New York Cool

Theater
from the archives of: www.newyorkcool.com

 

Wendy R. Williams
Wendy R. Williams
 

 

Greetings Theater Lovers,

On May 15, I attended a launch party for I, a book of poetry by
a ninety-year-old poet, Bennes Mardenn.  I was invited to the reading by "G" Beaudin, Bennes's  grandson.  The reading was held at the Drama Loft @ Bridge for Dance, 2726 Broadway, which is all the way up at 104th Street (actually
a cool trendy neighborhood).

                      

Bennes Marden Hanon Reznikov
Bennes Marden
and Cynthia Russell
Hanon Reznikov
and Judith Malina

 

Bennes began his artistic life as an actor and he trained at the legendary Group Theater, whose members included Lee Strassberg, Stella Adler and Harold Clurman. Today, he is an actor, a poet, a mentor, a teacher and a grandfather.  One of Bennes's claims to fame is that he is one of the original members (along with Julian Beck, Judith Malina, Hanon Reznikov, and  others) of The Living Theater, a group of anarchist/actors who have been creating politically-charged alternative theater since 1947.  Running both towards and from the law, they have been burning a path through theatrical history, protesting against wars, drugs laws and the tyranny of the IRS.  Fleeing the United States, they traveled all over Europe, uniting with fellow anarchist theater artists to celebrate the liberating effects of LSD.  Their path even took them to Brazil, where some of them were jailed. Recently they have been performing Not In My Name, a protest play against the death penalty.  The story of the Living Theater was told in the documentary Resist, which was shown at the May 2004 Tribeca Film Festival.  But on this night, all was calm.  There was no nudity, no angry cries, no irate Brazilian constables, no wafting smell of marijuana;  just a devoted group of friends and students who had dressed to the nines and gathered together on a hot May night to honor someone they loved, Bennes Mardenn. And they honored him quietly and with dignity, by reading the poetry that celebrated his life - an event so stately that it could have been easily held just up the street at the Broadway Presbyterian Chuch. And the circle goes round and round.

 

 The American Mime Theater


Diedre Kilgore
Diedre Kilgore
 

This April, I had a chance to attend a performance of the American Mime Theater.  One of my friends and colleagues, Diedre Kilgore, is a devoted American Mime and I was very curious about this art form.  According to their literature, American Mime was founded by Paul Curtis in 1952 and the company has been performing ever since. American Mime has no affiliation with the more familiar Mime of Marcel Marceau.
According to Mr. Curtis, there are many differences but these difference are beyond my ability to describe.  I can only talk about what I saw when they performed.

 

The Lovers
Photo by Tom Yee


The Lovers, the Mime show I saw, was a blended art form, with elements from modern dance and abstract art.  Mimes act without speaking and use their bodies, masks and dummies to create gorgeous tableaus that are both sexy and disturbing.  All of their movements were disciplined.  Constantly aware of every movement and pose, these mimes have mastered the art of using every inch of their bodies to tell a story. It is a story without words and a picture without paint, but always a piece of art and always an art that communicates. 

Rock on! - Wendy

 

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