Archive for the ‘Events’ Category

This is why

Thursday, February 5th, 2015
Like a boss (in Donetsk) This image is Art, watching War from the windows. War is hell, is a bore, is a sausage machine, is "Just people murdering one another." War is a show put on for its faraway producers, none of whom - ever have; ever will - act on its stage. Art considers this information carefully. Art considers flight - every night, every time a bullet passes, every time a body is wrapped in a plastic tarp; which means all the time - Art in its antique motley and defenseless, weaponless, stateless state. Art could leave anytime. No one here has force enough to make it stay. “Tickets were free and there were hundreds of people queuing . . . People were upset they couldn’t get in. In the end we had people sitting on the steps, standing in the wings, we crammed in as many as we could. Two old ladies were in tears, on their knees and kissing his hands in gratitude that he had opened the season.” Art adjusts a costume fastener. Art smiles, a small, dry, wry immortal smile. And then Art goes to work, for the queue and the two old ladies, for the dead in the streets, for you and you and me, for itself, world with and without end, amen.

How it feels at THE HEIGHTS

Saturday, January 31st, 2015
Heights work 4 Heights work 6 Heights work 2 Like rust dust on your fingertips. Like the soft grit of dead leaves, drifting the way memories do through the mind. Like a caul made of candlewax. Like old silk. Like new tears. Like a face glimpsed through glass, obscured by time passed in an endless present, waiting for the one you love to come back, back, back and take you away. THE HEIGHTS is all desire, experienced or denied, like a tide that cannot be overcome. What a joy it is, to work with, through, inside this material! Heights work 1

Nobody’s bitch but her own

Friday, January 9th, 2015
  Lieder-Heights_040415X7 Cathy Earnshaw is one tough female: “She was never so happy as when we were all scolding her at once, and she defying us with her bold, saucy look, and her ready words.” “Edgar had a deep-rooted fear of ruffling her humor.” “You are acquainted with the Earnshaws’ violent dispositions, and [Cathy] caps them all.” So how did Emily Brontë’s taut, ferocious novel of love and loss, Wuthering Heights, get labeled as a bad romance, misogynistic Heathcliff ruining poor Cathy's life? I’ve met that interpretation more than once, almost exclusively from young women: “Oh, that book’s sad—Heathcliff’s an abuser, and Cathy’s his victim.” Or “Heathcliff’s such a bad boy, that’s why Cathy loves him.” And that drives me crazy, because those misreadings drive away the story's natural readers—self-questioning, passionate young people. Adapting Wuthering Heights for nerve proved again what I knew was true: this narrative belongs to Cathy, its tragedy her own willed betrayal not of Heathcliff, but of herself. From the start, she's in charge. Befriending the orphan boy from nowhere puts her at serious odds with Hindley, her bully brother, but Cathy is determined to keep Heathcliff literally at her side: sleeping in the same bed, roaming barefoot on the moors, getting pinched while terrorizing the rich neighbors’ kids. It’s those neighbors, the Lintons, Edgar Linton in particular, who offer the crossroads where Cathy takes the wrong turn. Her decision to marry Edgar is a choice not between two men who love her, but between the only two futures she sees available: “If Heathcliff and I married, we should be beggars . . . [I]f I marry Linton I can aid Heathcliff to rise, and place him out of my brother’s power.” Yet that move toward a sheltered and smothering, inauthentic life, can never be a good one, and at her core, Cathy already knows it: “I dreamt once that I was [in heaven] . . . the angels were so angry that they flung me . . . on the top of Wuthering Heights; where I woke sobbing for joy. . . I’ve no more business to marry Edgar Linton than I have to be in heaven.” Later, ill and heartsick, she speaks of being “converted at a stroke into Mrs. Linton, the lady of Thrushcross Grange, and the wife of a stranger: an exile, and outcast, from what had been my world . . . I wish I were a girl again, half savage and hardy, and free!” Cathy makes the wrong turn for the right reason: to try to shape her life using the only tools available. We can wish for her a better toolkit, better alternatives than marrying a guy she kind of likes to free herself and her soul mate from the bitter, alcoholic master of their house, but everything that follows—Heathcliff’s shattered departure into grief and revenge, their painful reunions, even Cathy’s death—grows from that sorry seed. Heathcliff knows it. In their last moments, he asks, “Why did you betray your own heart, Cathy? Because misery and degradation, and death, and nothing that God or Satan could inflict would have parted us, you, of your own will, did it. I have not broken your heart—you have broken it; and in breaking it, you have broken mine.” Even as she leaves this world, she stays in charge: Heathcliff, trying to prevent a deathbed confrontation with Linton, says, “I must go. For one hour,” but “Not for one minute,” Cathy insists. “You shall not, I tell you.” And he does as she says, he stays; and Linton enters to find the man he hates holding the woman he loves; and she dies. What Heathcliff does next, for the following eighteen years, while he mourns and excoriates and yearns for his soul’s companion—what Cathy does next, as Heathcliff reveals how “I felt her by me—I could almost see her, and yet I could not! She showed herself, as she often was in life, a devil to me”—how she seeks, with a will stronger than the life she left unfinished, to bring their stories back together, to one eternally-united tale . . . Again, and even more powerfully, Cathy turns the wheel. Her famous (and famously misunderstood) statement, “Nelly, I am Heathcliff,” finds its equivalent in Heathcliff’s cri de coeur about her: “I cannot live without my life! I cannot live without my soul”—Heathcliff who loves as fully and furiously as Cathy does, beyond any pretense of “masculine” emotional distance. But it’s Cathy who says “Be content, you always followed me!”—the real Cathy, nobody's bitch but her own: the fierce little girl who grew to be a fiercer woman, Cathy Earnshaw at the Heights, where she belongs. catherine-and-heathcliff  [Photo of Rachael Harbert as Cathy Earnshaw in THE HEIGHTS: Rick Lieder. Illustration: Fritz Eichenberg.]

The brothel, the moors, the dream of the city

Sunday, December 21st, 2014
My desk is a crossroads now - a throughway for writing in various guises and genres: the script adaptation for nerve's April production of Wuthering Heights . . . wh g17 site 1 WH Penguin . . . another script adaptation, in collaboration with Cary Brown, of Under the Poppy . . . Lieder_Poppy_090413x2-Vera-Laddie Miss-Lucinda1-1024x768 . . . and a dreamscape/essay about Detroit, in collaboration with Julia Solis. michct_02 Fun is being had, of course, and happy education, working with other artists. And at times, with the eyes of the mind half-closed, all these landscapes blur and converge into a pleasure-palace of wind-torn heath and lacelike decay, the scent of hot skin and clean dirt, the feel of old velvet, the taste of tears. All of these places know pain and know love. All of these places are real.   [Photos: WH: KK; UTP: Rick Lieder and anonymous; DET: Julia Solis.]

Home for the HEIGHTS

Tuesday, December 16th, 2014
wh g17 site 1 The space that is the moor, the room that is the heart: nerve is thrilled to announce Gallery 17 is our site for WUTHERING HEIGHTS.   wh g17 site 2 wh g17 site 3 gallery17   The gallery's space lies within the precincts of Detroit's Russell Industrial Center: a dark expanse of brick and gravel, under the sweep of skies ... An urban moor. Many thanks to John Sippel and Ben Kramp for the gallery's hospitality - we're so pleased to be part of your creative landscape!

Getting the gift

Wednesday, December 10th, 2014
WUTHERING HEIGHTS is - lives in - the intersection of love and loss; of desire and death. (And one outlasts the other.) Working on its nerve performance adaptation is a gift, but one I'd never imagined being given. All the best gifts are that way. I went to the Clarion workshop, to learn about writing and about being a writer; not the same thing. I remember asking Kate Wilhelm, in our final-day, post-workshop meeting, "Should I do this? I'm going to - but should I?" And I remember her answer as off-hand, amused by the question; the pure shrug of it - of course; why would you do anything else with your life? - as, maybe, what I had come to learn in the first place. In her book STORYTELLER: WRITING LESSONS AND MORE FROM 27 YEARS OF THE CLARION WRITERS' WORKSHOP, I was delighted to find myself in a roster of writers she recalls - Kim Stanley Robinson, Cory Doctorow, Octavia Butler, Ted Chiang, Eileen Gunn - and "Kathe Koja, unaware yet of the potency of her dark, sexual symbolism" - yes! That given gift of awareness took me from the workshop into all these years of my working life, through stories and books, and now, into writing for performance and leading an ensemble. Who knows what gifts we have to give? - not even us, maybe. Until we're told. Thank you, Kate. Kate Wilhelm Storyteller