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7/27: T.S. Eliot’s 4 Quartets

John Farrell, principal in Maine’s groundbreaking Figures of Speech Theatre, recites from memory Four Quartets, a suite of poems often considered T.S. Eliot’s greatest, at the Boothbay Harbor Memorial Library.

Performer John Farrell

The performance will take place after hours in the Great Room on the first floor. Refreshments will be served. Space is limited, a ticket is required.

Tickets will be given out on a first-come first-served basis, admission is free, but a $5 suggested donation is appreciated.

Tickets will be released after the 4th of July.

This performance is a part of Figures of Speech Theatre’s 2018 Maine LibraryTour.  An informal conversation with John Farrell will follow. For more information, please call 633-3112.

First undertaken in 2011 with permission — rarely granted — from Eliot’s estate, Farrell’s recitation of Four Quartets affords audiences an opportunity to immerse themselves in 1,000 lines of poetry exploring humankind’s relationship with time and with experience itself.  An unquestioned masterpiece 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.

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 suite of poems a summation of his views on poetry and art, on mystical experience, and on the never­ceasing search for the divine. The library tour’s first stop was at Merrill Memorial Library in Yarmouth, Maine, for a standing­-room­-only audience. Mary Dowd, curator of Poetry at the Library, wrote: “John Farrell was our bridge to the infinitely rich world of Four Quartets, in a milestone performance that surpassed what I expected, or could even imagine.”

“Unlike encountering the poems in a book,” Farrell says, “hearing them recited out loud gives people a chance to absorb a complex and nuanced work in a very direct way. At the same time, I bring an actor’s sensibility to the text and a commitment to delivering the poems in a way that allows the poetry to speak for itself.” The tour of Four Quartets is generously supported by the Maine Theater Fund of the Maine Community Foundation, in addition to an Arts & Humanities grant from the Maine Humanities Council and the Maine Arts Commission, an independent state agency supported by the National Endowment for the Arts.

In 2011, with rarely granted permission of the Eliot Estate, John Farrell committed to memory the one-thousand lines of Eliot’s masterpiece and prepared them for performance. John’s recitation of Four Quartets affords audiences an opportunity to immerse themselves in these gorgeous lines of poetry, spoken from memory, and renew their understanding of one the 20th century’s most exceptional poets.

 

Some commentaries on the poem:

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/belief/2014/may/12/four-quartets-ts-eliot-poetic-powers-mysticism-sprituality

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/may/19/four-quartets-struggle-to-make-real-world-right-in-spiritual-realm