Sonnets (included in score) written by Edna St. Vincent Millay and read by Jackie Burroughs
February 18, 1975, Toronto Dance Theatre
MacMillan Theatre, Edward Johnson Building, University of Toronto
Patricia Beatty, David Earle, Merle Salsberg, Susan Macpherson, David Wood, Barry Smith, Peggy Baker, Helen Jones, Sara Pettitt, Patricia Miner, Grant McDaniel, Gary Goodwin, Anna Blewchamp, Cornelius Fischer-Credo
Field of Dreams previewed in Ottawa at The National Arts Centre on February 4 and 5, 1975.
In the absence of their men, in wartime, women must struggle to contain their fears and desires. But in sleep, when reason no longer rules, may not their souls set out to celebrate ancient and terrible mysteries?
The set was a multi-patterned fabric (appliquéd by Earle, Peter Randazzo and Patricia Beatty) that covered the floor and cyclorama. In front of that hung other layers of patterned material that the dancers could walk between as if walking amid trees. The illusion and magic were created by The Bros. Crack Stage Illusions. “It was so optically rich that you could barely look at it.” -- D.E.
Interview with David Earle, July 23, 2002
This was my 'symbolist' piece, influenced by an AGO symbolist show of mysterious, otherworldly paintings that were powerful and dark and exactly the kind of poetry TDT was trying to make. We premiered Field of Dreams in Ottawa and the work was very controversial because of the nudity, and the nervy concept that a man could understand what women do, or do not, feel. But I've always felt much more able to identify with women than with men.
The idea originated in the poetry of Edna St. Vincent Millay. Poems like “What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why,/I have forgotten, and what arms have lain/Under my head till morning; but the rain/Is full of ghosts tonight, that tap and sigh/Upon the glass and listen for reply,/And in my heart there stirs a quiet pain/For unremembered lads that not again/Will turn to me at midnight with a cry….” and “I think I should have loved you presently,…” which includes the image “A ghost in marble of a girl you knew…” and “I too beneath your moon, almighty Sex,/Go forth at nightfall crying like a cat,/Leaving the lofty tower I laboured at…”
Not only do these thoughts and feelings find a chord of identity in me, but the idea of a woman of my mother's time so beautifully realizing her sensuality seems startling to me.
The Field of Dreams theme connected the sentiments of the poems to symbolist paintings -- and also with a very erotic image of death. The exaggeration of the female sexual imagination seemed to me most likely manifested in the absence of men -- and so I began to think of women during the world wars who, in their loneliness experienced troubled erotic dreams -- allied with violence and death. They would have no control over that and it could be a very potent part of a woman's wartime experiences. The female liberation that began in that period is also part of the theme -- the right to full expression of sexual tastes and the revelation of fantasies. The final image was a battlefield of naked, dead soldiers littering the stage. Flowers stemmed from all the openings in their bodies, the cycle of nature continuing beyond their deaths.