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A Poem by Heart

A Poem by Heart Hui Peng By Heart, by Tiago Rodrigues, BAM Fisher, Brooklyn, NY, October 12–17, 2021. nstage, ten empty chairs of different sizes and materials—forming a semicircle—asked to be filled. In the middle, Portuguese director Tiago ORodrigues sat on a black stool with a book, reading and waiting for the audience to enter the house. He wore a white t-shirt with an image of poet Boris Pasternak in front and literary critic George Steiner on the back, whom he later quoted at length. In front of him stood three wooden crates full of books. The ca- sual outfit and mundane objects presaged how Rodrigues later chafed at any claims of theatricality, in his promise that everything would be normal and calm during the performance. With this in mind, he invited ten volunteers from the audience to occupy the chairs and learn a poem by heart. The poem he had chosen, according to Rodrigues, was neither easy nor too difficult—it was something possible. The per- formance would begin only when the chairs were occupied, and end when all ten audience-participants recited the poem in full. Quoting Steiner, Rodrigues pronounced: “Once ten people know a poem by heart, there’s nothing the KGB, the http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png PAJ: A Journal of Performance and Art MIT Press

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Publisher
MIT Press
Copyright
© 2022 Performing Arts Journal, Inc.
ISSN
1520-281X
eISSN
1537-9477
DOI
10.1162/pajj_a_00613
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Hui Peng By Heart, by Tiago Rodrigues, BAM Fisher, Brooklyn, NY, October 12–17, 2021. nstage, ten empty chairs of different sizes and materials—forming a semicircle—asked to be filled. In the middle, Portuguese director Tiago ORodrigues sat on a black stool with a book, reading and waiting for the audience to enter the house. He wore a white t-shirt with an image of poet Boris Pasternak in front and literary critic George Steiner on the back, whom he later quoted at length. In front of him stood three wooden crates full of books. The ca- sual outfit and mundane objects presaged how Rodrigues later chafed at any claims of theatricality, in his promise that everything would be normal and calm during the performance. With this in mind, he invited ten volunteers from the audience to occupy the chairs and learn a poem by heart. The poem he had chosen, according to Rodrigues, was neither easy nor too difficult—it was something possible. The per- formance would begin only when the chairs were occupied, and end when all ten audience-participants recited the poem in full. Quoting Steiner, Rodrigues pronounced: “Once ten people know a poem by heart, there’s nothing the KGB, the

Journal

PAJ: A Journal of Performance and ArtMIT Press

Published: May 1, 2022

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