Monday, January 10, 2011

The Tell-Tale Heart

Over the last year and a half or so, I've had the great good fortune to reconnect with some of my long lost high school friends. One of the sad things that  has made this current bond a bit stronger is that we collectively mourned the passing of two of our friends and peers at about this time last year, both of whom had been in my extended circle. One of them was Dagmar Matzat, who I especially remembered for her dramatic flair.

Here's why I'm choosing to commemorate her in this particular blog. When we were all in eighth grade together, Dagmar did a solo rendition of Poe's The Tale-Tell Heart. She was just a young girl, barely a teen, but she managed to put her heart and soul into her rendition:

TRUE! — nervous — very, very dreadfully nervous I had been, and am; but why will you say that I am mad? The disease had sharpened my senses — not destroyed — not dulled them. Above all was the sense of hearing acute. I heard all things in the heaven and in the earth. I heard many things in hell. How, then, am I mad? Harken! and observe how healthily — how calmly I can tell you the whole story.

I'll never know why she chose this particular story, but I will until I lose life or sentience always be able to picture her pacing the stage in a fevered way, conveying the madman's character.

The odd thing, though, is that no one I know has the slightest recollection of this piece. This role, this bravery of undertaking it, which is the defining essence for me of my long ago friend, is not part of anyone else's general consciousness. Perhaps there is someone else in the world who remembers this, but among the four or five people I asked, it made not an impression, and I know at least some of them were there that day.

I suppose Dagmar herself would have remembered it, but alas, I will have no chance to ask her, and it's quite possible that even she would by now have suffered a lapse of memory.


  1. You can now count one other person who remembers Dagmar Matzat's amazing performance of "The Tell-Tale Heart." I witnessed it at a district-wide forensics competition. I didn't go to Dagmar's school, but I heard her name that evening when I saw the performance and I never forgot it. (She won, of course.) What she accomplished was an amazing feat of memory coupled with a stunning acting performance.

    I was just telling a co-worker about it the other day. The recollection caused me to Google her name and I found this blog, along with the sad news it bears that she is gone--and has been gone for four years now.

    I will never forget her. Nor you, old friend.


  2. Sterling, I'm so glad to hear that someone can remember that amazing performance. But even more glad to hear from you. We should talk by one of the many means that the modern world allows us.