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Sunday, October 12, 2014

Portrait of Playwright Cynthia Hopkins, Soho Rep Theater, 2010

Portrait of Playwright Cynthia Hopkins, Soho Rep Theater, 2010


Peter Sumner Walton Bellamy©2014

Photograph taken with Hasselblad film camera.
Film hand-developed by photographer


Written, composed and performed by Cynthia Hopkins; directed by DJ Mendel; designed by Jeff Sugg; choreography by Faye Driscoll; sound and voice-overs by Mr. Mendel. Presented by SoHo Rep, Sarah Benson, artistic director; Tania Camargo, executive director. At SoHo Rep, 46 Walker Street, TriBeCa; (212) 352-3101. Through May 30. Running time: 1 hour 15 minutes.

(pre-recorded) There’s a melancholy, folk quality, as of hand-made furniture out of wood. Before there were stereos, and when the idea of automobiles was novel and romantic. An old grey saltbox farmhouse with rolling hills and a small vegetable garden in back. There’s holes and tears in all clothing, and everything is old, used, possibly mended but always torn and dirty. There’s a stench of urine; but also some operatic, orchestral strains of music in the background. And there are long stretches of pause, where time is slowed way down. And then a bizarre comment inappropriate enough to make you laugh... tinkering around in the garage with ancient tools left over from the Stone Age. Before television. Vinyl records. Naval aircraft. And some items brought back from China by distant ancestors. Decay, in its terror and sadness and beauty. Oriental rugs, and multiple pairs of broken glasses. A lifelong teacher and volunteer, never celebrated. Anecdotes of drunk driving in the Navy, and the car wrapping itself around a tree on the front lawn of a motel, and love letters from a girl back home flying up into the air and fluttering around in a ballet. Haunted by the unfinished memoir. Quoting epic poetry on the hospital gurney, and the ridiculous, condescending language of medical professionals. A fool in a Shakespeare play. Real live piano. There lies the harbor, the ocean waves; there moves the sea, the vessel puffs her sail. The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks, the long day wanes, the slow moon climbs, the deep moans round with many voices. Come, my friends, ‘tis not too late to seek a newer world.

In Ancient Greece, they didn’t even have anxiety or depression or alcoholism, just plain old INSANITY which took the form of a Goddess who was liable to swoop down and randomly inhabit your mind, because some other God or Goddess had it in for you, in which case you were just TOTALLY FUCKED. So this modern invention of tragedy, Aristotle had no way of imagining at all. It’s not the moment right after someone has gouged his own eyes out because he realizes he had sex with his mother, or some mother about to slit the throats of her children. It’s me, it’s me, it’s me, years and years and years down the line, wasting away in some nursing home, on a multitude of an array of drugs, in a delerium haze, never having had children in the first place, and haunted by the notion that I SHOULD have had children and then realizing it’s entirely possible I DID have children and I DO have children, I just can’t remember what their names are or what they look like or where they live...

I like the theater, because everyone has
to sit down, and shut up. Ritual, repetition, reflection.

((Being a wildly energetic silent physical comedy routine resembling an ancient comic running through his material – all of it – at lightning speed, backstage in his imaginary dressing room, in manic preparation for his big moment on the big stage with footlights lighting him up and a giant scarlet curtain as his backdrop and a monumental crowd like an ocean roaring him on, a moment that will more than likely never actually occur.))

Oh I know a poem: “All experience... is a
crack... through which shines... the... the unknown world.” And then later on in the poem he still thinks there’s something to be gained from the unknown world. 

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