Guest host Sonia Manzano presents works by the Brazilian writer Clarice Lispector. Lispector, who died in 1977, was one of Brazil’s most famous writers, but she is not well known in the United States. In order to share her beautiful and mysterious work with a wider audience, we brought together readers and fans for a special evening at Symphony Space. It was hosted by one of our favorite leading men, Denis O’Hare, whom you’ll hear reading one of Lispector’s stories. Lispector was a maverick in her exploration of women’s emotional states and issues of gender, so she’s been an influential presence on the literary scene. We’ve included some reflections on her work and life by the Iranian-American novelist and essayist Porochista Khakpour, and one of Lispector’s translators, the novelist and poet Idra Novey.
Our first Lispector story is “Remnants of Carnival.” It perfectly captures a little girl’s longing, and is as fragrant as the rose that she imagines herself becoming. “Remnants of Carnival” is performed by Columbian actor Carolina Ravassa. Ravassa worked with Augusto Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed in Brazil. In the States, she’s appeared in the Disney film “Step Up 3D” and the television program, “The Affair.” She is a voice actor whose video-game credits include “Grand Theft Auto V” and “Overwatch.” Ravassa also produces and stars in the web-based series “Hispanglo-Saxon.”
Next, we hear Lispector in a different mood. The married couple in “The Obedient Ones” struggle to express the inexpressible, in an eerie tale told by a mysterious narrator. Denis O’Hare is the reader. O’Hare’s stage work includes award-winning performances in the plays “Take Me Out” and “Sweet Charity.” He also starred as vampire Russell Edgington on the fantasy series “True Blood.” His films include “Charlie Wilson’s War,” “Milk,” “Changeling,” and “Dallas Buyers Club.”
One of Lispector’s gifts is the ability to impart intense drama to small scenes. “Happy Birthday” shows her at her most observant—and satirical. A disconnected family gathers to celebrate the birthday of its intimidating matriarch.
Reader Lynn Cohen has enjoyed a long career including work with many national and regional theatre companies such as Naked Angels, Primary Stages, and Steppenwolf. Many television roles included her work on “Sex and the City,” “Law & Order,” and “Nurse Jackie,” and her many film appearances include “Vanya on 42nd Street” and “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.”