by Joseph Reed Hayes

A New American Bebopera

The NYC jazz loft, 1940s bebop reinterpretation of Shakespeare’s The Tempest

The King of Swing has fallen.

The story of “Duke” Prospero, the deposed King of Swing; his rebellious daughter, the zoot suit-wearing, horn playing Miranda; her potential partner Fiona, at the biting edge of bebop and daughter of the rival bandleader “King” Alonso; Prospero’s magical muse, the mercurial Ariel, a sprite, a spirit, a manipulator and the best vocalist anyone has ever heard; the rulebreaking sax player Caliban, playing the ordinary in an extraordinary way as a bridge between old and new; Antonio, Duke's brother-in-law, caretaker of the band while Duke was "missing"; Stephen, the insidious dreamer; and Gonzalo, the backstage instigator of a jazz/klezmer amalgam that has been quietly influencing jazz for decades.

TEMPUS: THE BANE OF CALIBAN character spotlight


It is a time when young “bebop” musicians are inventing new ways of expressing the free-dom of jazz, and the old, established big band swing players find themselves being replaced, causing a deep schism. The young, the independent, and particularly the women players start to demand their share of the audience - and a share of the profits. The old guys resist, as old guys always do.

TEMPUS takes its bones from Shakespeare's The Tempest, his last complete work and the most musical, along with decades of research into the history of jazz and klezmer music in America. A story of power and loss; magic, subterfuge and family dynamics, TEMPUS is a reflection of its time, an era of change in social issues, racial issues, women's issues, Jewish issues and a massive evolution in what has been America's popular music: jazz.

Joseph Reed Hayes celebrated his 20th year as a playwright in 2022, marking a career that has included 56 productions and readings of his work across the US and in three countries. Two of the four shows he presented in 2022 included the only double Critics' Choice Award-winner in that year's Orlando Fringe Festival (The Mockingbird News), and If I Had My Way, called "A fascinating mix of contemporary issues about class, race, circumstance and relationships against a uniquely Florida historical background" by the Orlando Sentinel, which bestowed the show two individual Best of 2022 Awards for Best Actor.

ALONZO — Isaiah Entzminger
ANTONIO —Benjamin Mainville
ARIEL — Erin Brenna
CALIBAN — Stephen Lima (American Academy of Dramatic Arts)
DUKE PROSPERO — Stelson Telfort ("masterful gravity and honest nobility", Orlando Sentinel)
FIONA — Sarah Lockard (Critics Choice Award, Best Individual Performance, Orlando Fringe '22; Orlando Sentinel Best of 2022 Featured Actor)
GONZALO — Bobbie Bell (Winner, Best Director 2017)
MIRANDA — Emilie Scheetz ("Lit up the stage", Orlando Sentinel)
NARRATOR — Jennifer Greenhill-Taylor
STEPHEN — Jim Braswell (Critics Choice Award, Best Male Performance, Orlando Fringe '16)

After readings in 2023, TEMPUS will be developed as a full theatrical stage production, and will also become the libretto for a new American "bebopera", created with Timucua Arts Foundation master Benoit Glazer, sharing the themes and ideas of the play in a unique opera form. This is possibly the first instance of a play and an opera being crafted from the same story for two different productions at the same time.

Looking at just some of the themes in TEMPUS: In a time when young “bebop” musicians were inventing a new ways of expressing the freedom of jazz and their unique talents, old established big band swing players found themselves being replaced, and a deep schism emerged. The young, the independent, and particularly the women players started to demand their share of the audience - and a share of the profits.

Even after the generational changes of the war began to slowly influence society, white and black musicians could not play on a integrated stage (actually true well into the 1960s) – the only place they could mingle and share music was either in after hours clubs or jazz loft spaces in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles.

Jewish musicians who, upon arrival in America, were obliged to learn two new languages: English and jazz, and in the ensuing years added their musicianship and background of Eastern European music to the growing lexicon of jazz.

Special thanks to our advisors and friends:

Jeff Rupert
  • ● Jazz history and structure advisor
  • ● Saxophonist, composer, record producer, and recording artist
  • ● Music Professor and Director of Jazz Studies at UCF
  • ● Founder of Flying Horse Records

Henry Sapoznik (the spark behind "Bebopera")
  • ● Award-winning producer, musicologist and performer, and writer in the fields of traditional and popular Yiddish and American music and culture.
  • ● The Henry Sapoznik Collection in the American Folklife Center, Library of Congress: more than 10,000 Yiddish radio broadcasts, sheet music, manuscripts and photographs documenting Yiddish culture, theater, and music from the 1920s to circa 1960.
  • ● One of the founders of the 1980's klezmer revival, having reissued over 30 anthologies of Yiddish, jazz, old time music, ragtime, blues, Italian, klezmer, swing and cantorial, bluegrass 78s and cylinders.
  • ● Founding director of the sound archives of the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research in New York
  • ● Five-time Grammy-nominated producer/performer
  • ● 2002 Peabody award winner for co-producing the 10-part NPR series “The Yiddish Radio Project.

Benoit Glazer, the instigator of The Bebopera Project
  • ● Founder/Artistic Director, Timucua Arts Foundation since 2000.
  • ● Former Conductor La Nouba, Cirque du Soleil, for 18 years
  • ● Composer of more than 100 jazz, classical and chamber music pieces

Timucua Arts Foundation, home to my work from 2015-2023.
David Amram for his friendship, inspiration and vast rememberance of the bebop era and beyond.
Cornelius Eady for his continued advice and support.
The lasting influence and generosity of Sam Rivers and Cecil Taylor.
Avis-Marie Barnes.
“Nicole” Howard McGee/”Whirlwind” Sam Rivers;
“Mercy Mercy Me” The Apostles;
“Der Shtiller Bulgar” Abe Neff Orchestra /”And the Angels Sing” Ziggy Elman;
“Crash, Of Course” Brian Groder/Lisle Ellis;
“Polaris” Aaron Diehl;
“What Is This Thing Called Love” Tommy Dorsey/Cannonball Adderly;
“Cafe Au Lait” Duke Ellington;
“Before the Journey” Darel Oles;
“Sepia” Get The Blessing;
“to fill the quiet” OHYUNG



My plays take place on buses and in bars, in hotel rooms and government offices, farmhouse kitchens and jazz stages. 61 productions and readings of my work from coast to coast and in three countries since 2001.
""A play by Joseph Reed Hayes is a welcome oasis of cultured smarts." - Orlando Weekly

freelance writer

As a writer on assignment, I've traveled to Italy, Scotland, England, New Orleans, California and New York City, with a specialty on all things Orlando. Whether it's a story about Arts & Crafts houses in Florida or new styles in computers, a Mounted Police squad or alien abduction insurance, I've written it. Environmental issues, music, movie and theater reviews and in-depth conversations with legends in jazz. Interviews and personality profiles are my specialty.

food writer

Florida Magazine Association Award winning food writer and Orlando restaurant critic. James Beard Foundation judge, knowledgable champion of world cuisine and avid advocate of undiscovered chefs. I can write about the front of the house of a restaurant as well as the kitchen with equal expertise. Founding member, goFLA/SunshinePlate Central Florida.

jazz producer

Producer of the Jazz On Edge series, spotlighting new and original jazz from Central Florida since 2008, showcasing the best that Central Florida has to offer in jazz to appreciative audiences, giving creative hometown and nationally-known musicians a place to perform their own music, without boundaries, in person and online. Founder Word Play series, former Chair of Alternative Programming, Timucua Arts Foundation.