Suspend Your Disbelief

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Elevator Repair Service @ NYPL

Shuffle by Elevator Repair Service at the New York Public Library

A while back, we wrote about Elevator Repair Service’s performance of Gatz, in which The Great Gatsby is read in its entirety onstage.

Recently, Elevator Repair Service took on a different lit-meets-theatre project, which they called “Shuffle”: to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the New York Public Library, the group performed three great works of literature—The Sun Also Rises, The Great Gatsby, and The Sound and the Fury—simultaneously. According to the New York Times, the library was temporarily transformed into a piece of performance art.

Visitors wandered in and out, some fascinated, others apparently dumbfounded. No, they couldn’t get the July 1947 issue of National Geographic just now, and, sorry, but Vol. XXXIV of The Journal of English and Germanic Philology would have to wait too. There was a stack of recent copies of The Washington Post at one end of the counter, but an actor’s drink was on top of it. A severe-seeming woman in a black dress talking on the phone looked as if she might be a librarian but turned out to be, oops, another one of the actors, speaking Hemingwayese: “The things that happened could only have happened during a fiesta.”

No help at the periodical room’s computer terminals: they were displaying not the catalog but a version of the script that the actors were reciting, and if you looked up at the wall, a projection of the text of all three novels was quickly scrolling by.

Read the rest of the article for a fuller sense of the zaniness—trust me, it’s worth it! And tell us: what work(s) should Elevator Repair Service take on next? How about Moby-Dick? Huck Finn? Both together?

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