an exercise in analysis

An Exercise in Analysis (1917) consists entirely of act and part titles followed by one or more sentences. Initially confounding, the play becomes both readable and amusing when one notices that the act and part titles are names of four voices: Act II, Act III, Act IV, and one whose name begins as A Play and becomes Part x, where x is a roman numeral from II to LX. Read aloud, the play is a skewed exercise in analysis of the competitive and collaborative relations among these four voices.

We have set the play as a car ride through the countryside. Part x, the driver, sets the topic of conversation; Act II, the front passenger, corrects or one-ups; Act III either comments ironically or initiates a new topic; and Act IV concludes these short, circular exchanges with something practical, petulant, or ditzy.

We offer two recordings: click “listen” for a naturalist rendering of the play with sound effects (10 minutes), or click here for Dan Warner’s electronic setting (13 minutes).

listen read the play


  • Composer and electronics: Dan Warner
  • Scenario: Adam Frank
  • Director: James Fagan Tait
  • Sound Engineer: Don Harder
  • Patti Allan as Part x
  • Emelia Symington Fedy as Act II
  • Evan Frayne as Act III
  • Kevin MacDonald as Act IV
  • Produced with the co-operation of the Union of B.C. Performers. This recording was supported by a grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (File 435-2013-1684).

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