what happened

What Happened. A Five Act Play (1913) is Stein’s first. As she explains in her lecture “Plays,” “I had just come home from a pleasant dinner party and I realized then as anybody can know that something is always happening.” Is the play about this party, a birthday party thrown for the painter Harry Phelan Gibbs? And what do the numbers mean? The numbers appear to count paragraphs (more or less), as if Stein is developing the very form of the play, its scenes and acts, out of the sentences and paragraphs she was more familiar with. Our libretto or radio script interprets What Happened as a play about writing a play, and includes excerpts from Stein’s lecture between the acts.

You can listen to Samuel Vriezen’s musical setting for What Happened|Plays here (63 minutes). This is a recording of a performance held June 26th, 2019 at the Institut d’études avancées de Paris (Hôtel de Lauzun, Paris).

listen read the play


Composer: Samuel Vriezen
Libretto/radio script: Adam Frank
Music director: Didier Aschour
Sound engineer: Benjamin Maumus

Aurélie Nyirabikali Lierman (voice) as W,
the Writer

Ensemble Dedalus:
Didier Aschour (guitar)
Amélie Berson (flute) as the Qualifier
Cyprien Busolini (viola)
Thierry Madiot (trombone) as the Negator
Pierre-Stéphane Meugé (saxophone) as the Splitter of Hairs
Fabrice Villard (clarinet) as the Seeker of Definitions
Deborah Walker (cello) as A, the Imagined Audience

  • This recording was supported by: Dedalus Ensemble, the GMEA - National Center of Musical Creation of Albi-Tarn, the Paris Institute for Advanced Study, and a grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (File 435-2013-1684).

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