Sound poetry is not really cool. Oh sure, maybe it was cool. In the Da-Da salons of Paris, it was avant-garde. And in a bedroom at bpNicol‘s cottage, spouting out sound poems between long drags on the hookah was probably genuinely far-out, man. But somewhere along the way, sound poetry became hokey. As much a hippy-relic as Patchouli and beaded vests.
And then, The Four Horsemen Project happened. Now, sound poetry is not only cool, it’s beautiful, revelatory and vital. This show does for sound poetry what Quentin Tarantino movies did for John Travolta and David Carradine.
Directed by Ross Manson and Kate Alton, Four Horsemen features four performers who infuse the poetry they perform with incredible theatricality, vocal quality and kinaesthetic awareness. There is no narrative in particular; the performers use their bodies and their voices to explore and demonstrate various poems, many written by the late bpNicol. But that is not to say there is no sense of story. Somehow, even though the words cannot be interpreted as dialogue, even though the movements do not denote specific actions, relationships emerge and the feeling of storyness and connectivity is always present.
It’s refreshing to see a show with extensive A/V that not only doesn’t feel superfluous, but actually necessary and beautifully incorporated into the performance. In fact, there isn’t a thing about this joyful celebration of a piece of theatre that isn’t refreshing. It’s hard to see how anyone who enjoys theatre, dance, literature or just life would not love The Four Horsemen Project. Full marks!