In a phone interview with NYC-ARTS, John Kelly talks about his Obie Award-winning Love of a Poet, which he will also re-make as part of The River To River Festival. From the inception of the piece twenty-five years ago to his reason for revisiting it, the interview provides us with several interesting insights that cannot be found elsewhere. A must-read if you intend to see the play!
Twenty-five years ago, performance artist John Kelly created the Obie Award-winning Love of a Poet, a dramatic, multimedia performance of Robert Schumann’s Dichterliebe song cycle composed in 1840. The site-specific work premiered in Lower Manhattan’s Battery Maritime Building in 1990 — when the waterfront did not make for a pleasant recreation stroll and New York City’s murder rate had peaked at 2,245.
Today the Battery Maritime Building is the launch for free ferries to bucolic Governors Island, where Kelly is re-making Love of a Poet (2015). His upcoming performances June 25-28 are part of the River To River Festival mounted by The Lower Manhattan Cultural Council. This version includes Kelly singing Schumann’s song cycle (with poetry by Heinrich Heine) in countertenor register, the 1990 work’s black-and- white 16mm film sequences by Anthony Chase, and a new set installation by Jarrod Beck.