Friday, April 23
Saturday, April 24
Sunday, April 25


Performance at 8 p.m. each night, followed by discussion at 10 p.m.

RSVP is required. Please email bartleby@canopycanopycanopy.com to reserve seats and receive ticket-purchase information.

"It is, of course, an indispensable part of a scrivener's business to verify the accuracy of his copy, word by word. Where there are two or more scriveners in an office, they assist each other in this examination, one reading from the copy, the other holding the original. It is a very dull, wearisome, and lethargic affair." —Herman Melville, Bartleby, the Scrivener

"Rereading, an operation contrary to the commercial and ideological habits of our society, which would have us 'throw away' the story once it has been consumed ('devoured'), so that we can then move on to another story, buy another book, and which is tolerated only in certain marginal categories of readers (children, old people, and professors), rereading is here suggested at the outset, for it alone saves the text from repetition (those who fail to reread are obliged to read the same story everywhere)." —Roland Barthes, S/Z

New York-based theater collective Group Theory probes the psychosonic landscapes of Herman Melville's classic novella Bartleby, the Scrivener in an intimate chamber ritual that transforms the private act of reading into a communal encounter. A strange literary-theatrical hybrid, this Bartleby is a performed palimpsest of rereadings, a hyper-lucid window onto a famously difficult text in all its haunting ambiguity and violent comedy. Followed by drinks and conversation with invited respondents, including Paul Chan, Edwin Frank, Lynne Tillman, Abha Dawesar, John Bryant, Vivian Gornick, Joseph McElroy, Alice Boone, Graham Parker, Molly Springfield, McKenzie Wark, and Greg Wayne.

Conceived and directed by Ben Vershbow
Created with the ensemble: Jeremy Beck, Daniel Larlham, and Craig Pattison
Designed by Ben Vershbow and Dorit Avganim

Download the event program.

A special, print-on-demand edition of Bartleby, the Scrivener, designed by Rebecca Gimenez , is available from Lulu.

Friday, April 23

Paul Chan (artist, Waiting for Godot in New Orleans, Sade for Sade's sake), Edwin Frank (editorial director, New York Review Books), Lynne Tillman (novelist and critic; author of American Genius, a Comedy and Bookstore: The Life and Times of Jeanette Watson; fiction editor of Fence magazine)

Moderated by Abha Dawesar (novelist, Family Values, That Summer, Babyji)

Saturday, April 24

John Bryant (professor of English, Hofstra University; author of The Fluid Text; editor of Leviathan: A Journal of Melville Studies), Vivian Gornick (critic and memoirist; author of Fierce Attachments, The Situation and the Story, The Men in My Life), Joseph McElroy (novelist, A Smuggler's Bible, Women and Men, Actress in the House)

Moderated by Alice Boone (PhD candidate in English and comparative literature, Columbia University; editor of the New York Public Library's Candide 2.0)

Sunday, April 25

Graham Parker (artist; author of Fair Use [notes from spam]), Molly Springfield (artist; author of "Inside the Mundaneum"), McKenzie Wark (professor of culture and media, the New School; author of A Hacker Manifesto and Gamer Theory)

Moderated by Greg Wayne (PhD candidate in neurobiology, Columbia University)

Before coming to 177 Livingston, Bartleby was premiered at IRT Theater, then performed at the East Side Institute for Group and Short Term Psychotherapy and Brooklyn Social Therapy. Bartleby was in part inspired by Vershbow's work at the Institute for the Future of the Book and the New York Public Library.
Participants
  • Paul Chan is an artist and the founder of Badlands Unlimited.
  • Edwin Frank is the founding and present editor of the New York Review Books Classics series and the author of two books of poetry, The Further Adventures of Pinocchio and Stack.
  • Lynne Tillman is the author of five novels, four collections of short stories, one collection of essays, and two books of nonfiction. Her second essay collection, What Would Lynne Tillman Do?, will be published by Red Lemonade Press in winter 2014.
  • Abha Dawesar is a novelist and artist, the author of Family Values, That Summer in Paris and Babyji
  • John L. Bryant is professor of English at Hofstra University. His most recent book is Melville Unfolding: Sexuality, Politics, and the Versions of Typee. He is the editor of the Modern Library's edition of Melville's Tales, Poems, and Other Writings and, since 1990, Leviathan: A Journal of Melville Studies.
  • Vivian Gornick is an American critic, essayist, and memoirist. For many years she wrote for the Village Voice. She currently teaches writing at the New School.
  • Joseph McElroy is the author of nine novels, including Lookout Cartridge, Plus, Women and Men, The Letter Left to Me, Actress in the House, and most recently, Cannonball.
  • Alice Boone is a PhD candidate in English and comparative literature at Columbia University, specializing in the eighteenth century.
  • Graham Parker is an artist and the author of Fair Use (notes from spam).
  • Molly Springfield is an artist living in Washington, DC. Her work has been shown in solo exhibitions in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, and Washington.
  • McKenzie Wark is the author of A Hacker Manifesto, Gamer Theory, 50 Years of Recuperation of the Situationist International, and The Beach Beneath the Street, among other books. He teaches at the New School for Social Research and Eugene Lang College in New York City.
  • Greg Wayne is a neuroscientist at Columbia University.
  • Group Theory , a Brooklyn-based theater company, is Ben Vershbow and Dorit Avganim plus collaborators. Vershbow works at the New York Public Library running NYPL Labs, a digital skunkworks, devising ways to liberate archives and library data online. Avganim is an independent producer, working with artists such as Rainpan43, David/Ain Gordon, Tina Satter/Half Straddle, and the Debate Society, and is cofounder of Neighborhood Productions.