BWW Interviews: Brian Kohn on Pink Floyd's THE WALL

BWW Interviews: Brian Kohn on Pink Floyd's THE WALL

BroadwayWorld San Francisco talks with Brian Kohn, principal of the Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of the Arts. He has a very unqiue production in store for Bay Area audiences: The Wall, based on album by Pink Floyd.

The production mirrors the album so the audience will feel like they are at a Rock Concer, with extras - light show, sets, chorus, live accompaniment from rock band and orchestra. This is a version that Rodger Waters himself performs on Tour, which is why he doesn't give permission easily for others to do so. Pink Floyd's
The Wall broke boundaries in conceptual rock, becoming one of the most famous albums in the history of rock music. It was released as a double album in 1979 and later adapted into a feature film. The brainchild of bassist and lyricist Rodger Waters, the album is a theatrical rock opera based on the themes of abandonment and personal isolation.

Tell me about the project, the show's story, your involvement, and what audiences can expect.

Brian: The project is our interpretation of the album. When you listen carefully to the music and lyrics, truly compelling characters quickly emerge. Students were given a song, rough parameters, then set free to create bringing the song and its characters to life either as singers, dancers, actors, and/or in film. Whichever seemed to suit the song the best.

Harmony: Since the production has a concert vibe, where will theatricality come into play?

Brian: We definitely are sticking to the rocks show vibe, but since it is Pink Floyd, theatrics and multimedia presentations are completely appropriate. They were simply the best at this sort of thing, so it is our homage to a rock show Pink Floyd style.

Harmony: How does a show like this fit with the youth who perform it and what they need to get from this experience?

Brian: The themes are timeless. Everybody at times goes through rough periods that make them feel isolated or disconnected from the world. Teenagers in particular face these challenges in a big way. Who doesn't remember the teenage years struggling with school, parents, and relationships etc. The very strong anti-war statement is also something everyone can relate too. Combine all that with rock and roll and you have something teenagers of any generation connect with very quickly.

Harmony: What will they bring to the table that we won't get from anywhere else?

BWW Interviews: Brian Kohn on Pink Floyd's THE WALLBrian: The Wall. Unless you go see Roger Waters perform, it it simply isn't done. The only reason we are doing it is because he very graciously gave us permission to do three performances to raise money for our school. In addition, it's being performed not just with a rock band but with Choir, Orchestra, Dance, Media, Theatre Arts actors, and even Creative Writing students designing unique programs,..

Harmony: You're bringing together several different departments to make this work. How many people are involved?

Brian: On stage probably 150 or so. The whole show probably involved the effort of at least 200 people.

Harmony: The show is not done often, as it is difficult to retain permission for performance. Would you say that makes this production even more unique? How did it come about for the school to produce this particular show?

Brian: I contacted Roger Waters management company last spring and he very quickly turned around and said yes. Pretty amazing and it says a lot about the quality of the man. We here at Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of the Arts are extremely grateful for his generosity.

You can catch Pink Floyd's The Wall at the Dan Kryston Memorial Theater in San Francisco at 7 p.m., October 29-31. Tickets are $15-28 and are available at

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