Monday, August 11, 2014

LIST OF WORKS INCLUDED


USTheater, Opera, and Performance

TABLE OF CONTENTS
(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
Messerli 
"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)
"The Power of Desperation" (on The Conduct of Life) by Douglas Messerli
"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)
Trifles
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)
Summersolft

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)
Reapers
"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
Mexico

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)
Creditors
"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)
Clarence

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
Messerli

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








Douglas Messerli | "The Power of Desperation" (on María Irene Fornes' The Conduct of Life)


Having almost accidentally re-encountered the work of María Irene Fornes during the year, I was delighted to discover a production of another Fornes play by a small Los Angeles-area theater company, City Garage. The production I saw, The Conduct of Life, originally premiered two decades after Promenade.  

 

the power of desperation

 

María Irene Fornes The Conduct of Life / the production I saw was performed by City Garage, Santa Monica, August 10, 2014.

 

Fornes’ play The Conduct of Life is superficially one of her most naturalistically-conceived and pessimistic works. The story of the brutal Orlando (George Villas)—who verbally abuses his wife Leticia (Kristina Drager), threatens the family maid Olimpia (Nicole Gerth), and sexually abuses the captive young girl he keeps in the basement, Nena (Nili Rain Segal)—this play, at least in the City Garage production, seems to allow little hope for the human condition. Despite avowing a belief in non-violence and a commitment to self-educate herself, the well-off Leticia gives wide permission to Orlando’s destructive behaviors, ignoring the horrifying cries of the kidnapped Nena, while carefully criticizing Orlando’s obvious flaws as a human being—mostly via telephone to her friends or in a one way conversation with Orlando’s colleague, Alejo (Johnny Paulino). As so many wives locked into abusive situations in which they see their companion’s behavior as partly their own fault, and who overlook other brutalities as an unescapable aspect of love, Leticia is a facilitator, a woman who, in complaining about her husband’s increasing atrocities, simultaneously overlooks them, seeking her own outside solicitations with friends and a secret lover, like Orlando a lieutenant in an unnamed Latin American country—in this production, more apparently located in Cuba, Fornes’ birth home.

      Leiticia, moreover, is also abusive, demanding that Alejo spend hours teaching her all she needs to know about political science so that she might join a discussion group where others will listen to what she says, and, in a more comic manner, maltreating her overworked maid, Olimpia.

      Although Olimpia, in turn, sees the world through the lens of being a servant and projects servitude upon her perceptions of behavior, she also is not entirely passive as she sasses back at Leiticia, refusing, at times, to shop for certain foods her employer would prefer and enacting vengeance upon her through various comic mannerisms and imitations. Unlike Leiticia, Olimpia quite clearly sees the horrors going on in the house, and threatens her master with death. Yet, she too sees herself as incapable to transforming the abnormal behaviors she witnesses around her, feelings reinforced in the City Garage production by the fact that Olimpia is a “little person,” so dwarfed that she can be literally carried away off in necessary moments by the distracted Orlando. To give her credit, it is Olimpia who mothers, calms and permits the tortured child Nena to speak.

     Equally incompetent to change the world around her, Nena is still a child who has been stolen from the street to where she herself has escaped from an orphanage in order to find her impaired grandfather, a beggar who lives in a box on the city’s boulevards. Yet she, like Leticia, has an imagination in which she dreams of a better world, even if it only consists of a bigger box, filled with straw and vented with holes so that when grandfather urinates the water can escape the container where he and she sleeps. Her dream may be a tiny and almost meaningless one, but for her it is everything, a way in which to make the world and herself—whom she psychological defines as being perpetually “dirty”—clean, much like the shirts she has seen being ironed and pressed in the orphanage.

     The troubled lieutenant’s so-called friend, Alejo, describes himself as a former idealist who is now so troubled by watching his acquaintance torturing human beings, that he no longer has any feelings, characterizing himself as impotent. Although he knows the truth about Orlando, he spends most of the play in silence, refusing to attempt any action that may put an end to horror he witnesses—and in that role as silent conspirator, he is perhaps the most culpable of anyone in the play.

     


















 Orlando, admittedly a man enmeshed by his own “degrading sexual passion,” uses his violent urges as an excuse for his behavior. Having married Leticia in an attempt to present himself outwardly as “normal,” he justifies his brutal attacks on Nena as a way to release his dangerous urges that may impede his abilities to rise in the ranks of the military. His real goal, however, is power, and it is his increasing desire for it that leads to his near-constant verbal and sexual attacks on those around him. In his job he has grown into a high position as head torturer, some of whose prisoners die without him even having to touch them, just out of fear. Although Leticia may perceive his obsessively violent behavior as a deluded attempt to express his flawed love—a viewpoint of which at one point even Orlando tries to convince Nena is behind his actions—they are absurd perversions of any noble notion of the qualities he seeks.

     The lofty and nuanced values as expressed by Ralph Waldo Emerson in his The Conduct of Life in 1860, summarized in a series of essays which might almost serve as subtitles for the various interchanges of Fornes’ play—“Fate,” “Power,” “Wealth,” “Culture,” “Behavior,” “Worship,” “Considerations of the Way” (in which Emerson argues humans are indebted to their vices), “Beauty” and “Illusions”—are here played out in their lowest common denominator. Indeed, one might almost see her work as  satirizing  Emerson’s 19th century values, which in the context of the political tumults of the 20th century (whether we are speaking of pre-Castro or post-Castro Cuba or of any of the numerous other South American totalitarian governments) have become so demeaned as to seem absurd and even comic.

     Too bad the director of this production, Frédérique Michel, had apparently not read of Emerson, for, in the context of those concerns of the 19th century didact, Fornes’ dialogue is far more comic, at times, than it is simply a representation of shockingly savage behavior. If her characters are truly savages, in their delusions, nonetheless, they are often ridiculously foolish. Unfortunately, the actors of this production appeared to have no idea that their emotional outpourings appear as almost pallid quirks in a century of such absolutely appalling behavior that we cannot even put much of it into words.

     Perhaps it is simply a problem of the play; a reviewer of another production of The Conduct of Life, a 2003 Cambridge staging, pretty much sums up the City Garage acting techniques: [the characters], “in the lead roles, both spend most of their time on stage in fits of hysteria or rage. …Their drama becomes overwrought and tiring at times. Most of [Orlando’s] lines are delivered with shouting, banging and throwing, which gets to be a little too much in the small space.” (Stephanie E. Butler, The Harvard Crimson).

     Even if this is a truly harrowing portrait of human behavior, I wish that, beyond the comic-laced scenes between Leiticia and Olimpia, and Olimpia and Orlando, the characters had found room in Fornes’ often pregnant text to vent their range a little more in the manner of the cyanide-laced wit of George and Martha of Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf as opposed to the declamations of Williams’ Stanley and Blanche—although one wonders whether Fornes’ play might not be helped with the introduction of some elements of “camp.” It’s hard to take a character who describes his wife at the top his lungs as “foolish” five or six times as much of a serious threat.

      But Orlando is a threat, not only to the household which he haunts, but to the entire society in which he lives. And when he turns his military occupation into a fireside activity, attempting to torture his wife into a full confession of her marital dalliances, she suddenly realizes what the desperate always ultimately come to perceive: change is necessary for survival, that despite one’s values against violence, sometimes it is necessary to revolt. But even in shooting the monster dead, she appears to pass her own guilt on to Nena in handing her the gun—unless perhaps we read that act as a sisterly gesture of new empowerment, which is how I’d like to see it. But in the end, we can only ask, what is the cost of that suddenly discovered power? If Leiticia begins the play unable to imagine herself killing a deer, she ends the drama by killing the man she defined in terms of endearment. Violence always demands an unfathomable price.

      

Los Angeles, August 11, 2014