Choreography / 1944

Four Walls

“Four Walls” was a dance-play written, directed and choreographed by Merce Cunningham, with a piano score by John Cage. Arch Lauterer designed the set and costumes, and collaborated on the direction. The text was a drama about a dysfunctional family with a cast of characters that included a weak but loving mother, a silent father, their rebellious son (“the Boy” played by Cunningham) and daughter, the daughter’s fiancé, a speaking chorus of “Six Nearpeople” and a dancing chorus of “Six Mad-Ones.” Cunningham rehearsed and performed the work during a six-week teaching engagement at the Perry-Mansfield Workshop, a summer arts camp. It was shown in its entirety only once. Dances excerpted from the work were presented on a few occasions, including a solo arrangement given the title “Soliloquy.”


Premiere Date

Aug 22, 1944

Premiere Venue

Perry-Mansfield Workshop

Premiere Location

Steamboat Springs, CO


John Cage, Four Walls


Arch Lauterer


Arch Lauterer


60 minutes

Original Cast

Patricia Birch

Marlise Bok

Jean Cummings

Merce Cunningham

Leora Dana

Joan Frederiksen

Julie Harris

Martha Hindle

Betty Koerber

Connie Kuhni

George Lang

Patricia Lawrence

Fawn Pickett

Stanton Schumutz

Vivian Steinberg

Virginia Tanner

Other Choreography

Renaissance Testimonials
Duration: Length unknown
Year: 1942
Collab.: Powers, Trowbridge
Seeds of Brightness
Duration: Length unknown
Year: 1942
Collab.: Lloyd, Trowbridge
Credo in Us
Duration: 12 minutes (est.)
Year: 1942
Collab.: Cage, Trowbridge
Ad Lib
Duration: Length unknown
Year: 1942
Collab.: Cage, Tucker, Trowbridge
Totem Ancestor
Duration: 2 minutes
Year: 1942
Collab.: Cage, Trowbridge
Duration: Length unknown
Year: 1943
Collab.: Cage
In the Name of the Holocaust
Duration: 4-6 minutes (est.)
Year: 1943
Collab.: Cage
Spontaneous Earth
Duration: 3 minutes (est.)
Year: 1944
Collab.: Cage