Inbox Zero

Join us for UrbanArias’
latest commission in a staged reading:

Inbox Zero

Music by Peter Hilliard
Libretto by Matt Boresi

Starring Keith Phares
Conducted by Robert Wood
Directed by Dennis Whitehead Darling

Featuring members of Inscape Chamber Orchestra

May 4, 2023 at 8:00 PM
at The Keegan Theatre in DuPont Circle

$25 General Admission

Tickets on sale now!

UrbanArias’ commission of Inbox Zero is supported by a generous donation from Ed and Andy Smith.

Keith Phares’ appearance is underwritten by a generous donation from the Savada-Stevenson Family.

Inbox Zero
is the story of Jackie, a man who wants more money for his family and who believes he has a deep understanding of human behavior – and who isn’t afraid to use the latter to help with the former. Jackie sells corporate personality tests of dubious merit and struggles to support the growing costs of raising a child. When he receives an e-mail promising him fabulous wealth if he helps a deposed foreign official move funds out from overseas, his desire for monetary gain supersedes his understanding of human nature and he allows himself to fall for an Advance-Fee Scam. Soon Jackie is laundering obviously bad checks and convincing himself he isn’t a criminal. When the scammers require more and more of Jackie’s own money, Jackie begins reaching for the vacation fund, the college fund, the retirement fund. Deep in a hole of lies, misdeeds, self-delusion, and on the precipice of self-destruction, Jackie ultimately decides to come clean, with a new understanding of how the pursuit of fortune makes fools of us all, and how the hustler can become the hustled.

Inbox Zero – the title refers to the corporate technique of keeping your inbox empty – speaks to the pressures placed on the individual by late capitalism and the global economy in the 21st century, when everybody has a “hustle”.

This piece is the latest in Hilliard and Boresi’s multi-project exploration of the degrading effects of commerce and class upon survival and fulfillment (Blue Viola and The Last American Hammer – both UrbanArias commissions – being previous parts of this investigation).

This presentation is in workshop, focusing on the words and music rather than a full production. As always, we will have a talkback after the performance, and we are eager to hear your thoughts!

Robert Wood, conductor