In Love with Thee: Mystical Poetry in Performance from the Jewish, Christian, and Sufi Traditions
Monday, April 16, 2018
The True, The Good, and The Beautiful: Part 2
This innovative, dialogical performance of three timeless works of mystical poetry comes together under the direction of Fr. George Drance, artistic director for the Magis Theatre Company, who draws on the rich cultural heritage of each poem, infusing the allegory of the lover and the beloved with the unique intonations of each text’s original language, bringing to the stage a blend of traditional music and sacred dance that captures the inexpressible longing of the mystical experience.
The evening begins with the recitation of the Song of Songs, Judaism’s great sacred love poem, in the original Hebrew by author and poet Nessa Rapoport, transporting audiences across millennia and into one of the most celebrated utterances of divine love in Hebrew scripture. The performance gently touches ground with a reading of these verses in their English translation; and ascends, once again, with a musical response by Rebecca Keren that makes present the nonverbal dimension of divine longing conveyed in the text. The performance transitions to the 16th century, keeping the same dialogical format, with a reading in the original Spanish of The Spiritual Canticle, a timeless piece of mystical literature by Carmelite mystic and Doctor of the Church, St. John of the Cross. The Spiritual Canticle mirrors the incarnational spirit of the Song of Songs, plotting the spiritual coordinates of the soul’s ascent to Christ. The artistic response to The Spiritual Canticle reaches deeply into Andalusia’s religious roots, where the Catholic longing for the divine finds expression in Spain’s Flamenco Mass.
The final piece explored is The Song of the Reed, a 13th century poem by one of the most recognized and beloved poets of the ancient world, Sufi mystic Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi. Read in its original Persian by Brown University’s Iraj Anvar, PhD, the evening’s performance of Rumi’s timeless poem includes traditional chant and the sacred choreography of the Dervishes of the Halveti-Jerrahi Order. Dr. Yaraman and the Dervishes of the Halveti-Jerrahi Order will be presenting a 16th century text in Turkish by the Sufi poet Seyyid Nizam Efendi.
This multi-sensory journey through the most intimate spiritual corridors of the Abrahamic religions brings to life, on the Loreto Theater’s stage, the wisdom of longing that is woven into each of these mystical poems, highlighting the call for divine union that is shared by each of these traditions. In Love with Thee: Mystical Poetry in Performance from the Jewish, Christian and Sufi Traditions is the second installment of The Sheen Center’s series, The True, The Good, and The Beautiful.
Magis Theatre Company is a community of artists committed to perfecting their craft through repeated communal practice and to the telling of old stories to new audiences. George Drance worked with Ellen Stewart for many years at La MaMa and is committed to carrying her torch; to giving back to the artistic community what was given to him, an artistic home where he could develop all his creative faculties.
Magis have developed a specific theatrical vocabulary focusing on the connections between differing acting techniques, exploring in depth the essential attributes they share. Our performances center on literary works that examine the human condition across cultures and generations.
Productions include Calderon’s Two Dreams (2017) Mark (2014) Occupy Olympus (2013) Shakuntala and the ring of recognition. (2010) Her name is Vincent (2009)
Performers for “In Love with Thee” include:
Magis Theatre Company
Dervishes of the Halveti-Jerrahi Order
Dr. Iraj Anvar- Translator of Persian texts, Brown University
Afshin Goodarzi - Musician
Nessa Rapoport - Poet, Author
Rebecca Keren - Actress, Singer
Ralph Martin - Actor, Performer
Kristin Kusanovich - Dancer
Priscilla Smith - Actress
Dr. Sevin Yaraman, Professor of Music, Fordham University
Curator and Artistic Director of The Magis Theatre Company is Fr. George Drance