founder and Director of Ridge Theater. Mr. McGrath has directed theater, opera and ballet at venues including the BAM, Lincoln Center, American Repertory Theater, Carnegie Hall's Zankel Hall, Kimmel Center-Verizon Hall with The Philadelphia Orchestra, Krannert Center, Vineyard Theater, Arts at St. Ann's, La MaMa E.T.C., and The Kitchen. His direction abroad includes Queen Elizabeth Hall (London), Cite de la Musique (Paris), Muziekebow (Amsterdam), Oi Casa Grande Theater (Rio de Janeiro), and De Singel (Antwerp). Bob has collaborated with composers, writers and conductors including John Adams, Gavin Bryars, Ben Katchor, David Lang, Michael Gordon, Neil LaBute, Warren Leight, Mark Mulcahy, Ben Neill, Yannick Nezet-Seguin, Daniel Bernard Roumain (DBR), Mikel Rouse, Susan Sontag, Robert Spano, DJ Spooky, Mac Wellman, and Julia Wolfe. He is currently an Associate Professor at Virginia Tech, and has taught at Sarah Lawrence College, NYU and UC Davis. Mr. McGrath has been awarded three OBIE awards for Direction, Best Production and Sustained Achievement.


Generously funded by Applied Materials Excellence in the Arts Grants, a program of Silicon Valley Creates.