Figures of Speech Theatre to Bring FOUR QUARTETS to Ontario, 3/17

Figures of Speech Theatre to Bring FOUR QUARTETS to Ontario, 3/17

Artistic Director John Farrell heads off next week to Ontario, Canada, for a presentation of Four Quartets on March 17.

At the invitation of Queen's University Professor Gabrielle McIntire, author of Modernism, Memory and Desire: T.S. Eliot and Virginia Woolf, John will recite the four-poem cycle of Eliot's masterwork, and then meet with graduate and undergraduate students to discuss the poems, his relationship to them as an actor, and the process of memorizing poetry.

The recitation will take place in the Fireplace Reading Room of the Stauffer Library on the Queen's University campus at 2:30 on March 17. The public is invited to attend.

In working on arrangements for the performance, John had a lively and interesting exchange with Prof. McIntire, whose book contains some fascinating meditations on the body and corporeality as ways of holding remembrance.

Here's an excerpt from one of John's emails: "I have been in a kind of tantalizing dialogue with myself recently about the existence in my person of another person's work, about the intriguing links between a suite of poems very much concerned with memory and their enactment as a work of memory. It may seem implausible, but I really believe that my work over the past three decades with puppets prepared the ground for memorizing and reciting Four Quartets: our philosophy of working with puppets has always had an animistic element to it, a conviction that the spirit destined for a certain puppet character flows through the puppeteer in performance and resides in the body of the puppet, while the puppet lives. ("You are the music while the music lasts...")

"In preparing Four Quartets for performance I was very aware of wanting the poems to transit me as cleanly as possible, for them to assume an invisible corporeality in the space between me and the audience. I'm also aware of having a strange and complex relationship with Eliot through my role as the reciter of his words, though I haven't really figured that one out and probably never will! "Something I really had no way of knowing before embarking on this project is the degree of enrichment I would experience in having a great work of literature available to me at any moment. It's hard to put into words, but carrying this poem around inside me is an intense and wonderful thing. And sharing that experience (the ineffable experience of having the poem be a part of me) is definitely central to the joy I have in performing it."

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