Margie Gillis, Elizabeth Parrish2

Canadian dance icon Margie Gillis joins forces with actress Elizabeth Parrish to interpret the poetry of Emily Dickinson in the moving and illuminating Bulletins from Immortality.

Gillis and Parrish begin a strong partnership against simple staging – illustrated pages of Dickinson’s work hanging from a back wall, a chair, and four white boxes. Parrish reads some of the poet’s finest work while Gillis interprets these through dance. As Parrish later said in a talkback: she is the speech, the ideas; Gillis is the soul.
Gillis’ movement to each poem illuminates deeper themes within the work, highlighting emotional and metaphysical attributes of the poetry overlooked on a first reading. Her movements are fluid, at times electric, and often feel spontaneous. They match the freedom of expression so compelling in Dickinson’s poetry.

Gillis is her most hypnotic when dealing with the most solemn of poems, most notably Because I Could Not Stop For Death. Throughout the work, Gillis and Parrish interact, sharing moments, movements and beats. Their seamless interconnectivity in this piece made it all the more powerful.

Margie Gillis, Elizabeth Parrish
The work is not without flaw. Elizabeth Parrish is a strong presence on stage: a positive attribute to the piece for the most part. However, the intensity of her performance does not always match the lighter movements and energy of Gillis, nor the philosophical flight of Dickinson’s words. The narrative arc of chosen poems felt inconsistent, occasionally tearing concentration from the piece.
Despite this, the work is mesmerizing at times and a compelling exploration of Dickinson’s words and motivation. It is here the piece is strongest: Margie Gillis’ kinetic, ethereal movements connect deeply not only with the poetry’s themes but with the poet herself. Bulletins from Immortality indeed.
Bulletins from Immortality continues at The Cultch through October 26. Tickets start at $17. Photos by Beth Levendis.

About Our Contributor Zoe Grams

Zoe Grams

Scottish-born Zoe Grams is Principal at ZG Communications and has spent much of her life in theatres and bookstores. Her work has appeared in publications on both sides of the Atlantic, including The Tyee, Back of the Book, GUM and Skinny Mag. Zoe's lifelong passions include the arts and exploring new cities.

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