"Easily one of the most exciting and ingenious Melville productions I have seen on stage." - John Bryant, Hofstra University, Melville Society Editor

In this strange literary-theatrical hybrid, three performers explore the psychosonic landscapes of Melville's famous story of Wall Street in a late-night proofreading binge. As the semi-improvized reading progresses, the lone voice of an elderly lawyer pluralizes into a three-headed consciousness, variously defending, attacking, flattering and debating with itself. Melville's mysterious work-place narrative comes briefly to life, but the figure of Bartleby remains "un-cast", passing fleetingly from actor to actor before slipping back into the scattered pages.

90 min.

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

Recent Performances

BARTLEBY. A Rereading

Co-presented with Triple Canopy at 177 Livingston, downtown Brooklyn

Friday-Sunday, April 23-25, 2010
Doors 7:30 p.m., performance at 8 p.m. each night, followed by discussion at 10 p.m.

Drinks and conversation to follow with special guests including: Lynne Tillman, Paul Chan, Abha Dawesar, Edwin Frank, John Bryant, Joseph McElroy, Vivian Gornick, Alice Boone, McKenzie Wark, Molly Springfield, Greg Wayne (see schedule further down)

RSVP is required. Please email to reserve seats and receive ticket-purchase information.

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)

Production History

Dec 11-19, 2009 - IRT (3B Development Series)

February 12-13, 2010 - East Side Institute for Group and Short Term Psychotherapy/Brooklyn Social Therapy


(Supplied by a Sub-Sub-Librarian)

"When we have read a book or poem so often that we can no longer find any amusement in reading it by ourselves, we can still take pleasure in reading it to a companion. To him it has all the graces of novelty; we enter into the surprise and admiration which it naturally excites in him, but which it is no longer capable of exciting in us; we consider all the ideas which it presents rather in the light in which they appear to him, than in that in which they appear to ourselves, and we are amused by sympathy with his amusement which thus enlivens our own."

- Adam Smith, A Theory of Moral Sentiments (1759)

"These bands operated on [Chet] Baker’s premise: that the song plays the music and the music plays the player and that, consequently, the song, as played, is not a showcase for the player’s originality, but a momentary acoustic community in which the players breathe and think together in real time, adding to the song’s history, without detracting from its integrity, leaving it intact to be played again."

— Dave Hickey, Air Guitar (1997)

"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 (1970)

"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 (1853)

"Now, one Sunday morning I happened to go to Trinity Church, to hear a celebrated preacher, and finding myself rather early on the ground, I thought I would walk round to my chambers for a while." (image via NYPL)

"The same day I received the note I went to the Tombs, or to speak more properly, the Halls of Justice. Seeking the right officer, I stated the purpose of my call, and was informed that the individual I described was indeed within." (image via NYPL)