Performance at the The Orensanz Center

This clip, created by New York University's Television Center in conjunction with the Digital Studio, is excerpted from a live performance I gave at the Orensanz Center on the Lower East Side of New York City, in April 2003. The Orensanz Center, a popular downtown performance space, was originally a synagogue, built in 1848 by German immigrants (the architect was a Berliner) with a design based on the Cologne Cathedral. It is the city's oldest surviving synagogue.

In order to disturb the audience as little as possible, there were only a few fixed camera installations and no moving cameramen or lights. The microphone was a simple clip-on, which explains why the sound of the voice is so much stronger than the harp.

The clip (lines 424-488) begins as the hero, recently arrived at the Danish court, asks permission from King Hrothgar to spend the night in the hall Heorot and fight with Grendel. Beowulf boasts that he will defeat the enemy without the use of weapons, using only his hands. He reminds Hrothgar that if Grendel prevails, there will be no need for a funeral, since his body will be eaten by the monster (Beowulf insists, however, that his treasured chain-mail be returned to his leader, Higelac). He ends the speech with the famous lines: 'Fate goes as it must!'. Hrothgar replies, welcoming Beowulf and reminding him of his father’s feud years ago, which Hrothgar helped settle. The king speaks of the shame and helplessness of the situation, of his warriors decimated by Grendel’s attacks.

This clip was later integrated into the website 'Performing Medieval Narrative Today: A Video Showcase' which features several other performances by various artists as well as traditional narratives. Technical director: Jennifer Vinopal (NYU). I am grateful to Prof. Evelyn Birge Vitz (Dept. of French, NYU) for giving generous permission to include this clip on my website.