“Nous sommes Oedipus”
Theater Review: “A Particle of Dread (Oedipus Variations)” by Sam Shepard
By Jessica Slote
The setting is a modern slaughterhouse—a room of white tile—walls, ceiling, and floor. A man, his overalls stained with blood, is mopping up blood on the floor, his boots sticky with the stuff.
He speaks:“Was this the place you dropped me off? Could’ve been. Draped in mystery and confusion. The secret let out long ago. Maybe that was it. Full of fear as you were. Trembling—Running – Hauling me across your back. Flapping like an extra skin. You think I’d forget? Your breath, panting like a bull calf born. Day and night. Leaves and wind. Left for dead. Hanging from an olive tree. A baby human. Left for dead. Ripped by hawks and eagles. Remnants. Ribbons of pink. Strings- Small traces. A king! The story begins its curse right here. Begins to crawl. Naked traces – All”
So begins Sam Shepard’s “A Particle of Dread (Oedipus Variations),” an exploration of the themes coming down to us from Sophocles’ Oedipus: “destiny, fate, murder, exploitation, origins” as Shepard writes. He splices a contemporary story—a murder on a desert highway in his beloved American West—with the ancient story—a son who kills his father on an ancient crossroad, fulfilling a prophecy. Continue reading
Coney Island, Winter by Jessica Slote
Once you have had about as much as you can take—
peerless blue sky, infinity of horizon
once the sea burning with the sun burns itself onto your retina
clarity of the horizon burning into your brain
(you can no longer say no to this day of days; to surrender is mortal and divine)
sun and sea and sky and reflections and vastness of infinity the infinite horizon
burned on to
the back of your eye
shimmering flickers on the cave walls
of your dark skull
once you close your eyes hours later
the majesty of that light!
on the small-screen cinema
of your closed eyes
(remorseless unknowing living light)
once all that has happened—
you cannot go back to your small dark apartment
and pay bills
(lying in a stupor, eyes closed, on the bed, by the window, by the garden,
the sea continues its discourse with the sun and its blue vault and the sand).
Cuba si yanky yo
What a so and so
Not in noho
but living in a hole
somewhere in soho
ho ho ho
-Steve Cannon 1.7.2015
YOU’RE INVITED TO A SPECIAL EVENT
Please come to a very special evening in honor of our new PBS documentary
Language Matters with Bob Holman
a film by David Grubin
Wednesday, January 21, 2015 at 6:00 PM
at the National Museum of the American Indian
1 Bowling Green, New York City
What do we lose when a language dies?
What does it take to save a language?
The one hour event will highlight excerpts from the film woven together with live performances by endangered language speakers, including Native American poets, a hālau hula (Hawaiian school of dance), the colorful legacy of Yiddish, and the tongue twisting poetry of the Welsh language. Afterwards, Bob and David will offer a short Q&A followed by a reception.
Please note: Language Matters with Bob Holman airs on PBS THIRTEEN onSunday, January 25th at 12:30 PM.
In partnership with THIRTEEN, Poets House, and the Endangered Language Alliance
For more information on events and airdates visit languagemattersfilm.com
Language Matters is a co-production of David Grubin Productions Inc. and Pacific Islanders in Communications. Produced in association with The Endangered Language Alliance. Major funding provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities with additional funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations, the National Endowment for the Arts, and philanthropic individuals.