February 2008

Poetic License
A Solo Performance by Erika Batdorf
Feb. 15 – Mar. 2, 2008 Factory Studio Theatre Toronto
"What is an Angel?" (Erika Batdorf)
by David Fujino
In her latest version of Poetic License, Erika Batdorf has given credible form to her "obsessions" by successfully blending acting and movement with the intimate and allusive worlds of poetry.

Marti is Batdorf's first character, a college literature professor who vainly struggles to balance the demands of career, motherhood and writing.

As Marti lectures on the glorious, otherwordly visions of poets such as Yeats ("The Second Coming") and the work of the 19th century Persian poetess, Tahiri, she eventually suffers an emotional breakdown, topples over her podium, and flatly declares that she resigns.

After a stage blackout, a second character appears, Marti's sister, spot lit on a vertical platform. Although afflicted by the tremors of Multiple Sclerosis, she directly affects us with her unfailing sense of humour and an ability to escape her personal problems.

A third character, a guardian angel, is, of course, a full embodiment of our notions of eternity, and the fact that she turns out to be the mother of Marti and her sister is no surprise in a theatrical piece that is all about a human world of illusion, shifting identities, and its ultimate state, that of mortal self-transcendence.

So when this kind angel offers the audience a choice of cookies — a round white cookie representing the full moon, a crescent cookie for indecision, and a brown cookie as a dark moon — Marti's acceptance of the dark cookie is what leads her on a spiritual pilgrimage to the empty spaces of Utah where she plans to leave behind her troubled mind.

Throughout a performance time of approximately 60 minutes, Batdorf successfully depicted the drift of human consciousness — variously defined by Antonin Artaud as human 'action' that goes beyond words or, as proposed by Allen Ginsberg in his Indian Journals, as a blissful state of super consciousness attained through the use of drugs.

Erika Batdorf
(Photo by David Leyes)
But most importantly, as a theatrical movement artist, Batdorf has clearly given herself permission — permission to freely explore poetic text for its consciousness-raising qualities and thereby transport the audience closer to the heart of the mystery, the mystery of human life.

At the (beautifully underplayed) performance's end, the insistent modal strains of "Wait No More" by Bruce Cockburn carry us away ...

Created and performed by Erika Batdorf
Directed by Todd Hammond


Box Office: 416-504-9971

We welcome your comments and feedback
David Fujino
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