The Nonsense Company, from San Diego, California, now based in Madison, Wisconsin, performs new and innovative works in the fields of contemporary music and theater, with an emphasis on the musical use of speech in estranged contexts and the application in theater of techniques more commonly associated with music. The Company's name is borrowed from Franz Schubert’s ensemble, die Unsinn Gesellschaft, who with radically spare resources spawned a revolution in the music and poetry of the nineteenth century.
The company’s current members, Rick Burkhardt, Andy Gricevich, and Ryan Higgins, have worked and studied with composers and performers such as Steve Schick, Chaya Czernowin, Red Fish Blue Fish, John Fonville, Herbert Brün, The Performers’ Workshop Ensemble, Ed Harkins, Brian Ferneyhough, and Helmut Lachenmann, as well as with theater directors Matt Wilder, David Wheeler, and Stefan Novinski. Their programs emphasizing the works of startling emerging composers have received repeated invitations to theater and music festivals throughout the United States, Mexico, and Europe.
Rick Burkhardt is a composer, songwriter, accordionist, and actor with degrees in Music Composition from the University of California San Diego and the University of Illinois. His chamber music, theater, and text pieces have been commissioned and performed throughout the US, Canada, Mexico, Europe, and Australia by groups such as the Ensemble Surplus, Ensemble Chronophonie, the La Jolla Symphony, sfSound, Toca Loca, the (past)modern duo, the NOISE quartet, and the Olympia Chamber Orchestra. He is co-founder of the School for Designing a Society, a summer institute for activists and artists. With Andy Gricevich he tours the US in the cabaret duo The Prince Myshkins, whose humorous political songs (written by Burkhardt) have been performed and recorded by folk musicians across the country. In April 2006, the Prop Thtr in Chicago performed his new translation of Brecht and Weill’s The Threepenny Opera, with music arranged and performed by the Nonsense Company, and with Burkhardt starring as Mac the Knife.
Andy Gricevich is a guitarist, singer, poet, actor and composer of music for tape, and perhaps the world’s foremost new music autoharpist. With Rick Burkhardt, he founded the Utopia Train Theater collective in Urbana, IL and San Diego, CA, as well as the political cabaret/satirical folk duo the Prince Myshkins, who for ten years have travelled the country performing for everyone from long-time activists and unionists to new music listeners, theatergoers, high school students, philosophy departments, nuns, and clowns. His poems have been published in various journals of experimental writing.
Ryan Higgins is an accomplished actor and musician who studied in UC San Diego’s prestigious theater program. A founding member of the acclaimed San Diego / Los Angeles theater company Olney Productions, he has created roles in dozens of theatrical, musical, and choreographic works composed for him by Lisa Fay, Rick Burkhardt, and Nick Olney. Working frequently with Los Angeles theater directors Matt Wilder and Stefan Novinksi, he has performed major roles in plays by Samuel Beckett, Bertolt Brecht, Marguerite Duras, and Wallace Shawn, and in contemporary adaptations from the Noh theater. He is currently researching new possibilities in musically-scored movement-based theater with Jeff Glassman of the United Mime Workers.