I bet you didn’t know me and Billy Corgan are total BFF’s. Yep it’s true.
We use to just you know sit around and talk for hours and hours. This picture was snapped when he was going through his “Wouldn’t it be cool if in every picture I took I was eating something” phase. This was way before Brad Pitt did it in “Ocean’s Eleven” cause you know Corgy and I are trend setters.
So yeah we were pretty much inseparable for a while. One of the main things we had in common was we both loved William Butler Yeats. Heck my good ole pal told me that Yeats was one of the most inspirational poets on his writing.
I asked him that question. You know one day while eating some nachos in the park.
Or ok maybe it was when I was getting this:
So yes I was at his book singing for his much heralded (ok it wasn’t heralded) book of poetry: Blinking with Fists. Yeah I bought the book and went to his book signing (by myself like a grown up) years and years ago. As he signed it I asked him “who was one poet that was most inspirational to his poetry?” And he answered Yeats. Notice the Yeats clearly written on the bottom?
What does this have to do with anything?
Insert one of my I don’t remember type jokes here. Actually it has to do with a trip to the theatre the wifey, Pelvic Joann and I made last week. The play we went to see was Open Mind Firmament: An Evening of W. B. Yeats at Cleveland Public Theatre.
Yeats can be considered a Symbolist poet and he used allusive imagery and symbolic structures throughout his career. He chose words and assembled them so that in addition to a particular meaning they suggest other abstract thoughts that may seem more significant and resonant. I mean he after all is a freaking poet after all. His symbols are rather physical. They are words that are full and heavy. What I like about him is his ideas on theatre. Yeats’s dramatic art focused on the highly poetical, static, and esoteric style. His later plays were written for small audiences; and truly experiment with masks, dance, and music, and were profoundly influenced by the Japanese Noh plays.
I love his poetry and enjoy his plays, which are generally considered to be unproducable. They are often cited as too “poetic” for audiences. I really don’t understand how that can be. I hope to some day to produce them in some fashion at our theatre. Now on to the show we saw.
Cleveland Public Theatre’s produced a mix excerpts of the plays and Yeats’ muscular poetry, the subtle gestures of the Japanese Noh theater that fascinated Yeats, and the lectures and written works of scholar Dr. Barton R. Friedman, Professor Emeritus at Cleveland State University.
What results is a chaotic burst of words and movements. Accentuated by the lighting–lighted in stark lights and darks by designer Trad A Burns . The poetry and stories are heightened by ladders, shrouded in sheer scarves—the cast and play is a dreamlike melange of playfully sensuous memories.
The story arc emerges mysteriously from several directions and mediums and eventually builds itself into a soft meditation on the nature of the writer as hero of his own work. Yeats becomes the author of his own life and anticipator of his own death.
This is a cast show. Though some individuals have more lines, the entire cast works as a unit. They are all an integral part of the complex movements and sounds. Bobgan has molded them into a cohesive and organic piece. He takes a complex story and makes it a visual cacophony of sounds, movements and sights. Ladders magically stand without support, and are used to weave actors and ideas through a flow of precarious movements. Water flies freely to anoint. Chants set moods. Every part of the theatre, which has been transformed into a series of platforms, levels and ramps, is used. The actors sing and emote above the audience’s heads, besides them, and even verbally confronted the attendees. The story is told by a scholar (maybe Friedman, himself), the poet (Yeats) speaks, and Cuchulain’s (The hero of Yeat’s Plays) life (and that of Yeats) is acted out.
The play hurtles you in and out of the Poets life and the life of his hero (bits of his plays) relying heavily on movement. For some this is the type of play theatre haters (or theatre virgins) joke about. You see it in movies and televisions shows. A man is unwillingly brought to a play and suffers through an hour of dance and strange movement. Open Mindweaves a story into the movement and song which does a nice job of holding your focus. If you know little or nothing about Yeats or his work, just let the production overtake you and your senses. It can if you let it and afterward you can Google him (huzzah Google) or pick up one of the informative limited-edition programs Cleveland Public Theatre has made available in the lobby. Then go to the library and get some of Yeats actual work. Don’t know what to pick just listen to the cast at the end as they whisper some recommendations before running off
Me, Billy, Yeats and Robert Smith just hanging out one day.
ah good times. Good times