"The Weir" and "A Devil's Night Reading"
I've just two pieces of literary culture to recommend this week. Both offerings speak to the act story telling; what sharing our stories with one another in a social space can open up for us individually and as a group.
Riverside Theater's production of "The Weir" places us in a small Irish Pub. Here gossip and ghost stories, machismo, good will, jealousy and hints of loneliness filter through the banter of four male characters. The characters are sharply drawn types, with each actor expertly adding their own distinctiveness to the roles (there is the showy Finbar, who left and found financial success; the sardonic and jealous Jack who stayed and never married; there is the insightful and eccentric Jim, who is forever taking care of his ill mother; and a younger bar owner Brendan, who is deciding wether or not to sell his families bar -- which may be the last stronghold of a particular blend of regional, personal and supernatural story telling -- a place where pictures on the wall can be pointed to and lore will spring forth.)
What ignites the characters and begins to reveal their human complexities is the arrival of Valerie, a thirty something "fine looking" woman who has recently bought a house in town. Her presence first sparks the men's chauvinism, as they vie for her attention with ghost and fairy stories, then critique one another for going too far and scaring the "poor girl." Valerie, on the other hand, eats the stories up, and when she finally reveals her own story -- it's more harrowing and more humanizing than the mens' combined.
The performances were wonderful and subtle. I felt as if I was eaves dropping on a place where I too (after a few drinks) would feel comfortable sharing my tales. The play felt fast paced, entertaining and urgent, thanks to the expert direction by Adam Knight. Each of the told stories linked the characters' personal losses with supernatural elements, and the play as a whole explored how the social sharing of stories help us frame, and connect over great losses.
The Weir is playing only through Oct. 3oth. Don't miss it!
Have I peaked your interest in a spooky story telling session? Well how about some spooky wordcraft poetry style? On Oct. 30th at 5:00 PorchLight is hosting "Possession:A Devil's Night Reading," organized by Jennifer Macbain-Stevens and Christopher Eck. Jennifer and Christopher's readings always bring together a great blend of talented writers, and sometimes there is music. I love it when the poets of Iowa City convene to make magic. All are welcome, and the event is free!