Visiting performance artist Rachel Berkman graced Northeastern Illinois University (NEIU) with a beautiful and unusual live spoken-word performance of the biblical Song of Songs, in English, Hebrew, and American Sign Language. Sometimes called the Song of Solomon, this piece is one of the books of the Old Testament. Despite the content being very romantic and non-religious in nature, the Song of Songs is often interpreted as an expression of love between God or Christ and the people who worship them.
Berkman focused instead on the outward subject matter of the Song of Songs, the romantic duet of poetic verses spoken between a woman and a man about a relationship that blossoms and then withers away. She recited verses of the Song of Songs, and accentuated them with viscerally engaging movements and gestures. In between verses, Berkman danced and signed the words to sensual accompanying music such as Frank Sinatra’s “Fly Me To The Moon” and Peggy Lee’s “You Give Me Fever.” Using her understanding of sign language and her body language to communicate with the audience, Berkman brought the joys and sorrows of the human love experience contained within the Song of Songs alive on March 13, in room SU-003.
Rachel Berkman is a consummate performance artist and theater director currently living in Jerusalem. After working as a director for a deaf and hearing-impaired theater group, Berkman became enamored with the beauty and expressive nature of sign language. She is also the co-founder of Puppeteers Without Borders, an independent organization that “promotes health education in developing countries using puppetry.” For more information about her work or to inquire about performances, please contact her at [hide_email [email protected]].