Thursday, June 25 at 4:00pm (Open Dress Rehearsal)
Friday, June 26 at 4:00pm
Saturday, June 27 at 2:00pm
Sunday, June 28 at 2:00pm
at the Arts Center at Governors Island

Watch Mr. Kelly and his Alter Egons arrange their fingers into stiff projectiles, as their arms bend over their shoulders and behind their backs. It is as if these bodies — topped by erect hair that refuses to lie down — are pulled into shape by gravitational force. And you realize what you’re watching isn’t so much an artist inventing himself as inevitably discovering the true self within.” – Lucid Culture, April 22, 2011

Acclaimed performance artist John Kelly is recreating his Obie Award winning work, Love of a Poet, on Governors Island for the 2015 River To River Festival.

Music, movement, film and visual art combine in this performance installation built around Robert Schumann’s ‘Dichterliebe’ of 1840, the iconic song cycle of the Romantic Period based on poems by Heinrich Heine.

Kelly, singing in his signature countertenor voice, portrays a lovesick poet hiding from the world as natural elements and personal demons haunt him and flood his space. The work examines the tensions between the everyday world and the seemingly irrational and supernatural projections of creative genius.

The first version of Love of a Poet (created by Kelly in 1990) was presented as a site-specific work in the Battery Maritime Building. That building now serves as the point of embarkation for Governors Island, where the 2015 version of the work will be staged in The Arts Center. As a completely revised work made from an old shape, this production allows Kelly to reinterpret one of his benchmark creations for a new audience.

Visual artist Jarrod Beck will create a new installation that will serve as the atmospheric setting for the performances. The project’s original lighting designer, Stan Pressner, will reinterpret his design for the new space. The production will also include English translations by theater critic and translator Michael Feingold, and the original black and white 16mm film sequences by filmmaker Anthony Chase.

Featured Image Photo Credit: Billy Erb

To RSVP, click on the time for the date you would like to attend below.


FREE. RSVPs are required. For information about the Governors Island ferry, click here.
Please note that there is no late seating for this event and there is a brief moment of nudity in the performance.

Download a PDF of the event program here.

Concept, Direction, Performance: John Kelly

Music: Robert Schumann

Lyrics: Heinrich Heine

Music Direction, Piano: Christopher Cooley

Installation: Jarrod Beck

Film Sequences: Anthony Chase

Lighting Design: Stan Pressner

English Texts: Michael Feingold

Stage Manager: Philip Sandstrom

Consulting Producer: Craig Hensala

Love of a Poet is supported in part by Art Matters and Howard Gilman Foundation. John Kelly Performance is supported in part by the Good Works Foundation.

Love of a Poet was originally produced by Creative Time and Dance Theater Workshop in collaboration with John Kelly Performance for presentation in the Battery Maritime Building in lower Manhattan in 1990.