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Culture under stress : American drama and the Vietnam War Fenn, Jeffery W. 1988

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CULTURE UNDER STRESS: AMERICAN DRAMA AND THE VIETNAM WAR By J e f f e r y W. F e n n B.A. The U n i v e r s i t y o f C a l g a r y , 1979 M.A. Soochow U n i v e r s i t y (R.O.C.), 1981 M.A. The U n i v e r s i t y o f C a l g a r y , 1983 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY i n THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES Dep a r t m e n t o f T h e a t r e We a c c e p t t h i s t h e s i s a s c o n f o r m i n g t o t h e r e q u i r e d s t a n d a r d THE UNIVERSITY OF A p r i l © J e f f e r y W. BRITISH COLUMBIA 1988 Fenn, 1988 In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanced degree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make it freely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensive copying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of my department or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying or publication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my written permission. Department of The University of British Columbia 1956 Main Mall Vancouver, Canada f DE.6f.V8-n ABSTRACT The d i s s e r t a t i o n undertakes an analysis of the dramatic l i t e r a t u r e engendered by the Vietnam War i n the 1960s and 1970s, and i l l u s t r a t e s how the dramas of that period r e f l e c t the s t r e s s e s and a n x i e t i e s that a s s a i l e d contemporary American society. It investigates the formative influences on the drama, the various s t y l e s i n which i t emerged, and the r e c u r r i n g themes and motifs. The thesis proceeds from the premise that the events of the 1960s f r a c t u r e d American s o c i e t y i n a manner unknown s i n c e the C i v i l War. I t demonstrates that the s o c i a l , p o l i t i c a l , and i n t e l l e c t u a l divisiveness that characterized the society was interpreted i n the theatre by dramatic metaphors of fragmentation of the indi v i d u a l and c o l l e c t i v e psyche, and that t h i s fragmentation was r e f l e c t e d i n characters who experienced a c o l l e c t i v e and individual sense of loss of c u l t u r a l i d e n t i t y , cohesion and continuity. I n c l u d e d i n t h e e x a m i n a t i o n of the drama i s a d e s c r i p t i o n of how the s o c i a l upheaval of the p e r i o d i n f l u e n c e d p l a y w r i g h t s to undertake a reassessment of American values and ethics, and to interpret i n dramatic form the nature of the trauma of Vietnam for American society. The study includes a discussion of how in d i v i d u a l and c o l l e c t i v e r e a l i t y i s based on c u l t u r a l c o n d i t i o n i n g , and how the c h a l l e n g i n g of c u l t u r a l myth i n an e x t r a - c u l t u r a l milieu TABLE OF CONTENTS CHAPTER PAGE Abstract i i Table of Contents i v Acknowledgements v i Frontispiece v i i I. INTRODUCTION: CULTURE UNDER STRESS 1 II. DRAMATIC TRENDS OF THE SIXTIES 20 A. Ensemble Theatre 20 i . The Connection 32 i i . The Bi'ig 36 i i i . Viet Rock. . 49 i v . Hair 53 v. Vietnam Campesino 85 B. Documentary Theatre 89 i . Pueblo i l l i i . Trial of the Catonsville Nine. . . . 118 i i i . Inquest 131 II I . PLAYS OF ABSTRACTION 152 i . The Old Glory 162 i i . Indians 185 i i i . God Bl ess .210 i v . The White House Murder Case 216 v. We Bombed in New Haven 2 27 i v TABLE OF CONTENTS, CONTINUED CHAPTER PAGE v i . The Love Suicide at Schofield Ba i1 racks 236 IV. PLAYS OF INITIATION 255 i . The Basic Training of Pavlo Hummel . 259 i i . Streamers 283 V. PLAYS OF EXPERIENCE .313 i . The Dramatization of 365 Days. . . . 313 i i . How I Got That Story 329 i i i . G.R. Point 345 i v . Tracers 359 v. Boticelli 361 VI. PLAYS OF HOMECOMING 367 i . Sticks and Bones 371 i i . An Evening with Dead Essex 390 i i i . Medal of Honor Rag 395 i v . The Burial of Esposito 404 v. Bringing It All Back Home 407 v i . S t i l l Life 413 VII. CONCLUSION AND EPILOGUE 438 VIII. APPENDICES 442 i . Appendix A 442 i i . Appendix B 449 i i i . Appendix C 467 i v . Appendix D 473 IX. BIBLIOGRAPHY 475 v ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS I wish to acknowledge the support and advice of my S u p e r v i s o r , Dr. E r r o l Durbach, and my readers on the Supervisory Committee, Dr. Peter L o e f f l e r and Dr. Norbert MacDonald. Also due recognition In t h i s work i s Dr. J u l i a n Laychuk of the Germanic and Slav i c Department, University of Calgary, f o r the academic example and expertise, and the encouragement and friendship which he has afforded me for more than a decade. This work i s re s p e c t f u l l y dedicated to the memory of Donald R. Truss, Ph.D. February 24, 1924 - February 8, 1988 Teacher, Mentor and Friend v i Your ignorance w i l l be whipped with wind u n t i l i t i s pure as mist above the mountains. . . . We w i l l never be p e r f e c t l y inscrutable to you t i l l we have k i l l e d you and you do not know why. Amlin Grey: How I Got That Story. v i i CHAPTER I CULTURE UNDER STRESS This study deals with the response of the American theatre to the Vietnam War. Theatre i n i t s broadest sense i s a d e s c r i p t i v e term which encompasses many elements of a r t i s t i c endeavour, including the l i t e r a t u r e , the theory and the p r a c t i c e of dramatic a r t . Rather than dealing with a s p e c i f i c aspect and application of drama, the present work i s primarily concerned with how an event, which shook a nation to i t s very foundations, was interpreted i n p l a y s c r i p t s and performances. I t examines how, under the stress of s o c i a l upheaval and d i s i n t e g r a t i o n , the drama functions as a vehicle f o r s o c i a l protest and c r i t i c i s m . It also investigates the p r o c e s s t h r o u g h which the i n d i v i d u a l and c o l l e c t i v e psychological disequilibrium occasioned by such a traumatic event i s interpreted i n a dramatic context. Also included i s an analysis of how dramatizations on the part of individual a u t h o r s r e f l e c t the s o c i a l c o n d i t i o n i n g u n d e r l y i n g the ethnocentric perspectives of members of a p a r t i c u l a r culture. Many excellent books have been written about the reasons for American involvement i n Vietnam; 1 i t i s , however, neither e s s e n t i a l nor p r o f i t a b l e , given the central purpose of t h i s work, to d i s c u s s or recapitulate the many complex s o c i a l , 1 For a s e l e c t i o n of p e r t i n e n t works on the s o c i a l , p o l i t i c a l , and m i l i t a r y background to the war, consult the Bibliography. 1. p o l i t i c a l and m i l i t a r y events that l e d to the gr e a t e s t debacle i n modern American h i s t o r y . 2 Active American interest and involvement i n Vietnam dated from the immediate post-WW II period, continued through France's attempt to reclaim i t s pre-WW II colony (1946-1954), and e f f e c t i v e l y ended on A p r i l 30, 1975 when the l a s t h e l i c o p t e r l e f t the roof of the American Embassy i n Saigon. 3 For some twenty years (1945-1965) 4 American involvement i n the a f f a i r s of Vietnam was of l i t t l e i n t e r e s t to the general American p u b l i c ; events tran s p i r i n g i n Asian areas, other than Korea, were generally of peripheral interest i n what was known as the "Cold War." The many reasons for American involvement i n Vietnam are * The s o c i a l , p o l i t i c a l , and m i l i t a r y events r e l a t i v e to American involvement i n Vietnam that are discussed i n t h i s chapter are recapitulated i n capsule form i n Appendices A and B: Appendix A covers events i n Vietnam from 1945 to 1975; Appendix B concerns s i g n i f i c a n t events of the same period i n America and elsewhere. Events i n American drama of the period are outlined i n Appendix C. J The f i r s t " u n o f f i c i a l " American c a s u a l t y of the Vietnam c o n f l i c t occurred on September 26, 1945. As there was no d e c l a r a t i o n of h o s t i l i t i e s , other than the Tonkin Gulf R e s o l u t i o n signed on August 10, 1964, dates and figures pertaining to the c o n f l i c t are confusing. See Appendices A, B. 4 Astute p o l i t i c a l observers, such as Bernard Newman and David Halberstam, noted that because of such circumstances as the depredations of the Diem regime, American int e r e s t s i n Vietnam were doomed to f r u s t r a t i o n by the end of 1962. See Bernard Newman, Background to Vietnam (New York: Signet Books, 1965), passim; also, David Halberstam, The Making of a Quagmire (New York: Random House, 1965), passim. Graham Greene's f i c t i o n a l The Quiet American, published 1955, gave an uncanny and prescient portrayal of the f a i l u r e of American machinations i n Vietnamese p o l i t i c s . See Graham Greene, "The Quiet American," i n Graham Greene: The Collected Edition (London: Octopus Books, Ltd., 1977), pp. 531-654. 2 not a p r i n c i p a l concern of t h i s work; what i s , however, i s the Impact of the c o n f l i c t on American culture and society, and how It was interpreted i n the theatre and i n the dramatic l i t e r a t u r e of the time. This study proceeds from an analysis of the t r e n d s i n American t h e a t r e i n the 1960s, and i l l u s t r a t e s how contemporary s o c i a l stresses and anxieties were r e f l e c t e d i n the drama that emerged during and a f t e r the Vietnam War. It further examines how the Vietnam experience induced c r i s e s of c u l t u r a l i d e n t i t y , cohesion and continuity i n the American consciousness, and i l l u s t r a t e s how these disruptive influences were interpreted i n works designed to be performed on the public stage. America i n the s i x t i e s was indeed a s o c i e t y under s t r e s s . 5 Many problems were a continuation of those of the f i f t i e s which saw the r i s e of McCarthyism and the C i v i l Rights movement. Senator Joseph McCarthy raised to h y s t e r i c a l l e v e l s American fears of a communist plot to dominate the world. Events of the time, such as the Chinese Communist Revolution, the B e r l i n C r i s i s , the Korean War, and the arrest of State Department o f f i c i a l s and the Rosenbergs for various acts of espionage, appeared to j u s t i f y his claims. His cause was espoused by J . Edgar Hoover, and the F.B.I, began a 0 The data i n c l u d e d i n t h i s s e c t i o n i s based upon newspaper a r t i c l e s from Chronicle of the 20th Century, C h r o n i c l e P u b l i c a t i o n s , N.Y., 1987, and c i t a t i o n s i n Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc. Britannica Book of the Year. A f u l l o u tline of these events i s given i n Appendix B. 3 s u r v e i l l a n c e of American c i t i z e n s which continued into the years of the C i v i l Rights movement; the investigation of anti-war p r o t e s t o r s i t s e l f a t t a i n e d the fervency of the McCarthy anti-Communist "witch hunts." The early f i f t i e s also saw the testing i n the courts of laws p e r t a i n i n g to r a c e r e l a t i o n s and s e g r e g a t i o n . T r a d i t i o n a l l y a problem i n America, race r e l a t i o n s were c l a r i f i e d by a May 17, 1954, decision of the Supreme Court abolishing segregation i n schools. Other l e g i s l a t i o n i n the f i f t i e s involved the banning of segregation i n other public access f a c i l i t i e s such as bus depots and restaurants. Violent a c t s o f a s s a s s i n a t i o n , a r s o n , and r e b e l l i o n , and c o n f r o n t a t i o n , such as freedom r i d e s and marches that promoted the process of integration, were to characterize American society u n t i l anti-war demonstrations contended with them, and l a t e r s u r p a s s e d them as a cause of s o c i a l disobedience i n the middle s i x t i e s . The violence associated with integration appeared i n i t i a l l y to stem from the white sector of the population that included v i g i l a n t e s and l o c a l p o l i c e f o r c e s ; however, as Blacks met with i n c r e a s i n g f r u s t r a t i o n i n t h e i r e f f o r t s to a t t a i n equality, elements of the movement became r a d i c a l i z e d and coalesced into groups, such as the Black Panthers, which espoused vi o l e n t revolution as t h e i r p r i n c i p a l aim (Heath passim). Another d i s r u p t i n g i n f l u e n c e i n the America of the s i x t i e s was the emergence of " c o u n t e r c u l t u r a l i s t s , " who, i n a 4 reaction against the materialism of the af f l u e n t post WW II society and the authority of the older .generation, created a s u b - c u l t u r e c h a r a c t e r i z e d by o p p o s i t i o n to the values, morality and ethics of the establishment- Influenced by the wr i t i n g s of such figures as Kerouac, Ginsberg and Marcuse, the adherents of the movement pursued the i d e a l of freedom i n the form of s o c i a l and p o l i t i c a l anarchy. The c o u n t e r c u l t u r e movement a l s o had a presence on u n i v e r s i t y campuses, where, beginning i n the la t e f i f t i e s , student groups emerged to challenge the c u l t u r a l , p o l i t i c a l , and i n t e l l e c t u a l foundations of the i r society. Groups such as the S.D.S. (Students i o r a Democratic Society), F.S.M. (Free Speech Movement), and S.N.C.C. ( S t u d e n t s Non-violent C o o r d i n a t i n g Committee), o r i g i n a t e d at various u n i v e r s i t y campuses. These groups, which t y p i c a l l y evolved under the a e g i s of c i v i l r i g n t s p r i n c i p l e s , i n c r e a s i n g l y became r a d i c a l i z e d as the pressures of the s i x t i e s , p a r t i c u l a r l y those generated hy the War, encouraged jaore demonstrative acts of s o c i a l dissent ( O ' N e i l l 23). 6 Both i n d i v i d u a l l y and c o l l e c t i v e l y , the opposition to the War took many forms. For ind i v i d u a l s acting alone, i t included the writing of l e t t e r s to elected o f f i c i a l s , refusal to pay taxes, f l e e i n g to Canada and other countries, draft r e f u s a l , desertion from the armed forces, and even public and b For a chronology of student protests on campus, see Appendix 3. 5 private acts of s u i c i d e . ' on the c o l l e c t i v e l e v e l , opposition involved p e t i t i o n s , advertisements i n newspapers, s t r i k e s on campuses and i n the work-place; mass demonstrations and p r o t e s t marches that r e s u l t e d i n beatings, a r r e s t s , and detention. The decade of the s i x t i e s was also characterized by a c t s of extreme v i o l e n c e such as a s s a s s i n a t i o n , the bombing and burning of b u i l d i n g s , and the destruction of public monuments and records. Contrary to allegations by the F.B.I, and other agencies responsible for i n t e r n a l security, the anti-war movement was n e i t h e r a movement i n s p i r e d or l e d by f o r e i g n powers, cowards, anarchists, or l i c e n t i o u s counterculturals, nor was i t s p h i l o s o p h i c a l m o t i v a t i o n t r a c e a b l e to an omniscient m a l e v o l e n t power, nor was i t even anti-American. The indiv i d u a l s who wrote, marched, and demonstrated against the p o l i c i e s of t h e i r government came from a l l walks of l i f e and r e l i g i o u s and p o l i t i c a l p e r s u a s i o n s . T y p i c a l l y , these protestors were overwhelmingly p a t r i o t i c , and their numbers o f t e n i n c l u d e d the best and brightest people from a wide v a r i e t y of p r o f e s s i o n s and v o c a t i o n s . Hundreds of high-p r o f i l e organizations espoused the anti-war cause at various times, and the number of minor or s p l i n t e r groups, including 1 At least eight protest suicides are d i r e c t l y linked to the anti-war protest movement i n the period 1965-1970. See Nancy Zaroulis and Gerald S u l l i v a n , Who Spoke Up?: American Protest against the War in Vietnam (New York: Doubleday .& Company, Inc., 1984), pp. 4-5. 6 those composed of r a d i c a l elements, remain uncountable. 8 Never s i n c e the C i v i l War had American s o c i e t y been so divided and so fragmented s o c i a l l y and p o l i t i c a l l y , and never had the recourse to violence become so prominent i n c i v i l protest. Previous to 1963, there was l i t t l e or no opposition to American involvement i n Vietnam, although 109 Americans had di e d there since 1959.9 T h e f i r s t organized demonstrations took place i n August 1963, i n conjunction with the annual commemoration by American p a c i f i s t s of the Hiroshima-Nagasaki bombings ( Z a r o u l i s and S u l l i v a n 12). These demonstrations were large l y inspired by the June 11 self-immolation of the Buddhist bonze Thich Quang.Due i n South Vietnam. The s o c i a l , p o l i t i c a l , and m i l i t a r y s i t u a t i o n i n Vietnam at that time, however, was only a very peripheral concern of the American public, whose attention was primarily focused on c i v i l r i g h t s issues. In the same month of 1963, the C i v i l Rights movement was approaching i t s period of greatest a c t i v i t y . After more than a decade of s i t - i n s , boycotts, and freedom marches, the 3 See Appendix D f o r a p a r t i a l l i s t of anti-war and C i v i l Rights groups. 9 Actually, the f i r s t American k i l l e d i n Vietnam i n the post WW II period was Lieutenant Colonel A. Peter Dewey, who was shot by the Viet Minh near Saigon on September 26, 1945. Two U.S. m i l i a r y advisors were k i l l e d on July 8, 1959, near the Bien Hoa a i r p o r t outside Saigon. S p e c i a l i s t 4, James T. Davis, was k i l l e d on December 22, 1961. Various sources regard any of the above as the f i r s t c a s u a l t i e s of the Vietnam War. See Appendices A and B. p r o t e s t s culminated i n one vast demonstration i n v o l v i n g 200,000 to 250,000 people marching on Washington for "Jobs and Freedom" {Chronicle 902). Martin Luther King presented h i s "I Have a Dream" speech, which won him n a t i o n a l prominence. His subsequent assassination remains a symbol of the r a c i a l v i o l e n c e that characterized America during the 1950s and 1960s. The f i r s t j o ining of the C i v i l Rights and the anti-war movements came immediately a f t e r the f i r s t Gulf of Tonkin i n c i d e n t i n August 1964. Mourners at the funeral of three s l a i n c i v i l r i g h t s workers i n P h i l a d e l p h i a , M i s s i s s i p p i , displayed placards quoting President Johnson's words, "Shoot to k i l l i n the Gulf of Tonkin" (Zaroulis and S u l l i v a n 24). The demonstration was a protest against Johnson's refusal to send federal marshals to M i s s i s s i p p i to protect c i v i l r i g h t s workers, and the mourners drew a connection between the v i o l e n c e that the government was t o l e r a t i n g i n M i s s i s s i p p i and i t s threatened violence i n the Asian Gulf. By 1965, anti-war demonstrations had become h i g h l y organized a f f a i r s . The f i r s t International Days of Protest took p l a c e on October 15-16, and extended from coast to coast. In Berkeley, C a l i f o r n i a , 10,000 gathered to stage a teach-in; i n New York, 20-25,000 marched down F i f t h Avenue and were pelted by tomatoes, red paint and eggs. The f i r s t report of a person burning his draft card a f t e r Johnson had signed a b i l l making such an act a felony coincided with the 8 d e m o n s t r a t i o n . The year 1965 was a watershed i n the development of anti-war protests. A wide range of methods of p r o t e s t were evident: i n d i v i d u a l a c t s of suicide, public testimony, and refusal of the d r a f t , and c o l l e c t i v e e f f o r t s i n v o l v i n g mass marches, r a l l i e s , d e m o n s t r a t i o n s and confrontations. Zaroulis and S u l l i v a n note that "by the end of t h e y e a r t h e two s i d e s were a r r a y e d : the U.S. a d m i n i s t r a t i o n was committed to the war i n Vietnam; the opponents of that war were committed to ending i t " (67). On January 3, 1966, the C i v i l Rights movement and a n t i -war protest were again linked a f t e r the shooting death of a Black S.N.C.C worker, who attempted to use a white washroom at a gas s t a t i o n i n Tuskegee, Alabama. S.N.C.C. issued a statement c l a i m i n g that the United States government was e q u a l l y as deceptive i n i t s claims of concern f o r the Vietnamese people as i t was for the welfare and freedom of Black people i n the United States and other c o u n t r i e s , including the Dominican Republic, South A f r i c a , and the Congo (Ibid. 69). The anti-war movement assumed a national i d e n t i t y when, at a conference i n Cleveland on November 28, 1966, plans were made for a huge country-wide mobilization. Set for A p r i l 15, 1967, the Spring Mobilization (Committee) to End the War i n Vietnam a t t r a c t e d such speakers as Dr. Benjamin Spock. In February 1967, c i v i l r i g h t s and anti-war protests became synonymous as Martin Luther King began to attack the war i n 9 Vietnam i n earnest. Addressing a conference i n Los Angeles, he claimed that, "the promises of the Great Society have been shot down on the b a t t l e f i e l d of Vietnam" (Ansbro 253). His remarks became even more v i t r i o l i c l a t e r i n the year, when he condemned a war i n which Black Americans " k i l l and d i e together f o r a n a t i o n that has been unable to seat them together i n t h e i r own schools" [Ibid. 259). Consequently, he was censured by the N.A.A.CP.10 f o r ^ i s association of c i v i l r i ghts and anti-war issues, since the American public at that time was s t i l l strongly i n favour of the War. A month l a t e r , on May 13, 70,000 marched i n New York i n support of the administration's p o l i c i e s i n Vietnam {Chronicle 963-4). A foretaste of the violence that was l a t e r to mark a n t i -war demonstrations occurred on June 23, 1967, i n Los Angeles. P o l i c e smashed the windows of a sound truck used by the P L f P H M ) , 1 1 and beat the occupants (Zaroulis and S u l l i v a n 119). The summer of that year also saw outbreaks of r a c i a l violence that were unprecedented i n American society. On July 16 a race r i o t i n Newark, New Jersey, resulted i n twenty-six dead, 1,500 i n j u r e d , and 1,000 arrested; a week l a t e r , a s i m i l a r event i n D e t r o i t saw nineteen dead, co u n t l e s s injured, and 700 arrested { C h r o n i c l e 967). Domestic violence appeared to keep pace with that of Vietnam, as 1967 was also 1 0 National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. 1 1 Progressive Labor (Party) (Movement). marked by an increasing determination to continue the War: 465,000 troops were engaged, and 9,378 were k i l l e d (Terry 297) . The year 1967 also gave an i n d i c a t i o n of how widespread the o p p o s i t i o n against American involvement i n Vietnam had become. In January, a group of Rhodes scholars wrote the P r e s i d e n t asking f o r explanations of America's f o r e i g n p o l i c y ; i n March, 800 peace corps workers petitioned the a d m i n i s t r a t i o n ; i n A p r i l , 1,000 d i v i n i t y students formally objected to America's actions i n Asia. On October 21, a march i n Washington, D.C, included the p a r t i c i p a t i o n of Norman Mailer, who commemorated the occasion i n his Armies of the Night. Also involved i n the demonstration was a contingent of " c o u n t e r c u l t u r a l s , " who were determined to l e v i t a t e the Pentagon (Chronicle 971). The p r o t e s t , estimated to have i n v o l v e d 50,000 p a r t i c i p a n t s , was marked by violence, and some 250 people were arrested. The occasion also presented "the l a r g e s t mass d r a f t card burning i n the h i s t o r y of protest against the Vietnam War" (Zaroulis and S u l l i v a n 139). In 1967 public opinion was s t i l l very much divided over Vietnam. A December p o l l i n d i c a t e d that 53 per cent of Americans were i n favour of the War, and 63 per cent opposed h a l t i n g the bombing of North Vietnam. P u b l i c o p i n i o n , however, was beginning to s h i f t . In 1968 the American commitment i n Vietnam reached i t s peak with 536,000 troops engaged, and c a s u a l t i e s of 14,592 k i l l e d (Terry 296). Zaroulis and S u l l i v a n note that 1968 was a year i n which events happened so quickly, hammer blow a f t e r hammer blow, that i n retrospect i t seems a s t o n i s h i n g that the n a t i o n a l psyche survived i n t a c t . Perhaps i t did not. (149) The year started badly with the seizure of the surveillance s h i p Pueblo by the North Koreans on January 23; the Tet offensive followed a week l a t e r on the night of January 30-31. Mark Baker noted that, i n 1968, "some unmarked threshold of pain was crossed i n March" (214). One i n f i v e Americans p r e v i o u s l y supporting the War switched to opposition. On March 10, the news that Westmoreland had asked for 206,000 more troops that would bring t o t a l American forces to nearly three-quarters of a m i l l i o n men shocked the nation into a state of d i s b e l i e f about the o p t i m i s t i c forecasts of m i l i t a r y success i n Vietnam. On A p r i l 4, King was shot i n Memphis, which t r i g g e r e d race r i o t s across America and i n U.S. m i l i t a r y camps i n Vietnam. Later that month, students staged a s i t - i n at Columbia U n i v e r s i t y , which provoked a p o l i c e action i n which 711 were arrested and 120 charges of p o l i c e b r u t a l i t y were l a i d . Assassination, r i o t , c i v i l disobedience and other forms of p r o t e s t continued to rack American society during the remainder of the year and into 1969 and 1970. Senator Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated i n Los Angeles i n June of 1968; Dr. Benjamin Spock and three accomplices were sentenced to j a i l terms f o r c o u n s e l l i n g d r a f t evasion; and u n i v e r s i t y protests increased and continued into 1970, which culminated i n the shooting of four students at Kent State on May 4. The Vietnam Moratorium observance day on October 15, 1969, saw m i l l i o n s of people across the country wearing black arm bands; a WW II veteran was quoted, "This war i s costing America i t s soul" (Tuchman 351). The academic year of 1969-1970 witnessed a wave of t e r r o r i s t bombings and arson spreading across the United States, both on and off campuses. Over 250 bombings resulted i n at least s i x deaths, and 247 cases of arson were reported, the most spectacular being a $320,000 f i r e at the Berkeley campus l i b r a r y of the University of C a l i f o r n i a (Chronicle 1301). This p e r i o d marked the peak of u n i v e r s i t y protest: over four m i l l i o n students and f i v e hundred i n s t i t u t i o n s were i n v o l v e d . Of these, f i f t y - o n e remained closed during the l a t t e r part of the year (Zaroulis and S u l l i v a n 320). Although the fury of the war was abating i n 1970 (troop l e v e l s i n Vietnam were down 200,000 to 334,600 by the end of the year), i t was some time before the e f f e c t was f e l t on what now was a p t l y described as "the home front." F i n a l l y goaded to a c t i o n i n 1970, the Senate Foreign R e l a t i o n s Committee recommended repeal of the Tonkin Gulf Resolution; i t was approved by the Senate on June 26, and by the House on December 31. President Nixon, however, gave notice that he would pay no attention to the repeal and, on t h i s occasion, he proved true to his word. Yet, even then, the prosecution of the war i n Vietnam remained a d i v i s i v e issue i n society. New York "hard h a t " c o n s t r u c t i o n workers a t t r a c t e d an estimated 60,000 participants i n a serie s of protests l a s t i n g from May 11 to May 20, as they demonstrated i n favour of the administration and i t s p o l i c i e s i n Vietnam (Chronicle 1020). In the years of 1970 and 1971, the anti-war movement as a whole began to disintegrate. Nixon's revelation of his new " V i e t n a m i z a t i o n " p o l i c y f o r the War, and va r i o u s other announcements c o n c e r n i n g n e g o t i a t i o n s softened p u b l i c d i s s e n t . Although the War was to continue i n i t s several disguises for another f i v e years, the emphasis on a i r warfare i n preference to ground commitments seemed to lessen the impact of the c o n f l i c t on the home front. In the oxymoronic language that came to t y p i f y the administration's d e s c r i p t i o n of events, Nixon proclaimed a "war f o r peace" (Herring 2 4 4 ) . 1 2 A f t e r the peace agreements of January 1973 were concluded, the period which m i l i t a r y analysts c a l l "the post-war war" began, and l a s t e d u n t i l 1975 ( I b i d . 252). I r o n i c a l l y , the war d i d not r e a l i s t i c a l l y come to an end u n t i l May 7, 1975, when President Ford signed a proclamation terminating the e l i g i b i l i t y for war benefits of men serving i n the area. He proudly proclaimed the end of the Vietnam era, s t a t i n g , "America i s no longer at war" (Chronicle 1094). Yet, for many, the war was just beginning. S t i l l to be f u l l y r e a l i z e d was the cost of the c o n f l i c t — t h e damage to American p r e s t i g e , the p h y s i c a l and psychological trauma 1 2 Cf. Nixon's e a r l i e r "Peace Offensive." 14 suffered by the combatants and those who had fought on the home f r o n t , and above a l l , the devastating e f f e c t of the s o c i a l f r a g m e n t a t i o n t h a t the i s s u e s of the War had engendered. Problems of reintegration were acute for both veterans and members of the home community a l i k e . For the l a t t e r , the veterans were embarrassing reminders of an u n d e c l a r e d , m i s u n d e r s t o o d , i11 -conceived w ar—and i t s ignominious conclusion. The veterans, acutely aware of the a t t i t u d e s towards the W a r — a t t i t u d e s which had r a d i c a l l y changed s i n c e i t s b e g i n n i n g — f e l t anger and h o s t i l i t y at being rejected by a society for which they had endured much and made so many s a c r i f i c e s . Their s i t u a t i o n , that of men attempting to gain or regain a place i n a c u l t u r a l construct, became the most dominant and popular thematic motif i n Vietnam drama. In t h e a t r e , the response to the tu r b u l e n t s i x t i e s emerged i n s e v e r a l d i s t i n c t forms. The decade saw the p r o l i f e r a t i o n of s m a l l ensemble companies which o f t e n regarded themselves as micro-cultures having a dual purpose of t h e a t r i c a l experimentation and s o c i a l protest. This period a l s o saw the r e v i t a l i z a t i o n of documentary drama, which underwent s i g n i f i c a n t changes as i t attempted to interpret contemporary events i n dramatic form. Chapter II of thi s work examines both the ensemble companies and the genre of documentary t h e a t r e , and i l l u s t r a t e s how both were d i r e c t responses to the s o c i a l conditions of the time. The s i x t i e s a l s o saw works w r i t t e n f o r t h e t r a d i t i o n a l t h e a t r e e v o l v e i n s t y l e a n d f o r m i n r e a c t i o n t o t h e i n c r e a s i n g t e n s i o n s , a n x i e t i e s and c r i s e s o f s o c i e t y . F o r d i v e r s e r e a s o n s , s o m e a u t h o r s a b s t r a c t e d t h e i r s o c i a l c r i t i c i s m i n p l a y s o f a n a l o g y , a l l e g o r y and a l l u s i o n ; i n a d d i t i o n , t h e y s o u g h t a n s w e r s t o c o n t e m p o r a r y p r o b l e m s i n t h e r o o t s o f A m e r i c a n c u l t u r e i t s e l f . An a n a l y s i s o f s u c h p l a y s i s u n d e r t a k e n i n C h a p t e r I I I . T h e f r a g m e n t a t i o n o f s o c i e t y a s a r e s u l t o f t h e many d i v i s i v e i s s u e s o f t h e t i m e became i n d i v i d u a l i z e d i n t h e men who w e n t t o w a r . T h e e x t r a - c u l t u r a l e x p e r i e n c e a n d p e r c e p t i o n , w h i c h came w i t h s e r v i c e o v e r s e a s , l e d t h e i n d i v i d u a l t o q u e s t i o n t h o s e p r e c e p t s w h i c h h a d d e t e r m i n e d h i s s e n s e o f c u l t u r a l r e a l i t y a n d f o r m u l a t e d h i s i d e a s o f b e h a v i o u r . P l a y s t h a t a t t e m p t e d t o come t o t e r m s w i t h t h e war e x p e r i e n c e i t s e l f , a n d t o s t r e s s i t s s i g n i f i c a n c e b o t h f o r t h e s o c i e t y a n d f o r t h e i n d i v i d u a l , t e n d e d t o be w r i t t e n by t h o s e who had d i r e c t k n o w l e d g e o f t h e War, s u c h a s v e t e r a n s , c o r r e s p o n d e n t s , d o c t o r s a n d m e d i c a l o r p s y c h i a t r i c c a s e w o r k e r s . T h e s e p l a y s a r e t y p i f i e d by R i t e s o f P a s s a g e m o t i f s -- i n i t i a t i o n , e x p e r i e n c e , a n d r e i n t e g r a t i o n . P l a y s d e a l i n g w i t h t h e s e m o t i f s a r e d i s c u s s e d r e s p e c t i v e l y i n C h a p t e r s IV, V, and V I . I t i s n e i t h e r p o s s i b l e n o r d e s i r a b l e , g i v e n l i m i t a t i o n s o f s p a c e a n d f o c u s o f any s t u d y , t o i n c l u d e a n e n c y c l o p e d i c t r e a t m e n t o f a l l t h e t h e a t r e c o m p a n i e s , p l a y w r i g h t s , dramas 1 6 and t h e a t r i c a l e v e n t s t h a t can somehow be t r a c e d , i f tenuously, to the Vietnam War. Certainly, some twenty-seven plays are discussed i n varying d e t a i l which, i n the opinion of t h i s w r i t e r , r e f l e c t s t h e i r importance i n the dramatic genre of Vietnam plays. Further, an examination of the main the a t r e companies and t h e i r improvised works presented to American audiences of the s i x t i e s and seventies, serves to pla c e the plays i n th e i r proper perspective v i s a v i s the American theatre scene of the time. The t i t l e s of a few plays which have been excluded, together with the reasons for th e i r exclusion, are outlined i n the closing pages of Chapter VI. Other dramatic works written i n t h i s period are not re a d i l y obtainable, nor would they necessarily deserve i n c l u s i o n i n the s t u d y . 1 3 A c c o r d i n g l y , that circumstance i n no way m i l i t a t e d a g a i n s t the c o m p l e t e n e s s , e f f e c t i v n e s s and e s s e n t i a l nature of Vietnam drama as presented here. This writer maintains that the works selected for analysis are not only the most representative of dramatic works on Vietnam, but are also d e f i n i t i v e of the genre of dramatic l i t e r a t u r e and t h e a t r i c a l presentation that emerged as a response to the War. i J Ruby Cohn, w r i t i n g i n 1980, notes, "Only a small f r a c t i o n survives ( i n print) of the many plays performed i n the United States during the l a s t two decades." See Ruby Cohn, New American Dramatists: 1960-1980 (New York: Grove Press, 1982), p. 4. 17 REFERENCES CITED Ansbro, John J . Martin Luther King Jr.: The Making of a Mind. Maryknoll, New York: Orbis Books, 1982. Bagguley, John, and C e c i l Woolf. Authors Take Sides on Vietnam. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1967. B l a k e , B e t t y , and Joan Marlowe, eds. New York Theatre Critics' Review Index 1961-1972. New York: C r i t i c s ' Theatre Reviews, Inc., 1972. Cohn, Ruby. New American Dramatists: 1960-1980. New York: Grove Press, Inc., 1982. D i c k s t e i n , M o r r i s . Gates of Eden: American Culture in the Sixties. New York: Basic Books, Inc. Publishers, 1977. Greene, Graham. " The Quiet American." Graham Greene: The Collected Edition. London: Octopus Books, Ltd., 1977. Halberstam, David. The Making of a Quagmire. New York: Random House, 1965. Heath, G. L o u i s , ed. The Black Panther Leaders Speak. Metuchen, N.J.: The Scarecrow Press, Inc., 1976. Herring, George C. America's Longest War.- The United States and Vietnam 1950-1975. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1979. Marcuse, Herbert. Counterz,evolutlon and Revolt. Boston: Beacon Press, 1972. Mersmann, James F. Out of the Vietnam Vortex: A Study of 18 Poetry and Poets against the War. Wichita, Kansas: The University Press of Kansas, 1974. Newman, Bernard. Background to Vietnam. New York: Signet Books, 1965. O ' N e i l l , W i l l i a m L. American S o c i e t y S i n c e 1945. Chicago: Quadrangle Books, 1968. Podhoretz, Norman. Why We Were in Vietnam. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1982. Wilson, James C. Vietnam in Prose and Film. Jefferson, N. C : McFarland & Company, Inc., 1982.system Zaroulis, Nancy, and Gerald S u l l i v a n . Who Spoke Up?: American Protest against the War in Vietnam. New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1984. 19 CHAPTER II DRAMATIC TRENDS OF THE SIXTIES 1. Ensemble Theatre. One a r t i s t i c m a n i f e s t a t i o n of the c u l t u r a l s e l f -q u e s t i o n i n g of American s o c i e t y In the 1960s was the emergence and p r o l i f e r a t i o n of experimental drama groups. These groups produced a theatre that, i n keeping with the s o c i a l dynamics of the decade, was c h a r a c t e r i z e d by i t s revolutionary z e a l . Theodore Shank observes that t h i s theatre was d r i v e n by "the moral energy of s o c i a l causes and the s p i r i t of a r t i s t i c e x p l o r a t i o n " (3). Under the s t r a i n of s o c i a l t e n s i o n s t h a t were e x a c e r b a t e d by the growing awareness of the Vietnam War, the emerging a r t i s t i c l i b e r a t i o n found e x p r e s s i o n i n s o c i a l and p o l i t i c a l c r i t i c i s m . T h is freedom f o s t e r e d many l i n e s of c r i t i c a l thought that would resurface i n the dramas confronting the War d i r e c t l y . Many of the p h i l o s o p h i e s and t e c h n i q u e s of the experimental theatre were to have a s i g n i f i c a n t impact on the War dramas. It i s therefore necessary that an examination of some of the more famous (and infamous) groups and t h e i r works be undertaken, i n order to i d e n t i f y the i n f l u e n c e s that shaped the theatre of the 1960s, and to appreciate how the s o c i a l and c u l t u r a l anxieties of the time gave r i s e to the a r t i s t i c impulses a f f e c t i n g the development of American drama. 20 The decade of the 1960s produced major changes i n the perception of what theatre was and how i t should be presented to an audience. Productions of the period were characterized by innovations i n organization, s e l e c t i o n of subject matter, and dramatic techniques. A l l a n Lewis notes that some of the most s i g n i f i c a n t changes were the r i s e of the Black Theatre, the growth of regional repertory theatres, and the breakdown of p s y c h o l o g i c a l realism, together with a p r e d i l e c t i o n for examining aspects of i n s t i n c t and experience (243). Shank notes that the experimental theatre gave r i s e to two perspectives from which a r t i s t s viewed human experience. There were those who looked outward, exploring human beings i n society, a n a l y z i n g s o c i a l i n s t i t u t i o n s , c o n s i d e r i n g p o l i t i c a l issues, and sometimes advocating s o c i a l change. The other perspective was inward-looking and involved a consideration of how we perceive, f e e l , think, the structure of thought, the nature of consciousness, the s e l f i n r e l a t i o n to a r t . (3) C.W.E. Bigsby has observed that the American theatre of the p e r i o d was o f t e n d i s t i n g u i s h e d by "the u r g e n c i e s of p o l i t i c a l , s o c i a l and moral r e v o l t " (1985: 292-3). It soon became obvious, however, that the r e b e l l i o n was not only d i r e c t e d at s o c i a l i s s u e s , but a l s o at the t r a d i t i o n a l structure and function of theatre i t s e l f . The dynamics of the evolving theatre were quite evident before Vietnam became a s i g n i f i c a n t factor i n the a r t i s t i c and p u b l i c consciousness. Megan Terry, who worked with the Open Theatre, and whose Viet Rock (1966) was to be one of the f i r s t plays to deal with the subject of Vietnam, observed: 21 Just as we were on the brink of major breakthroughs i n acting, playwrighting and d i r e c t i n g , we had to throw a l l our energies into stopping the war i n V i e t Nam. Much work got postponed, other work a c c e l e r a t e d out of the necessity of dealing with the problem of war. (1977: 17) Towards the end of the decade, the s o c i a l and c u l t u r a l issues raised by Vietnam were to a t t r a c t the talents and energies of those a r t i s t s involved i n reworking the nature of American t h e a t r e . I t took some years, however, before f u l l - l e n g t h dramas dealing d i r e c t l y with Vietnam were to appear on the commercial stage. The works of the experimental theatre, as Terry suggests, were aimed at stopping the War, while the plays that confronted the War d i r e c t l y were written primarily e i t h e r by returning veterans who saw the drama as a prime means of conveying the experience, or by those who had personal contact with these men. Many of the talents and ideas that were to influence the form and substance of American drama are found i n the matrix of the e x p e r i m e n t a l groups. The dynamic nature of the ensemble provided an op p o r t u n i t y f o r emerging talents to t r a i n and p r a c t i c e t h e i r c r a f t , and new groups were often formed by i n d i v i d u a l s who had departed from the parent company i n order to test t h e i r personal theories of dramatic a r t . Moreover, the c r o s s - p o l l i n a t i o n of techniques and ideas among members of these groups lent impetus to the exploration and p r o l i f e r a t i o n of new a r t i s t i c concepts. Many European i n f l u e n c e s , both i n p l a y w r i t i n g and dramatic theory, are evident i n the philosophy, t r a i n i n g and o r i e n t a t i o n of a number of indiv i d u a l s who both created and p a r t i c i p a t e d i n the experimental productions. The e f f e c t of b r i n g i n g together t a l e n t s , energies and ideas i n these ensembles was to a l t e r s u b s t a n t i a l l y the nature of American t h e a t r e from that time to the present. Not only did such formative influences and impulses help shape and d i r e c t the substance of the drama, they a l s o heavily influenced the c r i t i c a l edge of the works dealing d i r e c t l y with the War i t s e l f . A r t h u r S a i n e r o b s e r v e s that there was "a r a d i c a l l o o s e n i n g i n t h e a t r e " i n 1959, a phenomenon that he a s s o c i a t e s with the L i v i n g Theatre's p r o d u c t i o n of Jack Gelber's The Connection that same year (15). This "loosening" was accompanied by the r i s e of ensemble acting companies r e b e l l i n g not only a g a i n s t s o c i a l conventions, but also against those of the contemporary theatre as represented on Broadway. The ensemble o f f e r e d a communal approach which opposed the inequities of the t r a d i t i o n a l "star" system, and encouraged i n i t s p l a c e dramatic productions representing c o l l e c t i v e e f f o r t s and i n t e r e s t s . As Bigsby observes, the t h e a t r e o f f e r e d i t s e l f as a paradigm of community at a moment when s o c i e t y seemed more fragmented than usual. The c i v i l r i g h t s movement, student a c t i v i s t s , and anti-war a c t i v i t y emphasized a fundamental disagreement over values, while e n c o u n t e r groups, communes, and p r o l i f e r a t i n g r e l i g i o u s and s p i r i t u a l c u l t s s t r e s s e d an uncertainty over personal and s o c i a l r e l a t i o n s h i p s . (1978: 353) 23 In t h e i r r e p u d i a t i o n of the "Establishment," these groups dedicated t h e i r a r t i s t i c e f f o r t s to both t h e a t r i c a l and s o c i a l reform, and the c r i t i c a l edge of the i r works was t y p i c a l l y directed against such s o c i a l and moral issues as the material excesses of contemporary theatre and society: A s i g n i f i c a n t number [of a r t i s t s ] who were dis a f f e c t e d with the myth of success ... discovered that the ensemble not only allowed for a serious c r i t i q u e of the c u l t u r e , but also for sustained serious work. (Sainer 17) The communal nature of the ensemble tended to s h i f t focus from the in d i v i d u a l and enhance the i d e n t i t y of the group, and many of these bodies of acting, writing and d i r e c t i n g talent envisioned themselves as microcosmic cultures with a c o l l e c t i v e sense of i d e n t i t y , purpose and f u n c t i o n . Consequently, as a re s u l t of th e i r attitudes concerning the freedom of e x p r e s s i o n , many of these groups r e g u l a r l y c o l l i d e d with the forces of law and order. The s o c i a l d i s c o n t e n t of the e a r l y s i x t i e s fueled a drive for innovation i n dramatic s t y l e , as both d i l e t t a n t e s and s e r i o u s p r a c t i t i o n e r s of theatre coalesced i n theatre companies whose raison d' $tre was to express s o c i a l and p o l i t i c a l b e l i e f s i n the form of c r i t i c a l dramatic statements and p r o t e s t d e m o n s t r a t i o n s . In c a r r y i n g forward i t s examination of contemporary s o c i a l and c u l t u r a l mores and values, the experimental theatre quickly responded to the an x i e t y about the War with a fervour i n keeping with the magnitude of the event i t s e l f . 24 Many of the groups were i n place before Vietnam came to occupy the p u b l i c and a r t i s t i c consciousness. The San F r a n c i s c o Mime Troupe (SFMT) was forming i n 1959; Peter Schumann's Bread and Puppet Theatre i n 1960; The Open Theatre, which counted Megan Terry and Jean Claude van I t a l l i e among i t s early playwrights, was established i n 1963; the Pageant Players had i t s f i r s t production i n 1965, and R i c h a r d Schechner's New Orleans and Performance Groups emerged i n the middle and l a t e s i x t i e s . Of considerable importance was Malina's and Beck's L i v i n g Theatre, which dated from the l a t e f o r t i e s : well-established and productive during the f i f t i e s and early s i x t i e s , i t was to become the model and i n s p i r a t i o n for experimental theatre groups both i n America and Europe. J u d i t h Malina and J u l i a n Beck began producing plays t o g e t h e r i n 1946. In 1945, Malina s t u d i e d under Erwin Piscator at the New School Dramatic Workshop (Biner 20); Beck was a dedicated a n a r c h i s t - p a c i f i s t who had dropped out of u n i v e r s i t y and followed the teachings of Thoreau and Gandhi (Shank 9). They married i n 1943, and i n 1951 founded the " L i v i n g Theatre," choosing t h i s name because t h e i r theatre was to be "one that would emphasize contemporary plays performed i n such a manner as to move the spectators" (Biner 24). Beck gave his personal credo at the time, claiming that t h e r e were t h r e e r e q u i r e m e n t s f o r a t o t a l t h e a t r i c a l 25 e x p e r i e n c e : " p h y s i c a l p a r t i c i p a t i o n by the spectator participant, narrative, and transcendence" (Ibid. 25). The a e s t h e t i c s and techniques of the Liv i n g Theatre changed considerably over the course of i t s r e l a t i v e l y long h i s t o r y . I n i t i a l l y , the r e v o l u t i o n that Beck and Ma Una wanted to see i n the theatre was s i m i l a r to what had taken place i n sculpture and a r t . As Beck notes, we wanted the theatre to accomplish a revolution, e v e n t u a l l y , one that had already transformed the other arts—music, painting, sculpture." (27) Shank o b s e r v e s t h a t the Becks "were r e a c t i n g against n a t u r a l i s m and were p r i m a r i l y Interested i n experimenting with poetic language" (9). Between t h e i r debut i n 1951 and the i r production of The Brig In 1963, twenty-two productions were staged, i n v o l v i n g twenty-nine plays, most of them i n verse. Of the e a r l y productions, Beck notes, "we chose marginal plays that placed t h e i r emphasis on language, on a c e r t a i n f a n t a s t i c q u a l i t y " (Biner 33). As the deliberate t i t l e of the company suggests, the group was determined to break down the s e p a r a t i o n of a r t and l i f e : the dramatic a c t i o n on the stage was to have an immediate relevance to what was happening outside the theatre. Shank notes that i n 1951 the Becks' radicalism was only a e s t h e t i c ( 8 ) ; however, i n the c o u r s e of a r t i s t i c experimentation and the consequent confrontations with the aut h o r i t i e s , they came to use th e i r theatre as a vehicle for s o c i a l c r i t i c i s m , and worked towards bringing about s o c i a l 26 change by non-violent means. Since 1964 they "committed t h e i r l i v e s and th e i r work to an a n a r c h i s t - p a c i f i s t view" (Shank 9). The company was to have a s i g n i f i c a n t influence on the development of American drama i n the s i x t i e s , as the l i f e -s t y l e of the ensemble, t h e i r p r o d u c t i o n techniques and philosophies, and t h e i r c r i t i c a l attitudes became models for i n d i v i d u a l a r t i s t s and other groups. The hi s t o r y of the L i v i n g Theatre i n America was marked by a constant s t r u g g l e f o r s u r v i v a l . Having staged t h e i r f i r s t p r o d u c t i o n — a n evening of four short p l a y s — i n t h e i r apartment on August 15, 1951, 1 they moved to the Cherry Lane Theatre i n the West End of New York i n December 1951. There t h e y p r o d u c e d e i g h t works, m o s t l y by contemporary playwrights. They were evicted from the theatre by the F i r e Department i n August 1952 because of unsafe conditions. 2 The Becks' a n t i - e s t a b l i s h m e n t sentiments were r e i n f o r c e d as v a r i o u s government departments closed other theatres that they subsequently occupied. Their i n i t i a l playing space, a basement i n Wooster Street, was raided i n 1946 by the p o l i c e , 1 For a chronology of productions by the Living Theatre, other experimental groups, and plays of the Vietnam War era, see Appendix C. 2 The F i r e Department's concern with the f i r e hazard at the C h e r r y Lane c o i n c i d e d with the p r o d u c t i o n of John Ashbery's The Heroes, a controversial play with homosexual overtones. Beck claims that the Department acted "at the request of the v i g i l a n t e s " (Beck, TDR, 183). Kenneth H. Brown's The Brig, a v i r u l e n t anti-establishment work was i n performance at the L i v i n g Theatre Playhouse when the IRS seized assets valued at $267.00 and closed the building. 27 who i n s i s t e d that i t was a front for a brothel (Beck 1965: 19). T h e i r Broadway a t t i c was c l o s e d by the B u i l d i n g Department i n 1956, and t h e i r L i v i n g Theatre Playhouse was seized by the Internal Revenue Service i n 1963, during the production of The Brig (1963). These experiences helped to r a d i c a l i z e t h e i r opinions of structured society, and t h e i r t h e a t r i c a l e f f o r t s were to become increasingly p o l i t i c a l . The f i r s t production at Cherry Lane was Gertrude Stein's Dr. Faustus Lights the Lights (1938). Beck s t a t e s that Stein's work "was l i k e a manifesto and would always stand at the head of our work, saying take the cue from t h i s " (Beck 1965: 8). Stein's work was a t t r a c t i v e to the Becks because i n i t t hey p e r c e i v e d the use of language as a t o o l f o r revolution. According to Beck, i t [Stein's work] never ceased being part of the revolution of the word, a period i n international l i t e r a t u r e of the f i r s t couple of decades of t h i s century which t r i e d to r e v i v i f y language, which did r e v i v i f y language, and with i t the structure, the form, of l i t e r a t u r e , by erasing the platitudes and exploring and pushing at the boundaries of meaning in writing. (Beck 1965: 7) Beck saw language i n the form of l i n g u i s t i c platitudes and i t s r i g i d structure as a sustaining force of s o c i o - c u l t u r a l p r i s o n s , and symptomatic of the a u t h o r i t a r i a n nature of s o c i e t y . He adds: "How can you enlarge the l i m i t s of consciousness i f language atrophies? How can you approach real conscious being i f the language i s just hanging around?" (Ibid. 7) . 28 S t a r t i n g from the p o s i t i o n t h a t language was a substantial force i n the d e f i n i t i o n of c u l t u r a l r e a l i t y , Beck sought to transform his culture and society. He exhorted, "Weaken the f a b r i c of the system wherever you can, make possible the increase of freedom. . . . " (Ibid, v) . Thirteen years a f t e r the f i r s t production at Cherry Lane, Beck was asked to sum up h i s philosophy and purpose i n less than twenty words. His response: "To increase conscious awareness, to stress the sacredness of l i f e , to break down the walls" (Ibid. 18). The a s s a u l t on the walls was not long i n coming. The p r o d u c t i o n of Paul Goodman's Faustina (1952) i n 1952 at C h e r r y Lane marked the b e g i n n i n g of d i r e c t a u d i e n c e confrontation i n the L i v i n g Theatre. In the f i n a l movement of the play, as the set of ancient Rome d i s i n t e g r a t e s , the actress playing Faustina addresses the audience d i r e c t l y : We have enacted a brutal scene, the r i t u a l murder of a young and handsome man. I have bathed i n his blood and i f you were a worthy audience, you'd have leaped on the stage and stopped the action. (Biner 32) The company continued to produce plays designed to engage and shock the audience; they i n c l u d e d A l f r e d Jarry's Ubu Roi (1896), and John Ashbery's The Heroes (1952). The short stay at Cherry Lane was an important formative time for the company. There they established the foundations f o r a r e p e r t o r y t h e a t r e and inaugurated Monday evening gatherings where poets, writers and playwrights met to read 29 t h e i r works (Ibid. 32). The company a l s o i n i t i a t e d and developed the techniques that were to become i t s trademark, and which other experimental companies were to imitate. Beck noted t h a t " t h e r e i s no d i f f e r e n c e between actor and s p e c t a t o r " (1965: 22), and the t r a d i t i o n a l aesthetic and s p a t i a l r e l a t i o n s h i p s between performer and audience were thus transformed. The spectator became participant as well as observer when the a c t o r s made the t h e a t r e auditorium a working part of t h e i r stage, and moved among the audience, communicating with Individual members by touch, voice and gesture. Such acts of communication were to characterize the company's work for over t h i r t y years. After the closing of the Cherry Lane i n August 1952, the Becks found a new location i n a t h i r d - f l o o r l o f t on 100th Street and Broadway i n March 1954. Continuing to attack the i l l u s i o n of r e a l i t y through the r e a l i t y of i l l u s i o n , the group performed L u i g i P i r a n d e l l o ' s Tonight We Improvise (1930) i n 1955. Biner notes that Pirandello was p a r t i c u l a r l y suited to a Living Theatre production, as the manner i n which the company rendered the ambiguity, incommunicability, the hopeless groplngs of consciousness and words toward capturing the unconscious . . . resulted i n a remarkable success. (36) Other productions staged i n the a t t i c Included Jean Cocteau's Orph&e (1926) and August S t r i n d b e r g ' s The Ghost Sonata (1907). The l a s t play to be produced there, i n November 1955, was Paul Goodman's controversial play, The Young Disciple. 30 Goodman'8 play was a "shocker": i t was an adaptation of the Gospel According to St. Mark, and dealt with the problems of a youth In search of wisdom (Ibid. 37). Predictably, the B u i l d i n g Department served notice, demanding that the l o f t capacity be reduced to an uneconomic eighteen seats, and the theatre was forced to close. From the l o f t , the company moved to a vacant Manhattan department store on Sixth Avenue and Fourteenth Street, i n July 1957. After more than a year of renovations, they opened the L i v i n g Theatre Playhouse. Between January 1959 and October 1963, they staged nine productions, involving ten p l a y s . Among the f i r s t productions i n the Playhouse were William Carlos Williams' Many Loves (1938), a p l a y l e t about a "pessimistic r e l a t i o n s h i p between a r t i c u l a t e and i n a r t i c u l a t e persons" (Guimond 146), and Jack Gelber's The Connection (1958). Those plays were to Incorporate the company's concept of denying the fourth wall of the theatre. In the opening sequence of Many Loves, the audience enters the theatre to fi n d e l e c t r i c i a n s and actors on stage attempting to repair a blown fuse. When power Is restored, the play begins (Shank 10). W i l l i a m s ' p l a y was viewed as a success, but The Connection was the production which that r a d i c a l l y changed the d i r e c t i o n of theatre i n America—and elsewhere—in the 1960s. The Connection was a play set out to dispense with the f o u r t h w a l l e n t i r e l y . When the audience e n t e r s , several 31 i n d i v i d u a l s , ostensibly "heroin addicts," are s i t t i n g on the stage. A man steps from the proscenium into the audience and announces that he i s the "producer." He introduces Jaybird, the "author" of the work, and explains that they have i n v i t e d s e v e r a l genuine heroin addicts to come to the theatre and cre a t e a documentary play, which i s to be recorded by two photographers present i n the theatre. The addicts, i t i s suggested, have cooperated i n return for a promised " f i x . " The uncertainty of what i s r e a l and what i s contrived continues throughout the play. Four jazz musicians waiting for t h e i r f i x begin to entertain the audience by improvising music. During a h i a t u s (the i n t e r m i s s i o n ) , some of the a d d i c t s panhandle i n the audience. Eventually "Cowboy," a Black drug-dealer a r r i v e s and d i s t r i b u t e s what appears to be drugs to the waiting addicts. The author protests when the a c t i o n does not go according to h i s s c e n a r i o , and asks Cowboy: "You cats are a c t o r s ? " Cowboy responds: "I'm not acting. You should have thought of that when you hired us" (Gelber 82). Theatrical continuity appears to break down when Jaybird, r e a l i z i n g that events are not going according to his " s c r i p t , " p r o t e s t s , and i n s i s t s that a l l the elements of theatre must mesh together. We wouldn't be on stage i f i t didn't f i t . That's what I had i n mind i n the f i r s t place. I didn't learn anything. I knew i t . Find a horror. Then you t e l l people i t is n ' t a horror. And then I have the g a l l to be h o r r i f i e d , Well, i f i t wasn't junk, I would have been i n v o l v e d with something e l s e . (Ibid. 95) 32 The audience i s not only drawn into the play, but for the credulous, anxiety i s heightened with the recognition that they are party to a highly i l l e g a l undertaking. V e r i s i m i l i t u d e i n the production was so well-established t h a t the a u d i e n c e s p o n t a n e o u s l y applauded upon being introduced to the "author"; i n addition, over the three-year run of the play, some f i f t y members of the audience fainted when an actor playing "Leach" inserted a hypodermic needle i n his arm (Biner 48). Many people were taken i n by the 'play w i t h i n a p l a y 1 techniques used by the Living Theatre and demanded t h e i r money back at the box-office; they explained that they had come to see a play rather than what appeared to be a spontaneous and random event (Beck 1965: 22). In d i r e c t i n g the p l a y , J u d i t h M a l i n a took every advantage of the p o t e n t i a l o f f e r e d by the t i t l e and the c o n s t r u c t i o n of the p i e c e . "Connections," o u t s i d e the immediate connotation of o b t a i n i n g drugs, are encouraged between the actors and the audience and between the actors and the musicians. In the play, Jaybird notes that i f the audience makes the connection between drugs and jazz, that i s t h e i r own a f f a i r ( G e l b e r 68). There are a l s o i m p l i e d connections between the psychologically l i b e r a t i n g e f f e c t s of improvised jazz and drugs. Malina notes that, although the a c t o r s were indeed a c t o r s and d i d not l e t t h e i r r o l e s influence t h e i r personal l i v e s , the s i t u a t i o n i n which they 33 found themselves put them e n t i r e l y at ease, and "allowed them to play themselves" (Biner 48). Bernard Dukore noted i n 1967 that The Connection was "an example of the 'New Realism'," since Gelber "uses so many devices of the n o n - r e a l i s t i c theatre" (161). "The basic setup i s not actors who are going to play junkies, but junkies who are going t r y to be actors" (162). He further acknowledges Gelber's debt to Pirandello. Theodore Shank notes a tendency of the Living Theatre towards producing plays which i n v o l v e d experiments with p u t t i n g a c t u a l i t y on s t a g e which l e d e v e n t u a l l y to e l i m i n a t i n g the separation between art and l i f e , between dramatic a c t i o n and s o c i a l a c t i o n , between l i v i n g and a c t i n g , between s p e c t a t o r and performer, and between revolution and theatre. (9) The breaking down of the fourth wall brought the audience i n t o the p r o d u c t i o n and made them, i f not somewhat responsible for much of the action, at least party to i t by imp l i e d acquiescence. This i n s i s t e n c e on confronting the audience with a r e a l i t y that i t would most l i k e l y prefer to avoid echoes many of the ideas inherent i n the theories of Antonin Artaud. The L i v i n g Theatre was not d i r e c t l y influenced by the work of A r t a u d u n t i l 1958, when the Becks obtained a t r a n s l a t i o n of h i s Theatre of Cruelty (Beck 1965: 24). Th e r e a f t e r , however, there was a d i s c e r n i b l e s h i f t from Pirandello, as the Living Theatre chose the way of Antonin Artaud, who regarded the obstinate adherence to r a t i o n a l means i n f i g h t i n g 34 barbarism and ' e v i l * as the major flaw of Western culture. (Biner 49) Beck declared, The ghost of Artaud became our mentor and the problem that we faced . . . was how to create that s p e c t a c l e , that Aztec, convulsive, plague-ridden panorama that would so shake people up, so move them, so cause f e e l i n g to be f e l t , there i n the body, that the s t e e l world of law and order which c i v i l i z a t i o n had forged to p r o t e c t i t s e l f from barbarism would melt. (1965: 24) The exposure to Artaud was to have a d i r e c t e f f e c t on the nature of the works produced by the Liv i n g Theatre. Upon reading Artaud's work, the Becks found that he expressed many of t h e i r own ideas about what theatre should attempt. They believed that the purpose of theatre should not primarily be to entertain, but to bring about a cathartic e f f e c t through the shock of confronting an audience with horrors of r e a l i t y of which they had previously been unaware. Artaud wanted to put an end to theatre that was mere p l a y - a c t i n g without consequences, and he echoed the Becks' ideas of s o c i a l repression i n his cry, "We are not free" (Artaud 79). Consequently, under the added stimulus of Artaud's theories, the Becks i n t e n s i f i e d t h e i r battering of the walls. The Becks continued t h e i r campaign against an oppressive society with t h e i r presentation of Kenneth Brown's The B i ' i g (1963) on May 15, 1963. Biner notes that i t was "the most dazzling act of r e b e l l i o n against Establishment theatre" i n the h i s t o r y of the Beck group, and that i t was "another manifestation of the s p i r i t of the World Wide General S t r i k e 35 for Peace, which the Becks had organized one week before the premiere" (63). Beck noted, " The Brig i s the Theatre of C r u e l t y . In that i t i s the d i s t i l l a t i o n of The L i v i n g Theatre's h i s t o r y " (1965: 34). Beck decided to produce The Brig a f t e r his f i r s t reading of the p l a y ; he found i t to be i d e a l l y s u i t e d to an expression of the L i v i n g Theatre's philosophy. He notes that the production was "a scrutiny of a c t u a l i t y , " and that the essence of the work i s embodied i n a m i l i t a r y intent "to punish with language" (1965: 6, 4). Under the t i t l e of "Storming the Barricades," Beck gives his i n t e r p r e t a t i o n of the work. The Brig i t s e l f i s a kind of H e l l . . . . It i s not a t h e o r e t i c a l H e l l , not imaginary, not theological . . . i t i s the H e l l of everything that puts people i n cages and that draws r i g i d l i n e s . (Ibid. 8) The Brig a s s a u l t s . A t o t a l a s s a u l t on culture. (Ibid. 9) Brown had been a prisoner i n a U.S. Marine Corps prison i n Japan, and h i s play deals with the numbing routine of d a i l y l i f e i n such a f a c i l i t y . The f l o o r has white l i n e s painted on i t , and prisoners must request permission to cross them. Talking to other prisoners i s forbidden, and errors i n the performance of d u t i e s r e s u l t i n physical punishment. Shank observes that " i t i s the epitome of an anarchist's h e l l " (12). For the Becks, the p r i s o n e r i n the m i l i t a r y stockade was the ideal dramatic metaphor for the p l i g h t of the i n d i v i d u a l i n an oppressive s o c i e t y : the p h y s i c a l 36 confinement and psychological i s o l a t i o n was on a l e v e l with that experienced by a s p i r i t u a l l y oppressed i n d i v i d u a l i n the authoritarian exterior world. The action of the play consists of l i t t l e more than the d a i l y routine of the prison. Prisoners have numbers rather than names and they must respond ins t a n t a n e o u s l y to a l l commands. The only breaks i n the routine occur when Prisoner Six experiences a nervous breakdown and i s ca r r i e d off i n a s t r a i g h t j a c k e t , and one p r i s o n e r i s released and another admitted. The time-frame of the play encompasses the events of only one day, from early morning to late evening. Shank not e s t h a t the p l a y has no c o n v e n t i o n a l p l o t and i s structured only by the prison routine (12). The piece i n c i t e s a psychological horror when i t becomes obvious that each day follows the next i n a never-ceasing monotony.3 The men are trapped within a s o c i a l system that i s t o t a l l y authoritarian; the only escape i s the insane asylum. The dramatic t e n s i o n of the play i s d e r i v e d almost e n t i r e l y from the use of precise instructions to be observed in the performance of the most t r i v i a l acts of d a i l y routine. Every action, however i n s i g n i f i c a n t , i s orchestrated by the d This scenario evidences a very strong s i m i l a r i t y with that of Alexander Solzhenitsyn's A Day in the L i f e of Ivan Denisovich (1S62), i n which "Ivan i s a universal symbol of the r e s t r i c t e d dulled consciousness that develops i n a man anywhere such conditions p r e v a i l . " See Vladimir Rus, "One Day in the L i f e of Ivan Denisovich: A Point of View Analysis," i n Canadian Slavonic Papers XIII, 2 & 3 (Summer-Fall 1971), pp. 176-177. 37 s a d i s t i c guards. A l l other forms of s e l f - e x p r e s s i o n are precluded. Any deviation or f a i l u r e to comply exactly r e s u l t s i n v e r b a l abuse and p h y s i c a l punishment. The men are not permitted to t a l k to each other and do not do so; the dialogue c o n s i s t s only of the formalized and r i t u a l i s t i c i n t e r c h a n g e s between the inmates and the guards, and language, i n i t s r i g i d and i n s t i t u t i o n a l i z e d aspect, becomes a tool of oppression. As the deranged inmate i s led away to incarceration i n an unspecified asylum, his desperate parting cry i s , "My name i s not Six. It's James Turner" {Brig 73). The B r i g , while of doubtful dramatic merit because the monotony of the routine i s l i k e l y to be quickly and i n d e l i b l y impressed upon the audience, was the ideal vehicle for the expression of Beck's perception of his contemporary society as cruel and oppressive. A dominant feature of the production was a barbed-wire bar r i e r between the audience and the stage, and Beuk noted, The Brig condemned and exposed the barricades which divide us into victims or executioners. Barricades, a play of barricades, a play of prisons, prisons which have entered b r i e f l y yet d e c i s i v e l y into our experience. {Ibid. 33) Reality i n the guise of l i f e imitating art caught up with the L i v i n g Theatre, when, during the run of the play, the Establishment i n the persona of IRS agents seized the p a l t r y a s s e t s of the L i v i n g Theatre Playhouse, and consequently terminated the production. 38 F o l l o w i n g t h e i r t r i a l and c o n v i c t i o n f o r "impeding Federal o f f i c e r s i n pursuit of th e i r d u t i e s , " 4 the Becks took t h e i r Living Theatre company to Europe for four years. They continued to crea t e ensemble works and returned f o r an American tour i n September 1968. In Europe they b u i l t on many of the ideas that they developed i n New York, and they continued to Influence American theatre u n t i l the 1970s. Two major p i e c e s that they had create d i n Europe and staged across America i n 1968-1969 were Mysteries and Smaller Pieces (1964), and Paradise Now (1968). Created by the Liv i n g Theatre i n France and performed on the group's American tour, Mysteries and Smaller Pieces was t y p i c a l of th e i r European productions (Shank 14). Its nine segments consisted of exercises and improvisations, described as "a public enactment of r i t u a l games" (Ibid. 13). The play was u n s c r i p t e d , with no d e f i n i t i v e s e t ; the actors wore s t r e e t c l o t h e s or performed i n the nude; there was l i t t l e c h a r a c t e r i z a t i o n ; and the actors encouraged spectators to par t i c i p a t e i n the production. When nothing happens on stage at the beginning of the play, the audience i s expected to * Neff i n d i c a t e s t h a t , although the Living Theatre's assets were seized on account of unpaid taxes and Interest, the Becks were never charged with those offenses. The charges evidently stemmed from the Becks' occupation of the theatre b u i l d i n g a f t e r the Federal agents had placed seals on the doors (8). At that time, Richard Schechner conducted an in t e r v i e w with J u d i t h Malina from the s t r e e t , through a megaphone, while she was entrenched on the t h i r d f l o o r . See Schechner's "Interviews with Judith Malina and Kenneth H. Brown, TDR 8, No. 3 (Spring 1964), pp. 207-219. 39 become provoked and shout i n s u l t s at the actors. The actors move into the audience, some chanting the words from a U.S. d o l l a r b i l l , others carrying s t i c k s of incense, which they gi v e to the s p e c t a t o r s . ( I b i d . 1 4 ) . They a l s o encourage members of the audience to mount the stage with them, and a "Chord" i s formed. The technique of the Chord was an exercise developed by Joseph Chaikin, i n which people joining hands, form a c i r c l e , swaying, and humming a tone i n harmony. It was evolved by Joseph Chaikin primarily as a conditioning exercise for his actors. His student, Lee Worley, introduced i t to the Li v i n g Theatre where i t became a performance technique, expressing a "coming together," or symbolizing an act of communion i n human s o c i e t y (Biner 88-91). Another exercise developed by C h a i k i n was incorporated i n the work. Two l i n e s of actors face each other, one actor improvises sound and movement, which i s passed down the l i n e , with each actor adding his own int e r p r e t a t i o n and expanding the action (Shank 14). A c o n c l u d i n g scene of Mysteries embodies Artaud's "plague" metaphor. Drawing on his analogy between the e f f e c t of t h e a t r e on an a u d i e n c e and t h a t of a plague on a community, where "beneath such a scourge, a l l s o c i a l forms d i s i n t e g r a t e " (Artaud 15), the Becks improvised a scene i n which the actors, shrouded i n dim l i g h t , groan and cry out i n the grip of the dreadful disease, wrestling death. Long-repressed vices are suddenly awakened i n the tormented wretches and they try to possess t h e i r f e l l o w - v i c t i m s . . . . But soon, death p r e v a i l s over them. Then, very slowly, a few survivors r i s e up; i n sil e n c e they remove the boots of the dead, l i n e them up i n the f r o n t of the stage, and heap the corpses into the well-defined shape of a wood-pile. . . . The l a s t image that r e g i s t e r s on the eye i s the p i l e of corpses. . . . Whether i t s y m b o l i z e s s p e c i f i c d e a t h - - t h e c o n c e n t r a t i o n camp or war i t s e l f - - i s of small import. (Biner 91) Not only i s the audience confronted with the fact of t h e i r own mortality, but also that of th e i r culture. At the time of presentation i n America, i t emphasized a r e a l i t y behind the b a t t l e f i e l d s t a t i s t i c s . F i r s t created i n 1964, the play was developed during the four-year self-imposed e x i l e of the Living Theatre i n Europe, and was staged across America i n the 1968-69 tour. A l s o included on the tour program were peformances of Paradise Now. Because the players often obtained a p o s i t i v e response to th e i r exhortations to the audience, i n which they i n v i t e d i t s members to shed t h e i r clothes and i n h i b i t i o n s , performances of the work caused much f r i c t i o n between the company and the a u t h o r i t i e s . The a c t i o n of the play i s structured on the concept of a ladder having eight "rungs". Ascending the ladder leads the group to a state of "permanent revolution." As the action progresses, actors move about i n the audience utt e r i n g statements such as, "I don't know how to stop the war," "I'm not allowed to take my clothes o f f , " and "You can't l i v e i f you don't have money" (Shank 21). The a c t o r s encourage the audience to pa r t i c i p a t e , and f u r t h e r rungs i n v o l v e actors and audience members s i t t i n g with t h e i r sexual organs touching, the shedding of clothes, and the c a r e s s i n g of audience members by the actors. The eighth and f i n a l rung concludes with the actors leading the s p e c t a t o r s out of the theatre into the street, where they c e l e b r a t e t h e i r freedom from conditioned sexual and s o c i a l r e p r e s s i o n . I t was evident t h a t , even a f t e r a four-year absence from the theatre scene i n America, the Living Theatre had not devi a t e d from i t s anti-establishment stance, i t s ideas of incorporating spectators into a production, and i t s determination to use theatre as a tool of s o c i a l change. The i n s i s t e n c e on the idea of theatre as an agent of s o c i a l change brought the group into d i r e c t confrontation with the theatre establishment i n America. On March 21, 1969, J u d i t h Malina and J u l i a n Beck were i n v i t e d to a meeting h o s t e d by the " T h e a t r e of Ideas," a s o c i e t y of drama theorist s and p r a c t i t i o n e r s who met to exchange their views on theatre. With the theme, "Theatre OR Therapy," the evening debate brought together v a r i o u s members of the New Y o r k l i t e r a r y scene, including Robert Brustein, Susan Sontag and Norman M a i l e r . The uninvited actors of the Living Theatre also showed up (Biner 221). The members of the L i v i n g Theatre immediately found themselves at odds with B r u s t e i n ' s a e s t h e t i c theory o f thea t r e which allowed that "the theatre can't change the world and doesn't have to try to change i t " (Ibid. 221). The debate q u i c k l y descended i n t o a t y p i c a l L i v i n g Theatre production as the troupe members engaged the i n t e l l e c t u a l s and audience members c o l l e c t i v e l y and i n d i v i d u a l l y , and confronted aesthetic idealism with the t a c t i c s of g u e r i l l a theatre. The meeting deteriorated into a general melee, i n which theatre theory and the a t r e p r a c t i c e met i n rowdy confrontation. The evening gave evidence that there was a d i s t i n c t p o l a r i t y of thought i n American theatre. Although by 1969 many s i g n i f i c a n t experimental theatre groups had been formed, the Establishment was s t i l l well entrenched. While the aims, ideals and examples of the Becks had spawned and encouraged a host of r a d i c a l theatre companies that tackled s o c i a l issues, the t r a d i t i o n a l t h e a t r e s t i l l a bstained from d i r e c t l y confronting such issues as the Vietnam War, which was now at the height of i t s i n t e n s i t y . 5 By the early 1960s, the Becks had introduced into the American theatre many of the philosophies and techniques that were to characterize the work of the experimental groups that emerged during the decade. The idea of theatre as a vehicle for s o c i a l change, the d i r e c t confrontation with the audience (and the insistence on i t s p a r t i c i p a t i o n ) , the notion that t r a n s f o r m a t i o n and r e v o l u t i o n should be the goal of a dramatic production, and the Artaudian concept of confronting a By December 1963, American forces i n Vietnam totaled 536,000. Combat f a t a l i t i e s f o r the year were 14,592. See Appendix A f o r American troop involvement i n Vietnam, Appendix B for demonstrations on the home front. 43 the audience with t e r r i b l e truths about themselves and th e i r existence, were to characterize the r a d i c a l theatre of the s i x t i e s . In 1970 the L i v i n g Theatre returned to Europe and announced that i t was s p l i t t i n g into several " c e l l s . " One located i n Paris, another i n B e r l i n . One went to India, and the Becks themselves went to B r a z i l (Biner 225). Of the separate e n t i t i e s , only the one which included the Becks themselves seems to have survived (Shank 26). The Becks' work was i n f l u e n t i a l for theatre i n many ways, not the least of which was the interchange of ideas between theatre a r t i s t s who worked with them at d i f f e r e n t times. Joseph Chaikin and Peter and Karen Weiss, for example, were at one time members of the company (Neff 15). In 1962 the Living Theatre produced Brecht 1s Man Is Man (1926). In i t s cast, playing Galy Gay, was Joseph Chaikin, who was to become a fou n d i n g member and the a r t i s t i c i n s p i r a t i o n of the Open Theatre. Established i n 1963, the Open Theatre was to have a s i g n i f i c a n t impact on both the experimental and t r a d i t i o n a l stage; Chaikin himself was to make a s i g n i f i c a n t c o n t r i b u t i o n to the popularization and consolidation of the Off-Off-Broadway genre of theatre. 6 He 6 The term "Off-Broadway," according to C.W.E. Bigsby, was "an a e s t h e t i c and s o c i a l r a t h e r than a geographical d e s c r i p t i o n . " I t applied to theatres anywhere i n New York that had fewer than three hundred seats and was formally recognized i n 1949 when Equity members became e l i g i b l e to appear at non-Equity r a t e s . " O f f - O f f Broadway" came into being with the opening of "coffee-house" theatres such as Joe 44 had worked i n London as a consultant to Peter Brook's US workshop at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, and also with J e r z y Grotowski i n the same capacity ( P a s o l l i 97). Chaikin had acted i n plays of Pirandello and Brecht produced by the L i v i n g Theatre, and P a s o l l i observes that "from the Living Theatre, the Open Theatre i n h e r i t e d a d i s t a s t e f o r the established, bourgeois norms, professional and s o c i a l " (31). Chaikin's i n f l u e n c e extended both to the form and substance of the t h e a t r e of the s i x t i e s . His workshops p r o v i d e d many emerging a c t o r s and p l a y w r i g h t s w i t h o p p o r t u n i t i e s to develop t h e i r techniques and to practise t h e i r c r a f t . The work of the Open Theatre group r e l i e d on a c o l l e c t i v e improvisation of ideas and experiences from which a s c r i p t might u l t i m a t e l y be developed, and which a l s o r e f l e c t e d C haikin's philosophy of "an e x i s t e n t i a l b i a s [taking] behaviour rather than ideas as the source o f insight i n t o the world" ( P a s o l l i 36). He incorporated the rigorous e x e r c i s e s developed by Grotowski into the t r a i n i n g of his a c t o r s and d e v e l o p e d h i s own "psycho-physical" a c t i n g technique theory [Ibid. 97). Some o f the many performers, w r i t e r s and c r i t i c s who p a r t i c i p a t e d i n C h a i k i n ' s e x p l o r a t i o n s were Megan Terry, Jean-Claude van I t a l l i e , Richard Gilman, and Sam Shepard. Cino's C a f f e Cino (1958) and E l l e n Stuart's Cafe La Mama (I960) (Bigsby 1978: 347-43). 45 Asked by Richard Schechner i n 1964 to define the goals of h is group, Chaikin responded "To redefine the l i m i t s of the stage experience or unfix them. To f i n d ways of reaching each other and the audience" (Schechner 1964: 191). His philosophy of acting was rooted i n the Stanislavsky "Method" school, but he declared that i n North America Stanislavsky's t h e o r i e s had become s t u l t i f i e d and even moribund. Chaikin interpreted the Method system as an evolving organic process which needed to be constantly tested "against great plays and new ones" {Ibid. 193). Chaikin acknowledges his debt to the Becks: h i s f i r s t major a c t i n g roles were with the Liv i n g Theatre i n productions of Many Loves, The Connection, In the Jungle of Cities, and Man is Man, the l a s t of which won him a Village Voice Obie (Chaikin 1972: 49, 212). During h i s i n i t i a l three-year s t i n t with the Living Theatre, Chaikin became converted to the Becks' idea of a p o l i t i c a l l y - o r i e n t e d stage. Chaikin notes, "I used to say to them again and again, 'Are you a the a t r e or are you a p o l i t i c a l movement? You can't be both'" (Blumenthal 12). P r o l o n g e d exposure to the Becks, however, changed h i s perspective: "I began to f e e l that the p o l i t i c a l aspect of the Li v i n g Theatre, which had looked so ri d i c u l o u s , was very necessary" (Ibid. 12). When the Becks went overseas to th e i r self-imposed e x i l e , Chaikin opted not to go along, but to develop the Open Theatre, which was s t i l l i n i t s formative stage. Chaikin places production emphasis on the ensemble and i t s c o l l e c t i v e presence on the stage. He envisions two major p r i n c i p l e s o p e r a t i v e i n ensemble performances: empathy between a c t o r s , and the dynamics of rhythm. He notes that actors should not take focus i n d i v i d u a l l y , and a point should come where "you no longer know exactly which actor i s i n support and which actor i n i t i a t e d the action: they are simply together" (Ibid. 59). In reference to rhythm, Chaikin notes, i f you would l e t the body go with the rhythm, you would d i s c o v e r that there i s a p a t t e r n and a dynamic and an i n t e n s i t y that would change as experience changed during the day (Ibid. 59). While C h a i k i n s t r e s s e d a c t i n g methods and actor t r a i n i n g exercises, many of his innovations became, as noted i n the case of Mysteries (the Chord), performance techniques. For the f i r s t seven years of i t s existence, the Open Theatre "remained a loose conglomerate of more or l e s s d i s c r e t e p r o j e c t s " (Ibid. 15). It was primarily a t e s t i n g ground f o r e x e r c i s e s and i m p r o v i s a t i o n s , and i t s only commercially-oriented works of the period were Megan Terry's Viet Rock (1966), and Jean Claude van I t a l i e ' s America Hurrah (1967) of the 1966-1967 theatre season. The p l a y s c r i p t for Viet Rock originated i n Megan Terry's workshop where the members improvised short s k i t s from m a t e r i a l that "bombarded us every day from t e l e v i s i o n and newspapers" (Terry 1967: 21). The play opened at Cafe La Mama on Armed Forces Day (May 21) 1966. It featured the acting 47 technique of "transformation," a dramatic representation i n which the actors, concentrating on a theatre of abstraction and i l l u s i o n , delineated c o n s e c u t i v e l y and concurrently, concrete objects, s t e r e o t y p e d i n d i v i d u a l s , human r e l a t i o n s h i p s , impartial observers and abstract actions. ( P a s o l l i 54) A basic assumption of t h i s technique i s that the actor and p l o t w i l l r e l y l e s s on the d e f i n i t i o n of character and s i t u a t i o n , and w i l l emphasize i n s t e a d impressions and expe r i e n t i a l sensations. Terry explains that, outraged by the s t e r e o t y p e d c a s t i n g of a c t o r s t h a t was p a r t of her introduction to theatre, she "set to work to write plays so i t wouldn't matter what type you were as long as you had talent to play the part" (17). The concept of the portrayal of multiple e n t i t i e s by an actor formed the basis of experimentation i n her Open Theatre workshop, and t h i s s t y l e of acting eventually materialized i n her l a t e r f u l l - l e n g t h p l a y s , notably Viet Rock, where tra n s f o r m a t i o n provided the b a s i c performance technique. R e f e r r i n g to Terry's two e a r l i e r plays. Calm Down Mothei' (1965) and Keep Tightly Closed in a Cool Dry Place (1965), P a s o l l i notes that i n the former, the c h a r a c t e r s and a b s t r a c t c h a r a c t e r i z a t i o n s change from scene to scene, but the same three actresses use the transformation device to do them a l l . As t h e c h a r a c t e r s change, so do the r e l a t i o n s h i p s between them, the l o c a l e s , the dramatic a c t i o n s , the tone of the scenes, the moods. ( P a s o l l i 65) 48 The r e l a t i o n s h i p s between the in d i v i d u a l s themselves, and between them and t h e i r environment, provide the informing r e a l i t y i n t h i s work. In essence, Terry creates a series of micro-environments on the stage. Of Keep Tightly Closed, Terry notes that she took the idea for the play from a news item about three men who had been convicted of a murder and assigned to the same c e l l . The men devise various ways to manipulate one another by trying to f i x the blame on a single i n d i v i d u a l , and at the end of the play i t i s clear that the three men w i l l stay together i n a prison defined as much by t h e i r c h a r a c t e r s and relationships as by the geographical s i t u a t i o n . ( P a s o l l i 66) In a s i t u a t i o n s i m i l a r to that of The Brig, the men are i n a psychological prison that has been e f f e c t i v e l y created by the c u l t u r a l context i n which they f i n d themselves conditioned and programmed. Megan Terry's Viet Rock was the f i r s t f u l l - l e n g t h play to be presented by the Open Theatre. The work was structured by a s e r i e s of episodes, or "action blocks" (Schechner 1967: 11), which developed v a r i a t i o n s on a wide variety of war themes. According to P a s o l l i , t h e t r o u p e l o o k e d i n t o the impulse of the i n d i v i d u a l toward a g g r e s s i o n , h o s t i l i t y , and destructiveness, and t r i e d to understand the fears and i n s e c u r i t y which t r i g g e r i t . Gradually a pastiche of p a t r i o t i c s k i t s , scenes of warfare, and dramatic comments emerged. (75) Although the play would seem to confront the fact of Vietnam d i r e c t l y , i t s a n t i - w a r message i s a b s t r a c t e d by the 49 t r a n s f o r m a t i o n technique which demands that character be subsumed to experience—a natural extension of the ensemble method. In ad d i t i o n , the theatrics of the piece tended to blunt i t s c r i t i c a l edge. In transformation, r e a l i t y i s interpreted i n terms of r e l a t i o n s h i p s with a group—the c u l t u r a l c o n d i t i o n — r a t h e r than by the viewpoint of either an ind i v i d u a l or an objective p e r s p e c t i v e . Transformation thus fun c t i o n s as a p o s i t i v e process of a c c u l t u r a t i o n , s i n c e i t draws the actors and audience together i n a communal celebration of togetherness. This sensation i s enhanced by a "celebration of presence," as the actors, at the conclusion of the play, c i r c u l a t e through the audience i n an act of blessing, touching people on t h e i r hands, heads, faces and hair (Shank 39). The dramatic e f f e c t i s thus one of reinforcement for the in d i v i d u a l i n terms of performer-audience relationship, rather than that of allowing the audience the privacy afforded by the fourth wall. The transformation technique of acting denies many of the more e f f e c t i v e means of s o c i a l c r i t i c i s m generated through d i a l e c t i c a l argument. In formulating i t s p a r t i c u l a r s o c i a l message, however, the play makes use of a n t i -i l l u s i o n i s t i c devices designed to c o n s t a n t l y remind the audience that they are watching a contrived performance. As P a s o l l i notes, In plays l i k e Viet Rock, character i s seen to be dispensable, for the actors put i t on and off many times i n the course of the play. Viet Rock i s done without sets, costumes, or props, except for some benches where the a c t o r s s i t when they are not involved i n a p a r t i c u l a r scene. We look at them as a c t o r s , then as a c t o r s - a s - c h a r a c t e r s , then as a c t o r s again. The p l a y i s more t h e a t r i c a l than dramatic. (76) A good deal of the c r i t i c i s m surrounding Viet Rock has been offered by those who deem i t to be inadequate as a c r i t i c a l s o c i a l statement because of i t s d i s t r a c t i n g performance t e c h n i q u e s and i t s g e n e r a l l a c k of focus on s p e c i f i c p o l i t i c a l issues. Yet, born i n the c u l t u r a l matrix of the s i x t i e s , i t exposes many of the d i v i s i v e issues that a s s a i l e d the society of the time. The opening scene consists i n i t i a l l y of actors entering the playing area, and, through sound and gesture, creating impressions drawn from subliminal, c u l t u r a l , h i s t o r i c a l and i n d i v i d u a l realms of consciousness. The actors evoke images of flower petals blown by the wind and caressed by the sun, and then, i n r a p i d succession, create images of childhood experience, war, and motherhood, a l l the time increasing t h e i r sounds and actions u n t i l a c l i m a c t i c "explosion" leaves the players scattered about the performing area (Terry 1967: 30). The i n i t i a l movement of the work invokes archetypal images and thus implies a transcendance of p a r t i c u l a r times and places. A s e r i e s of transformation scenes follow, where actors represent characters of either sex, roles of interrogators, witnesses, s o l d i e r s , mothers, and camp followers. Dialogue i s 51 presented i n l y r i c a l form as r e c r u i t s undergo a physical examination as part of the i r induction into the m i l i t a r y : The mothers of the inductees wait outside the examination room, and the image of so l d i e r s as "meat" i s reinforced when one mother, uncertain about army nomenclature, observes, "My Ralphie's A - l , er I-A" {Ibid. 34). In a s w i r l of motion, the a c t o r s and the scene are metamorphosed i n t o a representation of a D r i l l Instructor Sergeant and s o l d i e r s undergoing the r o u t i n e s of b a s i c t r a i n i n g . Into t h i s s e t t i n g come a group of war protestors, who accost the Sergeant: HEAD PROTESTOR: S i r , I hereby inform you that you are hereby under c i t i z e n ' s arrest by a c i t i z e n of these United States. You are charged, S i r , with genocide, c r i m i n a l conspiracy, and carrying on a f u l l - s c a l e war under the guise of an expeditionary force. (Ibid. 43) In response to the Sergeant's "Take that pink mitt off t h i s government property," the demonstrators chant repeatedly, "Stop the war i n Vietnam. Make love, not war, Bring our boys back home" (Ibid. 44). The Sergeant responds, The army i s the instrument of the w i l l of the people. That's "consensus" to you mushheads. Go back to U.S. History 101. Have you forgotten the Indian Wars already? What country are you r e a l l y from? (Ibid. 45) DOCTORS (Sing) MEN (Sing) : Jump cough bend. Stick him i n the arm. Stick him i n the end. (Repeat) U.S. Government Inspected Male! (Ibid. 32) WOMEN (Sing) : 52 The d e m o n s t r a t o r s and the s o l d i e r s j o i n i n a shouting argument, each group bombarding the other with platitudes and slogans appropriate to t h e i r points of view. As the two s i d e s become subdued, the Sergeant steps forward and addresses the audience. His extended speech i s a conglomerate of specious arguments and j i n g o i s t i c r h e t o r i c ; however, he makes some incid e n t a l points which lend a degree of c r e d i b i l i t y to h i s harangue. Mixed i n with emotionally charged statements such as "These punks, these commies, these bleeding hearts. They're so dumb, they're tools of the pinko reds," and "You have to fight now to prevent the big one," are some very pragmatic observations: Do you see them throwing t h e i r bodies down i n front of the D e t r o i t assembly lines? That's where some b e l l y a c h i n g i s needed. I'd help them protest the f r i g g i n g motorcars More bastards bleed t h e i r guts out and grind t h e i r bones on the cement of our highways than ever lose a piece of snot i n Vietnam. (Ibid. 47-48) 7 He adds: "Let me ask you where we'd be i f we hadn't fought i n World War I, World War I I , and Korea?" (Ibid. 48). The Sergeant's r h e t o r i c a l question e l i c i t s no answer. He implies that an i n t e g r a l part of American values derives from the r i g h t e o u s a p p l i c a t i o n of f o r c e of arms. Inherent i n his speech are many of the ambivalent attitudes of the society which were prevalent at the time that the play was written. 7 The Sergeant makes a t e l l i n g point: deaths on U.S. highways i n the eleven-year period of the war were ten times the b a t t l e f a t a l i t i e s of Vietnam. See Historical Statistics of the United States. Washington: U.S. Department o f Commerce, Bureau of S t a t i s t i c s . 53 F o l l o w i n g the Sergeant's address, the women a c t o r s assume the shape of an airplane and transport the s o l d i e r s to Vietnam; but, "the plane has overshot the Vietnam border, and deposited our boys in Shangri-La" (Ibid. 51). One s o l d i e r i s transformed into the High Lama, and i n v i t e s the men to " f e e l free to rest i n the arms of our mother bodies and trace your names on the breasts of time"; however, the Sergeant appears to reclaim his men: "Let go a' the t i t s of human kindness and f a l l i n ! " (Ibid. 53) . The play then turns to a parody of a wide range of a t t i t u d e s and opinions concerning the U.S. involvement i n Vietnam. In the form of a Senate enquiry various "witnesses" i n the persons of the Madonna, Cassius Clay, General Curtis LeMay, Eleanor Roosevelt and Jesus Christ come forward to t e s t i f y . Schechner notes t h a t the American way of "investi g a t i o n , " and the idea of "consensus of opinion" are put to a test i n which "neither right nor l e f t i s spared" (1967: 12). The opinions given represent a wide spectrum of thought, ranging from absurdities of the p o l i t i c a l extremes embodied i n g e n e r a l l y meaningless rhetoric to theories of abstract and occult philosophy. Some witnesses are treated with reverence, while some are silenced. Witness Number Seven only manages to a i r some of his views before he i s f o r c i b l y subdued: The war ain't there, i t ' s right here, here and now in t h i s obscene, cancerous glare of the TV l i g h t s and t r a n q u i l i z e d t e l e v i s i o n dinners. Television, the tremendous masterbator [sic] of the masses. (Ibid. 62) The l a s t witness, Number Twelve, i s an unabashed r a d i c a l p a t r i o t who succeeds i n rousing the crowd of actors to a r e l i g i o u s fervour, and the cast e x i t s singing "America the Be a u t i f u l " to close the f i r s t act (Ibid. 68). The second act i s set e n t i r e l y i n Vietnam. Scenes depicted include a b a t t l e i n which a GI dies, a bar scene which culminates i n everyone being destroyed i n a great explosion, and a Vietnamese v i l l a g e , where Viet Cong execute prisoners. A counterpart of the Sergeant's address i n Act I i s given by "Hanoi Hanna" i n the second act. In a manner s i m i l a r to that of the Sergeant's, her address i s a l s o couched i n the r h e t o r i c of her s o c i a l and p o l i t i c a l o r i e n t a t i o n ; but she too, l i k e the Sergeant, manages to incorporate some astute observations into her remarks. Hanoi Hanna i n i t i a l l y attacks the GIs i n sexual terms, noting how other men are now making love i n the back seats of cars to the GIs' g i r l f r i e n d s . She then moves to a description of how the Vietnam c o n f l i c t i s breaking down American society: You must understand that everything i s d i v i s i b l e — e s p e c i a l l y the colossus of the United S t a t e s , e s p e c i a l l y the immoral giant of U.S. imperialism. Everything i s d i v i s i b l e , my tiny GI. Your head may be d i v i d e d from your trunk, your arm from your shoulder, your heart from your head, your sex from your soul. [Ibid. 91-92) Both the s i t u a t i o n at home and the war experience have created stresses i n American society that have resulted i n 55 the d i s i n t e g r a t i o n of the s o c i a l order. Shortly a f t e r Hanoi Hanna's speech, a GI observes, "Next b a t t l e , I'm gonna get up on the high ground and put a b u l l e t through the back of the Sergeant's neck" (Ibid. 95). The scene s h i f t s to "Saigon S a l l y ' s " bar where GIs are dancing with Vietnamese g i r l s . The GIs provoke the Sergeant's anger as they shout i n v e c t i v e s a t P r e s i d e n t Johnson: "Barbecue today with L.B.J."; "I got s y p h i l l i s [ s i c ] today, courtesy L.B.J."; "Moral decay with L.B.J." (Ibid. 99). The atmosphere becomes "phantasmagoric," as the actors begin to enact the Sergeant's nightmares: They alternately accuse and attack him with Images that have occurred throughout the play--drill, salutes, pushups, bayonetting, the Madonna, Jerry's death, Vietnamese mothers. (Ibid. 100) The scene culminates i n a huge explosion, i n which everyone i s k i l l e d . After a period of time, from the p i l e of bodies on the stage, come sounds which become d i s j o i n t e d terms and phrases that are l i n g u i s t i c d i s t i l l a t i o n s of a fractured c u l t u r a l consciousness. The words uttered i n the play by the many ch a r a c t e r s and the points of view that they represent are jumbled together i n a c h a o t i c p i l e of random, i s o l a t e d impressions which r e f l e c t the anxieties engendered by the War. One of the recurring themes of t h i s collage of images i s the p h y s i c a l , s p i r i t u a l and p s y c h o l o g i c a l cost of the c o n f l i c t : 56 Doves. War. Take away. Treasure l o s t . Lost our tr e a s u r e . Lose our t r e a s u r e . Spend our natural resources. Cannon fodder. The cost i s high. And our boys our d o l l a r s . . . . Hear my prayer dearest God. I w i l l give a l l my d o l l a r s to bring my boy back home again. . . . I fought for you upstairs. Loony tunes. Hi ya doc! Humphrey's voyage of reassurance. But Gandhi's dead. (Ibid. 102-103) The scene and the play ends with the a c t o r s i n v e n t i n g v a r i a t i o n s with the word "who": "Who needs t h i s . Who needs war. Who needs t h i s s h i t . I'm i n the s h i t . Who needs me. Who. Who needs. Who" (Ibid. 104). The cast then become angels, who move out into the audience to touch the spectators' faces, hands, hair and heads. Viet Rock was praised for i t s production values and for i t s creation of a theatre experience, but was condemned as an anti-war p i e c e which f a i l e d to make i t s p o i n t . Richard Schechner suggests that "for most of the play, Miss Terry represents and disparages all p o i n t s of view" (Schechner 1966: 17). Robert Asahina noted that the i n t e l l e c t u a l thrust of Viet Rock was i t s e l f unclear, and that the work was "not pragmatic or dogmatic," but r a n d o m l y d i s p a r a g e d m i l i t a r i s m , p a c i f i s m , n a t i o n a l i s m , p a t r i o t i s m , and the L e f t and the Right, as well as the Center (and even the North Vietnamese, i n a sur p r i s i n g deviation from orthodox opinion). (32) Asahina adds, however, that Viet Rock "was about the only avant garde production i n which the [Vietnam] issue was even raised" (32). Terry herself makes no greater claims for the piece than 57 that i t had simply grown "out of improvisation, combined with the exploration of acting techniques," and that, to deal with the bewilderment, shame and confusion created by t h i s war, I f e l t we had to explore our negative feelings, drives, and fantasies. I worked to expose these q u a l i t i e s , then formalized them. Also, we explored loss, g r i e f , and regret. We t r i e d to get at the essence of violence. (1966: 21) The actors strove to express emotions rooted i n anxiety, and to interpret t h e i r sensations through a communal sharing of experience. Hence, rather than assuming the posture of an a n t i - s o c i a l or a n t i - p o l i t i c a l d i a t r i b e , the work attempts to f o r m a l i z e those sensations within a t h e a t r i c a l context. If i t s songs, dances and s u r r e a l i s t i c transformations blurred i t s p o l i t i c a l message, i t n e v e r t h e l e s s c o n s t i t u t e s a manifestation of the anxieties and concerns of a segment of the t h e a t r e community. As such, i t i s a t r a n s i t i o n piece f i l l i n g i n the lacunae between street protest productions and those works designed for the legitimate theatre. A work that followed on the heels of Viet Rock, and owed much to i t both i n thematic stance and production techniques, was Gerome Ragni's and James Rado's Hair (1967). Produced by Joseph Papp and directed by Gerald Freedman, Hair was a New York Shakespeare F e s t i v a l p r o d u c t i o n which opened at the Public Theatre Off-Broadway i n New York on October 7, 1967, for a l i m i t e d engagement of eight weeks. This " t r i b a l love-r o c k m u s i c a l " was an i n s t a n t s u c c e s s , p r e s e n t i n g s c i n t i l l a t i n g entertainment i n a contemporary mode. The work was moved to another theatre, subsequently revised by the 58 authors, and re-presented on Broadway from 1968-70; i t had some 1750 performances (Atkinson and Hirschfeld 290). It was a n o t h e r t r a n s i t i o n p i e c e , moving from the realm of experimental theatre to a f u l l - f l e d g e d Broadway production. Exemplifying the rock and "Hippie" culture of the s i x t i e s , i t subsequently achieved international success. While the appealing songs and c o n t r o v e r s i a l subject matter tend to s t e a l the focus of the work, i t does have a basic s t o r y - l i n e , derived from anxiety about Vietnam, which provides a l i n k i n g thread between the revue-like scenes. Claude, a drop-out from middle-class society, has received his draft notice. The action of the play develops around his impressions l e a d i n g up to the morning, when, at 8:30, he departs on a t r a i n f o r i n d u c t i o n i n t o m i l i t a r y s e r v i c e . Claude's agony, however, i s b u r i e d w i t h i n a v o y e u r i s t i c i n s i g h t i n t o the l i f e - s t y l e and philosophy of the hippie movement.8 The appeal of nudity on the stage, the entrancing songs ("The Age of Aquarius"), and the blasting rock music that o f t e n caused hearing impairment among the performers ( Ibid 290), represented an e n t i r e l y new d i r e c t i o n for the American musical. The opening production was c o o l l y received by Robert Brustein, but he grudgingly admitted that "It w i l l be very hard i n the future to compose a Richard Rodgers-type ° Reviewing the show two weeks a f t e r i t s premiere, C l i v e Barnes commented on the predominantly middle-aged audience. See New York Times review, October 30, 1967. 59 work with quite the same confidence and equanimity as before" (63) . Yet, the thematic thrust of the work i s quite sound. Although t a i n t e d with the negative aspects of the "hippy" movement, such as the drug culture, free love, and the a n t i -p a t r i o t i c sentiments that some derided as symptomatic of a "mindless revolution" (Atkinson and H i r s c h f e l d 290), the work echoes many of the themes to be found i n the contemporary works of Lowell, Kopit, and F e i f f e r . While presented i n the context of the hippie r e b e l l i o n against organized s o c i e t y — a r e b e l l i o n t y p i f i e d by "snappy r e j o i n d e r s to s e r i o u s statements" (Ibid. 290)—the work treats serious themes, such as the c o n d i t i o n i n g i n f l u e n c e s of society and the mythic background that forms part of the c u l t u r a l consciousness. An often-repeated emphasis of the work i s that the performers represent an independent and homogeneous ethnic group which, at times, i s threatened by an external c u l t u r e — the conservative Establishment. Preliminary stage d i r e c t i o n s s t r e s s " The Kids should be approached, directorially, as a 'tribe'" (Hair v i i i ) . The cast engages i n " g r o u p - t r i b a l a c t i v i t y , " and must defend i t s e l f against "puppet policeman," who are, indeed, represented by huge puppets that are ten f e e t t a l l (Ibid. v i i i ) . Other threats to the society are d e p i c t e d t h r o u g h w a l l p r o j e c t i o n s of "FBI, CIA, dark mysterious men, and Mom and Dad" (Ibid, x) . The threats to the group are countered and diffused by communal expression, 60 the chanting, song, and dance that express the sustaining mythology of the t r i b a l culture. F o l l o w i n g the opening hymn, a communal expression of f a i t h i n a cosmic order ("The Age of Aquarius"), in d i v i d u a l s d e f i n e themselves within the larger context of the t r i b e . Claude g i v e s h i s name and numerical i d e n t i t y , "My name i s Claude Hooper Balowski. I'm human being number 1005963297 dash J, Area Code 609," but, launching into song, he adds, "I BELIEVE IN GAWD / AND I BELIEVE THAT GAWD BELIEVES IN CLAUDE" (Ibid. 4). Berger, his androgynous companion, joins i n with, "MANHATTAN BEGGAR / MANHATTAN GYPSY / MANHATTAN INDIAN / I'M A WHOLE NEW THING" ( Ibid. 5). Hud, a Black, adds, "I'M A COLORED SPADE / A PICKANINNY / JUNGLE BUNNY JIGABOO / NIGGER COON AND COTTON PICKER / . . . UNCLE TOM AND AUNT JEMIMA" (Ibid. 8). The p e j o r a t i v e nomenclature, however, merely serves to i d e n t i f y themselves to the audience i n terms that the audience can understand; the members of the t r i b e are expressing t h e i r own c u l t u r a l s o l i d a r i t y through song and r i t u a l which have a meaning p a r t i c u l a r to th e i r own ears. In an e x o r c i s m of i t s c u l t u r a l ghosts, the t r i b e undertakes a p s y c h e d e l i c t r i p back through i t s popular mythology. Claude, Berger, Hud, and another t r i b e member, Woof, invoke the ancestral gods: Claude, Berger, Woof, Hud join hands and start "humming" a chord. The rhythm from the band undei' this. The chord grows in volume, moves up in pitch, Increases in Intensity; The Ti'ibe gradually joins in; the rhythm from the band becomes more rapid and driving; the crescendo reaches its peak as the "Culpepper Minute Men" flag lowers rapidly behind the four guys. (Ibid. 12) The T r i b e searches i t s c o l l e c t i v e memory and produces the emblem that marks the genesis of t h e i r culture: The flag: it is large, covers practically all the stage. It is a replica of an authentic American flag dating from approximately 1776. On it is a huge rattlesnake, coiled, ready to strike. Above it reads: "The Culpepper Minute Men." In the middle reads: "Liberty or Death. " At the bottom z'eads: "Don't Tread on Me." (Ibid. 12) The hippies, i n essence, are reading new meanings into old symbols. The "Don't Tread on Me" r e v o l u t i o n a r y f l a g i s appropriated to represent the cause of the new freedom. The Tribe commences singing the "Ain't Got No" song that demonstrates t h e i r c u l t u r a l poverty: among other things they " a i n ' t got" are home[s], shoes, money, class, pot, f a i t h , mother, culture, and mind (Ibid. 12-13). Into t h i s c u l t u r a l vacuum comes Mom, who along with Dad, represents the older generation which suppresses, with i t s t r a d i t i o n a l values and e x p e c t a t i o n s , The Kids's new-found physical and s p i r i t u a l freedom. Mom admonishes Claude to get a job, and also to "take off my beads" (Ibid. 19). The humour i m p l i c i t i n the beads p r o c e e d s from t h e i r s e l e c t i v e use as c u l t u r a l s i g n i f i e r s . In the hippie culture, the beads are a badge for a l l the movement represents; however, the same beads worn by the mother, r e f l e c t the conservative nature of the older generation. The subsequent scenes and songs of Hair develop the differences of perspective between the two generations. The problems that adolescents have with the law, the government and educational au t h o r i t i e s , are contrasted with t h e i r easy s o l u t i o n s to questions of drugs, homosexuality, free love, and p e r p e t u a l war. I n t e r s p e r s e d with these scenes are Claude's introspective moments that r e f l e c t his concern with going to Vietnam, where, i t i s agreed, he w i l l surely die. Claude p e r c e i v e s himself as a c l a s s i c a l t r a g i c hero: his lament, "I'm not going to die for my country, I'd rather l i v e and rot i n j a i l a few years," i s followed by "Oh, that t h i s too too s o l i d f l e s h would melt" (Ibid. 86-7). Claude's heroic s t r u g g l e , however, w i l l emerge from the tensions generated between the ideas i n s t i l l e d i n him i n his previous c u l t u r a l c o n d i t i o n i n g and the urgings of his fellows to accept the p r i n c i p l e s of free love, to appreciate drugs, and to disavow m i l i t a r y service and the war. 9 Claude's d i f f i c u l t y i n accepting the standards of the new c u l t u r e i s exposed as the group gather to burn t h e i r draft cards. Under the Rattlesnake banner, a t r i b a l maiden, Sheila holds a l o f t a flaming Maxwell House coffee can, and s t r i k e s a pose imitating that of the Statue of Liberty. One by one, each guy comes forwax'd, lighting their draft cards, dropping the remains into the can. As each card is burned. The Tribe cheers. Sheila gives each guy a daffodil in exchange. Claude is last; he approaches the can, hesitates a moment, holds his card above it, it catches fire and he pulls it back quickly, extinguishing the flame. {Ibid. 117) 9 The struggle between the two cultures i s s i m i l a r i n many ways to that presented i n David Rabe' s The Basic Training of Pavlo Hummel, discussed i n Chapter IV. Claude i s unable to take part i n the r i t u a l , and his action i s o l a t e s him from the group. His following song, "Where do J go," marks a break from the group song, "We love," that immediately preceded the r i t u a l . The s o c i a l issues raised by the Vietnam war resurface p e r i o d i c a l l y throughout the play to underscore the d i v i s i v e e f f e c t the c o n f l i c t i s having on the society. Hud observes, "The draft i s white people sending black people to make war on yellow people to defend the land they s t o l e from the red people" [Ibid. 74). Dad comments, We're f i g h t i n g a war. Use atomic weapons and win i t f o r Crissake. Get China now, before they get us, and have f a i t h i n God and Nation and the M i l i t a r y -I n d u s t r i a l Complex. (Ibid. 110) Mom observes, "I say, support our f i g h t i n g , short-haired men i n Vietnam" (Ibid. 114). Hair assumes the s t a t u s of a Swiftian c u l t u r a l s i g n i f i e r : f r i e n d or foe can be i d e n t i f i e d by i t s l e n g t h : the s h o r t - h a i r s are on the s i d e of the c o n s e r v a t i v e war mongers; the l o n g - h a i r s represent the transcendentalists. C l a u d e ' s c u l t u r a l epiphany occurs when the t r i b e d i s t r i b u t e s t i c k s of marijuana, singing "OUR EYES ARE OPEN / OUR EYES ARE OPEN / WIDE WIDE WIDE" (Ibid. 146). The stage di r e c t i o n s note, "Lights down on stage during last part of this song. Spot on Claude. The following is his trip" (Ibid. 146). Claude's t r i p takes him backward into the c u l t u r a l memory of his race. Scenes and figures from the American past appear. The f i r s t of the chronologically d i s j o i n t e d sequence 64 of h i s t o r i c a l events depicts paratroopers dropping from the skies c i r c a Korea or WW II; t h i s i s followed by an appearance of George Washington, who e x h o r t s h i s men, " K i l l the Redcoats. Into the Delaware. Grab your muskets. For God, for Country, f o r Freedom, f o r L i b e r a t i o n , for Mother" {Ibid. 143) . The stage a c t i o n continues, p l o t t i n g American h i s t o r y through the v i o l e n t events that forged the country into a nation. Juxtaposed, and often i n montage, the scenes r e f l e c t the random impressions of a fragmenting mind. Washington fl e e s as Indians appear and attack the Revolutionaries. Crazy Horse, Cochise, Geronimo, S i t t i n g B u l l , and even the cartoon character, L i t t l e Beaver, appear, shrieking, "White Man Die," and massacre Washington's men (Ibid. 149). General Grant appears and c a l l s r o l l : Abraham Lincoln, John Wilkes Booth, C a l v i n C o o l i d g e , C l a r k Gable, S c a r l e t O'Hara, Teddy Roosevelt, Colonel Custer respond. Spanning two hundred years of internecine warfare, the figures represent a mixture of f i c t i v e and n o n - f i c t i v e elements that formed the h i s t o r i c a l background and the c u l t u r a l mythology of the American nation. The f i n a l sequence represents the c o n f l i c t s that are creating stress i n contemporary America. Le Roi Jones and a band of Negroes appear under a banner proclaiming "Black Power," and attack and k i l l the white s o l d i e r s . The stage immediately becomes a b a t t l e f i e l d where Buddhist monks are strangled by Catholic nuns, who, i n turn, succumb to l a s e r -f i r i n g astronauts. The astronauts are dispatched by machine-gun w i e l d i n g Chinese, who are subsequently tomahawked by American Indians. Two Green Berets a r r i v e to shoot the Indians, and The Tribe, prompted by the carnage, chants words evoking images of Vietnam b a t t l e f i e l d s (Ibid. 153-156). Upon recovering from his " t r i p , " Claude becomes aware of his a l i e n a t i o n from the hippie community. He r e c a l l s Hamlet's words of d i s t r a c t i o n : I have of l a t e — b u t wherefore I know n o t — l o s t a l l of my mirth . . . t h i s goodly frame, the earth, seems to me a s t e r i l e promontory, t h i s most e x c e l l e n t canopy, the a i r , look you, th i s brave o'erhanging firmament, t h i s majestical roof f r e t t e d with golden f i r e , why i t appears no other thing to me than a f o u l and p e s t i l e n t congregation of vapours. (Ibid. 159) [Hamlet II,ii,295-303] Claude i s aware that "the time i s out of j o i n t " (Hamlet I,v,196), and that he i s caught up i n an inexorable set of circumstances over which he has l i t t l e control. His i s o l a t i o n from The Tribe i s underscored as his friend, Berger, informs him, "I f e e l lonely already, Claude"; Claude responds, "Start facing r e a l i t y . . . sometimes I think I'm going crazy . . . out of mind" (Ibid. 160) [ e l l i p s e s i n t e x t ] . The mental s t r e s s e s incurred from being exposed simultaneously to the c o n d i t i o n i n g of two d i s t i n c t c u l t u r e s , each with i t s c o n f l i c t i n g v a l u e s and p e r c e p t i o n s , destroys Claude's equanimity. The conditioning of the Establishment culture proves to be the st r o n g e r . Berger notes, "They've sucked you i n " ; Claude responds, "They've fucked me" (Ibid. 163). On the 66 morning of C l a u d e ' s d e p a r t u r e , Mom and Dad produce a representation of t h e i r son, a s u i t and mask on a frame. Mom kisses the mask and admonishes i t to write a l e t t e r tonight; Dad expresses h i s p r i d e i n his son, and shakes the empty sleeve. Transformed into a sergeant, Dad reads o f f a l i s t of troops, not by t h e i r names, but by the ethnic or t r i b a l o r i g i n s that comprise the American "melting pot": I r i s h , I t a l i a n , Jew, German, Polish, etc. Claude presents his shorn hair to Berger, observing, "Maybe I can have a wig made when I get out" ( Ibid. 200 ). The T r i b e ' s concluding song, "Sentimental Ending," envisions Claude's demise i n Vietnam. In t r e a t i n g i t s s e r i o u s themes, the consequences of c u l t u r a l conditioning and the fragmentation of society under str e s s . Hair exposes the p l i g h t of the i n d i v i d u a l caught i n a p s y c h o l o g i c a l trap. Claude r e s i s t s the process of becoming acculturated into the hippie society, and experiences culture s h o c k as t h e p e r c e p t i o n s r e s u l t i n g from h i s e a r l y c o n d i t i o n i n g c o n f l i c t with the a t t r a c t i o n s of the hippie l i f e s t y l e . Claude's equanimity fractures i n much the same way as the stresses incurred by Vietnam have a d i v i s i v e e f f e c t on the larger society. The psychological stresses incurred from being simultaneously exposed to the c o n d i t i o n i n g of two d i s t i n c t c u l t u r e s , each with i t s c o n f l i c t i n g values and perceptions, r e s u l t i n a l i e n a t i o n from them both. Hair a l s o t r e a t s the problems of d i f f e r e n c e s i n perspective between the two generations. The hippie culture 67 expresses i t s s u s t a i n i n g mythology i n the chanting, song, dance and transcendental experiences which counterpoint the hackneyed axioms, predictable behaviour, and the s t u l t i f i e d world of Mom and Dad. The o l d e r g e n e r a t i o n represents a c u l t u r e which suppresses The Kids's physical and s p i r i t u a l freedom with i t s t r a d i t i o n a l values and expectations. In e x o r c i s i n g i t s c u l t u r a l ghosts, The T r i b e searches i t s c o l l e c t i v e memory and i n s t i l l s new meanings into i t s symbols. The c u l t u r a l s i g n i f i e r s of the Rattlesnake f l a g , beads, and h a i r are given new values i n the f l e d g l i n g culture; while both cultures have a common ancestry, they are as d i s t i n c t from each other as geographically distanced ones might be. D i s c r e p a n c i e s i n d e f i n i t i v e v a l u e s , acceptable modes of b e h a v i o u r , and even p h y s i c a l c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s mark the respective members of the t r i b e s . Hair was a t h e a t r i c a l phenomenon, since i t made the t r a n s i t i o n from an Off-Broadway production that bore many marks of the experimental theatre, such as Chaikin's "chord" and Terry's transformational acting techniques, to a f u l l y orchestrated production on Broadway. Even so, i t s basic a n t i -war message was muted by the novelty of nudity on the stage and the v o y e u r i s t i c i n s i g h t s i n t o what the Establishment w i l l i n g l y conceded was a sub-culture with values a n t i t h e t i c a l to those of the larger society. Its appealing songs tended to obscure the s o c i a l tensions that were beginning to rend the society apart. 68 If the commercial stage r e s i s t e d producing plays about the Vietnam War, the r a d i c a l groups were quickly drawn to s u c h m o t i f s , as t h e a w a r e n e s s o f the war and i t s ra m i f i c a t i o n s for American society and culture grew i n the public consciousness. The 1960s saw a p r o l i f e r a t i o n of such companies motivated by a revolutionary fervour which l a r g e l y defined the a r t i s t i c development of the decade. Many groups were founded before Vietnam became a s i g n i f i c a n t factor i n everyday l i f e , and with the growing awareness of the war, c h a n n e l e d t h e i r e f f o r t s towards exposing the c u l t u r a l complacency of the general public. The roots of the San Francisco Mime Troop can be traced back to 1959 when R. G. Davis developed an ensemble from the San Francisco Actor's Workshop. The group was creating "an open-stage form where s o c i a l subjects can be bounced around and not reduced to 'adjustment psychology'" (Sainer 29). The group r e l i e d heavily on a commedia dell' arte format, as they r e w r o t e c l a s s i c a l comedies i n o r d e r to g i v e them a contemporary s i g n i f i c a n c e . The p o l i t i c a l o r i e n t a t i o n , a c cording to Joan Holden, was i n i t i a l l y a n archistic, but l a t e r revealed Marxist leanings: "We thought of ourselves as outside agitators; outside the establishment, obviously, but a l s o — i n our roles as a r t i s t s — o u t s i d e the movement" (Sainer 29). Given the provocative and controversial nature of th e i r approach, i t was inevitable that the companies f e l t a need to take performances to an audience rather to r e l y on the 69 convention of having patrons come to the t h e a t r e . As a consequence, the Mime Troupe r e a l i z e d , as did other r a d i c a l theatre groups, the necessity of moving outside the theatre building and taking i t s message to the people by performing works i n the parks and on the boulevards of San F r a n c i s c o . 1 0 The form and s t y l e of these outdoor t h e a t r i c a l s were shaped to a considerable degree by an underlying ideology that provided t h e i r motivation and impulse. In the strong r e a c t i o n to the values and attitudes of the establishment, the Mime Troupe not only rejected the t r a d i t i o n a l playing space, but also spurned the t r a d i t i o n a l theatre patrons who were r e g a r d e d as s u p p o r t e r s of c o n s e r v a t i v e s o c i a l i n s t i t u t i o n s . In his introduction to R.G. Davis 1 book on the T r o u p e , Robert Scheer n o t e s t h a t i t was c o n s t a n t l y p r e o c c u p i e d w i t h t he f e a r of " s e l l i n g o u t " to the e s t a b l i s h m e n t , and that "there was almost a r e l i g i o u s reverence about the company's search for a process that would free i t from the powers that be" (9-10). Davis recounts that, i n searching for relevant material on c i v i l r i g h t s , he to l d h i s company, "We are going to unearth the garbage of our culture and sort i t out" (Davis 49). As an expression of such attitudes, the resultant t h e a t r i c a l product tended to become characterised by inherent p o l i t i c a l and s o c i a l polemics, and 1 U This i s not denying the economic factor. The Liv i n g Theatre exposed the problems inherent i n funding productions that were a n t i t h e t i c a l to the int e r e s t s of the Establishment. 70 the productions often displayed the c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s of " a g i t -prop" t h e a t r e . 1 1 The d i s t i n c t approach of the Mime Troupe i n i t s early years under Davis' tutelage was i t s focus on works performed i n a s t y l e appealing to the "popular taste," or "common man." In contrast to the psychological realism of the conventional stage, and the audience c o n f r o n t a t i o n techniques of the L i v i n g Theatre, the SFMT used techniques from carnivals, music h a l l s , m i n s t r e l shows, and other popular forms of sidewalk entertainment. In k e e p i n g w i t h i t s t i t l e , the company i n i t i a l l y c oncentrated on c r e a t i n g works i n the t r a d i t i o n of the popular mimes of the twentieth century. The company performed s i l e n t mime i n the common man t r a d i t i o n of Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton—not that of the more aesthete Marcel Marceau. They focused on the use of body movement to convey a c t i o n , character, and attitude, thus already forming the basis for a unique s t y l e . (Shank 60) Very quickly, the group began adding addresses and dialogue to t h e i r p r e s e n t a t i o n s , and t h e i r performance techniques became a l l i e d with those of the commedia dell' arte, with s t o c k c h a r a c t e r s , masks, costumes and s i t u a t i o n s . The t r a d i t i o n a l methods of s t a g i n g , however, were given a contemporary cast with the i n t r o d u c t i o n of contemporary references at s t r a t e g i c points. Thus, the group managed to 1 1 Derived from the Russian agltatsionnaya propaganda, the form d e r i v e s from e a r l y S o v i e t productions of s k i t s explaining the p r i n c i p l e s for which the troops were f i g h t i n g during the Russian C i v i l War. 71 i n c o r p o r a t e the v i s u a l a e s t h e t i c s and wide appeal of t r a d i t i o n a l popular theatre into t h e i r statements of s o c i a l protest. The SFMT had a stormy history of confrontation with the law as a n a t u r a l consequence of i t s p r o v o c a t i v e subject m atter and " a n t i - b o u r g e o i s " stance which offended the s e n s i b i l i t i e s of the Establishment. In August 1965, the attempted p r o d u c t i o n of A Minstrel Show ( s u b - t i t l e d C i v i l Rights in a Cracker Barrel) i n Lafayette Park, San Francisco, resulted i n the arrest of several members of the Troupe. The work d e a l t with race r e l a t i o n s h i p s and fea t u r e d a mimed seduction scene between a black "stud" and a white "chick" (Davis 60-61). At Christmas, 1966, the group made a dramatic s t atement i n f r o n t of the Bank of America a g a i n s t the m a t e r i a l i s t nature of American society, and again arrests were made. Subsequently, the group went on tour and members were a r r e s t e d i n Denver, Colorado (September 1966) and Calgary, Alberta (March 1967) (Davis 73-5). With the growing awareness of the a t r o c i t i e s associated with the Vietnam War, the group turned i t s energies to the performance of a n t i - w a r p l a y s . In December, 1967, i t performed an adaptation by Joan Holden of Carlo Goldoni's L'Amant militaire i n New York. The revised work played on the theme that American troops In Vietnam were i n a s i t u a t i o n s i m i l a r to Goldoni's Spaniards i n I t a l y . The General i s determined "to pursue peace with every available weapon," and 72 A r l e c c h i n o disguises himself as a woman i n order to avoid m i l i t a r y s e r v i c e (Shank 60). In the f i n a l scene, the soubrette, dressed l i k e the Pope, appears above the stage and ends the war; she then t e l l s the audience, " i f you want something done my f r i e n d s — d o i t yourselves" (Ibid. 60). A r e v i e w e r of the performance d e s c r i b e d i t as " a n t i -p a t r i o t i c , " " a n t i - m i l i t a r i s t , " and " p a c i f i s t " (Davis 93), and thus s u c c i n c t l y brought together the terms that would r e f l e c t the fragmentation of American society during the Vietnam War: to be p a c i f i s t , or against the War, for whatever reason, was to be un-American. 1 2 It i s worthwhile to note that even a r a d i c a l group l i k e the SFMT was at that time i n c l i n e d to approach the dramatic-p o r t r a y a l of American involvement i n Vietnam through the a n a l o g y of the G o l d o n i p l a y . S h o r t l y before the SFMT pro d u c t i o n i n New York, Joseph K e l l e r ' s We Bombed in New Haven had had i t s f i r s t p r o d u c t i o n at Yale, and i t i s evident that plays written for the contemporary theatre were s t i l l d e a l i n g with the War through works which portrayed analogous s i t u a t i o n s and abstracted ideas. An examination of the u n d e r l y i n g r e a s o n s f o r such an approach w i l l be undertaken i n Chapter I I I . x i These terms and ideas are, of course, remnants of the McCarthyism of the la t e 1940s and early 1950s. The House on Un-American A c t i v i t i e s was not disbanded u n t i l the early seventies. 73 Beset by in t e r n a l i d e a l i s t i c c o n f l i c t s , the SFMT i t s e l f fragmented as the p o l i t i c s of in d i v i d u a l members of the group became points of contention. In the period between 1962 and 1969, the company moved from a general anarchist a t t i t u d e to a Marxist philosophy (Sainer 29), t h i s approach being much more e f f i c a c i o u s and r e a l i s t i c i n terms of achieving goals of s o c i a l r e v o l u t i o n . The d i r e c t o r , Ronnie Davis, wanted to s l a n t the productions of the group toward "young middle-class i n t e l l e c t u a l s , " while other members of the group wished to court the working classes (Shank 61-62). Davis, and others of h i s id e o l o g i c a l persuasion, l e f t the Troupe, and those who remained t u r n e d from p r o d u c i n g works of i n t e l l e c t u a l commentary on the contemporary s i t u a t i o n to more st r i d e n t demonstrations of p o l i t i c a l activism. Another t h e a t r i c a l group t h a t achieved a c e r t a i n n o t o r i e t y i n the Vietnam years was The Bread and Puppet Theatre, whose founder was Peter Schumann. Schumann had directed experimental theatre i n Germany, and remained i n the United States a f t e r a v i s i t i n 1961, because of the receptive a t t i t u d e s and freedom of a r t i s t i c expression that he found t h e r e ( B o l t o n 13). S a i n e r n o t e s t h a t the peop l e who o r i g i n a l l y came together i n the Bread and Puppet Theatre under the d i r e c t i o n of Schumann were e s s e n t i a l l y non-t h e a t r i c a l p e o p l e — s t u d e n t s and professionals from diverse d i s c i p l i n e s (22). 74 Schumann viewed his concept of theatre as d i s t i n c t from those of other contemporary r a d i c a l and experimental groups. He did not believe i n making audience confrontation a primary concern of his productions, noting. You can't simply t r y to shock an audience. That w i l l only disgust them. And i t i s cheap. If you reach out to an audience with want you want to get from them you're hung up [ s i c ] . (1968: 64) He a l s o reacted a g a i n s t what he c a l l e d the "professional protest theatre," and wanted audience reaction to his works expressed i n the form of spontaneous outbursts of emotion r a t h e r t h a n r e s p o n s e s p r e c o n d i t i o n e d by a g g r e s s i v e presentation. He comments, "I don't think our business i s to protest but to say what needs to be said or what fe e l s good to say" [Ibid. 66). He d i s l i k e d companies which s p e c i a l i z e d i n p o l i t i c a l protest, since, "a person protests because he fee l s bad about something and he gets up and shouts. When i t becomes a profession i t feels wrong" (Ibid. 66). The Bread and Puppet Theatre was so named, according to Schumann, because the group believed that "theatre should be as b a s i c as bread" ( Ibid. 64) . Bread was d i s t r i b u t e d and eaten at performances as a symbolic communal sharing of emotion and experience. Schumann envisaged his theatre as a v e h i c l e f o r g e n e r a l s o c i a l p r o t e s t , "a s o c i a l a c t i o n theatre," but he observed that the only s p e c i f i c i d e o l o g i c a l o r i e n t a t i o n that the group exhibited was i t s l a t e r anti-war posture (Ibid. 64). In o u t l i n i n g his group's manifesto, he notes, We want to invoke a d i r e c t emotional response to what i s happening—like protesting the War or urban s o c i e t y , or t e l l i n g k i d s about v i o l e n c e i n our c h i l d r e n ' s p l a y s . We have a show--Z7je Dead Man Rises—which doesn't prescribe a thing. I t ' s much stronger than protest. I t ' s a clear expression of outrage and disgust with c i t y l i f e . (Ibid. 69) In i t s early years the c r i t i c a l works of the group were p r i m a r i l y d i r e c t e d a g a i n s t shortcomings i n the immediate s o c i a l and p h y s i c a l environment. Motivated by i t s avowed purpose of s o c i a l p r o t e s t , the group's early productions d e a l t with the e v i l s of m a t e r i a l i s m and urban p o l l u t i o n ; however, as the i n t e l l e c t u a l and a r t i s t i c communities—and the communications media—became increasingly preoccupied with the issues that the war raised, the' productions of the ensemble increasingly became more oriented towards anti-war demonstrations. The f i r s t New York p r o d u c t i o n was a dance p i e c e , Totentanz (1962), a r i t u a l i s t i c "Dance of Death" and resurrection. The play i s a celebration of l i f e and death as the i n d i v i d u a l becomes immortalized through his p a r t i c i p a t i o n i n the ongoing experience of the race. Within the dance, people die and are reborn, as we see the death of man and simultaneously see one man, each his own man, from death to resurrection, the resurrection of a l l to that of each. In some way the death embodies us so that we begin to partake of i t , and also the resurrection. (Sainer 46) The dance i s performed by young men and women, and some c h i l d r e n . A l l are dressed i n black garments, and to a rhythmic beat, they c i r c l e and leap about u n t i l they f a l l , s y m b o l i c a l l y dead. A f t e r death, they r i s e to d i e again, c r e a t i n g a c y c l e which r e p e a t s i t s e l f w i t h harmonic re g u l a r i t y . In 1963 Schumann was i n s p i r e d by a p r e s e n t a t i o n of S i c i l i a n p u p p e t r y t h e a t r e a t a f e s t i v a l i n New York. Impressed by i t s earthiness and s i n c e r i t y , he found i t more v i t a l and r e l e v a n t than contemporary displays which were "plush and latex and Walt Disney-y, and b a s i c a l l y about funny and bunny-rabbits" (Schumann 1972: 261). The presentation led him to experiment with l a r g e r puppets, with which the dynamics of e x p r e s s i o n and movement c o u l d be b e t t e r i l l u s t r a t e d . The medium was a t t r a c t i v e because "the a r t i s t s invented a way of t e l l i n g , a way of tr a n s l a t i n g and creating a r e a l i t y , that f i r s t of a l l defines r e a l i t y " (Schumann 1968: 62). Schumann saw something archetypal i n the presentation and manipulation of s t y l i z e d figures. Masks are ol d e r than a c t o r s , faces of wood and stone are older than mimes. Masked dancers and the e f f i g i e s they carry are c e r t a i n l y at the o r i g i n of theatre. (1972: 260) While Schumann saw something more esse n t i a l and d e f i n i t i v e i n the p r e s e n t a t i o n of l i f e on the stage through puppets and masks, as opposed to imitations by actors, he also observed, "when you walk a white elephant through the streets of New York i t has a d i f f e r e n t e f f e c t than when you drive a t a x i " (1968: 67). Sainer notes that the performances of the group were c h a r a c t e r i z e d by "the use of massive puppets, raw humour, and 'archetypal' violence" (23). The group's production of Fire (1965) i n 1965 was a work i n s p i r e d by the self-immolation of three Americans (Alice Henry, Roger LaPorte and Norman Morrison) i n imitation of the s u i c i d e s committed by Buddhist bonzes i n Vietnam. A woman tea r s a length of red tape into small s t r i p s and attaches them to hers e l f . When she i s covered with the paper " f i r e , " she collapses. A b e l l rings to s i g n i f y the end of the act. D e p i c t i n g a v i o l e n t a c t of s e l f - s a c r i f i c e , the work underscores the relevance of such desperate acts as those of the bonzes and the students. The most frequently staged production of The Bread and Puppet Theatre i n 1968, according to Schumann, was A Man Says Goodbye to His Mother (1968), an anti-war piece set i n an Asian v i l l a g e . The action i s detailed by a narrator who t e l l s the story of a young man who leaves his v i l l a g e and travels to a distant land where he engages an enemy i n b a t t l e . He bids goodbye to his mother who subsequently assumes the role of a woman of the embattled land. There, her infant c h i l d i s s l a i n by a s o l d i e r who poisons the grass and burns v i l l a g e s . The woman s t a b s the s o l d i e r who had p r e v i o u s l y been represented as her son. The body i s c a r r i e d o f f by the narrator and the woman, both wearing death masks. The p l a y has i m p l i c a t i o n s that transcend s p e c i f i c r e f e r e n c e s to Vietnam. Schumann, l i k e the Becks, was a 78 p a c i f i s t , and the play presents a broad anti-war statement. The transference of the mother figure from the s o l d i e r to the murdered infant stresses the u n i v e r s a l i t y of the destruction and s u f f e r i n g of war. The dynamics of performance inherent i n the p r e s e n t a t i o n — l a r g e puppet-costumes, s k u l l masks, drums and trumpets, as w e l l as performance venues incorporating c u l t u r a l a s s o c i a t i o n s such as the L i n c o l n Memorial often evoked intense emotional responses to the performances. In the early years of t h e i r outdoor presentations, the troupe o f t e n c a p i t a l i z e d on the presence of spectators by performing i n a s s o c i a t i o n with parades and other p u b l i c events that were already i n progress. Bolton observes that the group's f i r s t outdoor p r o t e s t p i e c e that dealt with landlord and p o l i c e b r u t a l i t y was staged i n a "modest, quiet parade for voter r e g i s t r a t i o n on the Lower East Side i n New York City i n November 1964" (36). Subsequent anti-war pieces were performed during the I n t e r n a t i o n a l Days of Protest (March 25-26, 1966), and on Memorial Day i n 1966 the group performed i n a parade i n New York, with the Veterans and Reservists to End the War i n Vietnam (Ibid. 37). The provocative anti-establishment stance taken by the r a d i c a l t heatre groups of t e n i n f l u e n c e d t h e i r performing techniques. In December 1966, the Bread and Puppet group demonstrated at St. P a t r i c k ' s Cathedral i n opposition to Cardinal Spellman's v i c t o r y r a l l y for Vietnam. Joe Flaherty notes that the masks which the actors intended to wear were 79 c a r r i e d on poles instead, since the p o l i c e had threatened to a r r e s t the p u p p e t e e r s by i n v o k i n g an 1888 o r d i n a n c e concerning the wearing of masks (1) . Huge pole puppets and faces were to become a hallmark of the Bread and Puppet Theatre. As the numbers and reputation of the r a d i c a l theatre groups increased, they p e r i o d i c a l l y assembled at r a l l i e s and f e s t i v a l s to perform t h e i r works i n concert. At the Newport Folk F e s t i v a l of July, 1967, the Bread and Puppet Theatre and the T e a t r o Campesino were both represented. The F i r s t American R a d i c a l Theatre F e s t i v a l of March, 1968, saw the Bread and Puppet Theatre, The Performance Group and the Open Theatre a l l p a r t i c i p a t e . In September of the same year, Bread and Puppet, T e a t r o Campesino, and the SFMT performed c o n c u r r e n t l y i n San F r a n c i s c o , again demonstrating the popularity of the r a d i c a l theatre companies (Bolton 49, 59, 63) . As anti-war demonstrations i n c r e a s e d i n p o p u l a r i t y during the middle and l a t e 1960s, the r a d i c a l theatre groups e x p e r i e n c e d a heavy demand f o r t h e i r productions, and subsequently organized a booking agency to handle t h e i r commitments. The Universal Movement Theatre Repertory agency emerged i n the late 1960s to handle bookings and operated u n t i l i t s bankruptcy i n 1973 {Ibid. 60). Concurrent with the e v o l u t i o n of the s o c i a l protest t h e a t r e groups, o t h e r ensembles with strong p o l i t i c a l 80 o r i e n t a t i o n s emerged i n the atmosphere of a r t i s t i c and i n t e l l e c t u a l freedom that followed the McCarthy era. These groups saw theatre primarily as a vehicle for the promotion of the views of the emerging Left Wing which believed that s o c i a l d e c a y was p r i m a r i l y a t t r i b u t a b l e t o c l a s s i n e q u a l i t i e s . Often these groups were loose associations of p r o f e s s i o n a l and amateur theatre p r a c t i t i o n e r s and people from other diverse d i s c i p l i n e s . They came together on an ad hoc basis to make dramatic statements of s o c i a l and p o l i t i c a l c r i t i c i s m . Henry Lesnick observes that a number of them meet regularly and become f a i r l y w e l l d e f i n e d i n terms of membership, p o l i t i c a l perspective and s t y l e , but most are more ephemeral: members get to g e t h e r to prepare a p l a y which advances a s p e c i f i c struggle or helps b u i l d for a demonstration; they perform i t for a while, and then disband to attend to other p o l i t i c a l tasks u n t i l the need for new material and performances brings them together again. (11) The type of t h e a t r i c a l demonstrations presented i n the streets and parks by these groups became known as " G u e r i l l a Theatre," a term coined by Peter Berg of the SFMT to describe the " h i t and run" t a c t i c s of the performers who were often harassed by the p o l i c e (Davis 71). The numbers and occasions of performances p r o l i f e r a t e d with the growing public concern about American involvement i n Vietnam, and anti-war protest became a cause celebre with most of these theatre companies. T y p i c a l of these l o o s e l y s t r u c t u r e d groups were the San F r a n c i s c o Red Theatre (1970), Mass Transit (1971) and The American Playground (1969). Other group names associated with 81 a g i t - p r o p performances i n the s t r e e t s are Burning C i t y Theatre-New York, L i b e r a t i o n News S e r v i c e , San Francisco Women's S t r e e t T h e a t r e , and R a p i d T r a n s i t Group Communications-Chicago (Lesnick passim). In a d d i t i o n to the presence of such m i l i t a n t l y p o l i t i c a l t h e a t r e groups, many major u n i v e r s i t i e s spawned r a d i c a l t h e a t r e a s s o c i a t i o n s that c o d i f i e d student s o c i a l and p o l i t i c a l protest. The Pageant Players group was t y p i c a l of the m i l i t a n t dramatic movement, since i t was comprised of young people who saw theatre as a public forum for the expression of t h e i r l e f t - w i n g p o l i t i c a l b e l i e f s . According to Sainer, "The p o l i t i c a l o rientation was primarily Marxist, the predominant view was t h a t the U.S. was i m p e r i a l i s t i c abroad and r e p r e s s i v e and smothering at home" (23). As with the Mime Troupe, the group eschewed t r a d i t i o n a l performance locales and spaces, and moved outside the theatre building to perform at p o l i t i c a l demonstrations, s i t - i n s , and i n park and str e e t venues. Their f i r s t performance was The Paper Tiger Pageant, presented i n November, 1965. I t was described by Michael Brown, a founder of the group, as an " a n t i - i m p e r i a l i s t a n a l y s i s " designed to be staged at peace demonstrations. Another work, The Laundromat Play produced i n 1966, dealt w i t h U.S. involvement i n Vietnam i n a l l e g o r i c a l terms (Sainer, p. 24). 82 Many of the works improvised both at outdoor locations and i n b u i l d i n g s not g e n e r a l l y resembling theatres, f e l l under the general rubric of "Happenings." Beginning i n the 1950s, with the productions of the Liv i n g Theatre, and other companies, the a l t e r n a t i v e theatres staged productions i n si t u a t i o n s where the spectator was not only very much aware of the physical environment, but the environment i t s e l f was a functional aspect of the work. Shank notes that there are two main types of environmental theatre productions: those which use natural settings, such as beaches, parks or streets, and those where the environment i s created for a s p e c i f i c work (93). He regards the l a t t e r t y p i c a l of the productions of Richard Schechner's Performance Group. Schechner organized what was to become the Performance Group i n 1968, a f t e r h i s move from Tulane to New York U n i v e r s i t y . Like Chaikin's Open Theatre, the group was not formed p r i m a r i l y for the mounting of a production, but to explore and develop a c t i n g and t h e a t r i c a l p o s s i b i l i t i e s (Bigsby 1932: 125). In f a c t , the group only produced two works i n the 1960s: Dionysus in 69 (1968-1969), and Makbeth (1969-70). Neither production attempted to deal with Vietnam, but the e f f o r t s of the group were directed to challenging the psychological complacency of i t s audience by forcing i t to re-examine i t s c u l t u r a l ideas. S c hechner's f i r s t major e f f o r t i n New York was a " g u e r i l l a t h e a t r e " p i e c e staged simultaneously at twenty-83 seven l o c a t i o n s i n th e a t r e s and on the stre e t . In March, 1968, the group performed an ada p t a t i o n of E u r i p i d e s ' Bacchae, e n t i t l e d Dionysus in 69. The work was i m p r o v i s a t i o n a l and r i t u a l i s t i c , and encouraged audience p a r t i c i p a t i o n . The performers made biographical references to themselves, and v a c i l l a t e d between formalized r i t u a l i s t i c sound and movement on the one hand, and non-theatrical action and c o l l o q u i a l language on the other. Sainer observes that i n Dionysus and the l a t e r Makbeth and Commune, the group was "concerned with the s o c i a l mores and the p o l i t i c a l scene" and wanted the a u d i e n c e to p a r t i c i p a t e a c t i v e l y i n the performance (27). A r a d i c a l t h e a t r e group i n which environment was a c r i t i c a l p a r t of p r o d u c t i o n was El Teatro Campesino (Peasants' Theatre). I n i t i a t e d by Luis Valdez, the group was an offshoot of the San Francisco Mime Troupe. Valdez was a graduate i n drama from San Jose State College, who had gone to Cuba i n 1964 where he had seen theatre being used for s o c i a l and p o l i t i c a l purposes (Taylor 294). The Teatro grew out of a 1965 confrontation between farm workers and grape-growers i n C a l i f o r n i a , and was unique among theatre groups since i t was made up primarily of farm laborers. The group, whose audience was a l s o Chicano farm workers, improvised s k i t s that r e f l e c t e d t h e i r economic s i t u a t i o n . The Teatro i n i t i a l l y followed the mimetic techniques of the parent Mime Troupe, but gradually turned to mysticism i n the b e l i e f that 84 p o l i t i c a l action cannot l i b e r a t e the human s p i r i t , and that "the forms of action needed to make a free society e n t a i l more than labour, the picket l i n e , and p o l i t i c a l awareness" (Sainer 34). In creating s k i t s and scenes drawn from the immediate economic and related s o c i a l s i t u a t i o n , the Teatro, of a l l the experimental groups of the 1960s, came the closest i n s p i r i t and practice to reviving the protest theatre of the 1930s. The t h e a t r i c a l form that emerged from the group's work was the acto, "a short b i l i n g u a l s k i t of perhaps f i f t e e n minutes d e a l i n g i n a comic way with s i t u a t i o n s i n the l i v e s of Chicano workers" (Shank 75). In length, they were i d e a l l y suited for performance on a p i c k e t - l i n e ; a l t e r n a t i v e l y , s k i t s could be presented as parts of a longer entertainment piece {Ibid, 75). Teatrovs a c t i v i t i e s i n the s i x t i e s culminated i n a work produced f o r the Thanksgiving gathering of huelguistas ( s t r i k e r s ) and the United Farm Workers Organizing Committee (UFWOC) i n 1970. Vietnam Campesino (1970) i s a w e l l -constructed presentation of one-act length that shows a high l e v e l of s o p h i s t i c a t i o n i n w r i t i n g and pro d u c t i o n . I t consists of f i v e scenes e n t i t l e d , "The M i l i t a r y - A g r i c u l t u r a l Complex," "Pesticides i n the F i e l d s , " "The Farm Workers and the D r a f t , " "Vietnam Campesino," and "The Chicano at War" {Teatro Campesino 239). The work touches on several issues, notably the hazards of pesticides for farm workers, and the 85 theme that Vietnamese peasants and Chicane- farm workers have a common enemy i n the American m i l i t a r y - a g r i c u l t u r a l -i n d u s t r i a l complex. 1 3 The opening movement of the play sees Butt Anglo, 1 4 an owner of a large a g r i c u l t u r a l complex that r e l i e s on large government subsidies, conspiring with General Defense to f i x p r i c e s on m i l i t a r y purchases of some s u r p l u s non-union l e t t u c e . The l e t t u c e i s contaminated with pesticides that have b l i n d e d and disabled the farm workers. A t a l l figure with a death mask and an American f l a g for a shroud enters. It i s The Draft, which has come for Butt Anglo's son. General Defense appears just i n time to intercede, and d i r e c t s The Draft to " s t i c k to the minorities, go draft some Mexicans, some Indians, some Blacks, some Asians, some Puerto Ricans" (Ibid. 2 37). In the second movement of the play, Vietnam peasants s i