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October 30, 2019 | What Did You Think?,

Let’s Talk About Triptych!

Triptych (Eyes of One on Another) has graced the Cutler Majestic stage, prompting necessary questions about the relationship between an artist and their art. With this inventive collaboration surrounding Mapplethorpe’s work, we invite you to the conversation. Below, we have some prompts to get you thinking and welcome comments on this blog post. You can also share on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram your first thoughts, impressions, or whatever may resonate after the show.

Thank you for joining us for this once in a lifetime performance of Triptych (Eyes of One on Another). Stayed tuned for more audience reactions and reviews linked below as we continue to celebrate this monumental production!

1. Whether you are familiar with Mapplethrope’s work or not, Triptych shows the photos at a new scale through a different lens, what did the work inspire in you?
2. How can we grapple with the nuances of celebrated people?
3. What did you glean from the actor in the space? 


“One of my friends commented that although he’d seen many shows at ArtsEmerson, this one seemed to generate the most discussion afterwards. What more can one ask from a work of art?” – Theatre Mirror

“Triptych explores the very limits of artistic expression for an age in which almost nothing seems shocking.” – Boston Classical Review

“IT ISN’T SO MUCH A PORTRAIT OF MAPPLETHORPE AS A MEDITATION ON THE MAN, HIS WORK, AND HIS LEGACY. There was the re-imagining of a Monteverdi madrigal that laments a dead beloved, underlining the fact that Mapplethorpe, Hemphill, and many of the men pictured would perish young in the AIDS crisis. Isaiah Robinson, a simmering force of a tenor with a falsetto to die for, lined out a keening hymn while vocal band Roomful of Teeth backed him up with haunting, laser-precise harmonies.  Singing a velvety spiritual, Alicia Hall Moran wielded her mezzo voice like a knife made of rose petals.” – The Boston Globe 

Triptych (Eyes of One on Another) serves up a cool emotional package: the vocal wizardry of Roomful of Teeth, the eye-catching photographs of Mapplethorpe, and the dense poetry of Smith and Hemphill.” – The Arts Fuse 


“Overwhelmingly somber and memorable.” – Eileen M., Facebook

“Loved it…beautiful.” – Steve B., FaceBook

“Wow! Tryptich was gorgeous.” Kristin M., Facebook 

5 responses to “Let’s Talk About Triptych!”

  1. Sumru Erkut says:

    I came to the theater not knowing how the director would be able to craft a stage piece out of Mapplethorpe’s photographs and Bryce Dessner’s music. What I experienced was hauntingly beautiful music sung by glorious voices! I had become familiar with the libretto through the Play Reading Book Club’s meetings under the superb guidance of Webster and the insightful discussions he elicited from the group. I still wondered how the words and the images would add up to a clmpelling stage production. What became clear as I listened awestruck is that Tryptic is an oratorio, not a play. Projecting the words created by korde arrington tuttle (which incorporated Patti Smith and Essex Hemphill’s words) made it possible for the audience to follow the libretto. The singing was exquisite, making Tryptic an operatic experience. I applaud the director, Kaneza Schaal, for her choices of staging the piece, including which photographs to project. Korde was wise to incorporate Essex’s serious misgivings about Mapplethorpe’s “shooting” naked black men’s bodies. Roomful of Teeth have commissioned a beautiful piece of work. Their next task is to incorporate more diversity among the singers. Thank you ArtsEmerson for bringing to Boston audiences this extraordinary blending of different art forms.

  2. David Dower says:

    Thank you, Sumru, for taking the time to write. I wish everyone seeing this show had had the benefit of the Play Reading Book Club. The richness in the collaborations is too much to pick up on first viewing without a bit of context coming in. We do what we can on the blog and in the program to provide that, but there’s nothing like the PRBC to get at the full experience. It is our honor and pleasure to make space for this work in Boston, and for dialogue around and about it.

  3. First Last says:

    Navel gazing by the .00001%!!!!

    And not only that but completely irrelevant to the 21st century.

    Delighted to have the Arts Emerson series. And now that I’ve endured this particular irrelevancy, the law of averages promises great delights in my future.

  4. Woke in the 80s says:

    Haunting, introspective, beautiful
    – This show acts as if we’re living 35 years ago. C’mon – catch up with the times -we’ve all moved on. If you want to experience high brow Manhattan of the mid 80s, IT NO LONGER EXISTS.
    – Only relevant/informative for the tiniest fraction of people alive today. Navel gazing of the highest order
    – Yup beautiful !!!
    I’ve seen multiple Mapplethorpe shows (including the one here in Boston at the ICA). I even have some of his photos. He was an extraordinary photographer who forced everyone who saw a print to open their eyes. But that was 30+ years ago. Lesson learned then. Get relevant.

    Triptych is a waste of time (mine), money (mine and the producers) and the prodigious talent of the performers.

  5. Margaret Young says:

    I was completely enraptured by this performance. The music alone would have hooked me but they way the lyrics and singing entwined with Mapplethorpe’s work was beautiful. The staging was innovative without being over the top and the choreography was subtle but effective. The singers were brilliant. My only complaint is that the women were wearing silk pajamas and heels while the men were in more comfortable clothing.

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