Nun the wiser
The letters of a 17th-century nun pining for her departed lover are the basis for the moving one-woman show "Cartas."
By CARAID O'BRIEN
Unrequited love is quite a burden to bear, but few bore it with such
passion and eloquence as Marianna Alcoforado, a 17th-century Portuguese nun
who is the subject of this engrossing one-woman show playing through April
15 at the Culture Project.
Myriam Cyr plays Alcoforado, who, although living
in a convent since the age of 12, managed to have an affair with Noel
Bottin, a mercenary given the title of Compte de Chamilly by the king of
France. After their brief encounter, Bottin left Portugal never to return.
Alcoforado subsequently wrote him five letters which serve as the script
here. The letters were shown to the salons of Paris and published in France.
For two centuries it was thought that they were written by a man until
research in the 1800s gave Alcoforado her due. Modigliani and Matisse
painted portraits of her and Rilke dedicated a poem to her.
|Directed by: Lisa Forrell.|
Cast: Myriam Cyr.
On an intimate stage bracketed by pools of shiny black rocks,
Cyr, who also translated the letters, gives a moving, emotionally charged
performance as Alcoforado, articulating the nun's near-mania for her absent
lover. Speaking directly to the audience, she declares her love and waxes
poetic on the subject of desire with a remarkable combination of innocence
and luminescence. Her love comes across as an avenue for self-exploration.
("I was charmed, I was seduced by my own violent intentions," she declares.)
As it becomes clear that Bottin is never going to return, her emotions run
the gamut from a sensual reverie to focused anger to a graceful serenity
and strength. This is a great evening of theater.
|APRIL 3, 2001|
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