BEAT Festvival features Fort Green-based Elevator Repair Service at Brooklyn Public Library

Hemingway, Faulkner, and Fitzgerald get remixed in library theater performance

for The Brooklyn Paper
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As if reading Faulkner weren’t hard enough, here comes the remix.

A Fort Green-based experimental theater company dubbed Elevator Repair Service is performing a feat in dramatic engineering: a novel mash-up of texts from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby,” William Faulkner’s “The Sound and the Fury,” and Ernest Hemingway’s “The Sun Also Rises.”

During the performance — called “Shuffle” — actors amid Brooklyn Public Library’s language and literature section will recite digitally generated excerpts from iPhones tucked into their copies of the classic texts, resulting in an on-the-spot show of literary gibberish — not unlike the multi-voice masterpiece by Faulkner.

“There will be apparent nonsense, then this crystal clear interaction will occur,” said John Collins, the company’s founder and artistic director.

Jay Gatsby’s words could collide with Quentin Compson’s in an impossible conversation, perhaps over wine in Pamplona — or Lady Brett Ashley may seek to seduce Tom Buchanan, by way of a Benjy Compson verbal miscue — one can hope.

“It’s like an insane asylum inside a library,” Collins said.

The flurry of words will unfold in non-narrative, mostly nonsensical ways, with responsibility for nuance falling squarely on the actors themselves, as it typically does.

Yet since each iteration of the high-tech-meets-low-tech performance will be different, and since players may or may not relate to each other at any given moment, it will really be up to the audience to interpret how the literary fragments come together.

“It’s an interesting way to [experience] the language of these novels,” Collins said, adding that the strength of the piece lies in finding new narratives, and creating new meaning from novels already dense with social, cultural and literary implications.

“Shuffle” marks the company’s Brooklyn debut, as a part of the Brooklyn BEAT Festival. The performance, which is installation based, also features a video component, which will allow audience to see text from the performance as it scrolls through the actors’ handheld devices.

“Shuffle” at the Brooklyn PublicLibrary (Central Branch) [10 Grand Army Pl. at Eastern Parkway, (347) 762–3281,]. Sept. 20–22, 7 pm. $35.

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