By Dave Carew
Some works of art are so strikingly original, so beautifully conceived and rendered, that no review can truly do them justice. After having seen this past Friday’s performance of Valerie S Hart’s Rising & Falling . . . at the Darkhorse Theater, that is my essential response to this play. But let me add a few thoughts . . . things that rolled around in my head, heart, and soul as the aftermath of this remarkable play washed over me.
The American poet Robert Bly once said no boy becomes a man until he can fully embrace and immerse himself in grief. Something of that redemptive idea is at work in this play: the idea that America’s collective response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001—and, specifically one artist’s response—are aspects of a matrix of a collective grief we need to embrace if the horrifying, watershed events of that day—and so many days that followed—are to be imbued with any meaning or redemptive power. In an exquisitely rendered braiding of action lines, Rising and Falling . . . presents to us a grieving mother of a 9/11 victim, an artist publicly humiliated and vilified for his attempt to create art from the ashes of the Twin Towers, and classic mythological figures who illuminate how immutable human paradigms and collective grief can help us make some inner, personal sense of the seemingly senseless.
Previous posts on Underground Nashville (see below) have gone into more detail about this play, and featured a pre-performance interview with playwright Valerie S Hart, so I won’t repeat myself here. But I will say, in summation, this:
Rising & Falling . . . is stunningly good; an absolute must-see for anyone who cares about the artistic possibilities of the American theater.
David M. (Dave) Carew is writer/editor of “Underground Nashville” and the author of the novels “Everything Means Nothing to Me: A Novel of Underground Nashville” and “Voice from the Gutter.” He also is a freelance book editor, publicist, and advertising/marketing/public relations writer.