Previously, Dianne Wiest performed selections from Samuel Beckett’s Happy Days in a costume designed by Arlene Shechet (photo by Hunter Canning, image courtesy Madison Park Conservancy)

April may be the cruelest month, but Arlene Shechet is sweetening our sullen sojourn into spring with three surprise performances of T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land starring the legendary actress Fiona Shaw.

The happening will begin at 6:00pm tonight, Friday, and Saturday evening inside Madison Square Park near Shechet’s sculpture exhibition, Full Steam Ahead.

“I’m going rogue with this,” the artist explained over email to Hyperallergic. The performance will occur without an official announcement from the Madison Square Park Conservancy, but will nevertheless commemorate the end of Shechet’s show with the public art nonprofit, which closes April 28.

A star of stage and screen, Shaw has no end of accolades for acting, but her elocution of the Eliot poem is one of her most celebrated works, winning her a Drama Desk Award in 1997. She’s since reprised her solo performance on and off for years. Audiences might also know Shaw for her role as the M15 supervisor Carolyn Martens on the BBC show Killing Eve. The two-time Olivier Award-winning actor has also played the irritable Petunia Dursley in the Harry Potter films and the wickedly fanatical witch Marnie Stonebrook in the HBO series True Blood.

Shechet has staged a variety of surprise performances throughout her exhibition’s run as a way to entice and interact with the public. In October, Dianne Wiest performed selections from Samuel Beckett’s Happy Days in a costume designed by the artist.

Shaw’s performance of The Waste Land will be free; no tickets are needed.

When: April 11–13, 6:00-6:30pm

Where: Madison Square Park, near 11 Madison Avenue, Flatiron District, Manhattan

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Zachary Small

Zachary Small was the senior writer at Hyperallergic and has written for The New York Times, The Financial Times, The Nation, The Times Literary Supplement, Artforum, and other publications. They have...