Sunday, May 30, 2010

Yeats and McNiece, at CPT

Cleveland poet and performer Ray McNiece is on stage in the Cleveland Public Theatre's debut production of "Open Mind Firmament," a play about William Butler Yeats, and most specifically focussed on Yeats' Cuchulain cycle, a series of short plays about incidents in the life of the mythic Irish hero Cú Chulainn (the pronunciation of whose name, by the way, is a subject of some scholarly debate: Yeats prefered the pronunciation "ku-HOO-lin").

Yeats was himself intimately involved with the theater (along with friends, he established the Irish Literary Theatre to produce Irish and Celtic plays), on a mission to produce a form of theatre that avoided "vulgar realism" in favor of an avant-garde theatre emphasizing symbolism, nuance, and poetry.

Roy Berko calls this production "visually compelling"-- I'll agree with that; the stagecraft (on a very nearly empty stage) is magnificent. This is a performance combining symbolism, dance, scholarly analysis, and Irish song. I think Yeats would be proud. And Ray McNiece is brilliant in the role of Cuchulain.

Better check it out soon, though (7pm, Thursday through Sunday, 6415 Detroit Avenue Cleveland)-- after Sunday's, next week will be the final weekend.

Definitely worth seeing! (and it makes me want to go out and read more Yeats-- and more about Cuchulain, too!)

William Butler Yeats
photo by George Charles Beresford


Geoffrey A. Landis said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Geoffrey A. Landis said...

Oops, I'd hit "post" when I'd meant to click "save", so the first version of this that I posted was only partially done.

michael salinger said...

Yep - I highly recommend this production. One of the best theater pieces I've seen in years.

John B. Burroughs said...

Hope to see it this week!

Shelley Chernin said...

I saw the show last night with an almost full house, including a number of local poets. The show is theatrical poetry. This is the final weekend. Go if you can.


The poet doesn't invent. He listens. ~Jean Cocteau