An unquestioned landmark of 20th century literature, T.S. Eliot’s Four Quartets is a complex, deeply moving meditation on time, memory, and human striving toward the divine.
Poet and actor John Farrell, Artistic Director of Figures of Speech Theatre, brings his one-man recitation of Four Quartets to the Olin Arts Center at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine.
“It’s difficult to imagine that anyone could walk away unmoved or unchanged by this performance,” writes Norman Frisch, Film and Performance Specialist at the J. Paul Getty Museum. “We come to understand that we're watching someone who's been on an amazing journey through the landscape of Eliot's text and then returned to this room – come back to invite us to venture forth with him. That's an unbelievably generous gesture, and I think the audience understands this and responds accordingly."
Eliot completed Four Quartets in 1941, as Britain slid into the abyss of World War II, and he feared that civilization itself might perish in the coming years. Writing at the height of his artistic powers, Eliot packed into the four long poems a summation of his views on poetry and art, on mystical experience, and on humankind’s relationship to history and time.
Farrell, recipient of a Creative Artist Fellowship from the Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission, spent three years committing the one thousand lines of Four Quartets to memory before deciding to bring the work to the stage. Poet Annie Finch, Director of the Stonecoast MFA in Creative Writing Program, described Farrell's performance as “not only technically flawless, but also deeply moving, as he transforms himself into an instrument through which Eliot's poetry can pour and embody itself, a cry from one human life to another.”
In a performance of genuine depth and intelligence, Farrell’s recitation brings us into the calm eye of Eliot’s turbulent philosophical and spiritual questing, affording audiences a rare opportunity to immerse themselves in this literary masterpiece and to renew their understanding of one of the world’s most exceptional poets.
Tickets are free, but reservations are required.