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There's A Certain Slant Of Light At The Cultch
Friday, October 25, 2013




 
Margie Gillis

Rosemary and I attended Bulletins from Immortality …Freeing Emily Dickinson at the Vancouver East Cultural Centre last night.

I went with an ever so slight reluctance. Having seen modern dancer Margie Gillis perform a few times I knew I could not go wrong in anything involving her.

I must confess that my first poetry reading (I believe that poetry readings must be experienced in moderation like garlic and sex) was one that I abhorred. It featured beat poet Allen Ginsberg (at the PNE!). After a few minutes I could have forced his concertina down his throat. But the evening was saved by the wonderful and most local Gerry Gilbert. It was Gilbert who really helped me to learn to enjoy poetry and even readings (with moderation, of course!).

So who was this obscure (certainly only to me) American actress, Elizabeth Parrish who was collaborating with Gillis?

I need not have been concerned. Parrish read/declaimed/performed Dickinson with verve, exquisite diction and with an enthusiasm always present in her face that immediately had me in rapture. There was a level of confidence in her mastering of Dickinson’s poems that if you were not already a fan of the Belle from Amherst you might just go home and Google “There is no frigate like a book”.

I must confess that I am an Emily Dickinson fan happy to report that last night was not a Vancouver Jazz Festival performance. Had it been the case, it would have given me license (a reason why I abhor local jazz festivals) to clap at the beginning of every line read last night. There was not one poem that surprised me in any kind of newness. But each line read last night seemed brand new.

No matter how many times you read Dickinson or hear Dickinson, the imagery and power of her lines, “zero at the bone” are visceral every time.

Combine those poems with the natural flow (director Paola Styron must have music in her soul) of Parrish’s declaiming with Gillis’s reaction (sometimes these movements of reaction were after the fact, sometimes they preceded the lines (pre-told might be a better word) and sometimes they were carried out simultaneously, and you have a combination of dance and theatre that is and last night was unique.

But it was not only that. If you happened to watch the mute (I heard a few gasps and laughs) Gillis you could see a level of expression on her face that for me only has a parallel in the pathos that Evelyn Hart brought to her Juliet in Prokoviev's Romeo and Juliet.

All in all Bulletins from Immortality deserves a long run across Canada (alas two more, one today and one tomorrow at the Cultch) and I hasten to urge local directors and theatre companies to bring Elizabeth Parrish for anything.

Pierre Lavoie’s lighting was just right. It was never intrusive.

I was delighted to see that Gillis’s trademark, her long hair was in evidence. I was ever so slightly disappointed that the dynamic duo did not select:

A narrow fellow in the grass
Occasionally rides;
You may have met him, -did you not?
His notice sudden is.

The grass divides as with a comb,
A spotted shaft is seen;
And then it closes at your feet
And opens further on.

He likes a boggy acre,
A floor too cool for corn.
Yet when a child, and barefoo
t,
I more than once, at morn,

Have passed, I thought, a whip-lash
Unbraiding in the sun, -
When, stooping to secure it,
It wrinkled, and was gone.

Several of nature's people
I know, and they know me;
I feel for them a transport
Of cordiality;

But never met this fellow,
Attended or alone,
Without a tighter breathing,
And zero at the bone.

But then they did perform this one:

To make a prairie it takes a clover and one bee,— 

One clover, and a bee, 

And revery. 

The revery alone will do 

If bees are few.

And:

A word is dead

When it is said,

Some say.

I say it just

Begins to live

That day.

As I watched Gillis prance around with the black book (were poems indeed inside or did Parrish know them by heart?) I could almost imagine words removing themselves and buzzing away like bees:

Fame is a bee.

It has a song—

It has a sting—

Ah, too, it has a wing.

And going to places, “to take us Lands away”, like that Dickinson frigate.


http://blog.alexwaterhousehayward.com/2011/03/and-zero-at-bone-with-dirks-of-melody.html







     

Previous Posts
Joy Division At Café Retiro

ESMA & The Banality of Evil

Ballet BC - Boys! Boys! Boys!

A Monument, An Audi & A Cop

Dos Artistas Y Un Galerista

Este Sendero No Se Bifurca

Las Night I Dreamt I Was Eva Perón

Then, Then & Now

Nunca Se Sabrá - No One May Ever Know

My Polo Pony Grippe



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3/20/16 - 3/27/16

3/27/16 - 4/3/16

4/3/16 - 4/10/16

4/10/16 - 4/17/16

4/17/16 - 4/24/16

4/24/16 - 5/1/16

5/1/16 - 5/8/16

5/8/16 - 5/15/16

5/15/16 - 5/22/16

5/22/16 - 5/29/16

5/29/16 - 6/5/16

6/5/16 - 6/12/16

6/12/16 - 6/19/16

6/19/16 - 6/26/16

6/26/16 - 7/3/16

7/3/16 - 7/10/16

7/10/16 - 7/17/16

7/17/16 - 7/24/16

7/24/16 - 7/31/16

7/31/16 - 8/7/16

8/7/16 - 8/14/16

8/14/16 - 8/21/16

8/21/16 - 8/28/16

8/28/16 - 9/4/16

9/4/16 - 9/11/16

9/11/16 - 9/18/16

9/18/16 - 9/25/16

9/25/16 - 10/2/16

10/2/16 - 10/9/16

10/9/16 - 10/16/16

10/16/16 - 10/23/16

10/23/16 - 10/30/16

10/30/16 - 11/6/16

11/6/16 - 11/13/16

11/13/16 - 11/20/16

11/20/16 - 11/27/16

11/27/16 - 12/4/16

12/4/16 - 12/11/16

12/11/16 - 12/18/16

12/18/16 - 12/25/16

12/25/16 - 1/1/17

1/1/17 - 1/8/17

1/8/17 - 1/15/17

1/15/17 - 1/22/17

1/22/17 - 1/29/17

1/29/17 - 2/5/17

2/5/17 - 2/12/17

2/12/17 - 2/19/17

2/19/17 - 2/26/17

2/26/17 - 3/5/17

3/5/17 - 3/12/17