The Collector

The Collector of Ocean Beach is a music-theater piece for an actor, pianist, and electronics to explore memory, our changing climate, and sing-alongs. The project is a collaboration between writer Erin Bregman and composer John Glover.

In the world of The Collector , our most intense life experiences are manifested as physical objects (memory shells) that, due to a series of large environmental events, separate from people and disappear into the sea. Each separation event is preceded by atmospheric changes, and the sudden appearance of water in people’s pockets. The memory shells, translucent and fusilli-like in shape, float across oceans, pick up barnacles, and can be destroyed by pounding surf. The story is set in four San Francisco locations: Ocean Beach, the Camera Obscura, Sutro Baths, and Fort Miley.

At Ocean Beach is The Collector. Her job is to paddle out into the surf to collect these shells, and then sort, preserve, and catalogue them. Theoretically, this makes it possible for people to reunite with their separated memories. Most never are.

Ultimately, this piece examines why we humans separate from and bury some of our memories, what the most personal consequences of a changing climate might be, and what happens when we stop to face the things we most want to ignore. By drawing the audience into the performance and inviting them to sing along, we aim to tell a story, but perhaps also to reconnect them with their environment, or with a memory they have left behind, buried, or forgotten.