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Press Kit

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  • How long is the performance?
    A recitation of Four Quartets runs 1 hour and 20 minutes without intermission. Words Move|Music Moves runs 2 hours plus an intermission.
  • Is there an intermission?
    The poems can be recited beginning to end without intermission, or with a short intermission between the third and fourth poems in the suite (The Dry Salvages and Little Gidding). Words Move/Music Moves, the performance juxtaposing John’s recitation of Four Quartets with a string quartet performance, always includes an intermission.
  • Are recitations followed by any audience interactions?
    Yes, John is happy to meet with the audience after the performance to discuss the poems, his approach to memorizing and preparing them for performance, and whatever other subjects are of interest.
  • What is the maximum number of audience members for a recitation?
    There are no minimum or maximum numbers for the audience. Recitations can be done for up to around 100 people without amplification, depending on the venue. Beyond that number, the presenter supplies audio reinforcement.
  • Can John work with our string quartet for the Words Move/Music Moves recitation?
    Yes, that is how the event is usually arranged. John will work in advance of the event with a professional string quartet, selected by the presenter, to coordinate a seamless and thrilling evening of performance.
  • What are the performance's technical requirements?
    Four Quartets is as simple technically as the poems are complex poetically. For Technical Requirements and additional presenter materials, please visit our Press Kit.
  • How did John memorize all 886 lines of the poems?
    Patiently. Persistently. The memorization took about three months. Preparing the poems for recitation in public required another three years. Why John decided to memorize the poems is a question in search of an answer.

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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.

Technical Requirements

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.

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