Hidden Away, the Library at Night
“The core reason was beauty. Walking was a divine delight…New things were possible with the human form. It went beyond equilibrium.”
-Colum McCann, from Let the Great World Spin
What do you get when you put together a masterfully whimsical choreographer (Nicole Liveratos), a theater director who doubles as a novelist (Phillip DePoy), and the most generously creative production organization in town (The Lucky Penny)? And what if you gave them run of a palatial library (DeKalb Co. Public Library) at night? And, what if anyone could attend free of charge? The answer is Hidden Away, the Library at Night; which finished its too-short run of free performances last weekend [August 31-September 7, 2013].
The phrase permeating the performances was “choose your own adventure,” and it was an apt one. The crowd was greeted with the delightful sound of whispered voices reading aloud from heavy hard-bound books held with care and familiarity. When was the last time you held a large book open in your hands and mouthed out loud the words on the pages? Imagine that sensation. Now, imagine that you are part of a diverse, informed, and joyful public. The show continued with a cacophony of thumps as the books closed and show began.
We wandered in groups through several rooms dimly lit with reading lamps, catching tableaus of imaginative interactions between people and the “trappings” of the library. Voices rose and fell with snippets of readings from open books, and we laughed out loud in the hushed atmosphere. A melodic sing-along filled the front room, emphasized with onomatopoeic sounds, handclaps and jubilant demeanors. Grandfathers read to a pressing crowd by lamplight. A woman went up the rows tilting the books up, one by one, mischievously with her shoulder. Young men shuffled books at each other in a complex and awkward dance. A library cart flew through the reception area and spun in wild controlled circles, ridden by grinning dancers. You would have to attend many times to absorb all of the ingenious and humanitarian chapters folded into this multi-layered performance, and my exit was tinged with the despair of an engrossed reader coming to the close of a particularly brilliant tale. Why did it have to end so soon?
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