Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Over the Years--New series of print-outs of USTheater essays

Green Integer is proud to announce a new series of inexpensive publications. Over the Years Essays from My Year features handsome print-outs of more than 1,000 individual essays on film, dance, music, theater, visual art, fiction, poetry, television, politics, autobiography and other subjects by noted writer Douglas Messerli, who has written annual volumes from 2000 to the present as a cultural autobiography of the 21st century.

     Printed on high quality paper, with color and/or black-and-white photographs, these essays represent some of the most important cultural and political events of the new century. You can order any essay for just $3.00, which includes the printed essay and domestic and/or international postage. These essays are perfect for individual research, for classroom usage, or for personal reading.

     To see a listing of our first offerings, to which we will add new titles monthly, visit on our Green Integer website ( and click on (in the upper left listings) Over the Years.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014


USTheater, Opera, and Performance

(alphabetical by playwright)

John Adams and Peter Sellars (USA)

Aeschylus (Ancient Greece)

Ilse Aichinger (Austria)

Edward Albee (USA)

Eleanor Antin (USA)
"On Credit" (on Before the Revolution) by Douglas Messerli

Julie Archer and Lee Breuer (USA)
"The Locked Windows" (on Archer's and Breuer's Peter and Wendy) by Douglas Messerli

John Arden (England/Ireland)
"Pulling Down the Roof" (on Serjeant Musgrave's Dance) by Douglas Messerli

Back to Back Theatre (Australia)
"Playing the Play" (on Ganesh Versus the Third Reich) by Douglas Messerli

Joey Arias and Basil Twist (USA)
"This Is It" (on Arias with a Twist and Michael Jackson) by Douglas Messerli

Amiri Baraka (USA)
"Essential Dichotomies" (on Baraka's "The Toilet" and on his life and poetry) by Douglas Messerli 

Djuna Barnes (USA)
"Freeling Family" (on Djuna Barnes' Biography of Julie van Bartmann) by Douglas Messerli
Three from the Earth
"The Days on Jig Cook" (on George Cram Cook and the Provincetown Players)
"Djuna Barnes' Roots," (on the short plays of Djuna Barnes) by Douglas Messerli

"The Songs of Synge"
The Antiphon

J. M. Barrie (b. Scotland/England)
"The Old Lady Shows Her Medals" (printed play)
"The Old Lady Shows Her Medals" (radio play with the Barrymores)
"Bond of Age" (on Barrie's "Rosalind" and "The Old Lady Shows Her Medals") by Douglas Messerli
"The Locked Windows" (on Archer's and Breuer's Peter and Wendy, based on a novel by J. M. Barrie) by Douglas Messerli

Tina Bausch (Germany)
"You Know What I Mean" (on Bausch's Ten Chi and Richard Foreman's Deep Trance Behavior in Potatoland) by Douglas Messerli

Samuel Beckett (Ireland/France)
"Nell's Death" (on Beckett's Endgame) by Douglas Messerli
"Be Again" (on Beckett's Krapp's Last Tape)
"Sweating It: Three Mid-Century Tragi-Comedies) (on Beckett's Waiting for Godot) by Douglas Messerli (New York Production)
"Living in the Details" (on Beckett's Waiting for Godot) by Douglas Messerli (Los Angeles Production)
Interview with and performance of Krapp's Last Tape by Harold Pinter

Belarus Free Theatre (Belarus)
"Sunday, Bloody, Sunday (2)" (on the company's Being Harold Pinter) by Douglas Messerli

David Belasco (USA)
The Return of Peter Grimm

Hans Bellmer (Germany)
"Notes on the Ball Joint"

Shelley Berc (USA)
A Girl's Guide to the Divine Comedy

Hector Berlioz (France)
"Delusion and Dream" (on Berlioz' Les troyens) by Douglas Messerli

Leonard Bernstein (USA)
"Three Bernstein New Yorks" (on Bernstein's On the Town, Wonderful Town, and West Side Story) by Douglas Messerli
"Spiritual Uplift" (on Bernstein's Trouble in Tahiti)

Susan Birkenhead (USA)
see Bob Martin

Jens Bjørneboe (Norway)
The Bird Lovers
"Cataloging Evil" (on Bjørneboe's The Bird Lovers and Semmelweis) by Douglas Messerli

Jerry Bock (USA)
"On the Side of the Angels" (on the deaths of Bock, Joseph Stein, and Tom Bosley) by Douglas Messerli 
"Writing Tenderly" (on Jerry Bock's, Sheldon Harnick's and Joe Masteroff's She Loves Me) by Douglas Messerli

Maxwell Bodenheim and Ben Hecht (USA)
The Master Poisoner

Tom Bosley (USA)
"On the Side of the Angels" (on the deaths of Bock, Joseph Stein, and Tom Bosley) by Douglas Messerli

Jane Bowles (USA)
"A Necessary Remedy" (on Bowles' In the Summer House) by Douglas Messerli

Bertolt Brecht (Germany)
"Moon of Alabama" from The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny
Selected Audio Works

Stephan Brecht (b. Germany/USA)
"Stage and Street" (on the theater writings of Brecht) by Douglas Messerli

Lee Breuer (USA)
Porto Morco
"Barnyard Philosophers" (on Breuer's Summa Dramatica and Porco Morto) by Douglas Messerli 

Lee Breuer and Maude Mitchell (USA)
"You Great Big Beautiful Doll" (on Mabou Mines Dollhouse) by Douglas Messerli

Benjamin Britten (England)
"Celebrating Liberation" (on Eric Crozier's and Britten's Albert Herring) by Douglas Messerli
"The Darkness Understands and Suffer" (on E. M. Forster, Eric Crozier, and Britton's Billy Budd) by Douglas Messerli

Abe Burrows, Jack Weinstock, Willie Gilbert, and Frank Loesser (USA)
"The Company Way" (on How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying) by Douglas Messerli

Jez Butterworth (England)
"Sunday, Blood Sunday" (on Butterworth's Jerusalem) by Douglas Messerli

John Cage (USA)
"Nothing on a Lecture (on Robert Wilson's performance of Cage's Lecture on Nothing) by Douglas Messerli

Karel Čapek (Czechoslavakia/now Czech Republic)
R. U. R. (Rossum's Universal Robots)

Al Carmines (based on Gertrude Stein) (USA)
In Circles
Promenade (with Maria Irene Fornes)

Aimé Césaire (Martinique)
"Trying to Be Everything" (on Césaire's Une Saison Au Congo) by Douglas Messerli

Anton Chekhov (Russia)
"The Dogs Howl" (on Chekhov's The Seagull) by Douglas Messerli

Marissa Chibas (with Erik Ehn and Travis Preston)
Listening (on Chibas', Ehns', and Preston's Brewsie and Willie) by Douglas Messerli

Julia Cho (USA)
"Dead Languagaes" (on Cho's The Language Archive) by Douglas Messerli

Jean Cocteau (France)
Complete recordings of theater, performances and other works (link with UBUWeb)

George Cram Cook (USA)
"The Days of Jig Cook" (on Cook and the Provincetown Players) by Djuna Barnes

George Cram Cook and Susan Glaspell (USA)
Suppressed Desires
"Celebration of Suppression" (on Cook's and Glaspell's Suppressed Desires) by Douglas Messerli

Eric Crosier (England)
see Benjamin Britten

Tim Crouch (England)
"The Miracle of Art" (on Crouch's An Oak Tree) by Douglas Messerli

Shelagh Delaney (England)
"Thieves of Love" (on Delaney's A Taste of Honey)

Gaetano Donizetti (Italy)
"Battling Divas" (on Giuseppe Bardari's and Gaetano Donizetti's Maria Stuarda)

Rick Elice (USA)
"Wasted on Youth" (on Elice's Peter and the Starcatcher) by Douglas Messerli
Everly Brothers (USA)
"Bye Bye Love" (on the Everly Brothers and Phil Everly's death) by Douglas Messerli

Cy Feuer (USA)
"The Brotherhood" (on Cy Feuer and his death) by Douglas Messerli

William Finn and James Lapine (USA)
"Something Bad Is Happening" (on Finn's and Lapine's Falsettos) by Douglas Messerli

Richard Foreman (USA)
Deep Trance Behavior in Potatoland
"The Unfortunate Truth of My Situtation" (on Foremlan's Old-Fashioned Prostitutes) by Douglas
"You Know What I Mean" (on Foreman's Deep Trance Behavior in Potatoland and Tina Bausch's
Ten Chi) by Douglas Messerli

Maria Irene Fornes (b. Cuba/USA)
"A Very Long Walk" (on Promenade) by Douglas Messerli
"Rain of Summons" (on Fefu on and Her Friends) by Douglas Messerli

Scott Frankel (USA)
see Doug Wright

Max Frisch (Switzerland)
"The Conflagration" (on Frisch's The Arsonists) by Douglas Messerli

George Furth (USA)
see Stephen Sondheim

Armand Gatti (Monaco/France)
Two Plays: The 7 Possibilities from Train 713 Departing from Auschwitz and
Public Song Before Two Electric Chairs

Susan Glaspell (USA)
see also George Cook Cram

Betty Garrett (USA)
"I'm Still Here: Two Valentines" (on performances by Garrett and Eliane Stritch) by Douglas Messerli

Jack Gelber (USA)
"Eye to Eye" (on Gelber's Square in the Eye and Arnold Weinstein's Red Eye of Love) by Douglas Messerli

Philip Glass, Robert Wilson, Lucinda Childs, and Christopher Knowles (USA)
"This One Is Being Very America" (on Glass, Wilson, and Child's Einstein on the Beach) by Douglas Messerli

James Goldman (USA)
"Slightly Sour" (on Goldman's and Sondheim's Follies) by Douglas Messerli

Allen Graubard (USA)
"Comment on Gellu Naum's The Taus Watch Repair Shop"

Alice Goodman, Peter Sellars, and John Adams (USA)
"Six Degrees of Insanity" (on Goodman's, Sellars', and Adams' Nixon in China) by Douglas Messerli

David Greenspan (USA)
Son of an Engineer

John Guare (USA)
"On Red Eye of Love"

Dan Guerrero (USA)
"Mariachi to Merman" (on ¡Gaytino! ) by Douglas Messerli

George Frideric Handel (England)
"Tears and Hope" (on Giulio Cesare) by Douglas Messerli

Lorraine Hansbery (USA)
"Survivors" (on A Raisin in the Sun) by Douglas Messerli

Sheldon Harnick (USA)
"Writing Tenderly" (on Harnick's, Bock's and Masteroff's She Loves Me) by Douglas Messerli

John Hawkes (USA)
"The Empty Pool" (on Hawkes' The Innocent Party) by Douglas Messerli

Matthew S. Hinton (USA)
Drake Disappears

Henrik Ibsen (Norway)
"The Man Who Stands Alone" (on Ibsen's An Enemy of the People) by Douglas Messerli
When We Dead Awaken
"When We Dead Awaken" (on Ibsen's play) by C. H. A. Bjerregaard
Hedda Gabler 
"Burned Up" (on Ibsen's Hedda Gabler) by Douglas Messerli
"Ibsen's New Drama" by James Joyce

Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa (Italy)
(see Giacomo Puccini)

Eugène Ionesco (Romania/France)
"Sweating It: Three Mid-Century Tragi-Comedies" (on Ionesco's Exit the King, Waiting for Godot and West Side Story) by Douglas Messerli
"Growing Horns" (on Ionesco's Rhinoceros) by Douglas Messerli

Michael Jackson (USA)
"This Is It" (on Jackson's filmed rehearsals and Joey Arias and Basil Twist's Arias with a Twist) by Douglas Messerli

Henry James (USA)

Alfred Jarry (France)
Early chansons, lectures about Jarry, and a film version of Ubu Roi (link to Ubuweb)
Ubu Roi (film version by Jean-Christophe Averty)

Len Jenkin (USA)
"Heart of Darkness" (on Jenkin's Dark Ride) by Douglas Messerli
Dream Express (link with Jenkin's site)

Rajiv Joseph (USA)
"Tyger! Tyger! Burning Bright" (on Joseph's Bengal Tiger in the Baghdad Zoo) by Douglas Messerli

James Joyce (Ireland)
"Ibsen's New Drama"

Dennis Kelly and Tim Minchin (England)
"Loud and Quiet" (on Kelly's and Minchin's Matilda) by Douglas Messerli

Robert Kelly (USA)
"Monologues for Orpheus: A Dance Play"

Adrienne Kennedy (USA)
"Herselves: A Chamber Piece" (on Kennedy's Funnyhhouse of a Negro) by Douglas Messerli

Oscar Kokoschka (Austria)
Murderer the Women's Hope

Bernard-Marie Koltès (France)
"Men in the Streets" (on the Zeromski Theatre's production of In the Solitude of Cotton Fields) by Douglas Messerli

Michael Korie (USA)
see Doug Wright

Alfred Kreymborg (USA)
Jack's House (A Cubic-Play)
Lima Beans
"Food for Love" (on Kreymborg's Lima Beans) by Douglas Messerli

Tony Kushner (USA)
"Crashing Through the Ceiling of Despair" (on Kushner's Angels in America: Millennium Approaches) by Douglas Messerli

Tom La Farge (USA)
Talking While Shaving

Jeffrey Lane and David Yazbek (USA)
"No One's Home" (on Lane's and Yazbek's Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown) by Douglas Messerli

Miklos Laszlo (Hungary/USA)
"Working Against Love" (on Laszlo's Parfumerie) by Douglas Messerli 

Arthur Laurents (USA)
"Three Bernstein New Yorks" (on West Side Story and two other Bernstein musicals) by Douglas Messerli
"Sweating It: Three Mid-Century Tragi-Comedies" (on West Side Story and plays by Samuel Beckett and Eugene Ionesco) by Douglas Messerli
"The Coward's Hand" (on Laurents' Home of the Brave) by Douglas Messerli
"A Necessary Vacuum" (on Laurents' Gypsy) by Douglas Messerli

Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee (USA)
"The Gang's Still Here" (on Lawrence's and Lee's The Gang's All Here) by Douglas Messerli
"My Broadway Hit" (on a celebration for Jerome Lawrence) by Douglas Messerli

Stacey Levine (USA)
"The Good House" (in Levine's Susan Moneymaker, Large and Small) by Douglas Messerli
Susan Moneymaker, Large and Small: A Ten Minute Play

Kirk Lynn (USA)
"Approaching the Real" (on Lynn's The Method Gun) by Douglas Messerli

Tracy Letts (USA)
"Muddy Boots" (on Letts' August: Osage County) by Douglas Messerli

Joshua Logan (USA)
see Oscar Hammerstein II

Maurice Maeterlinck (Belgium)
The Intruder

Claudio Magris (Italy)
To Have Been
Voices: Three Plays

F. T. Marinetti (and others) (Italy)
"The Futurist Synthetic Theater"

Bob Martin (USA)
"Warm Up" (on Martin's, Charles Strouse's, and Susan Birkenhead's Minsky's) by Douglas Messerli
Jules Massenet (France)
"Between Duty and the Devil" (on Massenet's Werther) by Douglas Messerli

Joe Masteroff (USA)
'Writing Tenderly" (on Masteroff's, Harnick's and Bock's She Loves Me) by Douglas Messerli

Vladimir Mayakovsky (Russia)
Vladimir Mayakovsky: Tragedy in Two Acts with a Prologue and an Epilogue
The Bathtub (adapted by Paul Schmidt)

Arthur Miller (USA)
"Whatever Happend to Willy Loman?" (on Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman) by Douglas Messerli

Tim Miller (USA)
"Tokyo Tim"

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (Germany)
Douglas Messerli Bad Day on the Seville Streets (on Lorenzo da Ponte's and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozarts's Don Giovanni)
Douglas Messerli Emblems of Love (on EmanuelSchikaneder's and Mozart's The Magic Flute)

Gellu Naum (Romania)
The Taus Watch Repair Shop

John O'Keefe (USA)
"What Have We Reaped?" (on O'Keefe's Reapers)

Eugene O'Neill (USA)
The Hairy Ape
"In Control" (on O'Neill's Long Day's Journey into Night) by Douglas Messerli
"The Endless Voyage" (on O'Neill's Glencairn Plays) by Douglas Messerli
The Moon of the Caribees

The Orchestra of Futurist Noise Intoners (USA)
"Shouts, Screams, Shrieks, Wails and Hoots" (on Luigi Rusolo and The Orchestra of Futurist Noise Intoners) by Douglas Messerli

Eric Overmyer (USA)
"The Fire Within" (on Overmyer's Dark Rapture) by Douglas Messerli
"Past Present Future Tense" (on Overymer's On the Verge) by Douglas Messerli

Kier Peters (Douglas Messerli) (USA)
A Dog Tries to Kiss the Sky
The Rumble
The Confirmation
"Confirming Reality" (on Peters' The Confirmation) by Douglas Messerli
"Kier's Secret German Audience" (on Peters' The Confirmation) by Douglas Messerli
The Wonder

Francesco Mari Piave (Italy)
see Giuseppe Verdi

Harold Pinter (England)
"The Homecoming Gift" (on Pinter's The Homecoming) by Douglas Messerli
"Talk" (on Pinter's The Collection) by Douglas Messerli
"The Wasps" (on Pinter's A Slight Ache) by Douglas Messerli

"Service" (on Pinter's The Dumb Waiter) by Douglas Messerli
Interview with and performance of Krapp's Last Tape

Cole Porter (USA) [with P. G. Wodehouse, Guy Bolton, Howard Lindsay, Russell Crouse, Timothy Crouse and John Weidman
"Pure Poetry" (on Porter's Anything Goes) by Douglas Messerli

Francis Poulenc (France)
"Fanatical Martyrs" (on Poulenc's Dialogue of the Carmelites) by Douglas Messerli

Giacomo Puccini (music), Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa (libretto, based on a  play by Belasco from a story by John Luther Long)
"The Blindfold" (on Madama Butterfly, MET production) by Douglas Messerli
"Fin de siecle" (on Madama Butterfly, LAOpera production) by Douglas Messerli

Peter Quilter
"An Incautious Overdose of Life" (on Quilter's End of the Rainbow) by Douglas Messerli

Nina Raines (England)
"Moonlight" (on Raines' Tribes) by Douglas Messerli

Maurice Ravel (composer) and Colette (libretto)
"Bad Manners" (on Ravel's L'enfant et les sortileges (The Child and the Sorceries) by Douglas Messerli

Elmer Rice (USA)
The Adding Machine
"More Than Zero?" (on the musical version of Rice's The Adding Machine) by Douglas Messerli

Jack Richardson (USA)
"Locked Up" (on Richardson's Gallows Humor) by Douglas Messerli

Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II (USA)
"Confused by Paradise" (on Rodgers' and Hammerstein's South Pacific) by Douglas Messerli

Lugi Russolo (Italy)
The Art of Noises
"Shouts, Screams, Shrieks, Wails and Hoots" (on Lugi Russolo and The Orchestra of Futurist Noise Intoners) by Douglas Messerli 

Aram Saroyan (USA)
Gertrude and Lew: A Double Bill

Roland Schimmelpfennig (Germany)
"Telling the Story As It Is Being Told" (on Schimmelpfennig's The Arabian Night and Woman from the Past)

Arthur Schnitzler (Austria)
Hands Around or La Ronde
"What's Love Got to Do with It?" (on Schnitzler's La Ronde) by Douglas Messerli

Peter Sellars and John Adams (USA)
"A Body Transfixed by the Noonday Sun" (on Sellars' and Adams' The Gosepl According to the Other Mary) by Douglas Messerli
"Six Degrees of Insanity" (on Goodmans', Sellars' and Adams' Nixon in China) by Douglas Messerli

George Bernard Shaw (England)
Heartbreak House
"Keeping the Homefires Burning" (on Shaw's Heartbreak House) by Douglas Messerli

Wallace Shawn (USA)
"Even the Thought" (on Shawn's A Thought in Three Parts) by Douglas Messerli

Dmitri Shostakovich (USSR)
"Shrill Charm" (on Shostakovich's Nos (The Nose) by Douglas Messerli

Stephen Sondheim (USA)
"Convincing the Soloist to Join the Band" (on Furth's and Sondheim's Company) by Douglas Messerli
"Sweating It: Three Mid-Century Tragic-Comedies" (on West Side Story, Waiting for Godot and Exit the King) by Douglas Messerli
"A Necessary Vacuum" (on Laurents' and Sondheim's Gypsy)
by Douglas Messerli
 "Slightly Sour" (on Goldman's and Sondheim's Follies) by Douglas Messerli

Sam Shepard (USA)
"Unburying the Dead" (on Shepard's Buried Child) by Douglas Messerli

James Strah (USA)
"Shadowing the Shadows" (on Strah's and the Wooster Group's North Atlantic) by Douglas Messerli

Gertrude Stein (USA)
Do Let Us Go Away
a short documentary with original photographs of Stein's and Virgil Thomson's Four Saints in Three Acts
In Circles (music by Al Carmines)
a recording from the Santa Fe Opera of Stein's and Virgil Thomson's opera The Mother of Us All
     (UBUweb link)
What Happened: A Five Act Play

Joseph Stein (USA)
"On the Side of the Angels" (on Stein, Jerry Bock, and Tom Bosley and their deaths) by Douglas Messerli

John Steppling (USA)
Sea of Cortez
"The Verge of Possibility" (on Steppling's Sea of Cortez) by Douglas Messerli

Richard Strauss (Germany)
"A Dance of Death" (on Strauss' Salome)

August Strindberg (Sweden)
"Adam and Snake" (on Stridberg's Creditors) by Douglas Messerli 
Miss Julie
"The Crazy Lady" (on Strindberg's Miss Julie) by Douglas Messerli 
"Strindberg As Absurdist" (on Strindberg's The Ghost Sonata) by Douglas Messerli 

Elaine Stritch (USA)
"I'm Still Here: Two Valentines" (on performances by Stritch and Betty Garrett) by Douglas Messerli

Charles Strouse (USA)
see Bob Martin

Jule Styne (USA)
see Arthur Laurents or Stephen Sondheim

John Millington Synge (Ireland)
Riders to the Sea
"The Songs of Synge" (on Synge's plays) by Djuna Barnes

Bill Talen and Savitri D (USA)
"Tigers Got to Hunt" (on Talen's and Savitri D's Reverend Bill and the Life After Shopping Gospel Choir: The Earth-a-Llujah Earth-a-Llujah Revival!) by Douglas Messerli

Booth Tarkington (USA)

Ronald Tavel (USA)
Andy Warhol's Horse
Lives and Loves of Hedy Lamar

Fiona Templeton (b. Scotland/USA)
"The Poet's Theater of Fiona Templeton: An Enviornmental View" (on Templeton's You, the City) by James Sherry 

David Thompson, John Kander and Fred Ebb (USA)
"On the Cusp" (on Thompson's, Kander, and Ebb's The Scottsboro Boys) by Douglas Messerli

Virgil Thomson (USA)
see Gertrude Stein

Aristides Vargas (Argentina)
"The Traveling Table" (on Vargas' La Razón Blindada (Armored Reason)) by Douglas Messerli

Giuseppe Verdi (Italy)
"Count Down" (on Piave's and Verdi's La Traviata, based on Alexandre Dumas' La Dame aux Camelias) by Douglas Messerli
"Everybody's Fooled) (on Bioto's and Verdi's  Falstaff, based on Shakespeare's The Merry Wives of Windsor and King Henry IV) by Douglas Messerli

Gore Vidal (USA)
"The Compromise" (on Vidal's The Best Man) by Douglas Messerli

Richard Wagner (Germany)
"The Devil Meets His Angel" (on Wagner's The Flying Dutchman) by Douglas Messerli
"The Sacred and the Profane" (on Wagner's Parsifal) by Douglas Messerli

Enda Walsh (England)
"Keeping to the Script" (on Walsh's The Walworth Farce) by Douglas Messerli
"Pool of Survivors" (on Walsh's Penelope) by Douglas Messerli

Arnold Weinstein (USA)
Red Eye of Love
"Eye to Eye" (on Weinstein's Red Eye of Love and Jack Gelber's Square in the Eye) by Douglas Messerli

Mac Wellman (USA)
Bad Penny
The Hidden Part of the US Constitution
"Tails/Tales" (on Wellman's Bad Penny) by Douglas Messerli
"What American Abandons Abandons America" (on Wellman's Two September) by Douglas Messerli
"Harm's Other Way: Some Notes on Mac Wellman's Theater" by Marjorie Perloff
"A Linguistic Fantasia" (on Wellman's A Murder of Crows) by Douglas Messerli
"Music from Another World" (on Wellman's The Hyacinth Macaw) by Douglas Messerli

Oscar Wilde (Ireland)
The Importance of Being Earnest
"Nothing But the Truth" (on Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest) by Douglas Messerli

Thornton Wilder (USA)
"Archetypal America" (on Thornton Wilder's Our Town) by Douglas Messerli

Tennessee Williams (USA)
"Dependent Independents" (on Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire) by Douglas Messerli
"Rise and Shine" (on Williams' The Glass Menagerie) by Douglas Messerli
"Bow Down and Be Dim" (on Williams' Vieux Carre) by Douglas Messerli
"End of the Road" (on Williams' Camino Real) by Douglas Messerli
"Medea's Last Dance" (on Williams' In Masks Outrageous and Austere) by Douglas Messerli
"The Making of Blanche DuBois (on Williams' The Eccentricities of a Nightingale) by Douglas

Robert Wilson (USA)
"Nothing on a Lecture (on Robert Wilson's performance of Cage's Lecture on Nothing) by Douglas Messerli

Ermano Wolf-Ferrari (composter) and Enrico Goslisciani (libretto) (Italy)
"Bad Manners" (on Wolf-Ferrari's Il segreto di susanna (Susanna's Secret) by Douglas Messerli

The Wooster Group (USA)

Elizabeth Wray (USA)

Doug Wright (USA)
"Winter in a Summer Town" (on Wright's, Scott Frankel's and Michael Korie's Grey Gardens) by Douglas Messerli 

Grzegorz Wróblewski (Poland/Denmark)
Turning Point

William Butler Yeats (Ireland)
Love and Death (manuscript version)

Stefan Zeromski Theatre (Poland)
"Men in the Streets" (on the Zeromski Theatre's production of In the Solitude of Cotton Fields) by Douglas Messerli

Monday, April 14, 2014

Douglas Messerli | "The Man Who Stands Alone" (on Ibsen's An Enemy of the People)

the man who stands alone

by Douglas Messerli

Henrik Ibsen An Enemy of the People, translated from the Norwegian by Rebecca Lenkiewicz / L.A. Theatre Works, at UCLA’s James Bridges Theater, the performance we attended was a matinée on April 12, 2014

The actors in this production were all competent stage, television, and film actors, including Gregory Harrison (as Peter Stockman), Richard Kind (Dr. Thomas Stockman), Rosalind Ayres (as Stockman’s wife, Catherine), and the veteran Alan Mandell (Morten Kiil, Catherine’s aged father). But the L.A. Theatre Works does stage their plays, but rather presents them as radio broadcasts, and the declarative mode of such productions has always left me cold, and the actors, speaking into microphones, often read their lines as if they were pronouncements instead of interactions and conversations between the play’s characters. I’ve noticed this tendency in numerous radio productions, even with the Orson Welles Theater group, who on film are quite brilliant, but over the booming microphone sound like they performing in a high school speech contest. Perhaps it is only “mode” of acting that a good director might rid his actors of; certainly I have attended wonderful “readings” of plays that did not involve radio broadcast. But, this production seemed, at times, as if each actor was trying to outshout the others.     

    If nothing else, however, such radio productions do give a strong sense of the drama’s actual structure and the clear expression of the lines the actors speak. Although I had a few qualms with the new translation of Rebecca Lenkiewicz—at times she translated the language of the 1880s Norway in a contemporized English that made the play a little “folksy” for my taste—basically the English language version served the original well.

      The character of Dr. Thomas Stockman is a rather complex one, since he begins the play as a rather naïve would-be hero, who believes his discovery of the pollution of the town’s major tourist attraction, the local curative baths, will be feted by all, including his conservative brother, Peter, the town mayor. At first, he seems to have the strong support of the local newspaper in the form of its editor, Hovstad (Josh Stamberg) and his young assistant, Billing (Jon Matthews). But when the mayor becomes determined to ignore his brother’s report, he also quickly changes the minds of the supposedly radical newsmen by explaining to them that a reconstruction of the water source of the baths will cost taxpayers thousands of kroners and will surely close the baths themselves—the town’s major financial resource—for at least three years!

     I’ve always felt that the sudden transition of those who appear to be some of the most open-minded men of the city from the Doctor’s supporters to his enemies creaked a bit. True, the mayor’s logic—that if the city were to accept his brother’s allegations, it would go bankrupt—is compelling; but their traitorous turn, from rabble rousers to men who would, like everyone else, play it safe, is difficult to accept. But then, so too is Thomas Stockman’s private belief that to the town may even celebrate his dire news with a parade in his honor! All the characters except for the single-minded mayor and Catherine’s old father—the town’s curmudgeonly wealthy tannery-owner (the major source of the pollution)—quickly become figures perfectly willing to throw away their stated values with the news of Stockman’s discovery,. Even the doctor, who fights for his beliefs to the very end, gradually shifts from a man completely involved with his community and its people to an isolated figure who proclaims Ibsen’s somewhat disturbing declaration that the “majority if always wrong,” and that only a special few have the vision to perceive the truth.

      Ibsen’s Nietzsche-inspired statements seem, at times, dangerously close to fascism and, in particular, to the later German postulates of their superiority as a race. While certainly we sympathize with the Doctor for his failed attempts to tell the truth and his attempt to keep his ability to look his sons and his family in the eyes, it is also hard not condemn him for his strong sense of self-righteousness. And the nightmarish series of events, including the loss of his job, his home, his children’s legacy, and his daughter’s job becomes, in the end, a kind of choice he has purposely made, abandoning everything else in his life for his vendetta against those who will not accept his truth.

       In any community of denial, one has to also comprehend why the deniers refuse what appears so obvious to the truth-tellers. Yes, it stems, often, from ignorance, lack of education, bureaucracy, greed, and self-interest; but that does not mean that these issues can be easily categorized or ignored. If the Doctor ends the play, as he declares, as the strongest in the community because he “stands alone,” “the enemy of the people” is still just that, a suborn enemy who will unlikely convince anyone else. And there is a true danger that he may, years later, become a bitter outsider like his father-in-law. And, in that sense, Ray’s film version, where the Doctor ultimately takes his news outside of the community in order to effect change within, is far more plausible. Ibsen’s Stockman may be determined to stand his ground in the small community which he once loved, but without any political savvy, he may simply be starving himself and his family—both intellectually and physically—from the necessities they need in order to survive. It is almost, in Ibsen’s vision, that through Stockman’s isolation, the rest of the world does not exist; it is important to remember that the Doctor has severely complained to the northern outpost where he served before returning to his beloved hometown. Even Hamsun’s hungry writer in Hunger perceived that he may have leave the country in order to survive. Thomas Stockman’s “strength” may also be his greatest weakness. Just as the newspaper typesetter, Aslakan (Tom Virtue) always preaches “moderation,” the good Doctor of An Enemy of the People always preaches a kind of extremism. There are times when you can’t save a society that doesn’t want to be saved. And we, outside the play, know that, in the end, the truth will out; after the baths sicken future tourists, both the spas and tannery will surely be abandoned and closed.


Los Angeles, April 13, 2014

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Video of Lotte Lenya | from Brecht and Weill's The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny

Attached is a video of Lotte Lenya singing "Moon of Alabama" from Brecht and Weill's The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Douglas Messerli | "Bye Bye Love" (on the Everly Brothers and the death of Phil Everly)

bye bye love

by Douglas Messerli

      On July 14, 1973, performing at Knott’s Berry Farm in Southern California, Don Everly, who showed up drunk to the gig, muffed some of the lyrics to the duo’s 1960 hit “Cathy’s Clown,” in response to which his younger brother, Phil, began arguing with him. Don smashed his guitar and left the stage, never to return. Phil, left on stage alone, announced to the audience that “The Everly Brothers died ten years ago! *


    Although they performed together, from time to time, over the years following, including at a described “reunion concert” at London’s Royal Albert Hall in 1983, and a year later released a new album, EB 84, the relationship continued to be fractious, for what has been described as political—Don is a Democrat, while his brother was Republican—and life-style choice issues.

      Only with Phil’s death, at the age of 74, on January 3rd of the year, did his elder brother again speak out, declaring how much he missed his brother, and wished that Phil could have lived long to know that, in early April, the Library of Congress had chosen their “Cathy’s Clown” for inclusion in the National Recording Registry.

      In retrospect it is sad that one of the major US singing duos—highly influential to so many individuals and singing groups such as The Beatles and Simon and Garfunkfel (interestingly enough, two other performing groups who split up, seemingly, too early)—had been pulled apart, basically upending careers that had once been so glorious.


     Certainly, there had been signs of tension long before, particularly when it was announced that both brothers were addicted to speed and Don suffered a nervous breakdown while they were touring in the United Kingdom in 1960.

    In retrospect, it might have been apparent, almost from the beginning of their career that the brothers might have difficulties in performing together over the decades. The look-alike Everly brothers, with their pretty-country-boy faces and 1950s-styled pompadours, sang in close harmonies which almost stood as a metaphor of what their audiences might idealize as an intense brotherly love that could be interpreted by screaming young admirers, both male and female, as filial or—in their twin-like allure—as bordering on the incestuous.

      Unlike the later songs of the Beatles, whom they strongly influenced, and whose lyrics were generally upbeat declarations of love (for example “She Loves You”), the Everly brothers sang mostly of failed relationships resulting in tears and heartbreak for the males left behind. Their first major hit, by songwriters Felice and Boudleaux Bryant, and performed by the Everlys when their were 15 and 17, began with an already failed relationship, declaring the end of love from its very first line: “Bye bye love / Bye bye happiness / Hello loneliness / I think I’m-a gonna cry-y” Their wailing close harmonics, punctuated by Don’s steel guitar that emphatically reiterates that love is over, leaves the two handsome males (narratively speaking, one voice) on stage in tears.

       In another of their early hits, “Wake Up Little Susie,” lyrics again written by the Bryants, the boy and girl may not be breaking up, but it is clear that, after having fallen asleep in the movie theater and staying out far past their permitted hour, that their “goose is cooked,” their “reputation shot.” Even by evidently not doing anything wrong, they must now face parents and friends whose judgment of them cannot even be expressed in English but must be replaced by a kind of French phrase “Ooh la la!” The wake up call is also a cry that their relationship is finished.

      Even their ballad of love and desire, “All I Do Is Dream” keeps the lover at a distance, as the two (again speaking as a unified I) can only imagine love. “I can make you mine, taste your lips of wine / Anytime night or day.” But in doing so the lover’s life becomes completely empty: “Only trouble is, gee whiz / I’m dreamin my life away.”

       Don Everly’s memorable “Cathy’s Clown,” is another story of failed love and community mockery:

                      Don't want your love any more                                   

                      Don't want your kisses, that's for sure

                      I die each time I hear this sound

                      Here he comes, that's Cathy's clown

     In song after song, the Everly brothers express not only thwarted love, but the effects of their failure to be loved in terms of tears and death, and, accordingly the two close harmony singers seem nearly always to be lamenting a life apart from love’s fulfillment. As in the song “Bird Dog,” there is always a Johnny around to steal “their” girl. The brothers were compelled to dream of love, begging women to “Let It Be Me,” without actually finding the love they seek.


     When the Beatles first appeared on the scene in the early 1960s, I couldn’t, at first, quite comprehend their significance, whereas, throughout the late 1950s, as a young homosexual Iowan (the Everly family had lived for several years in Shenandoah, Iowa before the brothers moved to Nashville), I immediately, if only subliminally, recognized their allure—just as I did, a few years later, that of the Simon and Garfunkel duo, who every gay man must have, at one time or another, imagined as a sexual couple. In comparison the Beatles seemed too witty, chipper, and self-satisfied to ever “cry or die.” They nearly always got the girl.                

       For two heterosexual guys who, evidently, lived later in loving relationships with women, that produced several offspring, the tensions of playing the somewhat ambiguous roles which their music demanded of them must have been extremely complex. Add to that fact that they had been forced to sing together for years earlier by their performing father and mother, Ike and Margaret, and you can begin to comprehend their sibling rivalries. Don, so it has been reported, was jealous of his brother’s “lilting tenor voice,” and both felt a bit left behind with the British invasion of The Beatles, The Hollies, and other groups—made to feel a bit “old fashioned” long before their influence had waned. One can ultimately understand their inabilities to share the stage with their “other”; their on-stage personas didn’t match the offstage realities of their lives. They may have loved one another, as Don argues, every day of their lives; but that love, as expressed so beautifully in their music, was not the same as the metaphor their performances demanded of them. In real life, they were simply brothers, people with very different personalities and private lives.


*Some sources claim the opposite, that Phil destroyed his guitar, storming off stage, leaving Don on stage to declare the duo’s death. I have based my comments on Ray Connelly’s April 5, 2014 piece in London’s Daily Mail.


Los Angeles, April 5, 2014