Review: “Whirl of the Divine”

It was encouraging to a see a packed house at the Central Library for the Nov. 9 performance of “Powered by Poetry– Whirl of the Divine.”

It was even better to see that the production itself–a collaboration between Butler University Departments of Theatre and Dance, IMCPL, and JourneysFire International–offered so many rewards.

Two young children set the tone beautifully with a resonant recitation of Mary Oliver’s poem “The Summer Day” (“Tell Me, what else should I have done?/Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?/Tell me, what is it you plan to do/with your one wild and precious life.”)

After another poem, we were in the hands of dancers, actors and BU adjunct professor Ulf Goebel’s haunting voice, lending weight to “Till Human Voices Wake Us: Variations on a Theme by Rilke” and its hauntingly repetitive “abandoned in the crags of the heart.”

The dancers and actors returned for the program’s most powerful pieces: Kurt Schwitters’ demanding Dadaist “Ur Sonata” and Czeslaw Milosz’s non-believer hymn “On Prayer” (“All I know is that prayer constructs a velvet bridge/And walking it we are aloft, as on a springboard…”). Both pieces not only embraced and accented the source material, but also made clear the unique combination of discipline and spirit of the well-trained Butler students.

The work also gave me a new goal: Do everything I can to see everything that choreographer Cynthia Pratt attempts. Her work here was thrilling, setting a quality goal that pushed the players to rise to and reach.

P.S.: I’m only able to quote from the pieces because the show’s creator wisely included the text in the program. Thanks to them for the gift not only of the unique show, but of the poems as well. 

“Powered by Poetry–Whirl of the Divine” was presented as part of the Spirit & Place Festival, with events continuing at various locations through Nov. 16. For more information, click here.

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