BWW Reviews: Greenspan Interprets Stein in COMPOSITION... MASTER-PIECES... IDENTITY

Lanky and flexible David Greenspan bears no immediate resemblance to Pat Carroll, the actress most associated with Gertrude Stein after years of playing her in Marty Martin's solo piece, Gertrude Stein Gertrude Stein Gertrude Stein, but the versatile and frequently fascinating downtown performer is more concerned with exploring the literary giant's words than her life.

David Greenspan (Photo: Erik Carter)

In his own solo piece, Composition... Master-Pieces... Identity, the self-directed performer, presents three works laden with the author's characteristic repetitive wordplay and thoughts on an artist's relationship to the world.

The opener, Composition as Explanation, was originally presented as a lecture at Oxford and Cambridge in the summer of 1926.

"The creator of the new composition in the arts is an outlaw until he is a classic," Greenspan considers with humorous warmth in the author's argument that there is no such thing as an artist being ahead of one's time.

Though he recites the other pieces by memory, the middle attraction, What Are Master-Pieces and Why Are There So Few Of Them (1936, also an Oxford lecture) is presented as a table reading. Here the author observes that the world has made communication and information so accessible that there are few works of art that can leave one changed, a requirement of a master-piece.

"I am I because my little dog knows me," opens the evening's third piece, Identity a Poem. This 1936 work was commissioned by puppeteer Donald Vestal, who first performed it at the National Puppetry Conference.

David Greenspan (Photo: Erik Carter)

Greenspan uses more choreographed physicality in this entry, which focuses on form over content.

There's an unpretentious casualness to the evening. At the performance I attended the performer could be seen chatting with audience members as they entered and during intermission. He takes the stage without any fanfare, takes a swig of water and goes into his act; a graceful and low key performance of three pieces meant to be heard instead of read.

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