About I Was Looking At the Ceiling And Then I Saw the Sky
Conceived by Adams as something more like a Broadway musical than a traditional opera, the songs in Ceiling/Sky are pop-like, but unmistakably Adams. The title is a quote from a survivor of the 1994 Northridge earthquake in Los Angeles.
Cast of Characters
David,a black Baptist minister
Leila,a Black graduate student working as a family planning counselor in an abortion clinic
Consuela,an undocumented immigrant mother of two, from El Salvador
Mike,a White cop who is also a community activist
Dewain,a Black reformed gang leader
Tiffany,a White TV crime-as-news reporter
Rick,a Vietnamese-American Legal Aid defense attorney
In mid-1990's Los Angeles, David, a preacher, sings about his many love affairs and his current girlfriend, Leila. Dewain is arrested by Mike, a homophobic cop, for stealing two bottles of beer while trying to reach his lover, Consuela, who is afraid that her son has been arrested by the INS. Tiffany videotapes the arrest; she wonders why Mike is not more receptive to her advances. Dewain resists arrest and Mike has him charged with a felony, meaning he could go to jail for 45 years under the "Three Strikes" law. At his trial, David, his lawyer, tries to explain his client's point of view. After questioning Tiffany, Rick begins to be attracted to her. David visits Dewain in jail, where Dewain tells him he's decided to go to law school. Leila wonders if David will ever settle down.
As Act II opens, Leila and David are making out on the couch in David's affice in his church when an earthquake hits. Leila is knocked unconscious. Mike visits Tiffany's house; she asks him why he hasn't been more forward, and he has a crisis of sexual identity; Rick suddenly appears, and she asks him out instead. Dewain, in his cell, recounts how the walls split open and he could see the outside, but, realizing that he was better off working inside the system, he did not escape. Consuela tells him she is going back to El Salvador to fight for political freedom; Dewain decides to stay in Los Angeles. Lying in David's arms, Leila begins to recover.
World premiere production Zellerbach Playhouse, Berkeley, California May 11, 1995
New York premiere Serious Fun! festival, Lincoln Center, New York, New York 1995