Curatorial Statement – In the Solitude of Cotton Fields
January 11, 2011
By Richard Wolfe, Artistic Director, Pi Theatre
When an audience gathers around a theatrical event, the rendezvous can result in an intense connection. People’s ability to recognize common responses to questions framed by artistic expression is one of the elemental experiences that’s helped hold humanity together over time.
Bernard-Marie Koltès explores the human need for connectivity in his play In the Solitude of Cotton Fields. The story focuses on two individuals who meet in a liminal space. Even though their contact is fraught with tension, they find they need each other. “Tell me what you want and I’ll get it” says the dealer. “Tell me what you’ve got and I’ll tell you what I want” replies the customer. Koltès was at the height of his fame, and four years away from death, when he wrote In the Solitude of Cotton Fields. He died in 1989, at the age of 41, of AIDS related complications in an era when the condition still created pariahs of those who had it.
The show’s text, which has been translated from French into Polish (with English subtitles), has a poetic quality that will be familiar to fans of Quebecois and other French theatre. Director Radoslaw Rychcik’s production uses Koltè’s text as inspiration for his own dynamic theatrical exploration. Rychcik’s vision of the play uses verbal and non-verbal language that beats with an adrenaline fueled heart while remaining faithful to the soul of Koltès’ original inquiry. It offers a visceral treatment that moves the play along with extraordinary energy. The performance is brought to life by Wojciech Niemczyk & Tomasz Nosinski from the Stefan Zeromski Theatre of Kielce, Poland. The entire show is backed by The Natural Born Chillers, a band that plays with the angry and desperate force of life itself (check out their solo concert after Saturday’s closing night show).
Long known for its extraordinary actors, directors and designers, Polish theatre is currently among the most exciting in the world and director Radoslaw Rychcik is one of its young visionaries. As a company that looks for and supports the most audacious authorial voices in theatre, I’m very pleased that Pi has been able to join with the PuSh Festival to present this production in Vancouver. Shown to great acclaim this year at the TBA Festival in Portland, Oregon and at On The Boards in Seattle, In the Solitude of Cotton Fields is a production not to be missed.