Monday, May 9, 2011

Joyce Le-Yesman

The online French literary journal Tales Magazine uses Louie Correia's beautiful photographs of our Molly Bloom to illustrate their article on Joyce Le Yesman. I love the title, Joyce Le Yesman. Joyce was certainly artist who said Yes to the artistic path, who battled poverty, family opposition and responsibilities, Church disapproval and country disavowal to usher in a new age of literary modernity. He ends Ulysses with perhaps the most inspirational, life affirming words in all of literature: "Yes, I said, Yes, I will Yes." He honors the feminine divine by putting those words in the mouth of his heroin(e), Molly Bloom.

James Joyce's Ulysses marks the beginning of modern literature while respecting at least a few thousands years of storytelling, both oral and written, that came before. The Book and the Day are a celebration of the artist's life in particular the writer's life. The denseness of the text allows the reader if we take the time to extrapolate almost any meaning from it, it is biblical in that way. We look to Ulysses for answers, we see ourselves in it and we are grateful. His three main characters have all said Yes to their artistic lives despite the present difficulties they find themselves in. Bloom continues to think of ideas for sketches he might write for Molly and perhaps himself to perform as he struggles through his latest day job. Molly is rehearsing for her one performance a year as she faces the challenge of having only time ahead of her and wondering how to fill it. Stephen works on his poetry, while disastrously attempting to network with his more connected, less talented peers. Surely his days as a high school teacher must soon come to an end? They try through the fog of their own personal and individual pain, amidst the pettiness of the society they find themselves in, to help each other find their truest selves.

I have spent over ten years working on this novel for public performance and this will be my fourth year performing the complete Molly episode live. Our artistic director Janet Coleman has been working on the text even longer and our producer Larry Josephson has been obsessed with this literary holiday since he first saw it celebrated at Shakespeare and Co. over 30 years ago. This is his 30th year broadcasting a Bloomsday celebration. And yet, every year, when May comes around and I know that June is but around the corner, I think to myself, I cannot possibly do this again. Haven't I done it already? Haven't I devoted enough of my artistic life to Joyce. Don't I get it now? Can't I move on?

"Can you?" Joyce says staring at me through the lenses of his coke bottle glasses.

Joyce was an artist whose intellect and artistry challenges every artist who comes in contact with his work. The truth is I have only unlocked a few of the secrets of his novel. And every year, I discover a new key that deepens my understanding of the book, that takes my mind and throws it up against the plexiglass, that ultimately inspires me as a creator. So this morning I say to Joyce, my friend, my mentor: "Yes, we said. Yes, we will yes, we will create another Radio Bloomsday and share your work, your artistic fire, your brilliant mind, your Terrible Beauty with listeners all over the world."


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