The eagle head above the entrance to Writers & Books prepared the audience for the touching, multidisciplinary play “Here I Lie” on the opening night of the Fringe Festival.
A young woman sitting with a somber expression, clad completely in white in front of a white screen, created the melancholy mood required for this piece.
After receiving the small pamphlet containing the translations of the songs, I realized that parts of the performance would be in Spanish, since this stage performance is based on the work of Argentinean poet Alfonsina Storni.
“I think it is a moving piece; it is really difficult to portray such a complex character,” Eastman dual degree senior and vocalist for the performance Michele Currenti said “I have never lost a loved one, so it was a struggle to find that character.” ,
She is doing her dual degree in brain and cognitive sciences at UR and the Vocal and Opera program at Eastman. One of the reasons she was chosen by Alberto Carrillo ‘16 the dramaturgist for this opera-like production, was her Latina roots.
The concept for this production came to Carrillo last spring.
“I was fascinated by Storni’s poems while growing up, but the rumors surrounding her overshadow her beautiful poems.” Carrillo, who graduated last year and is now completing a master’s degree in theater studies at Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, said. Storni was a modern poet and staunch feminist. Her poems reflected those fervent emotions associated with the repression of women and the puritanical prejudices of society. Interestingly enough, she is remembered more for the way she met her end. It is believed that she walked into the sea as a final act.
Her last poem, “I Am Going to Sleep,” was also the part of this production. The line ,“If he telephones again/tell him not to persist/that I have already…/gone,” was among the most heart-wrenching.
The sea played a central theme in many of her poems, and that is one of the key aspects of the video projection in “Here I Lie.” The videos were exclusively recorded for this play by senior Molly Nemer, who is studying film and media studies. She also integrated the ambient sounds and the projections that comprised an integral part of the stage performance.
“This show was an exciting experiment in order to integrate projections with physically- staged performances,” Nemer said. “This is the first time I used video in a theatrical context.” The slow hitting of waves on the shore of a beach strewn with glass bottles provided the contemplative environment required for the poem recitations.
This play enacts the journey of a young woman going through an emotional cycle of love, loss, and redolence. The music of Manuel De Fella was still able to instill the emotions the performer was trying to express, even to those unacquainted with Spanish. Carrillo said he hand-picked these songs because the lyrics were connected to Storni’s poetic style.
Fella’s song cycle alternated with the detached voice from the poem’s recitations. The video projections helped in depicting the context of each song. A concise form of “Here I Lie” was also part of the day-long creativity festival, Art Awake, last spring.
This show is labeled as multidisciplinary because it maximizes performance art to express poetry. All should attend the next show, which will be held in Writers & Books again on Sept. 24.