Somewhere imprinted in my brain is a sacred rule of story: take only as much time as you need to get an idea across. Get in, make your point, get out. Keep things moving and don’t lose your audience. But this week in New York two separate pieces, both non-narrative, reduced me to tears by combining a staggeringly slow pace with one or two immense gestures of inspired stagecraft that hit at just the right moment.
SPOILER ALERT – the unexpected nature of these gestures contributed much to their impact. If you plan on seeing either of the pieces discussed, reading this essay could well rob you of that discovery. Shen Wei often tours the country and you almost certainly have a great opportunity to see Satyagraha on screen in your local movie theater this Wednesday, Dec 7 via the Met’s Live in HD program. Perhaps go see the work and then come back and read this.