Saturday, November 22, 2008

Shijin at ArtWell

Things change.  Especially performances.  ( I had started this post a week late and then was totally distracted by the death of a friend - see nearby posts in this blog)

I belong to a poetry performance troupe called Shijin. We have been having at poetry together for a number of years now.  We create a 30 minute seemless show of poems end to end, forming a sort of  storied arc.  The question most often ask following is "Did you write these poems together?"  And the answer is always no.  They are separate parts of ourselves,  individual as we ourselves. But our common human experience overlaps and our sets evolve in a sort of call and response hashout session which can last hours. 

 Our concept of how to structure the visual aspects of our performances has changed both with the particular set and with the space in which we perform it. Most often the staging (and we do not always stage), is done   by Alice-Anne Harwood, who has studied theatre and dramaturgy.

We hit our stride this year with a new set called Undone, which has been published by Hanover Press.  This works very well for us, as it gives us the set in hand, incase any members are absent. It also gives listeners the opportunity to take the poems home, arranged in the same way as the performance. We had already given one performance of Undone this past summer at the Wednesday Night Poetry Series. It was a tentative show, as we had just put the set together.

At Artwell Gallery on Water Street in Torrington, we gave another performance of Undone on Nov. 15,   and although one member was missing, the set works quite well.  Alice Anne had us behave as if we were getting together for coffee just a bunch of girls getting together telling stories in the form of poems. This really allowed everyone to react to the others poems very naturally. It worked very well. The audience really was attentive and apreciative

I should add that Artwell's open mic was a really good quality reading, and really enjoyed listening to their poets and and to one man who improvised a poem.  The art on the wall is a plus too. It's a wonderful atmospheric venue for a poetry reading.....