"He loved the idea of silence so much that the words of the people in his plays often seem no more than swallows flying about a deep and still lake, whose surface they ruffle seldom and but for a moment."
-- Edward Thomas, 'Maurice Maeterlinck'
The Blind, written in 1890, is one of the first plays by the Belgian Nobel Laureate symbolist playwright Maurice Maeterlinck. In his early works he developed a kind of 'static' drama where there is little action, silence is key and language is scarce. According to his belief that the perfect actor is a marionette not hindered by passions and psychology, he lifted his characters from personal, daily, anecdotal and historical contexts, and expressed them as spiritual entities, often powerless and controlled by essential forces, such as fate and death.
The Blind (presented here in a 1894 translation by the great painter Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema) is a good example where the powerlessness of the characters is expressed through their blindness, and the principal situation is waiting. The little troupe is lost in the forest and bereft of all agency while bigger forces around them are shifting and making their presence felt. Great change is coming, and not everyone will survive through it...
The Blind opened at Schapiro Theatre in New York on April 11, 2014. Photos by Joe Li.
at Schapiro Theatre
Written by Maurice Maeterlinck
Translated by Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema
Directed by Peter Petkovsek
Produced by Natalie Gershtein
Music by Peter Zargi
Graphic Design by Eva Mlinar
Lighting Design by Sarah Lang and Jenny Ainsworth
Stage Manager Jenny Ainsworth
Michael Brahce (1st Blind Man, born blind)
Luca Nicora (2nd Blind Man, born blind)
Torrey Wigfield (5th Blind Man)
Max Pettit (6th Blind Man)
Michael Donaldson (The Oldest Blind Man)
Valerie O'Hara (The Old Blind Woman Praying)
Marietta LaFarge* (The Oldest Blind Woman)
Aidaa Peerzada (A Young Blind Woman)
Kea Trevett (A Mad Blind Woman)
Feel the experience! Listen to an excerpt from the show:
"One of my favorite shows that I've seen in New York in the last two years--since I moved here--was Peter Petkovsek's production of THE BLIND. The audience was scattered around the playing space, seated on pillows. And the actors were all around you. But the theater was completely dark. Pitch black. So you can't see a thing, but you can hear voices coming from everywhere. And the way Peter did use light in that show--I don't know that I can explain it in any way that would do justice to what an incredible experience it was. Because it was like nothing I'd ever experienced before—and it’s still like nothing I've experienced since. That's what I want when I go to the theater."
Jillie Mae Eddy, playwright, from Adam Szymkowicz's I Interview Playwrights Series