Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Day 152: Taken by the Waves

Sara Krulwich/The New York Times

"But I shall have contributed more to the passing moment than any of you; I shall go into more rooms, more different rooms, than any of you. But because there is something that comes form outside and not from within I shall be forgotten; when my voice is silent you will not remember me, save as the echo of a voice that once wreathed the fruit into phrases." - Virgina Woolf, The Waves

". . . I am not a single and passing being. My life is not a moment's bright spark like that on the surface of a diamond. I go beneath the ground tortuously, as if a warder carried a lamp from cell to cell. My destiny has been that I remember and must weave together, must plait into one cable the many threads, the thin, the thick, the broken, the enduring of our long history, of our tumultuous and varied day." - Virgina Woolf, The Waves

Last night we saw Waves at the Duke on 42nd. The Waves is perhaps Virgina Woolf's most experimental book. "She wrote in her diary that she was striving for the “abstract poetic.” And the book is shaped as a musical counterpoint of subjective points of view, rendered in lyrical stream-of-consciousness monologues." - Ben Brantley, New York Times

I was extremely curious how anyone could possibly take on the project of "acting" this book. But the director Katie Mitchell has detoured that task by creating an entirely different kind of work - one that meets the magic and deep creativity embodied by the original in a myriad of forms and actions.

The "chapters" of the production last night were divided by a projected image of waves breaking on a shore as a tide moves in and out. The "plot" follows the disparate thoughts and lives of 6 friends, mostly from inside their heads, over the span of their lifetime "together". The piece starts out frenetic, busy, bursting outward with like child-like energy and movements. By the end of the production things slow, darken, words unfold and long drags of cigarettes fill the introspective space.

The piece was perhaps the most creative production that I have ever seen. I am completely unsure how to categorize it, it included aspects of theatre, performance art, sound art, media art, video, storytelling, reading, installation. The set was exposed to the audience, analog sound tricks were witnessed (the sound of rain: water being poured onto an upside down umbrella). As were the costume changes, which often involving putting on the sleeve of a shirt or pair of shoes. One of two roving video cameras would then frame what had become a mini-set and the shoe would stand in a small plot of grass or the arm in the jacket sleeve would drink a cup of tea or smoke a cigarette and this "scene" would appear in simulcast on a large screen above the stage. This juxtaposition changed the theatre into a dream-like "film" and bumped the literal space and objects into the extraordinarily literary. Experiencing the piece felt something like reading and dreaming cinematically and quite possibly might have activated more than 5 senses.

A great Times review was published on Monday.

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