A Multimedia/Theater Performance of Octavio Paz’s ‘Piedra de Sol’
— By Oscar Paul Medina | May 13, 2010
This weekend the Los Angeles Getty Museum will host a theater performance of one of the towering Mexican poems of the 20th century “Piedra De Sol”, a work by the renowned and Nobel prize winning poet Octavio Paz. The multimedia performance is the commission of director Maria Morrett and is in connection to the sculpture exhibition “The Aztec Pantheon and the Art of Empire,”. It is a rare occurence that poetry gets an opportunity to pierce the popular consciouness in 2010, much less get a budget to stage a complete theater production around its creation. “Piedra Del Sol” is a poem that deserves such a treatment, it is a magnum opus of seismic dimensions with a lyrical exploration of eros, history, Mesoamerican/Hindu/and Greek symbols, along with a structure that was formed around the architectonics of the Aztec calendar. In many ways Octavio Paz’s poetry and literary ethos represents the manifold and intersecting interests exhibited here at Hydra. It is the pursuit of pluralistic dialogue with a keen curiosity in how cultures respond and affect each other through the arts and letters, with a view to forge and enhance artistic and cultural connections via the logos.
“”What sets worlds in motion is the interplay of differences, their attractions and repulsions. Life is plurality, death is uniformity. By suppressing differences and pecularities, by eliminating different civilizations and cultures, progress weakens life and favors death. The ideal of a single civilization for everyone, implicit in the cult of progress and technique, impoverishes and mutilates us. Every view of the world that becomes extinct, every culture that disappears, diminishes a possibility of life””
Working with a team of nearly 30 student actors, designers, musicians and technicians at the experimental suburban L.A. art college, Morett is striving to create a roughly 75-minute piece that will immerse audiences in Paz’s aesthetic and intellectual universe. “Piedra” also contains interpolations of other poems by Paz, dramatized episodes from his life, and fragments of works by the Surrealist poet-theorist André Breton, whose writings deeply influenced Paz.
“When you sit in that show, it’s an experience,” said Michael Vanderbilt, one of the work’s student producers. “It’s not just the words, it’s not just the video or the costumes or the choreography. It’s a Surrealist experience. It’s all about the feeling that you’re getting from all those things that you’re being bombarded with at once.”