I am very thankful. Having battled away for the past 48 hours trying to salvage files, I have now also been able to get into the system restore feature on my computer, attempt to restore the system and… it worked. Very thankful. It is working again.
I now need to bring the various Blogs back online and to start posting again.
I have been battling an ongoing illness for the last week or so, with it showing very few signs of any imminent departure. So it is time once again to have a break and to have a rest while I wait for a restoration of my health and well-being. How long will the break be? That is a difficult question to answer as I don’t know how long it will take to get well again, but I will certainly not be posting here until next weekend at the earliest. I really feel I need a complete break and to just rest (I will, after all, be still working at my day job which makes recovery more difficult). I am hopeful that it won’t be much more than a week. I have been trying to press on, but have often-times failed in posting and turned in to bed instead.
Soon after Evgeny Grishkovets and his translator Kyle Wilson walk on stage to perform Farewell to Paper at the Perth Festival, Grishkovets reminds the audience that the performance will be of two hours duration. This advice will be returned to later, when a mild rebuke is delivered to spectators seen glancing at their watches.
While advertised in the festival program as a “one-man show”, the rapport between the actor, Grishkovets, and the translator, Wilson, lends the performance the sense of a double act. Wilson – a translator and specialist in Slavonic languages – has read the script beforehand but in performance he incorporates Grishkovets’s ad libs. Grishkovets almost dances his part as he speaks, pausing for Wilson’s translations, sometimes interjecting.
Under fluorescent lights in front of a backdrop of candy stripe wallpaper and five doors, the set is cluttered with the detritus of obsolete objects, such as a writing desk with a set of plans, various papers, and two typewriters. The floor is scattered with books, map cases and a globe of the world. Grishkovets periodically opens one or more of the doors behind him to reveal objects that supply visual reinforcements to his scenarios of loss.
As well as paper, there are farewells to many other things, such as the traditions and the technologies of a previous age. Through the course of the performance, Grishkovets proceeds to offer up a succession of narratives, frequently utilising physical props of material items and practices that have become obsolete. These include things such as quill pens, pen knives, blotting paper, inkwells, the handwritten letter, letter openers, telegrams, and more.
What becomes obvious is that these previous technologies enforced a need to compose, and a time to reflect. He describes the act of writing a letter, the licking and sealing of an envelope, the purchase and placing of a stamp, and the journey to the post office or the mail box. The list of obsolete items and practices continues with typewriters (it would appear that the last one was made in Delhi in 2011), and a nostalgic narration on the joys of owning his first Pentium computer.
Many of these items are presented physically through the five doors in the backdrop of the set. For example, a narrative concerning the discovery of two 1000-year old messages written on birch bark leads to Grishkovets opening the doors at either end of the set to reveal birch trees. At suitable moments, other doors are opened to display such objects as a mound of handwritten letters and a bookcase.
In a marvellous display of three sequential door revelations, we see a mailbox in which the young Evgeny posted his first letter while staying with his grandparents. In the second is the mass of pipes and conduits that he imagined transported his letter underground to his parents elsewhere. In the third, the row of dilapidated mailboxes in the stairwell of an apartment building where letters were delivered.
Grishkovets is a subtle performer. His excellent sense of timing, his economy of action, his communication with the audience, all reveal an actor skilled in his craft. Wilson is also an effective performer, recognising the requirements of pace, timing, rhythm and in tune with the subtle nuances of Grishkovets’s delivery of his lines. Wilson’s frequent wry exchanges with Grishkovets over small points of translation add to the flavour of the double act between them.
Grishkovets often focuses on the visual, the tactile, the aural and the olfactory aspects of paper technology. Do you appreciate the weight of a book, and the texture of its cover, of its pages? Can you savour the smell of a book – and its dust? Can you enjoy the smell of newsprint, the rustle of a newspaper? Can you savour the smell of an smart phone? Does an iPad rustle?
While these juxtapositions have a light tone, the author is invoking a sense of a deeper nostalgia and regret for the “signs of time past, or of times that are passing” as he puts in the program notes.
As well as being a meditation on times past and the fears raised by the dizzying turnover of technologies, there is also a key message here about the importance of patience.
This message is foreshadowed in that early warning concerning the two-hour duration. However, while Grishkovets is lamenting the loss of a slower paced existence and demonising the speed of 21st century life, he does it with humour, a light touch, and a willingness to point out the drawbacks associated with previous technologies and practices in a world of paper.
A thoroughly engaging performance by Grishkovets, aided by the sensitively presented translations by Wilson, was rewarded with strong applause by a full house audience.
This is just a short post by way of an announcement – that I am going to take some time off from my Blogs for the next week or so. I expect to be back posting in the usual manner from about the 16th November. There may be the occasional post before that, but nothing too regular. Why? I just need to get a few things done around the house and in my personal life that I can’t put off any longer, and a short break is also good for my well being. So back in a little bit.
I am currently being assailed by a variety of ailments and illnesses, and it is therefore necessary for me to take some time off to recuperate. I’m hoping this will only be about a week or so, and then be back at it again. There may be the odd post, but nothing much and nothing is certain. Anyhow, have a break from me and we can get back together in just over a week perhaps. Thanks.
Hi all – I’m on a period of extended leave and during this time I’ll be doing a bit of travelling and having a break obviously.I don’t expect to be back Blogging until the start of September. Enjoy the break – I know I will.
Hi all – yes, it’s that time of year again. We are all busy, whether we want to be or not. It can be so at work or just with family and friends. Whatever the cause (usually associated with the silly season of course), it impacts on what we normally do. It is, of course, the case with Blog posting also. I’ll still be posting, however, I can’t be sure just how often I’ll be able to do so. So the ‘moral’ of the story – there may not be as many posts over the next couple of week, until at least the 4th of January 2016. I’m also hoping to take a short break or two – so that will also impact on posting.
Anyway all the best to you all at this time of year and may it be safe, healthy and fun.