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In Love’s Bright Coils: From Letters to Tweets

August 27, 2010

Photo by Michael Litchfield**

 “The frankest and freest product of the human mind and heart is a love letter. The writer gets his limitless freedom of statement and expression from his sense that no stranger is going to see what he is writing.” 

Mark Twain is good, isn’t he? In one letter of love, from November 27 (also happens to be my wedding date), 1888, he wrote to his wife, Olivia, “I am grateful — gratefuler than ever before — that you were born, and that your love is mine and our two lives woven and welded together!” 


What is it about love letters that is so magical? Is it just the words, their eloquence? Is it the method by which they are received?  

This past weekend I headed over to Logan Square for dinner and a play. My fiancé and I dined at the fine dining establishment, Wendy’s. Then, full of Frosty’s and burgers, we were off to see the Genesis Ensemble’s latest piece, “In Love’s Bright Coils,” directed by Kat Paddock. 

And it was this play and its creative and provocative look into the way we communicate love today, that got me thinking about love letters (and Mark Twain). 

“In Love’s Bright Coils” features several vignettes of love being communicated over the last couple of centuries, intertwining the modern ways with the old, juxtaposing the stark realities and emotions of the very different mediums. The 9-member ensemble touches on everything from the classic handwritten letter (the agonizing wait for two lovers’ words exchanged) and the telegram, to G-chat, Facebook and Twitter (quick 140 character zaps of love into cyberspace). And there are all sorts of love, too, from love-at-first-sight love to long-living-loved love, to breaking-up-it’s-over love to moving-on love. 

While the way we communicate love has definitely changed, it seems from this play, that love and all its emotions (and anxieties) remains the same, though at times a little less eloquent, polite, and little less romantic and maybe a little less poetic, but none the less, the love is still there, the butterflies in your stomach, head-over-heels dizziness, shout-it-from-the-rooftops, ache in your soul, LOVE. 

All that being said, with the abundance of quick texting and Facebook messaging, I believe that love letters still exist, no matter the form.   

Even in this fast paced society, love letters are still something to relish. Cherish. 

Keep writing. 

For all the Chicagoans reading, you have one more weekend to catch this “can’t-miss” display of live art of love communicated, via “In Love’s Bright Coils.” Take the #74 bus to The Charnel House, 3421 W. Fullerton Ave., tonight or Saturday for an 8pm performance, or Sunday at 3pm. $10. Let the members of Genesis Ensemble know that BirdieBee sent you. It won’t get you in for free, but they will think you’re cool. 

For tickets, email 



*Genesis Ensemble is a collective of actors, directors, writers, teaching artists and performance artists that devise work specifically for Chicago audiences. They hope to give emerging theatre artists and community activists a voice and create work that bridges the gap between performer and audience, while seeking to open hearts and minds to the stories that are the human experience.
**Also, check out Michael Litchfield.
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