More or Less I Am (2020)
Inspired by Walt Whitman’s revolutionary poem “Song of Myself,” the international collective Compagnia de’ Colombari combines fiddle and flute, dance, sea shanties, opera, and poetry in a declaration of American independence and diversity that invokes the spirit of Whitman’s abiding masterpiece. Audiences consistently name the company’s 2016 production, The Merchant of Venice, as one of their favorite Festival performances of the last 25 years.
About More or Less I Am
Here we are in a Whitman moment. Long before the understanding of virus transmission, Whitman taught us to be atomically aware: “...for every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.” Whitman says, “Stop with me this day and night and you shall possess the origin of all poems.” Walt, we are stopped, and we are listening. Could there be a deeper test of our nation’s soul than this time when we, together, live in mutual isolation? Let’s call on our democratic poet to remind us who we are and to lead us forward to our shared humanity.
Whitman reminds us that alongside our greatness as individuals in America is the greatness of the group, the potential of so many vast differences coming together, such as the world has never seen before. Side by side on Whitman’s page are: the bride, the opium eater, the prostitute, the crowd, the President, the five friendly matrons...to name a very few. Democracy is facilitated by art.
We are thrilled to bring together for our online performance of More Or Less I Am, the community of all our beautiful Colombari artists who have been involved in this project throughout the years in a labor of love. The remarkable composers--Colin Jacobsen, Kyle Sanna, Eric Jacobsen, and Alex Sopp--also perform. Our four installations of More Or Less I Am are broken down into: Journey, The City, Nature + Democracy, and Gratitude, with a musical coda from the live performance at Greene Space in 2012.
Let us listen to our provocative prophetic poet and his call to interdependence in this new world order. This is our courageous moment. Listen to the poet: “I follow you whoever you are from the present hour; my words itch at your ears till you understand them.”
--Karin Coonrod, founder & director