by David Walters

This show is not for everyone.  But, if you are interested in words of simplicity, and understatedness, and confusion about life, and observance of the small, and seek a sense of wryness, and thrill when words can make you feel and see things you’ve never felt or seen before, and long to be moved in a direction you didn’t know you could be moved to in a direction you didn’t know existed, then This is Why We Live may be the show for you.

Presented by Open Heart Surgery Theatre, taking a number of poems from the Noble Prize Polish poet Wisława Szymborska and dramatizing them with dance, clown work, a multi-media backdrop, and the dulcet vibrations of a cellist giving out sound that reaches the insides, granting the opportunity to relish the tango between clarity and ambiguity in Wislawa’s words.

Wisława Szymborska, born in 1926, lived in Krakow, Poland through World War II and the Cold War behind the Iron Curtain, changing her politics, writing a lot about war and death, but also penning observances about the seemingly mundane and giving it voice and life in its uniqueness.

Some of the topics covered in the evening: a poem about an onion, a funeral conversation, first love, statistics, hatred, astonishment, a conversation with a stone, life while you wait, dreams, plants, stars, feeling bad about self, and advertisements.  “In the language of poetry, where every word is weighted, nothing is usual or normal. Not a single stone and not a single cloud about it. Not a single day and not a single night after it. And above all, not a single existence, not anyone’s existence in this world.”  For me, hearing Wislawa’s poetry forces me to examine the daily walk that I walk and the talk that I talk and seek its validity.

Open Heart Surgery Theatre, founded in 2014, is an international theatre ensemble based in Toronto and London merging live music, media, and dance to create original theatre that speaks about relevant material that reflects who we are today by merging diverse cultures to create new work. They are a female company focusing on the words and ideas of the gender that does not often get heard.  The show is presented in Polish, French, and English.

Szymborska’s body of work is not large, publishing about 350 poems over the course of her lifetime.  When asked why she had published so few poems, she said: “I have a trash can in my home.”

An opportunity presents itself here, your chance to both see and hear what escaped the trash can.

This is Why We Live

Poetry by Wisława Szymborska; Directed by Coleen Shirin MacPherson

Performed and Devised by Alaine Hutton and Elodie Monteau; Music performed by Dr. Dobrochna Zubek; Original Music created by Tatiana Judycka and Dr. Dobrochna Zubek; Set and Costume Design by Helen Yung; Lighting Design by Rebecca Picherak; Projection Design by Wesley McKenzie

Downstairs at La Mama (its 58th year!) (66 East 4th Street (Basement Level))

September 19 – September 29, 2019, Thursday to Saturday at 8PM; Sunday at 5PM

$25 Tickets; $20 Student/Senior Tickets [+$1 Facility Fee]

Run Time: 70 Minutes (No Intermission)

Five poems here