Rimbaud in New York OFF-BROADWAY REVIEWS

Photo: Michelle V. Agins
  • NY TIMES

  • Opening Night:
    March 1, 2016
    Closing:
    March 6, 2016

    Theater: BAM Fisher / 321 Ashland Place, Brooklyn, NY, 11217

    Synopsis: 

    He smoked a clay pipe, stole books, wrote hymns to bodily orifices, and, by the age of 21, had changed the face of literature forever. But then Arthur Rimbaud disappeared. In this prismatic collage of song and story, theater company The Civilians ("Paris Commune," 2012 Next Wave) use music-theater to consider the life and lasting influence of modernism’s most elusive enfant terrible. Staged musical renditions of original texts—John Ashbery’s seminal translations of the poet’s "Illuminations," Rimbaud’s letters to his lover Verlaine—complement writer-director Steve Cosson’s meditations on the poet’s sexuality and influence on artists like Bob Dylan and Patti Smith. The result is a kaleidoscopic portrait of a man whose verbal alchemy made the bourgeois world blush.

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  • NEW YORK TIMES REVIEW OF Rimbaud in New York

    ‘Rimbaud in New York’ Splices the Genes of the Original Outlaw Artist

    Ben Brantley

    March 3, 2016: It is the consensus of the seriously cool that nobody was ever cooler than Arthur Rimbaud. More than a century after his death, this French poet still blazes as the unwashed apotheosis of the outlaw artist, a beautiful, sexually fluid renegade genius who, as one of his early biographers put it, “lived in three years the literary evolution of modern times.” At the end of those three years, he was only 20. But by then he had conducted and ended a fabled love affair with the older Symbolist poet Paul Verlaine and written the entire body of visionary verse that would anticipate future iconoclasts in art movements from Surrealism to punk rock. No, he didn’t die young (he lived on to a disease-riddled 37), as is traditionally expected of this particular breed of cult idol. Instead, he one-upped the usual gorgeous corpses by walking out on his glory with a sneer and refusing to look back. In other words, Rimbaud was the opposite of nostalgic, which means he probably wouldn’t care much for “Rimbaud in New York,” which runs through Sunday at BAM Fisher. This earnest collage tribute piece from the Civilians, written and directed by Steve Cosson, celebrates Rimbaud as the man who invented downtown as a state of mind.

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