Research is a story about memory and its unreliability, about a boy trying to create a new future for himself by remembering the past differently, by nudging those water lilies into new positions as they reframe. Consider this: Memory is itself an act of creation, and to re-member is an act of re-creation. Like writing a word, and then erasing the word, and then rewriting the word in the first word’s place, memory too is palimpsest; the final form of any performance or remembered event exists only in the lost present tense of that event.
–from A Note on the Text
“It’s a rare thing to come across a work of art so entirely original. Rarer still for it to be this good. Someone said this, and I have stolen it. To read Research: A Novel For Performance is to get taken to language with new eyes, tunneled into the brain’s language caves by the brilliance of Joseph Riipi’s attention to language, by his every word and turn of phrase, taken to an investigation of language and its impacts, I must say it is most original in form and yet in the work I hear Beckett’s long sighing, I hear Thornton Wilder and his characters speak, I hear Gordon Lish languaging, I hear Gertrude Stein moving phrases around and around, I hear so many minds paying attention to each sound, to each word, to each turning of word to meaning to longing to impossibility back to possibilities. It’s a rare thing to come across a work of art so entirely original. Rarer still for it to be this good.”
—Luke B. Goebel, author of Fourteen Stories, None of Them Are Yours
“Through Riippi’s continued reinterpretation of his own words, we’re given the template to start the journey. The collaborative nature of theatre, it’s redefined in a moment of time. Through every performance, through every viewing, the remembering begins to live and change and grow. Through our recounting after, it’s mythologized. In time, it is my dream to keep the process going, to see how far we can take it. How deep can we go in the reimagining? What’s the story of making Research? What happens when we perform it again in a new place, when it’s toured, when it’s filmed, when it’s not, and retold? What Riippi has done with Research that is so unique is to challenge the reader, the audience, to change his words, to redefine his creation, his story, into something their own. He’s given us his story to engineer into another through the bold act of remembering.”
—Nick Leavens, from the Afterword