Press Kit

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Ellen Doré Watson, Director, The Poetry Center at Smith College, Northampton, Massachusetts

"Farrell's delivery of Four Quartets is as natural, deep, and illuminating as Kenneth Branagh doing Shakespeare. His presentation here was utterly magical. It's really extraordinary how, instead of parading the poem, Farrell inhabits it from the inside out, creating a rich, subtle, meditative experience, in which Eliot's words hover & resonate, provoke & delight."

Paul Kuritz, Professor of Theater, Bates College, Lewiston, Maine

"An evening of poetry is the performer's ultimate challenge. An evening of T. S. Eliot's poetry is the ultimate challenge's ultimate challenge. John Farrell not only meets the challenges, he opens the text to the hearers' minds in ways beyond the ability of the solitary reader. He does not act. He does not impersonate. He presents the words seriously, intelligently, and respectfully. He gives the words space to work."

Gabrielle McIntire, Professor of English, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario

"I write with very high praise for John Farrell's brilliant, sensitive, and evocative recitation of T. S. Eliot's Four Quartets, which he performed to a full house at Queen's University in March of this year. The event was, quite simply, the highlight of the term for me and for my undergraduate and graduate students."

Seth Warner, Olin Arts Center, Bates College, Lewiston, Maine

"The compelling performances that John Farrell and the DaPonte String Quartet gave us of T. S. Eliot's Four Quartets and Beethoven's late quartet Opus 132 made the case for a collective power that only exceptional live performance could possibly deliver."

Mary Dowd, Curator of Poetry, Merrill Memorial Library, Yarmouth, Maine

"I was stunned: the poem I heard recited was not the one I thought I knew. John's performance was a milestone experience, surpassing what I expected, or could even imagine. He was the bridge to Eliot's infinitely rich world, in a performance that didn't seem like a performance at all: John disappeared and the poem flowed through him, so clear, so beautiful, and so affecting."

Norman Frisch, Film and Performance Specialist, J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, California

"It's difficult to imagine that anyone could walk away unmoved or unchanged by this performance. We come to understand that we're watching someone who's been on an amazing journey through the landscape of Eliot's text and then returned to invite us to venture forth with him. That's an unbelievably generous gesture—a rare one—and I think the audience understands this and responds accordingly."

Annie Finch, Poet and Former Director of Stonecoast MFA Program in Creative Writing

John Farrell's performance of Four Quartets is not only technically flawless, but also deeply moving, as he transforms himself into an instrument through which Eliot's poetry can pour and embody itself, a cry from one human life to another.

Valerie Lester, Author of "Giambattista Bodoni: His Life and His World"

Like the rhapsodes of Homer's time, who committed vast expanses of poetry to memory so that they could share their spoken heritage with their audience, Farrell brought T. S. Eliot to breathing, spoken life. This is how it should be: poetry taken into the mind—memorized—and spoken.

High-Resolution Photo Gallery

John Farrell
John Farrell

John Farrell recites T.S. Eliot's "Four Quartets" (photo courtesy of Figures of Speech Theatre)

John Farrell
John Farrell

John Farrell recites T.S. Eliot's "Four Quartets" (photo courtesy of Figures of Speech Theatre)

John Farrell
John Farrell

John Farrell recites T.S. Eliot's "Four Quartets" (photo courtesy of Figures of Speech Theatre)

John Farrell
John Farrell

John Farrell recites T.S. Eliot's "Four Quartets" (photo courtesy of Figures of Speech Theatre)



Promotional Materials

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Customizable Four Quartets Poster

Click on the image to download an 8.5" x 11" PDF poster, which may be customized in Adobe Reader.

Program Icon
Customizable Four Quartets Program

Click on the image to download a two-sided 8.5" x 11" PDF program or download a DOC file of copy for a program.

Technical Requirements

Four Quartets is as simple technically as the poems are complex poetically. The performance tours with one performer and has been presented in venues ranging from private homes to the 1,400-seat Hutchins Concert Hall. All that is required is a bare stage with reasonable sight lines.

Performance spaces of a certain size will require professional sound reinforcement, to be supplied by the presenter.

Lighting need only provide general illumination; the line in the poem which reads, "So, while the light fades on a winter's afternoon in a secluded chapel…" may provide inspiration.

A recitation of the poem runs one hour and twenty minutes without intermission. Words Move|Music Moves is a two-hour program plus an intermission.


Performer Bio

A native of Boston who grew up in Massachusetts, Holland, and France, John Farrell's artistic explorations are rooted in his love of poetry and sculpture. As an undergraduate at Yale he pursued studies in fields as diverse as African history, Vedanta Mysticism, the anthropology of law, and Sioux religion. He quit law school in the middle of a Civil Procedure exam and co-founded Figures of Speech Theatre a month later with dancer/designer Carol Llewellyn. They have created 20 original works of theater and toured the world for over 30 years. Known for groundbreaking work juxtaposing puppets, actors, and other stage media, Figures of Speech also pursues an interest in the performance of literary text: Farrell tours a solo recitation from memory of T. S. Eliot’s poetic masterpiece, Four Quartets. Most recently, he conceived, designed and directed a theatrical setting of David Lang’s Pulitzer Prize-winning composition, the little match girl passion. Farrell has been an artist-in-residence at numerous colleges and arts centers and has studied with the Japanese master puppet builder Toru Saito. In 1999 he was one of five American artists awarded a Creative Artists' Program Fellowship from the Japan-United States Friendship Commission, allowing him to spend 6 months in Japan studying Japanese theater and gardens. That opportunity led to his founding of hanamichi design, where he creates gardens in the Japanese spirit for clients in New England. The Maine Arts Commission awarded him an Individual Artist Fellowship in 2002 and he is the 2004 recipient of the New England Theater Conference's award for Outstanding Achievement in the American Theater. Farrell lives with his wife, costume designer Carol (Llewellyn) Farrell, in the perpetually 250-year-old farmhouse in Maine where they raised two daughters.