2002-2003 Season: Our 30th Anniversary Season Table of Contents
Performance Policies and Procedures
New York State Learning Standards
Audience Role and Responsibility
One-Minute Etiquette Reminder
Dramatic Criticism: Why We Go to Theatre
Understanding Technical and Dramatic Elements
17, Questions 30
31, Questions 58-59
West Side Story
61, Questions 76-80
Backsliding in the Promised Land
81, Questions 86-87
88, Questions 113-16
118, Questions 136-37
Tina Howe and Elizabeth Franz
Discussion Questions/Writing Assignments/Arts Activities, and Sources Consulted are to be found immediately following background information pages for each play except the final play. Dramaturgical research and curriculum activities prepared by Pat Pederson, Education Associate.
Syracuse Stage 2002/2003 Education Partner
2 PERFORMANCE POLICIES AND PROCEDURES WHEN TO ARRIVE AT THE THEATRE: We recommend you arrive at the theatre at least 30 minutes prior to the performance to allow time for seating. This is a professional theatre production and will start at the scheduled time. Student matinees begin promptly at 10:30 am. BUS DROP OFF AND PARKING: Busses not staying may load and unload at the Centro bus stop on East Genesee Street. Bus parking is available along East Genesee Street at the bagged meters. Cars must make arrangements in parking facilities as they will be ticketed if parked at the bagged meters. SEAT ASSIGNMENTS: As each seat at Syracuse Stage is reserved and performances are often standing room only, students must sit in their assigned seats. For reasons of convenience, efficiency, and courtesy, we request that students do not trade seats. Regardless of the number in your block of seats, we request that this rule is respected. We ask that chaperons and teachers do not sit together but sit evenly distributed throughout the students. LATECOMERS: Latecomers will be seated at the discretion of the Management. There is no late seating below Row F. BACKPACKS, CAMERAS, WALKMANS AND FOOD: Backpacks, cameras and tape recorders (including Walkmans) are strictly prohibited in the theatre, as is food of any kind. As we do not have storage facilities for these items at Syracuse Stage, we ask that you leave them at school or on the bus. PHOTOGRAPHY: Cameras (flash or otherwise) are strictly prohibited in the theatre. Union rules do not allow the taking of pictures during a production and flash cameras are a distraction to both the acting company and audience. Any camera used in the theatre will be removed for the duration of the performance. FOOD, DRINK AND GUM: Absolutely no food, drink, or gum is allowed in the theatre. Please leave snacks and lunches on the bus. Students will be asked to leave the theatre to remove any food items or the items will be taken and not returned. INTERMISSION REFRESHMENTS: Soda will be available during intermission for $1.00 (exact change will be appreciated). Reminder: You must dispose of all snack items before reentering the theatre. AUDIENCE ETIQUETTE: Live performance theatres require behavior different from that required in the movie theatres. Please review theatre etiquette with your students before attending the performance. If any student becomes disruptive to the point of interference with the performers or other audience members, a chaperon will be asked to remove that student.
3 And Now a Word to our Sponsors! At Syracuse Stage we work hard to find the necessary funding to support our student matinee performances. We go to corporations, foundations and individual donors for underwriting to keep student ticket prices at an affordable level. Please Write Them or Us—or Both! Your genuine, heartfelt words of thanks and first-hand accounts of the impact funding has for your students will underscore how vital student matinee support is even as it provides our generous donors with the best motivation to continue that support. Your help is essential! Just say thanks! As we all know, unsolicited thank yous are those most appreciated. Supporters of our student matinees treasure acknowledgment of their sponsorship. Draw a Picture/Create a Video If words escape you, try another form. As the saying goes, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” Contact Them Directly or Through Stage Enclosed with this guide are the names and addresses of the people who would like to hear from you. Write to them directly or send your thoughts to us and we will see that they have the most impact. Thank you in advance for the work you put into helping Syracuse Stage present the student matinee program. We hope that the season entertains and enlightens you and your students.
Part of the art of living is living with the arts.
Education Associate………………Pat Pederson Group Sales Coordinator...........….Tracey White House Manager.........................…..Lisa Doerle
Producing Director................... James Clark Artistic Director........................Robert Moss Corp./Foundation Relations…..Jim Dungey
Group Sales: 315/443-9844 Education Department: 315/443-1150 Syracuse Stage Administration Offices: 315/443-4008
4 The New York State Standards of Learning The following chart is designed to assist you in using the activities and questions in this guide to address the New York State Learning Standards for the Arts in the areas of Theatre and English Language Arts, as well as Career Development and Occupational Skills (Universal Skills). As you are the experts at adapting these activities to meet the needs of your specific classroom, this grid is only meant as an easy reference and does not intend to suggest that these are the only learning standards to which these activities apply, nor is every activity and question included on the grid. We hope this is helpful. If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, feel free to call me at (315) 443-1150 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
NYS LEARNING STANDARDS
Audience Role & Responsibility
Technical Dramatic Elements Criticism
The Arts (Theatre) 1. creation and performance of theatre
write monologues and scenes to communicate ideas and feelings enact experiences through pantomime, improv, playwriting, and script analysis personify character(s); interact with others; and communicate ideas and feelings design and build props, sets and costumes to communicate the intent of a production
Section B Section C&F
make acting, directing and design choices that support and enhance intent
2. materials/resources available for participation
use theatre technology skills and facilities in creating a theatrical experience use resources as part of the artistic process leading to production visit local theatrical institutions and attend theatrical performances
Entire Section Entire Section Questions 2&3
Questions for After Reading the Play
For Further Writing Arts Discus- Assign- Activision ments ties
5 understand a broad range of vocations/ avocations in performing, producing and promoting theatre
3. critical response to theatre
articulate an understanding, interpretation and evaluation using appropriate critical vocabulary Question 3 evaluate the use of other art forms in a theatre production Question 1 explain how a theatrical production exemplifies major themes and ideas from other disciplines
Entire Section Sections A&E
4. personal/cultural forces that shape theatre
read and view a variety of plays from different cultures explain how different theatrical productions represent the cultures from which they come articulate the societal beliefs, issues and events of specific theatrical productions
English Language Arts 1. for information and understanding
interpret and analyze complex informational texts and presentations
synthesize information and identify complexities and Questions discrepancies in information 2&3 use a combination of techniques to extract salient information make distinctions about the relative value and significance of specific data, facts and ideas Question 3 make perceptive and well developed connections to prior knowledge Question 3 evaluate writing strategies and presentational features that affect interpretation of the information write and present research
Entire Section Entire Section
Entire Section Sections A,B,D&E
6 present a controlling idea that conveys an individual perspective and insight into a topic use organizational (chronological, deductive/inductive logic, cause and effect, compare/contrast) patterns Question 1 support interpretations and decisions about relative significance revise and improve early drafts use standard English skillfully to achieve an individual style that communicates effectively
2. for literary response and expression
read and view across many genres of literature from many cultures and historical perspectives identify distinguishing features and use features to interpret the work Question 3 recognize and understand the significance of literary elements and techniques and use to interpret the work understand how multiple levels of meaning are conveyed in a text read aloud expressively to convey a clear interpretation of the work evaluate literary merit based on the genre, literary elements, literary period and tradition present responses to and interpretations of works of recognized literary merit produce literary interpretations that explicate the multiple layers of meaning write original pieces in a variety of literary forms to achieve an effect use standard English skillfully and with an individual style
Sections A,B,C,D Entire Section
7 3. for critical analysis and evaluation
analyze, interpret, and evaluate ideas, information, organization and language evaluate the quality of the texts and presentations from a variety of critical perspectives
make precise determinations about the perspective of a particular writer or speaker evaluate and compare own and other's work and recognize the change in evaluations based on criteria present well-developed analysis of issues, ideas, and texts make effective use of presentational strategies to influence an audience use standard English, a broad and precise vocabulary, and the conventions of formal oratory and debate
Entire Section Entire Section
4. for social interaction
engage in conversations and discussions on academic, technical, and community subjects express thoughts and views clearly with attention to others in the conversation use appropriately the language conventions for a variety of social situations use a variety of print and electronic forms for social communication with peers and adults make effective use of language and style to connect the message with the audience and context study the social and language conventions of writers from other groups and cultures to communicate
CDOS 3a: Universal Foundation Skills 1. basic skills- use a combination of techniques to analyze complex information; convey information in oral or written form; analyze and solve mathematical problems requiring use of multiple computational skills 2. thinking skillsdemonstrate the ability to organize and process information and apply skills in new ways 3. personal qualitiesdemonstrate leadership skills in setting goals, monitoring progress, and improving own performance 4. interpersonal skillscommunicate effectively and help others to learn a new skill 5. technology- apply knowledge of technology to identify and solve problems 6. managing information- use technology to acquire, organize, and communicate information by entering, modifying, retrieving, and storing data 7. managing resourcesallocate resources to complete a task 8. systems- demonstrate an understanding of how systems performance relates to the goals, resources, and functions of an organization
Entire Section Entire Section
9 AUDIENCE ROLE AND RESPONSIBILITY As audience members, your students have a distinct role and responsibility. The success of any performance depends on the actors on the stage as well as the people in the seats. For those students enjoying their first exposure to a live theatre production, we encourage some discussion of theatre manners before you attend the play, as some movie-, video- and television-watching behaviors are not always appropriate in the theatre. We have included two pages to assist you: the first lists discussion questions or topics for the classroom (with some suggested answers in italics) while the second is a ONE MINUTE ETIQUETTE REMINDER to read on the bus before you arrive. (You might also review the essay on Dramatic Criticism on page 13.) Thank you for helping us help your students get the most out of the performance. [ 1 ] What are some of the differences between a live theatre production and a movie? Movies can be filmed in any sequence and scenes can be redone as many times as needed to get a “good scene.” The scenes are then composed into the movie by editors and the director. Each scene in a live theatre performance is presented once only, in sequence, as written, the performance being created anew each time by the actors, stage manager(s) and backstage staff. The audience’s noise level, activity level, and attention level do not affect the movie actor’s performance. BUT, all of these things are heard and noticed by the actors of a live performance and have an immediate effect on the performance, which may be positive or negative—if the audience laughs at funny lines or is leaning forward in anticipation of the action, actors respond with energetic performances; if the audience does not respond to the actors, responds at inappropriate times or is restless, actors find it difficult to give their best performances because their concentration, their “trains of thought,” as it were, have been disrupted . Special effects in a movie are often be generated by computers or camera angles while special effects in the theatre often rely on the audience’s imagination to enhance or help create them. Movies provide realistic images while live theatre provides images of reality.
[ 2 ] What is the best way to approach viewing a live performance of any art? Audiences attending a live performance must be willing to “suspend their disbelief”; that is, they should be prepared to use their imagination to fully enter into the ideas of the play/musical composition/dance, etc. Live performances are in ways television and movies are not: try to be open to the passion and emotion behind the actions, words, movements and/or music presented. Because each performance is affected by audience response, audience members will never see the same performance twice. Though the piece’s meaning remains the same, each performance may have its own underlying interpretations due to factors such as the performer(s) and/or audience’s state of mind, performer(s) physical readiness, and even the comfort level in the performing space.
[ 3 ] What is the audience’s role during a live performance? How do you think audience behavior can affect a performance? Audiences ready to observe naturally connect with the performers and appropriately respond to the performance, by laughing, gasping, applauding, or quietly listening. Even when this is so audience members should remember that, for live performances, paper rattling, watch alarms, cell phones, beepers, and talking will distract the performers, thereby disrupting the connection between stage and auditorium and weakening the performance. Just as importantly, those around noisy audience members will miss hearing or seeing elements of a live performance that will not be repeated.
ONE-MINUTE ETIQUETTE REMINDER Please read to students on the bus prior to entering the theatre. Stay in the group to be seated. Your school or class will be called and seated as a group. Sit in the seat to which you are assigned. If you move or refuse to take a particular seat, you will delay our seating other members of your group as well as other groups. No food, drink, gum-chewing, headsets, or backpacks in the theatre. Please leave lunches, snacks and backpacks on the bus. NO TALKING OR GETTING UP DURING THE SHOW. This includes whispering. Every live performance is a unique experience, created jointly by actors and audience members present for a specific presentation. Live performances vary greatly from recorded TV programs or movies because the audience’s reactions are not only obvious to the performers but are relied upon by them as signals that they presenting the best performance possible, regardless of the type of reaction—applause, laughter, crying or even quiet but responsive attention— because the actors can see and hear you. Please do not talk, act or distract attention from the stage. Please use the restrooms before the show or at intermission only. If you have any problems or questions, please ask the ushers for help. Enjoy yourself!
11 DRAMATIC CRITICISM Why We Attend Theatre Oscar Brockett, from The Theatre: An Introduction Art is one way whereby mankind seeks to understand the world. . . .Our search for meaning . . . is always directed toward discovering those relationships that reveal order within what would otherwise seem to be chance events. Art, then, . . . shapes perceptions about human experience into . . . patterned relationships that help us order our views about mankind and the universe. . . . The artist . . . works primarily from his or her own perceptions and seeks to involve the audience's emotions, imagination, and intellect directly. A playwright consequently presents events as though they are occurring at that moment before our eyes; we absorb them in the way we absorb life itselfâ€”through their direct operation on our senses. Thus, as art differs from life by stripping away irrelevant details and organizing events to compose a connected pattern, so a play illuminates and comments (though sometimes indirectly) on human experience even as it seemingly creates human experience. But, just as we do not mistake a statue for a real person, we do not mistake stage action for reality. Rather, we usually view a play with what Samuel Taylor Coleridge called a "willing suspension of disbelief." By this concept he meant that, while we know the events of a play are not real, we agree for the moment not to disbelieve their reality. . . This state in which we are sufficiently detached to view an artistic event semiobjectively is sometimes called esthetic distance. [However], the distance must not be so great as to induce indifference. Therefore, while a degree of detachment is necessary, [audience] involvement is of equal importance. This feeling of kinship is sometimes called empathy. Thus, we watch a play with a double sense of concern and detachment. It is both a removed and an intensified reaction of a kind seldom possible outside esthetic experience. Another way of putting this is that art (that is, a statue, a musical composition, or a drama) lifts us above the everyday fray and gives us something like a "god's-eye" view of human experience. . . . Art lays claim . . . to being serious (in the sense of having something important to communicate), but because its methods are so indirect (it presents experience but does not attempt to explain it fully) it is often ambiguous . . . . Special Attributes of Theatre as an Art. Even within the fine arts theatre holds a special place; it is the art that comes closest to life as it is lived from day to day. Not only is human experience and action its subject, it also uses live human beings (actors) as its primary means of communicating with an audience. Quite often the speech of the performers approximates that heard in real life; the actors may wear costumes that might be seen on the street; and they may perform in settings that recall actual places. Not all theatre attempts to be so realistic and at times it may even approximate other performing arts (such as dance and music), but nevertheless it is the art most capable of recreating mankind's typical experiences. Such lifelikeness is also one of the reasons theatre is often insufficiently valued: a play, a setting, the acting may so resemble what is familiar to spectators that they fail to recognize how difficult it is to produce this lifelikeness skillfully. To a certain degree all people are actors; they vary the roles they play (almost moment by moment) according to the people they encounter. In doing so, they utilize the same tools as the actor: voice, speech, movement, gesture, psychological motivation, and the like. Consequently, most persons do not fully recognize the problems
12 faced by a skilled actor. Even those within the theatre often differ in their opinions about whether artistic excellence depends primarily on talent and instinct or on training and discipline. Theatre further resembles life in being ephemeral. As in life, each episode is experienced and then immediately becomes part of the past. When the performance ends, its essence can never be fully recaptured. Unlike a novel, painting, or statute, each of which remains relatively unchanged, a theatrical production when it is ended lives only in the play script, program, pictures, reviews, and memories of those who were present. Theatre resembles life also in being the most objective of the arts, since characteristically it presents both outer and inner experience through speech and action. As in life, it is through listening and watching that we come to know characters both externally and internally. What we learn about their minds, personalities, and motivations comes from what they say and do and from what others tell us about them. Thus we absorb a theatrical performance the way we do a scene from real life. Additionally, theatre can be said to resemble life because of the complexity of its means for, like a scene from life itself, it is made up of intermingled sound, movement, place, dress, lighting, and so on. In other words, theatre draws on all the other arts: literature in its script; painting, architecture, and sculpture (and sometimes dance) in its spectacle; and speech and music in its audible aspects. In some ways, then, theatre encompasses all the other arts. Furthermore, theatre is psychologically the most immediate of the arts. Several contemporary critics have argued that the essence of theatre—what distinguishes it from other dramatic media such as television and film—lies in the simultaneous presence of live actors and spectators in the same room, and that everything else is expendable. . . . Live performance has important attributes that television and film cannot duplicate, most significantly . . . the three-dimensionality of the theatrical experience and the special relationship between performers and spectators: in the theatre, . . . since the full acting area remains visible, the audience may choose what it will watch, even though the director may attempt to focus attention on some specific aspect of a scene. [But, and] perhaps most important, during a live performance there is continuous interaction between performer and spectator; even as the actor is eliciting responses from the audience, those responses in turn are affecting the actor's performance. Thus, a live performance permits the audience a far more active role than television and film do. Ultimately, there is a fundamental difference in the psychological responses aroused by electronic media and theatre because the former presents pictures of events whereas the latter performs the actual events in what amounts to the same space as that occupied by the audience. This difference results in one unique characteristic of theatre: its ability to offer intense sensory experience through the simultaneous presence of live actors and audience. . . . The Audience. Until the public sees the material performed we usually do not call it theatre. For all the arts a public is imperative, but for most this public may be thought of as individuals—the reader of a novel or poem, the viewer of a painting or a piece of sculpture—each of whom may experience the work in isolation. But a theatre audience is assembled as a group at a given time and place to experience a performance. Why Does an Audience Attend the Theatre? One of the most powerful motives for going to the theatre is the desire for entertainment, which implies suspension of personal cares, relaxation of tensions, and a feeling of well-being, satisfaction, and renewal. But although everyone may believe that the theatre should provide entertainment, not all agree on what is entertaining. Many
13 would exclude any treatment of controversial subject matter on the grounds that an audience goes to the theatre to escape from cares rather than to be confronted with problems. . . . Other persons look to theatre for stimulation. They too desire to be entertained, but argue that the theatre should also provide new insights and provocative perceptions about significant topics, advocate action about political and social issues, or increase awareness of and sensitivity to others and surroundings. . . . Both points of view are valid in part, but adherents of neither point of view should attempt to limit unduly the theatre's offerings. The whole range of drama should be available to audiences, for the health of the theatre depends upon breadth of appeal. In America today the success of a play is frequently judged by its ability to attract large audiences over a considerable period of time. But is a play to be considered a failure if it does not achieve financial success? Not necessarily. A dramatist has a right to select his or her audience just as much as an audience has to select a play. Actually, dramatists do so when they choose the subject matter, characters, and techniques to be used, for, consciously or unconsciously, they have an ideal spectator in mind. Although playwrights may hope for universal acceptance, each desires the favorable response of a particular group. Consequently, a play may be deemed successful if it achieves the desired response from the audience for which it was primarily intended. . . . The Problem of Value. It is difficult to defend art on the basis of its immediate utility. Art ultimately must be valued because of its capacity to improve the quality of life: by increasing our sensitivity to others and our surroundings, by sharpening our perceptions, by reshaping our values so that moral and societal concerns take precedence over material well-being. Of all the arts, theatre has perhaps the greatest potential as a humanizing force, for at its best it asks us to enter imaginatively into the lives of others so we may understand their aspirations and motivations. Through role-playing (either in daily life or in the theatre) we come to understand who and what we are and to see ourselves in relation to others. Perhaps most important, in a world given increasingly to violence, the value of being able to understand and feel for others as human beings cannot be overestimated, because violence flourishes most fully when we so dehumanize others that we no longer think of their hopes, aims, and sufferings but treat them as objects to be manipulated or on whom to vent our frustrations. To know (emotionally, imaginatively, and intellectually) what it means to be human in the broadest sense ought to be one of the primary goals of both education and life; for reaching that goal no approach has greater potential than theatre, since humans are its subject and living beings its primary medium. ... Unfortunately, qualityâ€”unlike quantityâ€”is not measurable except subjectively. And subjectivity takes us into the realm of taste, judgment, and a host of variables about which agreement is seldom possible. There are many levels of taste, many degrees of complexity, and a wide range of quality. But, if we cannot expect ever to achieve complete agreement, we all can sharpen our own perceptions of the theatre and its processes. To do this, we need first to understand the theatre and how it works. Second, we need to develop some approach through which we can judge the relative merits of what is performed and how it is performed. Then, we should work to encourage those theatrical values that seem important to us. In this way we may acquire understanding and judgmentâ€”that is, we become critics of the theatre. . . .
14 Understanding/appreciating the Technical Elements A performance does not just happen; it is the product of a great deal of teamwork. The technical elements of a production support the characters the actors create to present the audience with the illusionary reality that is theatre. Sets, lights, sound, props, and costumes create the environment in which the play lives. These elements combine with the audienceâ€™s imagination to fashion a theatrical reality that is different from our day-to-day lives yet recognizable by all involved. The following discussion questions are intended to help students focus on each of these technical elements and analyze its part in a production. Section A: Scenery Before the performance began, what were your first impressions of the set design? How did it make you feel? Which of your senses were involved by the set design? What was the physicality of the stage? Did the set incorporate any theatrical devices such as a rake, a thrust, ramps or stairs onstage, or the voms or pit in the audience? What type of action did you expect? As the performance progressed, did the set change from scene to scene or did it remain the same for the entire play? Were the changes of location made by actual set alterations or by the actorsâ€™ use of the set? How was the stage used? Did the action take place across the whole stage or was action contained in small areas? What could you tell about each environment and the time period of the used area? Was movement between areas fluid or rigid? Did the actors move around the set in purposeful motion or did action flow from one area to another? What materials and color schemes were used for walls, the deck (stage floor), set pieces? Did the materials and colors fit the time and location of the play? Did the colors suggest a mood or atmosphere to you? Were you able to concentrate on the action and characters or did the elements of the set attract your attention? After viewing the performance, do you feel the set design supported the play? Did it make sense to you? Would you have done anything differently? What and why? Section B: Costumes What could you tell about each of the characters based on his or her appearance before any action took place? Did the costumes influence your expectations or opinion of each character? Did the costumes put you in the appropriate time period and geographical setting (if any)? Did the style of the costumes match or enhance the charactersâ€™ personalities and social situations and the mood of the play? How did the colors and materials used compliment or contrast with the colors and materials of the set? Did the colors and materials group the characters in any way? Were there any parts of the costumes you found distracting or out of place? Section C: Lighting What clues did the lighting give you about the mood or emotional tone of the play? Was the lighting from an identifiable source or did it blend into the setting? Was the lighting supportive of the action or distracting? Was it ever supposed to be distracting? Could you identify the colors that were used? Why do you think these particular shades were chosen? Did any one character have a particular shade or degree of lighting?
15 Sometimes lighting is used together with suggestive scenery or certain pieces of furniture to imply that a certain area onstage is always perceived as a specific place. Did you see this in this performance’s design? Section D: Sound What types of sounds were used? Were the sounds environmental noise or in response to specific character actions (for example: crickets chirping in the summer or a gunshot)? Was sound or music used to create or enhance the atmosphere, or to foreshadow events? Were certain sounds or musical motifs associated with certain characters or repeated situations? Did the sounds fit the situation or distract you from the performance? Were the sounds correct for time period and location, or did they comment on the time and place? Section E: Props Were the props appropriate to the time period and setting? Were they in keeping with the rest of the setting (including color choices in setting and costumes)? Did some or all of them comment on the setting as a whole? Did the characters have all the props they needed for the scenes? Did they have too many props? Did they have fewer props than you expected? What did you learn about the characters’ situation or background from their possessions? Remember that props include furniture, books, purses, wagons, plates and silverware—anything an actor touches. Section F: General What non-actor aspect of the performance impacted you the most? Was this aspect more textual or physical? Did the technical elements of the performance enhance or detract from your enjoyment of the play? Would you have changed anything about this production? How would you have changed it? Why? Understanding/appreciating the Play in Performance Suggested by: Katherine Ommanney’s The Stage and the School Section A: Theme In your opinion, is the fundamental idea of the play true or false in its concept of life? Is the theme consistent with the setting, plot and characters presented in the play? Do you agree with the author’s philosophy? In your opinion, should the general public be encouraged to see the play? Section B: Plot Is there a clear-cut sequence of events? Do they rise to a gripping climax? Were you held in suspense until the end or did you realize what the ending would be? Were you as emotionally stirred as the author apparently wanted you to be? Are you satisfied as to the final outcome?
16 Are you chiefly interested in the events, the people, or the place? Section C: Characterization Are the characters true to life? Are they consistent throughout the action of the entire play? Are the characters in keeping with the social and geographical background of the play? Do they arouse such feelings as sympathy, affection, disgust, admiration, or hatred? Are their actions in keeping with their motives? Are the situations at the climax and conclusion the result of their inherent natures? Section D: Style Did the dialogue retain your interest throughout the play? Is it consistent with the characters and the setting? Is it an end in itself or an adequate means of plot advancement and characterization? Did it make you think about the author or the characters themselves? Do you remember lines after having seen the play because of their appropriateness or beauty? If a dialect or dialects are used were they correct? Did the actors use them consistently? Would people of the class represented talk in real life as they do in the play? Is the power of expression worthy of the ideas expressed? Section E: Acting Were the actorsâ€™ interpretations of their roles correct from the standpoint of the play itself? Did each actor make his or her role a living individual? Were the actors artificial or natural in their technique? Were you conscious of the ways they sought to create effects? Did they grip you emotionallyâ€”did you weep, laugh, suffer, and exult with them? Were their voices pleasing and their presence magnetic? Did they remain in character every moment? Did or do you think of them as the characters they were depicting or as themselves? Did the actors use the play as a means of self-glorification, or were each of them an intrinsic part of the action at all times? Did each cooperate with the other actors, the director, and the author in interpreting the play: by knowing his or her lines, helping to focus attention on the center of interest, and by losing himself or herself in the part? Section F: Audience Reaction Was the audience attentive or restless during the performance? Was there a definite responseâ€”gasps, laughter, applause? Did the audience express any immediate appreciation of clever lines, dramatic situations, and skillful acting? Was the audience apathetic or animated, bored or buoyant, serious or scoffing? Was the applause spontaneous and whole-hearted, or politely perfunctory? Did it seem to you that some audience members enjoyed the play more than others? Do you think this was because of their own personal background, or some other reason?
17 M. Butterfly David Henry Hwang, A Literary Biography From: Pearson Education, U. of Bergen webpage, InfoPlease.com and “Mr. Butterfly,” American Drama: Colonial to Contemporary, Stephen Watt and Gary A. Richardson, eds. Early Years. David Henry Hwang was born on August 11, 1957, in Los Angeles, California, the first of his parents' three children and their only son. His father, Henry Yuan Hwang, left his native Shanghai, China, in the late 1940s, around the time of the Communist takeover, and came to California; he studied business at the University of Southern California, where he met his future wife. He later became a banker. The playwright's mother, Dorothy (Huang) Hwang, was born in China and raised in the Philippines. She studied music at USC and pursued a career as a piano teacher at the Coburn School of the Arts. David Henry Hwang has said that when he was young he regarded his Chinese ancestry as "a minor detail, like having red hair," but subsequently added that "the combination of wanting to delve into [Chinese and ChineseAmerican history] for artistic reasons and being exposed to an active third-world-consciousness movement was what started to get me interested in my roots when I was in college." He graduated from Stanford University in 1979 with a B.A. in English. Briefly thereafter he taught high school and then enrolled in the Yale School of Drama. He married artist Ophelia Chong in 1985 but four years later the marriage was dissolved. He later married Kathryn Layng, an actress. They have a son named Noah. Hwang has worked as a theatre director, and has also written screenplays for a number of films, including M. Butterfly (1993, with Jeremy Irons and John Lone) and Golden Gate (1994, with Matt Dillon and Joan Chen). He also made a preliminary adaptation of Heinrich Harrer's Seven Years in Tibet . . . in 1997. Literary Career. Until relatively recently, representations of Asian Americans were little seen in mainstream culture except . . . as a series of negatively inscribed stereotypes. Living primarily in ethnically homogeneous neighborhoods, Asian Americans themselves were often removed from the view of the general population. . . . It was not until 1965 that the first Asian-American theatre group was founded with the formation of the East West Players in Los Angeles [which now is home to the 240-seat David Henry Hwang Theatre]. . . . Hwang’s play F.O.B. was first produced at Stanford while he was an undergraduate. His father at first declined to read the script, because of his difficulty in reading English and his feeling that writing plays was not a serious occupation but on seeing the production he was moved to tears and decided to support his son's career. F.O.B. was produced at the National Playwrights Conference in 1979, and then by Joseph Papp at the New York Shakespeare Festival's Public Theatre in 1980. Its New York production received an Obie (Off-Broadway) Award for best new play of the season. Other awards, grants, and fellowships have followed, including a Tony Award for the Best Play of 1988 and a Pulitzer Prize nomination in 1989, both for M. Butterfly. . . . The two principal male characters of F.O.B. symbolize the opposing poles of personal response to the immigrant experience: Steve, the F.O.B. ("fresh off the boat") of the title, is scorned by Dale, a thoroughly assimilated A.B.C. (American-born Chinese) who turns his back on his heritage and all that it represents. Between them stands Grace, Dale's cousin, who is sympathetic to each man's situation. . . . Hwang continued to explore Chinese immigrant themes in The Dance and the Railroad and Family Devotions, both of which were produced in New York in 1981. The Dance and the
18 Railroad portrays, in part through poetic dialogue and stylized theatrical technique, the relationship between two railroad workers, one of whom has been in America for several years, the other newly arrived from China. Family Devotions, more realistic and even farcical, contrasts an Americanized Chinese family who are evangelical Christians with an atheist uncle visiting from China. . . . Sound and Beauty, produced in New York in 1983, was Hwang's first work not to focus upon the lives of Chinese Americans and is comprised of two stylized one-act plays set in Japan. "The House of Sleeping Beauties" is based on Nobel Prize-winning Japanese novelist Yasunari Kawabata’s novella, Hwang incorporating him in his own narrative. "The Sound of a Voice" involves a samurai warrior who intends to kill a female hermit whom he regards as a threatening witch until he comes to know her. . . . Rich Relations, the first of his plays with an all-Caucasian cast, received mostly negative notices, not due to its newness but its familiarity—dealing as it did with materialism, families in conflict, and evangelical Christianity. . . . Hwang himself acknowledged that "it's about my family—except that they're not Asians." He rebounded two years later with M. Butterfly. . . As the title makes clear, Hwang intended to evoke Giacomo Puccini's 1904 opera Madama Butterfly. . . M. Butterfly reveals a double perspective [that] leaves Asian-American authors constantly aware of their emotional and familial existence between the countries from which they or their families departed and the nation of which they are now a part: . . . [the play,] (in a fashion typical of most of Hwang's earlier pieces) deploys a host of Eastern and Western, elite and popular, representational styles. Kabuki theatre, Chinese opera, Western opera, and television sitcoms all provide elements; and thus it distinguishes itself from stylistically traditional Eastern or Western theatres while simultaneously [aligning itself] with postmodern experiments within Western theatre and pushing those techniques in new directions. The backbone of the drama is what Hwang himself in his "Afterword" to the play has called a "deconstructivist Madame Butterfly." Puccini's opera tells the story of a 19th-century American naval officer, Benjamin Franklin Pinkerton, who while stationed in Nagasaki, Japan, conducts a sham marriage with Cio-Cio-San, also known as Butterfly, the fifteen-year-old geisha embodiment of the male-constructed feminine ideal. Pinkerton is posted home and Cio-Cio-San, having borne him a child, waits three years patiently for his return. When he finally comes back he brings with him Kate, his American wife, who goes to Cio-Cio-San’s house for Pinkerton’s son. Butterfly agrees to give up the child and, having placed a doll and an American flag in her child's arms, blindfolds her son and stabs herself, to the horror of Kate and the belatedly remorseful Pinkerton, who enters as Butterfly lies dying on the floor. Hwang uses this story to establish an emotional trajectory against which his own play's action can be understood. At the same time, the constant counter pointing of the Cio-Cio-San and Pinkerton story with a much more complicated reworking played out in Beijing and Paris during the 20th century allows Hwang to explore the abiding gender and racial stereotypes that have perpetuated EastWest misperceptions and the seemingly willful misunderstandings metaphorically rendered in the affair between Gallimard and Song. Gallimard's construction of Song as a latter-day Butterfly precipitates a series of events that parodies the typical narrative pattern of Western patriarchy's family: romance-courtship, marriage, family, and, of more recent vintage, divorce. In Gallimard's mind, the virile Westerner has once again found true love in the arms of a passively submissive Eastern beauty. In effect, he plays out in the Beijing boudoir what the United States is trying to do at the same time in Vietnam, a distant background to the action of the play [which is set in the late Sixties]. But, as later events make clear, Gallimard has fallen in love not with Song but with the ideal she
19 represents, an ideal that has little to do with women at all, for as Song remarks ironically, "Only a man knows how a woman is supposed to act." Gallimard's decision at the play's end to reassert and embrace illusion even at the cost of his life is reminiscent of [Italian playwright Luigi] Pirandello and links Hwang’s play to an antirealist tradition of drama which has sought to question the foundations of identity. In the process of examining the relationship between Gallimard and Song, M. Butterfly goes further than even such works as Jean Genet's The Maids, arguing that foundational assumptions about gender, as opposed to the biological realities of sex, are much more problematic and culturally relative than we might choose to believe. . . . [Hwang’s] refusal to stereotype or to find convenient solutions on either side of the equation [is] emblematic of the independence with which he approaches his subject matter. M. Butterfly reminds us of the varied ways American drama and theatre are confronting with imagination and spirit some of the more vexed political and social issues of our day. Racism, sexism, and imperialism remain part of the subject matter of our theatre, despite general assertions of a pervasive political quietism in the nation's drama. More important, perhaps, M. Butterfly also emphasizes for us that, as in previous ages, American drama continues to find new voices to speak to the peoples of the nation. . . . In 1989 his collaboration with Philip Glass and Jerome Sirlin, 1,000 Airplanes on the Roof: A Science Fiction Music Drama, opened to critical acclaim. A one-act play called “Bondage” premiered in 1992, followed by Face Value, a full-length work, the following year. . . . His next play, Golden Child, based on the memories of his 90-year-old maternal grandmother, was produced at the Joseph Papp Public Theatre in New York in 1996 . . . . Hwang rewrote the play, and it opened on Broadway in April 1998. . . . His unwillingness to be limited by others' expectations of him and his desire to find new directions in his work are also illustrated by his . . . modern adaptation, with Stephan Müller, of Henrik Ibsen's Peer Gynt. More recently Hwang has contributed to the libretto for Elton John and Tim Rice’s Aida, and revised the libretto for the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical Flower Drum Song. [David Henry] Hwang has received grants from the Guggenheim and Rockefeller Foundations, and NYDCA; in 1988 the National Endowment for the Arts awarded him a twoyear fellowship to develop his work. Publications Broken Promises: Four Plays. New York: Avon, 1983. Contains F.O.B., The Dance and the Railroad, Family Devotions, and The House of Sleeping Beauties. The Sound of a Voice. New York: Dramatists Play Service, 1984. M. Butterfly. New York: Plume, 1989. F.O.B. and Other Plays. New York: Plume, 1990. Includes Rich Relations. Trying to Find Chinatown and Bondage. New York: Dramatists Play Service, 1996. Children’s book: Red Scarf Girl : A Memoir of the Cultural Revolution, 1997. A child's nightmare unfolds in Jiang's chronicle of the excesses of Chairman Mao's Cultural Revolution in China in the late 1960s. Jiang was a young teenager at the height of the fervor, when children rose up against their parents, students against teachers, and neighbor against neighbor in an orgy of doublespeak, name-calling, and worse. Intelligence was suspect, and everyone was exhorted to root out the “Four Olds”—old ideas, old culture, old customs, and old habits. She tells how it felt to burn family photographs and treasured heirlooms so they would
20 not be used as evidence of their failure to repudiate a “black”—i.e., land-owning—past. In the name of the revolution, homes were searched and possessions taken or destroyed, her father imprisoned, and her mother's health imperiled—until the next round of revolutionaries came in and reversed many of the dicta of the last. Jiang's last chapter details her current life in this country, and the fates of people she mentions in her story. It's a very painful, very personal— therefore accessible—history. (Memoir. Ages 11-15, Kirkus Reviews) Setting: A Paris prison in the present, and, in flashback, in Beijing from 1960 to 1970 and in Paris 1966 to the present. Synopsis – When French embassy employee Rene Gallimard sees Song Liling perform as Madama Butterfly he falls in love and pursues a relationship (though Rene is married) with Song who, unbeknownst to him, is a man. Song does not correct this misapprehension but encourages the relationship in part because he must try to pass French embassy secrets to the Chinese government. When Rene and Song are caught and brought to trial, much is revealed. Characters Kurogo – In the Japanese puppet theatre known as bunraku the kurogo or puppet masters wear black robes that signify that they are merely part of the background. Playwright Hwang incorporates kurogo into M. Butterfly to underscore the Asian setting and emphasize the theatrical nature of the play itself. Rene Gallimard – a minor French embassy official (he’s an accountant ) sent to Beijing in the 1960s where he meets and falls in love with Song Liling, a Chinese Opera performer Gallimard sees playing Butterfly in the Puccini opera Madama Butterfly. He and Song carry on a 20-year affair before Gallimard is arrested for passing secrets to Soon. Consul Sharpless – A character from Puccini’s opera who intercedes between American naval officer Pinkerton and Butterfly and is somewhat sympathetic to Butterfly. He is intentionally played by the same actor who plays Marc (see below). Suzuki – Butterfly’s friend/maid who stands by her through her sham marriage, the birth of her son and her suicide. She is intentionally played by the same actor who later is Comrade Chin and Shu Fang (see below). Marc – Rene’s boyhood friend, a self-proclaimed chick magnet who Rene admires but feels unable to emulate. Marc is in turn envious of Rene’s affair with Song, for a time. Helga – an ambassador’s daughter who Rene marries for prestige rather than love. She seems not to mind. M. Toulon – Rene’s superior at the French embassy who encourages his affair. This actor later plays the trial judge.
21 Renee – a college girl with whom Rene attempts to have an affair but fails when he finds her “too forward” in her sexuality. She’s played by the same actor who is the Girl in the Magazine and the Woman at a Party. Song Liling – A Chinese Opera performer, and, unbeknownst to Rene, a spy. (Oh yes, “she’s” also a man.) Aside from serving his government undercover he seems also to relish putting one over on a foolish white Westerner in love with a ridiculous stereotype. Shu Fang – Song’s handler and contact to the Chinese undercover agency. Comrade Chin – representative of China’s secret agency. A Few Points about Peking (Beijing) Opera From: Tanfo Online Peking opera of China is a national treasure with a history of 200 years. In the 55th year of the reign of Emperor Qianlong of the Qing Dynasty (1790),the four big Huiban opera troupes entered the capital and combined with Kunqu opera, Yiyang opera, Hanju opera and Luantan in Beijing's theatrical circle of the time. Through a period of more than half a century of combination and integration of various kinds of opera there evolved the present Peking opera, the biggest kind of opera in China, whose richness of repertoire, great number of artists of performance and of audiences, and profound influence are incomparable in China. Peking opera is a synthesis of stylized action, singing, dialogue and mime, acrobatic fighting and dancing to represent a story or depict different characters and their feelings of gladness, anger, sorrow, happiness, surprise, fear and sadness. In Peking opera there are four main types of roles: sheng (male), dan (young female), jing painted face, male), and chou (clown, male or female). The characters may be loyal or treacherous, beautiful or ugly, good or bad, their images being vividly manifested. The repertoire of Peking opera is mainly engaged in fairy tales of preceding dynasties, important historical events, emperors, ministers and generals, geniuses and great beauties, from the ancient times to Yao, Shun, Yu, the Spring and Autumn Period, the Warring States Period and the dynasties of Qin, Han, Sui, Tang, Song, Yuan, Ming, Qing. The music of Peking opera is that of the "plate and cavity style." Its melody with harmonious rhythms is graceful and pleasing to the ears. The melody may be classified into two groups: "Xipi" and "erhong," guiding pattern, original pattern, slow pattern, quick pattern, desultory pattern being their chief patterns. The performance is accompanied by a tune played on wind instruments, percussion instruments and stringed instruments, the chief musical instruments being jinghu (a two-stringed bowed instrument with a high register), yueqin ( a four-stringed plucked instrument with a full-moon-shaped sound box), Sanxian ( a three-stringed plucked instrument), suona horn, flute drum, big-gong, cymbals, small-gong, etc. The costumes in Peking opera are graceful, magnificent, elegant and brilliant, most of which [feature] handcrafted embroidery.
22 Since the traditional Chinese pattern [have been] adopted, the costumes are of a high aesthetic value. The types of facial make-ups in Peking opera are rich and various, depicting different characters and remarkable images, therefore they are highly appreciated. Moreover there are numerous fixed editions of facial make-up. Since Mei Lanfang, the grand master of Peking opera, visited Japan in 1919, Peking opera has become more and more popular with people all over the world, and it has made an excellent contribution to cultural exchange between China and the West, to friendly association and to improvements in solidarity.
Scene from a film of the Ming kunqu The Peony Pavilion. The actors are the famous Mei Lanfang as the heroine Du Liniang and Yu Zhenfei, the best-known twentieth-century kunqu performer of scholar-lover roles, as Liu Mengmei.
An Afterword to M. Butterfly David Henry Hwang It all started in May of 1986, over casual dinner conversation. A friend asked, Had I heard about the French diplomat who'd fallen in love with a Chinese actress, who subsequently turned out to be not only a spy, but a man? I later found a two-paragraph story in The New York Times. The diplomat, Bernard Bouriscot, attempting to account for the fact that he had never seen his "girlfriend" naked, was quoted as saying, "I thought she was very modest. I thought it was a Chinese custom." Now, I am aware that this is not a Chinese custom, that Asian women are no more shy with their lovers than are women of the West. I am also aware, however, that Bouriscot's assumption was consistent with a certain stereotyped view of Asians as bowing, blushing flowers. I therefore concluded that the diplomat must have fallen in love, not with a person, but with a fantasy stereotype. I also inferred that, to the extent the Chinese spy encouraged these
23 misperceptions, he must have played up to and exploited this image of the Oriental woman as demure and submissive. (In general, by the way, we prefer the term Asian to Oriental, in the same way black is superior to Negro. I use the term Oriental specifically to denote an exotic or imperialistic view of the East.) I suspected there was a play here. I purposely refrained from further research, for I was not interested in writing docudrama. Frankly, I didn't want the "truth" to interfere with my own speculations. . . . I remember going so far as to speculate that it could be some "great Madame Butterfly-like tragedy." . . . The idea of doing a deconstructivist Madame Butterfly immediately appealed to me. This, despite the fact that I didn't even know the plot of the opera! I knew Butterfly only as a cultural stereotype; speaking of an Asian woman, we would sometimes say, "She's pulling a Butterfly," which meant playing the submissive Oriental number. . . . Sure enough, when I purchased the record, I discovered it contained a wealth of sexist and racist clichés, reaffirming my faith in Western culture. Very soon after, I came up with the basic "arc" of my play: the Frenchman fantasizes that he is Pinkerton and his lover is Butterfly. By the end of the piece, he realizes that it is he who has been Butterfly, in that the Frenchman has been duped by love; the Chinese spy, who exploited that love, is therefore the real Pinkerton. . . . I wrote a play, rather than a musical, because, having "broken the back" of the story, I wanted to start immediately and not be hampered by the lengthy process of collaboration. I would like to think, however, that the play has retained many of its musical roots. So Monsieur Butterfly was completed in six weeks between September and mid-October 1986. My wife Ophelia thought Monsieur Butterfly too obvious a title, and suggested I abbreviate it in the French fashion. Hence, M. Butterfly, far more mysterious and ambiguous, was the result. . . . Many people have subsequently asked me about the "ideas" behind the play. . . . From my point of view, the "impossible" story of a Frenchman duped by a Chinese man masquerading as a woman always seemed perfectly explicable; given the degree of misunderstanding between men and women and also between East and West, it seemed inevitable that a mistake of this magnitude would one day take place. Gay friends have told me of a derogatory term used in their community: "Rice Queen"— a gay Caucasian man primarily attracted to Asians. In these relationships, the Asian virtually always plays the role of the "woman"; the Rice Queen, culturally and sexually, is the "man." This pattern of relationships had become so codified that, until recently, it was considered unnatural for gay Asians to date one another. Such men would be taunted with a phrase which implied they were lesbians. Similarly, heterosexual Asians have long been aware of "Yellow Fever"—Caucasian men with a fetish for exotic Oriental women. I have often heard it said that "Oriental women make the best wives." (Rarely is this heard from the mouths of Asian men, incidentally.) This mythology is exploited by the Oriental mail-order bride trade which has flourished [recently]. American men can now send away for catalogues of "obedient, domesticated" Asian women looking for husbands. Anyone who believes such stereotypes are a thing of the past need look no further than Manhattan cable television, which advertises call girls from “the exotic east, where men are king; obedient girls, trained in the art of pleasure." In these appeals, we see issues of racism and sexism intersect. The catalogues and TV spots appeal to a strain in men which desires to reject Western women for what they have become—independent, assertive, self-possessed—in favor of a more reactionary model—the pre-feminist, domesticated geisha girl. That the Oriental woman is penultimately feminine does
24 not of course imply that she is always "good." For every Madonna there is a whore; for every lotus blossom there is also a dragon lady. In popular culture, "good" Asian women are those who serve the White protagonist in his battle against her own people, often sleeping with him in the process. Stallone's Rambo II, Cimino's Year of the Dragon, Clavell's Shogun, Van Lustbader's The Ninja are all familiar examples. Now our considerations of race and sex intersect the issue of imperialism, for this formula—good natives serve Whites, bad natives rebel—is consistent with the mentality of Colonialism. Because they are submissive and obedient, good natives of both sexes necessarily take on "feminine" characteristics in a colonialist world. Gunga Din's unfailing devotion to his British master, for instance, is not so far removed from Butterfly's slavish faith in Pinkerton. It is reasonable to assume that influences and attitudes so pervasively displayed in popular culture might also influence our policymakers as they consider the world. The neoColonialist notion that good elements of a native society, like a good woman, desire submission to the masculine West speaks precisely to the heart of our foreign policy blunders in Asia and elsewhere. For instance, Frances Fitzgerald wrote in Fire in the Lake, "The idea that the United States could not master the problems of a country as small and underdeveloped as Vietnam did not occur to [President] Johnson as a possibility." Here, as in so many other cases, by dehumanizing the enemy, we dehumanize ourselves. We become the Rice Queens of realpolitik. M. Butterfly has sometimes been regarded as an anti-American play, a diatribe against the stereotyping of the East by the West, of women by men. Quite to the contrary, I consider it a plea to all sides to cut through our respective layers of cultural and sexual misperception, to deal with one another truthfully for our mutual good, from the common and equal ground we share as human beings. For the myths of the East, the myths of the West, the myths of men, and the myths of women—these have so saturated our consciousness that truthful contact between nations and lovers can only be the result of heroic effort. Those who prefer to bypass the work involved will remain in a world of surfaces, misperceptions running rampant. This is, to me, the convenient world in which the French diplomat and the Chinese spy lived. This is why, after twenty years, he had learned nothing at all about his lover, not even the truth of his sex. D. H. H. September 1988 The Real M. Butterfly People Weekly, Joyce Wadler, Aug. 8, 1988 In 1964, a young accountant named Bernard Bouriscot came to work at the newly opened French embassy in Beijing. Foreigners were rare in China at the time, and relationships between Chinese and outsiders forbidden, but that did not discourage Bernard. An adventurous, fun-loving man who might be seen with one hand shackled to a diplomatic pouch and the other carrying a case of beer, Bouriscot had a habit of going after what he wanted. When he met Shi Peipu, he pursued the onetime opera singer with intensity. . . . At 17, [Shi had become] a singer with the Peking Opera, performing—as was common in traditional Chinese theatre—both men's and women's roles. His most famous part was the lead in The Story of the Butterfly, the classic Chinese folktale of a beautiful girl who impersonates her lazy brother so that she can get an education. . . . By the time he was 26, Shi Peipu had stopped performing and become a writer of librettos for the opera. . . . Boursicot's first trip outside Europe, in 1963, took him to newly independent Algeria, where he was able to land a low-level administrative job with the French embassy [and where]
25 this strictly brought-up Catholic boy had his first experience with sex—with a woman prostitute. ''It was cheap, I tell you,'' he recalls with a laugh. ''Nine francs, and as fast as she could make it. I didn't enjoy it much. It was just something I did to prove I was a man, to prove to myself I was not homosexual.'' Did he have homosexual desires at the time? ''No,'' he insists. ''I was not able in any way to go against the moral concepts.'' . . . In 1964 the French recognized Red China and opened an embassy there. Within eight months the irrepressible Boursicot had managed to land the job of embassy bookkeeper. . . . Two months after his arrival he met Shi Peipu. Despite the story as told in M. Butterfly, Shi Peipu was not dressed as a woman at their first meeting, and Boursicot never saw his lover perform a woman's role on the stage. The person Bernard Boursicot saw—and was attracted to—was a witty young man, the center of attention at the party. ''He was telling a lot of stories. I thought he was very attractive—someone I would like to know,'' says Boursicot. . . . Shi's memories of that evening are as vivid as a debutante's of her first ball. ''Oh, did I dress up,'' he says. ''. . . I was in a blue Chinese jacket, silk. I shined my shoes. I was sitting on the sofa and all of a sudden—BOOM!!—a large creature sits heavily down. It was Monsieur Boursicot. I cannot lie, he was very elegant. He tried to talk to me, but I turned my head away. I was shy.'' Boursicot was not discouraged. When he saw Shi passing his phone number to another guest, he snatched it away. Soon the two men were visiting museums, the planetarium and the opera. The friendship deepened despite warnings from all sides. . . . The two men give conflicting versions of how Boursicot came to believe his good friend was a woman. Shi—who occasionally insists he never told Boursicot he was a girl—says Bernard mistakenly leaped to that conclusion on his own. ''I was showing him a scrapbook from when I was in the theatre, and I came to a picture from [The Story of the] Butterfly . . . ,'' says Peipu. ''I was explaining this story to him in French, but my French wasn't very good and when I got to the part where I said, 'I played the role of the girl,' Monsieur Boursicot said, 'Aaaaahhhhh! I understand! I am so happy!' '' Couldn't Shi have set him straight? ''I tried to,'' he says, ''but he didn't believe me. And I didn't want to take my pants down. I loved him so much. He was so innocent. It's me who was the criminal.'' Boursicot tells a different tale: ''. . . We went for a walk on a bridge near the Forbidden City, a very romantic place. Shi, who had been hinting at some dark secret for a long while, had something to tell me: He was a woman, just like the person in the Chinese legend. Shi said that he was his mother's third daughter—Shi did have two older sisters—and that when he was born his mother, afraid her husband would divorce her for not producing a son, decided to bring Shi up as a boy. Shi said I must keep this secret to protect his family. And I did, for 20 years. . . . It seemed possible. His face was completely without hair, he had the hands of a woman, and the Chinese women had very little breasts. . . .'' When Shi had finished his story, Boursicot recalls, ''I said, 'It's okay, you are a woman. We can share our life together. I will always be your friend.' '' Yet the relationship began to change. ''A few days later,'' recalls Boursicot, ''I said, 'Well, if you are a woman, we can sleep together.' It was I who proposed it, but now, years later, I believe Shi wanted me to say it. He very well prepared the field.'' [Boursicot now believes] that Peipu told him he was a woman because he knew that Bernard would not sleep with a man. ''I am sure of it,'' says Bernard. ''He knew that would bind me. That and having a child.'' So they made love. Shi says he kept himself covered with a blanket in a darkened room and never allowed Boursicot to touch his crotch. . . Even today, Bernard still cannot explain why sex with Shi seemed ''just like being with a woman.'' . . . In any case, Boursicot stresses, they had sex only rarely. . . .
26 In August 1965, according to Boursicot, Shi announced he was pregnant and they talked about what to do. ''Then one night Shi calls me to her house,'' he says. ''She was lying in bed very pale and there was a basin with blood. Shi said she had aborted the child.''. . . Winter came. Bernard, unable to extend his contract with the embassy, went off to explore the Amazon. The lovers were distraught at the prospect of separation, but before Bernard left, in December 1965, Shi gave him some heartening news: Once again, a child was expected. Bernard asked that if the baby were a boy, he be named Bertrand; if a girl, Michelle. Several months later, a male child appeared. Where did he come from? [Years later] at the time of his arrest, Shi Peipu told police that a neighbor, Dr. Ma, ''had explained to me that it would be possible to impregnate a woman by using Boursicot's sperm.'' So Shi asked Bernard to use a condom. . . . â€œSome time later Dr. Ma gave me a child aged about a month or two. ''I paid 3,000 yuan, which was a lot of money at the time,'' says Shi. . . ''I named the child Bertrand. I don't know whether it was Boursicot's child or not.'' (Blood tests have since shown that the child is the son of neither man. It is believed he was purchased in Chinese Turkestan, where many of the natives have Caucasian features.) Boursicot, . . . ecstatic, spent the next four years desperately trying to get back to China. ''I was everywhere in the world,'' he says, ''and I was always thinking of Peipu and the child.''. . . In September 1969 . . . Boursicot finally managed to get posted back to China; [he] spent nearly a month searching for Shi and his son. . . . But the child Boursicot had wanted so desperately to see was not thereâ€”because of his slightly Western features, Shi had taken the precaution of sending him to live in the country. . . . A neighbor spotted Boursicot and began yelling for the authorities. . . . Boursicot, questioned by police, told them he had been meeting with Shi to study the thoughts of Chairman Mao and was released. Unable to stay apart, the lovers became more cautious. ''We would meet once a week and sit on different sides of the main boulevard in Beijing,'' says Shi. ''We . . . would just sit for an hour and look at one another. I was really rather happy.'' . . . Boursicot insists he was not blackmailed into passing information to the Chinese [but] volunteered. . . . Moreover, he didn't feel like a traitor. ''France was not at war with China,'' he says. ''I did not give the Chinese everything they wanted, only papers reflecting how the powers felt about China.'' . . . The French government would eventually describe Shi as ''the main cog in the machination'' of espionage, and there are those who believe he was a government spy from the beginning, sent to entrap an embassy employee. Boursicot, while admitting that Shi introduced him to his Chinese contact, believes Shi was simply frightened of the Red Guards. . . . By this time, Shi and Boursicot no longer had sexual contact. Though newspaper stories say the two were lovers for 19 years, the truth, says Boursicot, is that ''the affair was only a few months in 1965. I love Shi, he was my first affair. But if not for the child, it would have been over long ago.''. . . Finally, in September 1982, he was able to arrange for Shi and Bertrand, then 16, to move to Paris. Boursicot immediately whisked the boy off to see his delighted grandparents in Brittany. Inevitably, the friendship between a diplomat and a Chinese national aroused the curiosity of French counterintelligence officials. In July 1983, they brought Bernard in for questioning. Though they had no evidence against him, he told them everythingâ€”about his love for Shi, about Shi's really being a woman, about the documents he had provided to his Chinese contact. . . . The two were jailed at once, and a week later Boursicot heard a radio report that Shi was a he.
27 ''I thought, It is not possible. I knew police lie,'' says Boursicot. ''I came to accept it only after six months, when Shi and I were taken before the judge. Afterwards, he said to me, 'I am a man.' I said, 'Show me your sex.' We were in a very small room together, he could not refuse me. He opened his pants.'' The large man's eyes fill with tears. ''In the press in France I am this old, fat person; in this play in America I die in jail,'' Boursicot says, weeping. ''Love is trust. That . . . was the fault of my friend Shi Peipu, to lie.'' At their 1986 trial, the prosecution maintained that Boursicot had betrayed his country and that Shi was used to seduce him. Defense lawyers argued that the relationship was a love story, not a spy story, and that no harm had been done to France. . . . The two men were found guilty and sentenced to six years in jail. Shi Peipu was released after 19 months for health reasons. Boursicot served 49 months and was released last August. Both have been pardoned. . . . David Henry Hwang, 1994 William L. Abramowitz Guest Lecturer MIT, April 15,1994 Transcript by Don Dee I think that those of us who write about minorities, women, gays, whatever, are often criticized for being inauthentic by our own group and in turn, some of us like myself also go and criticize other people for being inauthentic. . . . [As a playwright] my journey is essentially a personal one: I've been searching for authenticity in my work and contradicting myself at certain points and struggling with these issues [myself]. . . . I [grew up] in a suburb called San Gabriel with basically Anglos and Latinos, some African-Americans and a few Asians. I thought of my ethnicity, at the time, as sort of like having red hairâ€”that is, it was a sort of interesting feature, part of my total make-up, but not of any intrinsic significance in and of itself. . . . Similarly, some of my earliest memories about being Asian American have to do with a certain aversion to Asian-American characters in movies and television. . . I remember feeling ashamed and changing the channel or not going to a particular movie. We'd talk about these sort of blatantly evil Asian American characters like Fu Manchu or the various soldiers in Japanese or Vietnam war movies or Hwang at MIT
we'd talk about sort of the benign obsequious version, Charlie Chan or the guy in the Calgon commercial that said "ancient Chinese secret." All of those were a source of great embarrassment to me. . . And yet because of the way we looked, I was expected to have some sort of identification with them. . . . Even as a boy, I think I began to try to search for some sort of authenticity behind the Fu Manchus and the Vietnamese generals that I saw on television. . . . When I was about 12 we thought that my grandmother was going to die and she was the only one who knew all of the family history. I thought it was really important that this sort of stuff be preserved so I spent a summer with her and did a lot of oral histories and eventually wrote this into a kind of 100-page nonfiction novel which was Xeroxed and distributed among my family and got very good reviews. . . . Writing for me continued to be a search for authenticity. When I began wanting to write plays in college, . . . I studied with playwrights like Sam Shepard and Maria Irene Forties and Murray Mednick. I began to deal with the unconscious, how it is that we can begin to . . . make our art come alive with ideas that go beyond simply what the rational mind can manipulate. As I
28 began to write with free association, with speed writing, with all sorts of dadaist collage techniques, I found that my work was leading me . . . back to when I was 12 years old, back to the stories of my grandparents, things that I would hear as a child, back to . . . Fu Manchu and Charlie Chan and all those things that I'd turn off on the television. . . . [In] Family Devotions, a play that was largely autobiographical, . . . there's a character named Chester who is a violinist who's about to go off and play with the Boston Symphony. . . . He meets an uncle, Di Goo, who's just arrived from the PRC [People’s Republic of China] and is not part of the fundamentalist Christian tradition that Chester was brought up in. . . . Di Goo says, "Chester, I've found that I cannot leave the family. Today look. I followed them across an ocean." Chester says, "You know, they're going to start bringing you to church." Di Goo: No, my sisters and their religion are two different things. There are faces back further than you can see, faces long before the white missionaries arrived in China. Here, look here at your face. Study your face and you will see. The shape of your face is the shape of faces back many generations, across an ocean, in another soil. You must become one with your family before you can hope to live away from it. Chester, you are in America, if you deny those who share your blood, what do you have in this country? . . . The face . . . is a repository of culture, the face is a repository of who you really are. The stories written in your face are the ones that you must believe. . . In some sense you can read this debate in Family Devotions as an argument over the issue of authentic culture versus Orientalism. For instance, we who are born in America absorb our images of self and culture basically through Western eyes, through the mainstream point of view and even if we decide to read original Chinese literature, we're often looking at translations that were made by Western scholars with their own sets of idiosyncrasies or prejudices or preconceptions. Under such circumstances, how can we possibly discover who we really are? How can we discover the reality or the authentic Asian or Asian-American culture? The question of authenticity continues to haunt me. For instance, the use of Chinese opera in my work, what is the significance of Chinese opera in my life? I hadn't actually grown up with a lot of Chinese opera; it was something that I kind of appropriated as a cultural symbol. . . . I wondered if I was sort of just creating “Orientalia” for the intelligentsia. That is, I looked at my work and [saw that my plays with] dragons and gongs and stuff . . . seemed to be the more popular. I was wondering if I was repackaging the old stereotypes in more intellectually hip forms. . . Then I was at a party and somebody told me the story of the French diplomat who had a 20-year affair with a Chinese actress who turned out to be (A) a spy and (B) a man. . . I began to think of the French diplomat . . . and what did he think he was getting when he met the spy? The answer came to me—he probably thought he was meeting some version of Madame Butterfly. I'd like to just read the scene where Gallimard, the French diplomat and Song, the Chinese spy, meet for the first time. Gallimard says: “They say in opera, the voice is everything. That's probably why I'd never before enjoyed opera. Here she was a Butterfly with little or no voice, but she had the grace, the delicacy, I believed this girl, I believed her suffering. I wanted to take her in my arms, so delicate, even I could protect her, take her home, pamper her until she smiled.”
29 Song, the spy, says: “Excuse me, monsieur.” Gallimard: “Oh, mademoiselle, the beautiful Song Liling. A beautiful performance.” “Oh please, I usually—you make me blush, I'm no opera singer at all.” Gallimard says: “I usually don't like Butterfly.” “I can't blame you in the least. I mean the story—ridiculous.” “I like the story but—what?” Song says: “Oh, you like it.” “What I mean is I've always seen it played by huge women in so much bad makeup.” “Bad makeup is not unique to the West.” “But who can believe them?” “And you believe me?” Gallimard says: “Absolutely, you were utterly convincing. It's the first time—” “Convincing? As a Japanese woman? The Japanese used hundreds of our people for medical experiments during the war you know, but I gather such an irony is lost on you.” “No, I was about to say it's the first time I've seen the beauty of the story.” “Really?” “Of her death, it's a pure sacrifice. She—he's unworthy but what can she do? She loves him so much, It's a very beautiful story.” “Well, yes, to a Westerner.” “Excuse me?” “It's one of your favorite fantasies isn't it? The submissive Oriental woman and the cruel white man. . . .Consider it this way. What would you say if a blonde homecoming queen fell in love with a short Japanese businessman? He treats her cruelly, then goes home for three years, during which time she prays to his picture and turns down marriage from a young Kennedy; then when she learns he has remarried, she kills herself. Now, I believe you would consider this girl to be a deranged idiot, correct? But because it's an Oriental who kills herself for a Westerner, all you find it beautiful.” “Yes, well, I see your point.” “I will never do Butterfly again, Monsieur Gallimard. If you wish to see some real theatre, come to the Peking Opera some time, expand your mind.” And Gallimard says: “So much for protecting her in my big Western arms.” . . . I created a French diplomat who was caught up in all Orientalist fantasy and in so doing, I was exploring both the pervasiveness and the seductiveness of these stereotypes. Through the juxtaposition of fantasy and reality that's in the play, I'm asking whether it's really possible to see the truth, to see the authenticity about a culture, a loved one, or even ourselves. Are we always going to be imprisoned within the realm of our own subjectivity and forced to perceive meaning through our own prejudices? . . . I think that people yearn for absolutes, certain objective realities that we can anchor our lives on [but they don’t exist]. . . . I know a couple who's—gosh—he's Irish and Jewish and Japanese and she's Haitian and Filipino and something else. Anyway, they had a child and someone whose business it is to know such things informed them that their child had never existed before. I began to wonder, if this child grows up and becomes a writer—let's say it's a woman—what do we call her? Is she an African-American writer or an Asian-American writer, European-American or is she basically a
30 woman's writer or what? And I think that when the day comes that we can simply call her an American writer, then we will have gone a long way to claiming the humanity and the authenticity of all our experiences as Americans. Thank you. (APPLAUSE) Discussion Questions/Activities 1. In this play author Hwang has basically placed a cultural stereotype—that Asian women (Asians) are happily submissive and want to be “ruled”—in a modern setting to demonstrate its falseness. Are there other literary works that challenge stereotypes in a similar way? Choose a stereotype you think should be overturned and outline a fictional work in which it is “destroyed.” 2. Take Song’s suggested reversal of this story—a beautiful young American cheerleader promises herself to an older, unattractive Asian businessman (who has actually dumped her), refusing a relationship with a powerful, rich American—and write out a scene or two (theatrical or literary) between the woman and the businessman (how they met, his announcement that he must return home, etc.) and between the two Americans (their first meeting, her refusal to start a relationship, etc.), or write a monologue for the young woman as she waits. 3. False assumptions about a social group often serve as fuel for discrimination (see also West Side Story, The Crucible, etc.). Research recent, past or ancient events involving discrimination. If the problems were resolved, did the eradication of stereotypes play a part? Compare research done by your classmates. Does any social group or historic period display more discrimination than others? 4. Some believe that Gallimard’s attitudes toward Song are equivalent to the United States’ attitudes toward Vietnam. This could be debated, between Vietnamese and American diplomats, between Sixties’ era Hawks and Doves, between a Vietnam vet and a Vietnam-era draft dodger. 5. China, Japan and England have or had theatrical traditions in which men played all roles regardless of gender. China and Japan have maintained these traditions as part of their cultural heritage while England effectively ended all-male acting companies in the early 18th century. Anyone care to do a little research or posit informed guesses as to why we Westerners did away with a practice that was de rigueur in Shakespeare’s time? Do you know of any modern Western groups or performances pieces that draw on this tradition? Sources Consulted Chinese Theatre: From Its Origins to the Present Day. Colin Mackerras, ed. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1988. David Henry Hwang; Abramowitz lecture text. Ingrid Kerkhoff, ed. ©2002. University of Bremen. 8 April 2002. www.fb10.uni-bremen.de/anglistik/kerkhoff/ContempDrama/Hwang.htm#Biography David Henry Hwang. No editor. ©2002. Infoplease.com Learning Network. 8 April 2002. www.infoplease.com/ipea/Ao880532.html
31 David Henry Hwang. Joel Hirschhorn. ©2001. The Dramatists Guild. 8 April 2002. www.dramaguild.com (select The Dramatist magazine, then past issues. Hwang is on the cover) Interview with David Henry Hwang. No editor. 15 Feb. 2002. Mosaic: University of Pennsylvania’s Asian American Literary magazine. 9 April 2002. http://dolphin.upenn.edu/~mosaic/spring94/page19.html Online Course Companion for Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, and Drama, David Henry Hwang. X.J. Kennedy and Dana Gioia ©2001. Pearson Education Inc. 8 April 2002. www.occawlonline.pearsoned.com/bookbind/pubbooks/kennedylfpd_awl/chapter26/deluxe.html Peking Opera. No editor. ©1999. Tanfo Online. 12 August 2002. http://china.tyfo.com/int/ent/opera/peking/peking-general.htm
August Wilson’s Jitney Many thanks to Danielle Minnis and Karen Petruska of Actors Theatre of Louisville for sharing some of their research in support of our co-production of Jitney. August Wilson, American Playwright Compiled from online biographies and essays from PA Biographies, Hinda Barlaz of Adelphi University, Theatre Mania.com, Dartmouth College and Chris Rawson of the Pittsburgh PostGazette. August Wilson was born in 1945, the fourth child of six, with the name Frederick August Kittel after his father, a white man who had immigrated from Germany. (Following his father’s death in 1965 he took his mother Daisy's last name, becoming August Wilson.) Wilson was born in the Hill District of Pittsburgh, a predominantly black neighborhood, where his family lived in poverty. When he was 13 they moved to predominantly white Hazelwood, but he did not forget the unique culture of the Hill, especially when he had to suffer the racial taunts in Hazelwood. The August Wilson family eventually returned to the Hill. Though he grew up in a poor family, Wilson felt that his parents withheld knowledge of even greater hardships they had endured. "My generation of blacks knew very little about the past of our parents," he told the New York Times in 1984. "They shielded us from the indignities they suffered." Wilson's goal is to illuminate that shadowy past with a series of plays, each set in a different decade, that focus on black issues. Wilson has noted that his real education began when he was sixteen years old. Disgusted by the racist treatment he endured in the various schools he had attended [as the only black student in Central Catholic High School, threats and abuse drive him away; at a subsequent school a black teacher suspected he had not written a twenty-page paper on Napoleon, as he claimed], he dropped out and began educating himself in the local library. Pittsburgh’s Carnegie
32 Library later presented Wilson with an honorary high school diploma, the only one in the institution’s history. Working at menial jobs, he also pursued a literary career and successfully submitted poems to black publications at the University of Pittsburgh. In 1968 he became active in the theatre by founding—despite lacking prior experience—Black Horizons on the Hill, a theatre company in Pittsburgh, with another black man, Rob Penney. (He also wrote a few plays at this time.) Recalling his early theatre involvement, Wilson described himself to the New York Times as "a cultural nationalist . . . trying to raise consciousness through theatre." In 1976, the same year Vernell Lillie directed his The Homecoming for Kuntu Theatre, Wilson saw his first professional play, Athol Fugard’s Sizwe Bansi Is Dead, at Pittsburgh’s Public Theatre. According to several observers, however, Wilson found his artistic voice—and began to appreciate the black voices of Pittsburgh—after he moved to St. Paul, Minnesota, on the advice of his friend director Claude Purdy, in 1978 to write dramatic skits for the Science Museum of Minnesota. A 1980 fellowship from the Minneapolis Playwrights Center finally provided Wilson an opportunity to develop his own work. In St. Paul Wilson wrote his first play, Jitney, a realistic drama set in a Pittsburgh taxi station. Originally written as a one-act, Jitney, noted for the fidelity with which it portrayed black urban speech and life, had a successful engagement at . . . Black Horizons in 1978 and in 1982 at the Eugene O'Neill Center's National Playwright Conference. A revised, full-length Jitney earned the 2001 Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Off-Broadway Play. David Kaufman of the New York Daily News notes that, “typical of Wilson's storytelling, Jitney has no real protagonist. Instead, the play swirls around the drivers who work out of Becker's shop, as well as some colorful neighborhood figures. It is a tribute to Wilson's dramatic skills that we come to care about the plight of each of these characters. Written with emotional truth and depth, Jitney is suffused with the poetry of everyday life.” Wilson then resumed work on an earlier unfinished project, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, a play about a black blues singer's exploitation of her fellow musicians. This work, whose title role is named after an actual blues singer from the 1920s, is set in a recording studio in 1927. In the studio, temperamental Ma Rainey verbally abuses the other musicians and presents herself— without justification—as an important musical figure. But for the most part Ma Rainey's musicians discuss their abusive employer and the hardships of life in racist America. . . . Ma Rainey's Black Bottom earned Wilson a trip to the O'Neill Theatre Center's National Playwrights Conference. There Wilson's play impressed director Lloyd Richards from the Yale Repertory Theatre. Richards worked with Wilson to refine the play, and when it was presented at Yale in 1984 it was hailed as the work of an important new playwright. . . . Ma Rainey's Black Bottom went to Broadway later, where it ran for 275 performances and won the 1985 New York Drama Critics Circle Best Play Award and the Whiting Foundation’s Writers’ Award. Wilson's subsequent plays include the Pulitzer Prize-winning Fences, set in the Fifties, which is about a former athlete who forbids his son to accept an athletic scholarship, and Joe Turner's Come and Gone, which concerns an ex-convict's efforts to find his wife during the 1910s [it won the 1988 New York Drama Critics Circle Best Play Award]. Like Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, these plays underwent extensive rewriting. Again guiding Wilson in this process was Lloyd Richards, [who told the New York Times in 1986,] "August is a wonderful poet, a wonderful poet turning into a playwright." Richards added that his work with Wilson involved "clarifying" each work's main theme and "arranging the material in a dynamic way." . . . [Regarding Fences Wilson has said,] "One question in the play is, ‘Are the tools we are given sufficient to compete in a world that is different from the one our parents knew?' I think
33 they are—it's just that we have to do different things with the tools." Fences garnered the 1986 New York Drama Critics Best Play Award, the 1987 Tony for Best Play and the ’87 Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Broadway Play. It also grossed $11 million in its first year, a Broadway record for a non-musical. In 1990, Wilson claimed his second Pulitzer Prize, this time for The Piano Lesson. Set during the Great Depression, this drama pits brother against sister in a contest to decide the future of a treasured heirloom—a piano, carved with African-style portraits by their grandfather, an enslaved plantation carpenter. The brother wants to sell it to buy the land on which their ancestors had been enslaved, while the sister adamantly insists that the instrument carries too much family history to part with. The Piano Lesson was awarded the Drama Desk Outstanding New Play Award, the New York Drama Critics Circle and Tony Best Play Awards, and the American Theatre Critics Outstanding Play Award for 1990. . . Wilson later adapted The Piano Lesson for a Hallmark Hall of Fame television production. . . . Two Trains Running, [set in the ’60s,] continued Wilson's projected ten-play cycle about black American history. The play, which came to Broadway in 1992, is set in a run-down diner on the verge of being sold. Reactions by the diner's regular patrons to the pending sale make up the body of the drama. The play received the 1992 American Theatre Critics’ Association Award. . . . Two Trains Running was followed in 1995 by Seven Guitars. Set in the 1940s, it recounts the tragic story of blues guitarist Floyd Barton, whose funeral opens the play. Action then flashes back to recreate the events of Floyd's last week of life, as he and fellow guitarists plan going to Chicago to get in on the thriving music scene there. Seven Guitars was given the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for 1996. . . . King Hedley II . . . is set in 1985 in Pittsburgh's Hill District, the setting for all of Wilson’s work. It is a time of urban devastation brought on by the slash and burn economic policies of the time. Job opportunities are scarce [Pittsburgh lost 100,000 steel industry jobs, for example, between 1979 and 1984] and violence is a part of everyday life. The King of the title is selling hot refrigerators along with his partner Mister, scrambling to get enough money together to start their own Terrace Village, on Kirkpatrick Street, business. King's wife, a 1940s housing project, ca. 1986 Tonya, the 35-year-old mother of a teenager who is herself a mother, is struggling with the news that she is pregnant again. King is the son of Ruby, the high-spirited young woman of Wilson's Seven Guitars. Ruby's history of hooking up with unreliable men continues with Elmore, a smooth-talking con man from her past with the capacity to poison the future. The Broadway production garnered 6 Tony nominations in 2001: Best Actor (Brian Stokes Mitchell) and Actress (Leslie Uggams), Best Featured Actor (Charles Brown) and Actress (Viola Davis), Best Play, and Best Direction (Marion McClinton). [Wilson] believes that African Americans need not assimilate into the dominant culture, but to contribute to that society to make it represent African Americans. . . . In discussing African-American heritage, Wilson commented, "As African Americans, we should demand to participate in society as Africans. That's the way out of the vicious cycle of poverty and neglect that exists in . . . America, where you have a huge percentage of blacks living in the equivalent of South African townships, in housing projects. . . I think the process of assimilation to white
34 American society was a big mistake." In 1998 August Wilson convened a Dartmouth conference on African American theatre that led to the establishment of African Grove Institute of the Arts; a major "gathering of the tribes" is planned for this year. Discussing Wilson's body of work, Lawrence Bommer stated in the Chicago Tribune, "August Wilson has created the most complete cultural chronicle since Balzac wrote his vast Human Comedy, an artistic whole that has grown even greater than its prize-winning parts." As for the playwright, he has repeatedly stressed that his first objective is simply getting his work produced. "All I want is for the most people to get to see this play," he told the New York Times while discussing Joe Turner's Come and Gone. Wilson added, however, that he was not opposed to having his works performed on Broadway [because] Broadway "still has the connotation of Mecca" and "who doesn't want to go to Mecca?" Wilson’s early plays include The Homecoming (1979), The Coldest Day of the Year (1979), Fullerton Street (1980), Black Bart and the Sacred Hills (1981) and The Mill Hand’s Lunch Bucket (1983). He also wrote a libretto for a Jelly Roll Morton revue and may be found among the pages of A Game of Passion: The NFL Literary Companion. He is a contributor to such periodicals as Connection and Black Lines. August Wilson has received several fellowships, including Rockefeller and Guggenheim Fellowships in Playwriting, and the Clarence Muse Award. In 1987 he was named Artist of the Year by the Chicago Tribune and given the John Gassner Award for Best American Playwright from the Outer Critics Circle; in 1988 he was given New York Public Library’s Literary Lion Award; in 1991 Wilson received the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame Award. In 1995 Mr. Wilson was named a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters; he holds a 1999 National Humanities Medal. He is an alumnus of New Dramatists, and a founding member of the African Grove Institute of the Arts. Mr. Wilson makes his home in Seattle, Washington. He is the father of two daughters, Sakina Ansari Wilson and Azula Carmen Wilson, and is married to costume designer Constanza Romero. Wilson on Wilson From: The New York Times, “Characters Behind History Teach Wilson About Plays” In 1957, in Sister Mary Eldephonse’s seventh-grade class, math and science were at the very bottom of my list of preferred subjects. Despite my fascination with words and the idea of writing, the top place in my hierarchy of subjects was not reserved for English but rather history. History as taught by Sister Mary Eldephonse was no mere record of events prior to 1957, but a universe peopled with an assorted gallery of heroes like Charles Martel [grandfather of Charlemagne who unified Gaul and defeated the Spanish Muslims at the battle of Tours (73233)] and dastard villains like Attila the Hun. By the time I left her class and headed for Sister Ann Catherine’s eighth-grade class, which incidentally, would be my last year of formal education, I had already begun to look beyond the colorful characters to the cause and meaning of events and how they connected and contributed to the shaping of other events. It is not surprising then, that in 1982, when I began to write plays in earnest, I would become involved in the idea of history by proposing to write a play that dealt with black life and manners for each decade of the 20th century. I did not begin with such a grand scheme. It occurred to me after I had written my first two plays and set them in different decades. The idea of writing a series of plays that could be laid end on end to comprise a dramatic tracing of the black American odyssey through the 20th century was intriguing. I suddenly found myself with a focus and purpose, which not only held me pointed toward a goal but empowered me as well.
35 I soon discovered, however, that I was as interested in the culture as in the history. I found what to me was the culture’s greatest expression in the blues, and began my historical exploration by uncovering the ideas and attitudes so important to my characters. Since I was not a historian but a writer of fiction, I saw as my task the invention of characters. These personal histories would not only represent the culture but illuminate the historical context both of the period in which the play is set and the continuum of black life in America that stretches back to the early 17th century. I was encouraged by the fact that in all my reading of history, seldom, if ever, was the black experience and presence in America given any historical weight, seldom were they admitted to the larger playing field of cause and effect. I sought then to simply restore that experience to a primary role, thereby giving the facts of history a different perspective, and creating, in essence, a world in which the black American was the spiritual center. Because the “field of manners and ritual of intercourse” (to use James Baldwin’s elegant phrase) that sustains black American life has been deemed a part of America life by the irreversible sweep of history, the cycle of plays seems to have taken on a life of its own. My hope is that as each play has its own requirements, each play be taken on its own terms as a work of art, and only then be admitted to its place in the cycle. If you had asked me 10 years ago what I wanted to accomplish, I would not have said anything about a cycle of plays. I would have wanted as any artist to fashion of the finest gold the proper angel. I don’t know if history will find this cycle of plays to be made from a baser metal than my alchemy has permitted, but I do know if it is a measure of heart and will, a tenacious belief in one’s ability to go the distance, to put pen to paper and have it give back joy . . . then I’m home free. August Wilson: The People's Playwright Sharon Fitzgerald, senior editor of American Visions (August 2000) August Wilson’s assertions about the importance of black theatre and the dangers of colorblind casting have initiated some of the artistic community's most volatile debates. However, Wilson's impact on the theatre is composed of more enduring stuff: He listens to black people, grasps the language of our dreams and fears, and weaves all that he absorbs—both characters and conflicts—into art. "For me, the primary focus should be the celebration and illumination of the culture," he says. "The culture has not always been valued; it certainly has not been valued by white America. In terms of the value and worth of the humanity of black folks, it has been sometimes very urgently and profoundly denied." As poet-philosopher, Wilson is thoughtful, soft-spoken. His intuitive self blends easily with the Wilson who stands assured amid complexities, like a leader of troops: reserved, yet candid and approachable. The robust physique suggests more than just a 55-yearold intellectual's preference of ideas over workouts. Inside a form built to sustain powerful and passionate insights, a muse paces, leopard-like. Despite fame and his move to Seattle in the early 1990s, Wilson remains a brother from Pittsburgh. His no-humbug goatee is part W.E.B. DuBois, part Amiri Baraka. He smiles to express happiness or
36 amusement, not to assure others that he is friendly. His eyes, an astute pair of navigators, search everywhere for truth. His well-chosen words sweep through a conversation like a rebel tornado. He is a five-star storyteller: He remembers people, places and attitudes, where he stood, how he felt, and what he learned about human nature. Some of his life's stories are told as oneman narratives; others are fully cast, but he enacts all of the parts. The rhythms and nuances of language are adhesives for his memories, and he uses them, as he always has, with delight and abandon. He was in second grade when the word breakfast first caught his attention. "I said, That's two words: break and fast," Wilson recalls, "and then you put it together. I didn't know the word fasting in terms of food, but I knew that it was two words. So I started trying to put words together and to make my own words. They looked like they were a foot high, and I would just climb up inside the words. On the way to school, there was a sign that said hospital, and I just liked the way that looked, so I would spell it out. "And then when you discovered that you could concretize your thoughts—that you could think something and that there was a system by which you could let people know what you were thinking—oh, what else was there? That's the greatest thing in the world. So I was concretizing my thoughts and then going: ‘Here. That's what I was thinking.' It was just the words. That's how it started." Around seventh grade, his affair with words took flight as the result of another love interest. "I discovered that words had a certain power, because I would write Nancy Ireland poems, but I wouldn't sign my name to them," says Wilson. "I'd watch her: She'd read them and look over at Anthony Curvin. And I'd go: ‘It works. That's okay, all I've got to do is sign my name the next time. . . .' So I started writing poems for Catherine Moran, and I put my name to them. That was my beginning writing thing." . . . The community that influenced his early years included working-class people of various nationalities. Until high school, he attended Catholic schools alongside the children of European immigrants. "The Hill District at that time was like a mixed neighborhood," Wilson recalls. "It was a lot of Syrians, Jews and other people who had not made their way into American society yet. They were sort of outcasts themselves, and so they lived in the community with the black folks. "I grew up in a time when the community was a community. Everybody in the community was your social parent, and everyone knew everyone. I'd come home from school, and the parents would be sitting out on the steps, waiting for the kids to come home. They had gathered at the local store, stood around there and talked for hours and traded recipes: ‘Oh, Daisy, what are you cooking today?' ‘Oh, I'm cooking. . . .’ That kind of stuff doesn't happen anymore." According to Wilson, his father, a baker, was a "sporadic presence" within the household. The family lived in a house situated behind the store, back in the alley, with its own backyard. Wilson's mother maintained the home's balanced atmosphere. "We did family things together," says Wilson. "Like, Monday, at 7 o'clock, the rosary came on the radio, so we said the rosary. On Tuesday, People Are Funny came on at 7, and we sat down and listened to that. We played games. They had the Top 40, and we all picked a song. If your song got to be No. 1, you got a nickel. We'd listen and root for our song. . . . I had a wonderful childhood." He dropped out of high school [and] spent the day after his exit playing basketball outside the principal's office window, hoping that the administrator would notice, investigate and allow him to plead his case; no one appeared. Wilson ended his formal education, positioned
37 himself in the library, and began a self-directed period of study that lasted four years. By the end of this sojourn, he knew that he wanted to be a writer. "Those were my learning years," he says. "I read everything and anything that I could get my hands on, things that interested me: anthropology was one, cultural anthropology; theology was another. I read books on furniture making. I read everything, novels, whatever. "I have some holes in my education, Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Library but I always say, I know a little bit about everything. There are very few things that I don't know something about, and some things I know more about than others. When I was 20, I said, OK, I'm tired of the library. I wanted to go out in the world and find life learning—what kinds of things happened when you engaged life—so I did that." These recollections are accompanied by warnings. "Walking around with 12 cents in your pocket and holes in your shoes, I don't recommend it," he says. "Fortunately, it turned out okay. It didn't have to turn out like this, but if it hadn't, I'd still be living somewhere, writing some stuff, carrying my little tablets around, doing the thing that I do. Because I found that it was a way to live my life, and it was a joyful way to live it. I've never regretted the decision to become a writer." What Wilson brought to those early experiences—in addition to determination and a sense of adventure—was an exacting curiosity and that love of words. As he went in search of life lessons, the Hill District proved to be a worthy laboratory. He read [the novel] Home to Harlem, in which Claude McKay describes a cigar shop in Pittsburgh called Pat's Place, where railroad porters gathered. Wilson was excited by the reference and ventured to this outpost, looking for answers. "There were these old guys standing around there, in their 70s—the elders of the community—and they were talking about all kinds of stuff: the news and politics, the paper," he recalls. "So I would just stand around and listen to them. I was just trying to learn something about life. I wasn't standing there thinking, ‘Oh, I'm going to be a writer.' I was just there like, ‘Hey, man, how did you get to be so old, ’cause it's hard out here.' I really wanted to know how they survived: ‘How do you get to be 70 years old in America? Man, this is 1965, and you were born in 1890—something.' . . . They called me Youngblood: ‘Hey, Youngblood.'" It is easy to understand why, years later, as a dramatist, Wilson has chosen the Hill District as the backdrop for most of the 10 plays through which he hopes to examine, decade by decade, the 20th-century black experience. Community life represented a dynamic fusion of struggles, secrets, fantasies and strengths. The conversations that he heard and in which he participated supplied the foundation for the intimate dialogue Fifth Avenue storefronts, 1980s, Uptown characteristic of his plays. The intergenerational camaraderie that he encountered among black men fashioned his perceptions. Wilson-the-playwright describes an exchange:
One old guy called me to him one time because I had moved, and I had my little daughter, and he said, “You moved?” And I said, “Yeah.” And he said, “You come back and visit?” I said, “Yeah.” And he said, “Well, I ain't going to be here when you come back, but I've been watching you. . . You carrying around a 10-gallon bucket. You carry that 10gallon bucket through life, and you gon' always be disappointed.” He said, “Get you a little cup. Carry that through life. And that way, if somebody put a little bit in it, why you got sumpn’. Yeah. That 10-gallon bucket ain't never gon' be full. You know?” And I go, “Yes, sir.” "He gave me a dollar or a quarter, told me goodbye, and I never saw him again. I think he was dying then; he was an old guy. But just from his observation of me, he was telling me, ‘Man, . . . you gon' always be disappointed with that 10-gallon bucket.' So I managed to cut it down to a gallon bucket, but I never did get the little cup." The blues and the art of Romare Bearden are two of Wilson's acknowledged influences. Like them, his dramas take familiar conflicts and metaphors and create testaments to the might of everyday black people. Do we go through life carrying a 10-gallon bucket or settle for a cup? The enduring gift of his plays has been the knowing way in which they have exposed us at such crossroads while making clear our humanity. . . . Wilson-the-poet, sparked by an activist's spirit, discovered the theatre in the late 1960s. He was determined to counter the denial of black culture by creating an arena for social and political dialogue. "I wrote poetry and short fiction," he says. "I sort of stumbled into playwrighting because a good friend of mine was a director, and his best friend was a The Conversation, Romare Bearden writer who wasn't writing plays, so he just kept after me." Wilson and that director friend, Rob Penny, opened the Black Horizons Theatre in Pittsburgh in 1968. Although the stage was set, Wilson-the-dramatist was not yet ready to emerge. "After we had the theatre, I tried to write a play," he recalls. "And I remember that I had two characters, and one guy said, ‘Hey, man, what's happening?' And the other guy said, ‘Nothing.' Then I sat there for 20 minutes, trying to figure out what to do, and I couldn't. So I said: ‘All right, I don't have to write plays. Rob can write plays. I'm a director. I'm a poet, anyway.' I never even thought about writing a play then." Wilson was no more prepared to become a director, but when he was drafted to direct, he forged ahead. "I said, ‘I will,' because I knew where the library was at," he recalls. "I knew that I could go to the library and get a book on how to direct a play. I went and found a book called The Fundamentals of Play Directing." The theatre company's first efforts were raw, but the audiences were enthusiastic and Wilson was hooked. "It let me know what the importance of theatre was," he says, "how theatre was a powerful conveyor of cultural values. Theatre was a tool that you could use to disseminate
39 information. You can do the same thing if you have control of a television station, but we didn't have that. But we had a vehicle to attract people: They'd sit in the seats and get information that they otherwise wouldn't have gotten, in an entertaining way." He moved to St. Paul, Minn., in the late 1970s and worked as a scriptwriter for the anthropology division of the Science Museum of Minnesota. "I was adapting tales from the Northwest Indians and things of that sort," he says. It was during this period that Wilson's ear allied itself with his pen: "The big thing I learned was to value and respect the way that black people talk; I'd thought that in order to create art out of it that you had to change it. It was Sekou Toure who said that language describes the idea of the one who speaks it. That told me that you can have different language because you have different people, and they're describing the idea. I realized that there was nothing wrong with the way black folks talked; in fact, it was much more interesting to me than the so-called white dialog was." Between 1978 and 1979, he wrote Jitney, the play that had its Off-Broadway debut [in the spring of 2000]. He started submitting his work to the selection committee of the National Playwrights Conference at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre Center in Waterford, Conn. That program, a haven for developing playwrights, was under the artistic directorship of Lloyd Richards [who was] the first black director to take a play (A Raisin in the Sun) to Broadway. Wilson's first two entries were rejected, but he was accepted with the third, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom. "It was at the O'Neill that I learned how to rewrite a play," says Wilson. "The few plays that I had written, I'd written in a vacuum. During that first year I learned that the play doesn't jump out of your head full-blown, perfectly, that most often it needs a lot of improvement. It also was important to know that I could play at that levelâ€”on a national playing field, so to speak." Wilson's summers at the O'Neill are now legendary. Even as he honed his craft, word of an exciting new talent was emanating from Waterford and spreading within the Broadway community. Producers visiting the conference were taken by Ma Rainey's blues-driven overtones, by Wilson's melodic approach to pain and revelation. It would be nearly a year before Wilson and Richards connected anew, as playwright and director, and began a collaboration that spanned 15 years and brought five plays to the stage. . . . Yet being considered a leading dramatist has not fulfilled Wilson's ambition: His goal is to help set the records straight. By approaching his plays, as well as the black experience, as a dramatic continuum, he ensures that no period of our growth is forgotten. "There is no idea that cannot be contained by black life," he says. "Whether you are writing about love, honor, duty, betrayal, et cetera, you can find all of those universal things within the context of black American life. I simply look at a particular decade and see what, to my mind, was the largest idea that confronted blacks during that decade and try to write a story, a play, about that, to illustrate those flash points of American history and cultural history." Telling our own stories in our own ways and in our own language means the world to Wilson. When shown a 1926 article from The Crisis [an African-American magazine] on the then-incipient Negro Theatre in Harlem, he identified with editor W.E.B. DuBois' sense of advocacy. "If you look back at the history," Wilson says, "a lot of the so-called Negro plays of the '20s and '30s were written by white authors who took the custodianship of the Negro experience as though Negroes did not have their own voice, so a theatre by us and about us is a theatre that I embrace. I think it should be about, made up out of, black culture: the rituals of social intercourse, the manners of black people and all the other aspects of our culture. We should use that as the fabric, the material, with which we make art."
40 Setting: Becker’s independent cab company, housed in a storefront in Pittsburgh’s Hill District. It’s early fall, 1977. Synopsis Becker has been running the company since 1959; Booster went to jail in 1957 and served the full 20 years at his insistence. Characters Youngblood – a young man in his 20s who drives for Becker and is striving to buy a home for his common law wife and their son. He has not told Rena about his plan, however, so she suspects otherwise. Turnbo – a driver for Becker who likes to gossip and hand out advice. Don’t refuse his advice or else he’ll introduce you to his handgun. Fielding – one of Becker’s drivers who is generally slightly drunk, though he honestly means to stop when Becker says he must. An honest, sensitive man. Doub – another long-time driver who is also a veteran of the Korean War. Shealy – the local numbers game organizer who makes use of Becker’s phone to take his bets. He is in search of a woman whose face can replace that of the love of his life who spurned him years ago: whenever Shealy is with a woman, if he sees his true love’s face he knows this new woman is not the one. Philmore – desk clerk at a local hotel who is well-known to Becker and his drivers. Though his wife throws him out when he stays out once too often, when Philmore learns that Becker has died he offers to help the family in any way he can. Becker – owner and proprietor of the gypsy cab company he set up following his retirement from the local steel mill, through which he means to provide service to his community. His first wife died soon after their son was sentenced to the electric chair for killing a woman (see Booster, below); Becker now lives with Lucille. When his cab company is threatened with closure Becker resolves to fight back within the system; he has disowned his son because of his failure to do so. Rena – mother of Youngblood’s son, she works and is also a part-time student so she can provide for her son’s future. She does love Youngblood but doesn’t like the fact that he is leaving her out of his life, as she sees it. Booster – Becker’s son, who is released from prison having served his time for killing a white woman; she had betrayed him when she denied her relationship with Booster to her father, claiming instead that Booster had raped her.
41 What are the Numbers? From: North by South webpage, Kenyon College students The numbers, similar to the lottery, was a prominent feature in black Pittsburgh. In the beginning Gus Greenlee and his partner Woogie Harris controlled the numbers in their area. They fronted their illegal gambling with a legitimate business, the Crawford Grille and the Pittsburgh Crawfords [baseball team]. Many people played the numbers, and no one equated it with illegality because Gus was always there to help a person in need. Therefore, the community could not see him in a criminal light. . . . [To play “the numbers”] a person chose a three digit number [and place a bet]: if the number chosen matched the predetermined number for the day, the person won. [In Jitney, players play their number “straight” or “boxed,” the latter offering more opportunity to match the predetermined number.] The organizations that ran the number racket paid players on 500 to 1 odds. Therefore if a person bet a dime they could win up to fifty dollars. There were some banks which were willing to pay against 600 to 1 odds. The numbers brought revenue into the community and allowed their athletic teams to prosper. For example, it was because of Gus Greenlee and his numbers that he was able to build Greenlee Field—the first black owned field. The numbers game . . . in Pittsburgh [underwent a couple of setbacks:] The first occurred when many of the organizers were caught for having evaded income tax; the federal government closed down many of the lucrative "business" men. The second happened when a large number of people chose the number 805. Since that was the predetermined number for the day, the organizers had to pay people off. This caused many of the big men to go broke, or lose enough money [so] they had to retire. Pittsburgh’s neighborhoods: August Wilson grew up in the Hill District
Allegheny County map: 89 is Pittsburgh, 85 is Penn Hills, where Youngblood’s house is
42 Vocabulary Muhammad Ali – Born Cassius Clay, arguably one of the best heavyweight fighters in the world from the Sixties to the Eighties, he became Muhammad Ali after his conversion to Islam. (His determination not to serve in the Vietnam War in 1967, due to his religious beliefs, landed him in jail for 3 years and led to his boxing license and title both being stripped from him.) He began his boxing training as a teenager, was the country’s Golden Gloves champ at 17, an Olympic gold medallist at 18 and the undefeated heavyweight champion at 22. He regained that title 2 times before retiring in 1981, having lost only 5 of 61 bouts. State (liquor) store – In Pennsylvania alcohol is sold only in state-licensed, -managed, -owned liquor stores.
Giant Eagle – a grocery store chain.
Buick Riviera -
. What could I possibly add?
Putting your business in the street – To put one’s business in the street is to make your private affairs or other personal information known publicly, even if it’s done inadvertently. Crap game – a dice game played anywhere, especially in an alley or backroom. According to CrapsCenter.com, “A shooter establishes a point [that is, a number], then tries to make that point. Bettors either bet with the shooter . . . or against the shooter (on the 7). Someone must ‘fade’ the shooter (cover the bet) in order for the game to progress.” Yellow girl – In the black community light-skin toned people are referred to as “yellow” by some. Members of that community who believe “if you’re light (or white) you’re alright” would be more interested in “yellow” mates than darker ones. Asked me to carry him – This southern expression means “he asked me for a ride.” Mayview (sanitarium) – a local mental hospital. Irene Kaufman Settlement House – Originally this community center (founded in 1908 by Miss Kaufmann’s parents in her honor) offered
Postcard of the Settlement house
43 English classes, a gym and art instruction for newly arrived immigrants and their children. It retained some of these through the years as the Hill District changed from an immigrant to a migrant neighborhood due to its dedication to serving local people in need. I ain’t studying you – I’m not paying any attention to you (so don’t bother me, is implied). Afro Sheen – HistoryWired says, “With a loan of $250 and an eye for the market, George and Joan Johnson founded Johnson Products Co. Inc., in 1954 in Chicago, IL. The company produced hair-care products for African American men and women, and in 1971 it became the first African American-owned business to trade on the American Stock Exchange. Afro-Sheen, one of Johnson's best-known products, was released in the late 1960s, a time when the "afro" became one of the most popular hairstyles for African Americans. With Soul Train [black America’s American Bandstand], Johnson became the first black company to sponsor a nationally syndicated television program. Lena Horne - Born June 30, 1917, in Brooklyn, New York, has had a 50-year-career that started in the Harlem of the 1930s and was bombarded with stormy weather: even after she achieved stardom as a singer, she was refused a room at the hotels where she was performing—even in New York City as late as 1942—because she was black. In the Hollywood of the 1940s, she says she was invited to parties only with the unwritten understanding that she provide the entertainment. But Lena Horne fought back—and she fought her way to the top of her profession. [An early dream of Horne’s was that] of becoming a teacher, a dream the Depression helped to shoot down. She quit Girls High School in Brooklyn and [became] a dancer in the chorus at Harlem's famous Cotton Club, where blacks entertained a strictly white clientele. If the performers' relatives or friends tried to gain admittance, they were bounced. Although she was not allowed to sing, she did get to meet and observe such renowned artists as Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway, Count Basie, Ethel Waters, and Billie Holiday. When her stepfather was physically abused by the club owners for pushing the idea of her singing there, she decided that she "had to get out." After a brief marriage at the age of 19 to Louis Jones, the college-educated son of a minister, during which she lived in Pittsburgh and had two children, Gail and Teddy (Teddy died in 1970 from a kidney ailment), Horne returned to New York and jazz and the Big Band sounds. She began singing with Noble Sissle's Society Orchestra, honing her distinctive vocalizing style and elegant manner as she toured amidst applause and racism, having to sleep in tenement boarding houses, the bus, and once in circus grounds in Indianapolis. In 1940, she became the first African American to tour with an all-white band, Charlie Barnet's outfit, a move she considers to be the real beginning of her success as a singer. While singing at a New York nightspot an MGM talent scout caught her act and arranged a screen test for her which landed her a contract to the studio, where she . . . recalls serving . . . as "window dressing" in such films as Panama Hattie, As Thousands Cheer, Two Girls and a Sailor, and Duchess of Idaho after having refused to try to "pass as a Latin" because of her light coloring. She starred in two memorable black musicals: Cabin in the Sky and Stormy Weather. The studio sent her on a tour of its theaters to promote the films in song. As a result she became one of the top nightclub and theater box office attractions in the country.
44 While entertaining the troops during World War II, Horne . . . refused to sing for segregated audiences [there were no integrated U.S. armed forces until after the war] or to groups in which German POWs were seated in front of African-American servicemen. . . . She was later to take her fight for integrated audiences . . . onto the nightclub and theater stages. Her second marriage, to musical arranger Lennie Hayton, took place in 1947 but was not announced for three years because he was white, which offended both blacks and whites to the extent that the couple received hate mail and threats of violence. Horne admitted that she married Hayton not because she loved him, but because "he had more entree than a black man." But as their married years went byâ€”and there were 24 of them before his death in 1971â€”she "learned to love him because of how good he was to me and patient." She had become a ranking international star playing to SRO audiences throughout the world, sharing the stage with the likes of Count Basie, Tony Bennett, Billy Eckstine, Vic Damone, and Harry Belafonte. She also starred in musical and television specials with such giants as Judy Garland, Bing Crosby, and Frank Sinatra. Horne has also always found time to devote to the causes in which she truly believes, and starting with the civil rights movement in the 1960s, she had company in her battles for equality. Her paternal grandmother, a suffragette and activist, enrolled her in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) when she was two, and she has worked with it and with such organizations as the National Council of Negro Women, the Delta Sigma Theta sorority and the Urban League, speaking at rallies and singing at demonstrations. One of the achievements about which she is proudest is an honorary doctorate she received from [traditionally black] Howard University in 1980. "I had been offered doctorates earlier," she said, "and had turned them down because I hadn't been to college. But by the time Howard presented the doctorate to me, I knew I had graduated from the school of life, and I was ready to accept it." She was a Kennedy Center Honoree in 1984. Sarah Vaughn - (b. March 27, 1924, Newark, N.J.; d. April 3, 1990, Hidden Hills, Calif.), American jazz singer and pianist, lauded for her ability to command pitch and dynamics across three vocal octaves, whose singing style was informed by the harmony and improvisation of jazz horn sections. Sarah Vaughan's parents, both of whom were musicians, cultivated and nurtured her early interest in music. She began taking piano lessons at age seven and organ lessons at eight. By the age of 12, she was playing the organ for the Mount Zion Baptist Church and singing in its choir. She later attended Arts High School in Newark, New Jersey. In 1942, Vaughan entered and won an amateur-night contest for which she sang "Body and Soul." Her award was ten dollars and a week of performances at the Apollo, an engagement which led to her being hired as a vocalist and second pianist in Earl "Fatha" Hines' big-band. In 1944, she joined singer Billy Eckstine's band. She recorded the hit "Lover Man" (1945) with Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie, also members of Eckstine's ensemble, before launching her solo career in 1946 at the New York Cafe Society. In 1949, she landed a
45 five-year recording contract with Columbia Records. Vaughan sustained her success as a singer through the early 1980s, recording on numerous labels, performing with a variety of jazz artists, and touring several countries. Nicknamed "Sassy" and the "Divine One," Vaughan repeatedly was voted the top female vocalist by Down Beat and Metronome jazz magazines between 1947 and 1952. Her 1982 album Gershwin Live! won a Grammy Award, and in 1989 she received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. Vaughan was inducted into the Jazz Hall of Fame in 1990. Billy Eckstine - William Clarence Eckstine (b. July 8, 1914, Pittsburgh; d. March 8, 1993, Pittsburgh), one of the most distinctive of all ballad singers, was both a pivotal figure in the history of jazz (in part because of his commitment to bebop) and as the first black singer to achieve lasting success in the pop mainstream. After winning a talent contest in 1930 by imitating Cab Calloway, Eckstine sang briefly with Tommy Myles’ band before returning to Howard University; thereafter he sang at nightclubs and with dance bands. From 1939 to 1943 he sang with Earl “Fatha” Hines' band (occasionally playing trumpet); at his urging Hines hired such newcomers as Sarah Vaughan, Dizzy Gillespie, and Charlie Parker. Eckstine’s recordings with the band include “Stormy Monday Blues” and his own “Jelly Jelly.” In 1944 Eckstine formed his own band, a modern swing band committed almost exclusively to bebop, to the point where Eckstine’s stylized vocals regularly took second place to the playing of Dizzy Gillespie, Dexter Gordon, Art Blakey, Charlie Parker, Fats Navarro, Gene Ammons and Kenny Dorham, among others. The band was badly recorded and badly managed and in 1947 Eckstine folded it to go solo. However, the support Eckstine gave bop musicians at that time was crucial. Even before folding his band, Eckstine had recorded solo to support it, scoring two million-sellers in 1945 with “Cottage for Sale” and a revival of “Prisoner of Love.” Far more successful than his band recordings, though more mannered and pompously sung, these prefigured Eckstine’s future career. Where before black bands and musicians had played ballads, jazz and dance music, in the immediate post-war years they had to choose. Lacking an interest in the blues and frustrated by the failure of his big band, Eckstine reluctantly turned to ballads. In 1947, he was one of the first signings to the newly established MGM Records and had immediate hits with revivals of “Everything I Have Is Yours” (1947), Richard Rodgers’ and Lorenz Hart’s “Blue Moon” (1948), and Duke Ellington’s, Irving Mills’ and Juan Tizol’s “Caravan” (1949). He had further success in 1950 with Victor Young’s “My Foolish Heart” and a revival of the 1931 Bing Crosby hit, “I Apologize.” However, unlike Nat “King” Cole who followed him into the pop charts, Eckstine’s singing, especially his exaggerated vibrato, sounded increasingly mannered and he was unable to sustain his recording success throughout the decade. His best record of the Fifties was the thrilling duet with Sarah Vaughan, “Passing Strangers,” a minor hit in 1957. Eckstine later concentrated on live appearances, regularly crossing the world, and recorded only intermittently. In 1967, he briefly joined Motown and in 1981 recorded the impressive “Something More.” Count Basie - William Allen Basie, 21 August 1904, Red Bank, N.J., d. 26 April 1984, Hollywood, Ca. Bandleader and pianist Basie grew up in Red Bank, just across the Hudson River from New York City. His mother gave him his first lessons at the piano, and he used every
46 opportunity to hear the celebrated kings of New York keyboard—James P. Johnson, Willie "The Lion" Smith and especially Fats Waller. The young Basie listened to Fats Waller playing the organ in Harlem's Lincoln Theatre and received lessons from him. Pianists were in demand to accompany vaudeville acts, and Waller recommended Basie as his successor in [a kiddie act, with whom] he toured black venues throughout America (the famous "chitlin' circuit"). Stranded in Kansas City after [another] tour collapsed, Basie found [that] musicians could easily find work [there and stayed to grow along with the Kansas City jazz scene]. Basie played accompaniment for silent movies for a while, then in 1928 joined Walter Page's Blue Devils, starting a 20-year-long association with the bassist. When the Blue Devils broke up, Basie joined Bennie Moten’s band; then in 1935, started his own band and quickly lured Moten's best musicians into its ranks. Regular broadcasts on local radio and Basie's feel for swing honed the band into quite simply the most classy and propulsive unit in the history of music. Duke Ellington's band may have been more ambitious, but for sheer unstoppable swing Basie could not be beaten. . . . In January 1937 an augmented Basie band made its recording debut for Decca Records. . . . Basie frequently called himself a "non-pianist" [but] his incisive minimalism had great power and influence—not least on Thelonious Monk, one of bebop's principal architects. In 1938, the band recorded the classic track "Jumpin' At The Woodside," a Basie composition featuring solos by Earle Warren (alto saxophone) and Herschel Evans (clarinet). The track could be taken as a definition of swing. Basie's residency at the Famous Door club on New York's West 52nd Street from July 1938 to January 1939 was a great success, CBS broadcasting the band over its radio network. This booking was followed by a six-month residency in Chicago. It is this kind of regular work—spontaneity balanced with regular application—that explains why the recorded sides of the period are some of the great music of the century. Throughout the ’40s the Count Basie band provided dancers with conducive rhythms and jazz fans with astonishing solos: both appreciated his characteristic contrast of brass and reeds. Outstanding tenors emerged: Don Byas, Buddy Tate, Lucky Thompson, Illinois Jacquet, Paul Gonsalves, as well as trumpeters Al Killian and Joe Newman, and trombonists Vic Dickenson and J.J. Johnson. On vocals Basie used Jimmy Rushing for the blues material and Helen Humes for pop and novelty numbers. Economic necessity pared down the Basie band to seven members at the start of the ’50s, but otherwise Basie maintained a big band right through to his death in 1984. In 1954 he made his first tour of Europe. . . . In June 1957 Basie broke the color bar at New York's Waldorf-Astoria Hotel; his was the first black band to play there, and they stayed for a four-month engagement. . . . A groundbreaking tour of Japan in 1963 was also a great success. Count Basie was embraced by the American entertainment industry and appeared such movies as Sex And The Single Girl, Made In Paris, and Mel Brooks’ Blazing Saddles. He became a regular television guest alongside the likes of Frank Sinatra, Fred Astaire, Sammy Davis Jr. and Tony Bennett. Arranging for Basie was a significant step in the career of Quincy Jones: The onslaught of the Beatles and rock music in the 60s was giving jazz a hard time; Basie responded by giving current pop tunes the big band treatment, and
47 Jones arranged Hits Of The 50s And 60s. Its resounding commercial success led to a string of similar albums . . . In 1965, Basie signed with Sinatra's Reprise Records, and made several recordings and appearances with him. In 1970 Basie released Afrique, an intriguing and unconventional album with tunes by avant-garde saxophonists. . . . In 1975, after recording for a slew of different labels, Basie found a home on Pablo Records owned by Norman Granz . . . This produced a late flowering, as, unlike previous producers, Granz let Basie do what he did best—swing the blues—rather than collaborate with popular singers. In 1983, the death of his wife Catherine, whom he had married 40 years earlier, struck a heavy blow and he himself died the following year. Rockefeller (family) – Beginning with patriarch John D. and his oil empire, based on the Titusville, Pennsylvania, oil fields, the Rockefeller family has long been considered one of the richest in the United States. August Wilson says All you need in the world is love and laughter. That's all anybody needs. To have love in one hand and laughter in the other. Famous Black Quotations Confront the dark parts of yourself, and work to banish them with illumination and forgiveness. Your willingness to wrestle with your demons will cause your angels to sing. Use the pain as fuel, as a reminder of your strength. "The Speaker's Electronic Reference Collection," AApex Software The role of theatre is to make sure the story is told. Write about the history and the truth will be clear. Christian Science Monitor In terms of influence on my work, I have what I call my four Bs: (visual artist) Romare Bearden; Imamu Amiri Baraka, the writer; Jorge Luis Borges, the Argentine short-story writer; and the biggest B of all: the blues. “How to Write a Play Like August Wilson,” The New York Times I found out life's hard but it ain't impossible. West, Two Trains Running It ain't nothing to find no starting place in the world. You just start from where you find yourself. Famous Black Quotations
48 People Say It’s August’s language—the rhythm of hurt, the rhythm of pain, the rhythm of ecstasy, the rhythm of family—which sets him apart and is why we call him the heavyweight champion. Marion McClinton Be where you are. Lloyd Richards [There must be] a profound articulation of the black tradition . . . that field of manners and ritual of intercourse that will sustain a man once he’s left his father’s house. James Baldwin Community is the most valuable thing that you have in African–American culture. The individual good is always subverted to the good of the community. “Been Here and Gone,” John Lahr My plays stem from impressions I formed on The Hill in the ’50s and ’60s . . . Those were times of great struggle and change for blacks. Carnegie Library webpage, Hill People Wilson gives words to trumpeters and trash men, cabbies and conjurers, boarders and landladies, all joined by a heritage of slavery. Their patois is his poetry, their dreams are his dramas. Hill people CAPTION: Looking east toward Oakland. NOTES: Civic Arena in the foreground. PHOTOGRAPHER: Harry S. Coughanour. DATE: 1967. HEADING: Pittsburgh. Districts. Hill (Lower). From the Collections of the Pennsylvania Department, The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.
49 Nota Bene: Hill District People in the 70s From: Community in a Black Pentecostal Church and The Human Dilemma: A Decade Later in Belmar, Melvin D. Williams While none of the characters in Jitney tell us about visiting a church, because Mr. Williams’ intention was to describe a black Pittsburgh community in the 1970s in each of his books I found his work informative. I have taken the liberty of substituting “Wilson’s community” and other such phrases in place of Mr. Williams’ citations of the black church community to emphasize the commonalities between the two. At any rate, here are some highlights:
[In the early 1900s, rural Southern blacks’] social contacts consisted of neighborhood and extended family groups that relied on their own members for companionship and support in economic crisis and human uncertainty, [which behavior and social patterns they recreated in Northern cities]. Their intimate association created an atmosphere of free expression and unlimited toleration for human inadequacies. Temporary social leadership in these small intimate groups usually derived from charisma, and standards of social status were very fluid. Thus a Stockyard: "That's My Name." member of any small black community in the rural South found Richard Saunders, March 1951 his social, economic, and psychological security bound up in the qualities of these relationships, which gave acceptance to his personal identity from birth to death. . . . In these small communities, the emphasis was upon family relationships, rites of passage, and word-of-mouth news that was of interest to the membership. The critical components of this community were intimacy, freedom of expression, face-to-face contact, and familiar social and physical surroundings. . . . In the black ghetto of the North . . . the quest for meaningful human interaction is establishing new forms of community life relevant to the residents' present social and economic plight. Responding to the threat of a fraudulent, remote, or incomprehensible social order which is beyond real hope or desire and invites apathy, boredom, and even hostility, these blacks are creating bounded groups which give them a stake in a social order. . . . Perhaps this [group] can be characterized as a "cultural device" . . . capable of extending personal relationships beyond the neighborhood, and thus we must define [them] in terms of the nature of this extension. The [cabbies are] a group of blacks whose residences are scattered all around Pittsburgh, but who have found a new social institution with which to identify. Each member has a function and an allegiance. He is an integrated member in a hierarchy with symbols and norms exclusive to his group. This bounded group is distinctive, small, quite homogeneous, and self-reliant. It is a process or system of human interaction with a distinctive social structure and patterns of behavior. . . . This community is not static. There are fissions, disputes, cleavages, and conflicts. But burdened by poverty, ill health, political deprivation, and death . . . , the members find meaning in this . . . community that enables them to go a little beyond the problems of surviving from day to day. . . If it is possible to consider community as a social construct and a network of social relations without its traditional geographical limitations, then we can conceive of [our group] as a small community. . . . A community is a cluster of people “. . . who share a common way of life" (Green, 1968:290). It is "the localized population which is interdependent on a daily basis, and which carries on a highly generalized series of activities in and through a set of institutions
50 which provides on a day-to-day basis the full range of goods and services necessary for its continuity as a social and economic entity" (Smelser, 1967:95). . . . [Wilson’s “extra-legal” cab company] is a huddling place where members take refuge from the world among familiar faces. It is a source of identity and a matrix of interaction . . . It is a subculture that creates and transmits symbols and enforces standards of belief and behavior. It allocates social status, differentiates roles, resolves conflicts, gives meaning, order, and style to its members' lives, and provides for social mobility and social rewards within its confines. . . . The critical features of the character of interaction in [Wilson’s community] are intimacy, conflict, competition, and cooperation. The members have preserved the intimacy, freedom of expression, face-to-face contact, and symbols of familiar social and physical surroundings that were once a part of the rural Southern style. . . . A black ghetto is a harsh physical environment. It represents the opposite of most of what we cherish in the wider Visiting Nurse Association from society. . . . Black ghetto dwellers . . . must have mechanisms of the Irene Kaufman Settlement adaptability and strategies of survival to sustain themselves here. on duty, Sol Libsohn, June 1950 Exposed to the values of mainstream America via television, radio, employment, schoolteachers, landlords, bill collectors, social service personnel, and other networks that extend into the wider society, the black ghetto dweller must exert tremendous energies to maintain a viable in-group perspective. . . . Historically the economic resources of most blacks in America have been meager. Yet all human groups attempt to structure life so that they can perceive and experience pleasure, meaning, and reward. Blacks have traditionally achieved this by intensive interaction. They have entertained one another and exploited one another for the sake of entertainment, pleasure, and reward. During slavery they sang together, danced for one another, told stories, and joked among themselves about their mutual plight. Rapping and shucking, jiving, running it down, griping, “copping a plea,” signifying, and sounding are all variations of the peculiar mode of black intensive interaction. A distinct characteristic of this intensive interaction is uninhibited laughter. This laughter is a catalyst, reward, cue, and stimulus for further intensive interaction. . . . Blacks have developed social interaction into an art, whether gambling, arguing (usually a prelude to a fight), conversing, or seducing. Thus, blacks skillful at manipulating the verbal cues can create entertainment and reward out of almost any situation. . . . From: The Human Dilemma: A Decade Later in Belmar In this book sociologist Williams reviews changes in the Homewood neighborhood he had first studied in 1973 some 15 years later. In large part he found that, despite programs and initiatives established as a result of the Civil Rights Movement, many Belmar residents were living with fewer neighborhood “services” such as local grocery stores or even local job opportunities. He also defines 3 lifestyles within the community: “mainstream” citizens striving for middle class status (some might call them “white wannabes”), “genuine” folks who reject white culture and celebrate their “inferior” lifestyle, and “spurious” people, many living on public assistance, who aspire to a middle class life but seem powerless to achieve it. While these are not necessarily the people of Wilson’s Jitney Melvin Williams’ descriptions may be helpful in class discussions of the play’s setting.
51 Poor "genuine" ghetto blacks whom I have observed in Belmar have developed and accentuated some of the following behavioral characteristics: Defiance of Social Distance. Why must poor "genuine" ghetto blacks minimize social distance among themselves? Historically, social distance has been the characteristic of the master and his "finks," [that is, blacks collaborating with the master also “keep their distance” from “unacceptable” African Americans. Social distance] threatens collusion with the enemy and indicates a feeling of contempt for the "genuine" style. "Genuine" blacks are so cut off from the wider society that they must create and sustain their own in-group in order to retain some sense of identity. Any evidence of social distance within this group would make other members suspicious of that person's social orientation. . . . Exposed to the values of mainstream America via television, radio, employment, schoolteachers, landlords, bill collectors, social service personnel, and other networks that extend into the wider society, the black ghetto dweller must exert tremendous energies to maintain a viable in-group perspective. One traditional means of maintaining this group solidarity has been to defy, defile, and deny certain standards of mainstream mobility. Social distance is a pervasive characteristic of social organization in the United States. So one feature of the poor black subculture, where mobility is rare, is the effective control of disruptive levels of social distance within groups that tend to cohere and persist. Techniques used to reduce social distance are uninhibited laughter (which is used as a social lubricant and interactional catalyst) and the mouth-to-mouth sharing of bottled drinks, cigarettes, and food. The defiance of social distance is evident in people's demonstrative greetings. This often takes the form of a stylized "handtapping." One person offers his hand, palm upwards. The other lightly taps it. Generally this ceremony follows a verbal exchange where one party has "won a point." It is the latter who has the option of offering up his hand. In interacting, a repertoire of "insults" and other examples of social license provide intermittent guarantees that the "genuine" can afford to take such liberties. Social distance is a luxury of substantial economic resources, but it is a threat to economic reciprocity in a social network with a precarious subsistence base. Last, the degree of social distance is a pervasive cue and code for distinguishing the various styles ("genuine," "spurious," and "mainstream") in Belmar. Defilement of “Mainstream" Symbols of Value. The defilement of "mainstream" symbols of value takes many forms in Belmar. Often, it is accomplished by extending, emphasizing, and elaborating upon styles of clothing, manners of speech, walk, stance, and demeanor . . . . Whether rapping, jiving, running it down, copping a plea, signifying, or sounding . . . , poor ghetto blacks manipulate defiant signs and symbols—oral, anal, and genital—which defy, defile, and deny certain standards of mobility in the wider society . . . . Public Adult Interaction. "Home" for "genuine" blacks in Belmar is "just a stopping-off place." It is a "motel" where you sleep, eat, and "hide, if you have to." But it is not one's "hearth," "castle," or showplace for entertaining. The street corner, the tavern, the "speakeasy," a favorite stoop, or
52 the neighborhood "greasy spoon" are where people, especially men, "hang out." This variation of location is referred to as "down the way," "up the way," "hit the street," "over the way," and the "avenue." Most "genuine" blacks have never had the consistent resources to furnish and maintain a home, so they spend most of their interactional time out of the house. Part of the mystique of out-of-home interaction is the potential for including large numbers of people. One of the techniques is loud communication. Thus, all within hearing distance are welcome to interact and respond to "what's going on." Reciprocal Distribution of Scarce Goods. One of the comforts of ghetto life in Belmar is that everyone knows that subsistence resources are very scarce. One is expected to pay $10 for a cabaret ticket, but no one is surprised when one runs out of sugar, bread, or bologna. One can borrow clothes, "Pampers," cigarettes, and food in Belmar without apology or stigma. One middle-aged man leaves his station wagon in the same parking space, despite the fact that it is frequently "stolen" and returned by someone he thinks he knows. Reciprocal allocations of scarce goods are part of the Belmar scene. Mutual Humiliation for Group Pleasure. The phenomena of "rippin'," "dozens," and laughing are part of a syndrome of creating enjoyable interactional contexts at the expense of someone in the group. The victim usually rotates among the members, but often, one of them becomes particularly attractive as the buffoon. This practice sometimes results in violence when a victim becomes irritated or a perpetrator extends the humiliation to physical aggression. Very early, children learn to prey upon one another, criticizing one in the group with the accompaniment of laughter among the others until the person being victimized often is in tears. There are so few resources that the major resource becomes yourself. And then, you are used, even for group pleasure. Some of the games "genuine" blacks play are typical of that. . . . There are many examples not only of how "genuine" blacks are socialized, but also of how individuals continue to practice that behavior even in adult life. And I think to a large extent that socialization accounts for a great deal of the violence in ghetto areas, violence which for the most part is black upon black. Propensity for Physical Contact. From greeting church members with a holy kiss to the smothering embrace of Grandma, physical contact is pervasive in Belmar. Children's and adults' games usually involve touching, and interacting groups of all kinds are often crowded together in physical contact. Back-slapping, shoulder-slapping, and arm-slapping laughter is common, and unfortunately, even violence is perpetuated with direct physical contact. The "genuine" people here enjoy and execute the feel and press of flesh. The Proclivity to Sooth Oneself and Others in a Social Context. Groups or individuals singing or listening to hymns or moaning prayers or the blues tend to soothe and recreate their spirit in spite of hardships. Wailing is a release and a comfort. It identifies and reassures that suffering is pervasive, but there are the means and resources, meager though they be, to survive "to these 350 years." . . . Involvement in Intensive Social Processes. There are intensive social relationships between women of all ages, which protect them against the charges of "sin" from the outside morality. Women live with their men in and out of wedlock (and have done so before the present fashion), regardless of whether or not they are â€œno count," "shiftless," and "just a big front" by the
53 standards of the wider society. The man-woman relationship is so intensive that there is no deference to him. She can love him or kill him with the same intense passion. The interaction between men, young and old, is ceremonially solidified as they treasure one another's expressive "bullshit." . . . These are not merely a scheming, devious, manipulative, designing, and contriving people who exploit intensive social interaction for preconceived ends. They are people who derive abiding pleasure, reassurance, and identity from such interaction. Intensive interaction â€œshields and redeems those human spiritsâ€? confined to such areas as the urban black ghettos of America. Decay of the Belmar Community, and the Fight Against it. Many houses in the neighborhood are 90 to 120 years old, and their aging condition reveals their owners' ignorance of such essentials as glazing compound, spackling compound, caulking, mortar, roofing cement, roof coating, plaster, rock lath, flashing, coating membrane, tinner's red, weed scythes, weed killers, house maintenance tools, and commercial repairmen. With such ignorance persisting, most of the dwellings in the neighborhood will soon be maintenance nightmares, requiring too many expensive repairs and becoming ripe for the wrecker's ball. . . . The development in entertainment and educational facilities somewhat parallels that of housing in Belmar. "Belmar Theatre was built in 1912" (Homewood Needle, 1942). It was closed by 1969. "Belmar School was built on Hermitage Street at Lang Avenue. Although the contract was let in May of 1900, the dedication was not until February, 1902" (Homewood Needle, 1942). By 1965, the population had outgrown the school, and a "portable" addition was planned. George Westinghouse High School was opened on Murtland Avenue in Belmar in 1922. Today, after a distinguished reputation in Pittsburgh for over 50 years, it is known as "the house," "the toughest black school in the city." . . . Nevertheless, the ambitious and concerned "mainstream" Belmar citizens have not yet given up. Neighborhood groups attempt to clean and maintain the area (for instance, Operation Better Block, Homewood-Brushton Renewal Council). Other neighborhood groups (Project Area Committee of Urban Redevelopment, Interagency Council, and others) function to revive the commercial district and community spirit. These groups have successfully cleared the old "Homewood Shops" (streetcar barns) in order to provide land for new construction (a low-rise apartment for the elderly is being built). They have secured a $1,600,00 state grant for site improvement and incidentals necessary to attract an investor into the area, who will take on the responsibility of redeveloping the commercial district. They have remodeled two large buildings, one for residential apartments, and the other for a local community college. Indeed, some residents still hope that the area can be revived, but in these days of high unemployment, frightening crime rates, and general business decline, it is doubtful that private investors will make the massive investments required to revive the commercial district or stabilize the residential areas.
54 The confidence to restore places like Belmar has been undermined by these conditions in "mainstream" America. Only a few of the residents believe in the restoration, and their faith will probably not move mountains, or in this case, abandoned buildings. Outsiders who claim faith in the area are usually on a community agency payroll and in local government. Many "mainstream" residents have already put their houses on the market and would sell tomorrow, if they could get buyers. Some of them are elderly and can no longer sustain the duties of home ownership; others are disenchanted with the neighborhood and would like to escape to rural or suburban areas. And, of course, there are the "genuine," who do not want to leave. They have adapted and adjusted to the screaming sirens, the boisterous laughter, the cars with their blasting radios and screeching tires, and the excitement of the streets (fires, altercations, and loud conversations). Here the faces are familiar. Besides, they "wouldn't live where they're not wanted." They would feel ill at ease, not at home amidst the cleanliness fetish, sanitation neurosis, and lawn anxiety. . . . As things stand today, no outside investors are likely to invest in the property in this neighborhood. And most home owners in Belmar who have the means feel that further investments in their own property would be too risky because of the neighborhood's dubious future. Yet we must bear in mind that, in spite of all the problems, Belmar is considered the most favorable area for blacks in the Homewood-Brushton area. In 1973, [J. D.] Van Trump stated: . . . The "best" residential section is currently Belmar. Here on the site of the old racetrack, the long streets running parallel to Frankstownâ€”Race, Idlewild, Monticello, Hermitage, Kedron, and Mount Vernonâ€”are filled mostly with small Edwardian "reception hall" houses and a minor sprinkling of row housing. Most of the residents here own their own homes and can afford to keep them in seemly fashion. For the most part the aspect of these streets is trim and bright. Above, the once half-rural north wall of the valley is becoming covered with housing developments. At the same time, let us not forget that, in spite of the physical setting, people manage to survive here. Indeed, the people in this area are most adept at living. On any spring afternoon, for example, the school yard and the surrounding area in Belmar appear to be the scene of a spring carnival: People wash and wax their cars; boys with bats, balls, and footballs meander toward the ball field; and new mothers in bright colorful outfits walk in the sunshine with their babies wrapped in sparkling new blankets. Little children are everywhere, playing with balls, performing acrobatics, and conversing with one another on street comers. Cars cruise with convertible tops down and radios "sounding." Children and adults ride bicycles. Entire families and couples take walks together. The air resounds with laughter, and the observer is a witness to the greatest human show on earth. No scene in any neighborhood in the world can surpass this one, and one realizes that, to some extent, the attitudes in the wider society toward the so-called "black ghetto" are a cruel distortion of the truth. This ghetto scene makes all seem well in the world.
55 The major street corners of Belmar often seem to be the focal points of the seasonal black fair. People are walking, talking, standing, and interacting with each other. At the bus stops, some people wait for the bus, whereas others exploit that setting for a captive audience. Jitney drivers sit in chairs or on boxes at vantage points for viewing the scene. Here, they interact among themselves as well as with pedestrians and drivers as they await "trips." The street scene is a satisfying distraction during the long days and nights. A vast array of automobiles move through the streets. There are new custom-made Cadillacs, assorted custom-made vehicles, and abused "heaps" that seem barely able to run. There are bicycles, motorcycles, buses with people yelling out the windows, and motorists, bus drivers, and police who stop their vehicles in the middle of the street to converse with someone. There is a variety of clothing styles. Some are designed to be chic, others to be outlandish. The costume jewelry, the hair styles, the foot gear, the stylish gaits, and the unrestrained laughter give these corners a distinctive character of their own. The streets and sidewalks are cluttered with debris, but no one seems to mind. The stores are often sparsely stocked with high-priced goods, and the restaurants are seldom rated highly by restaurant critics. But all of this is familiar. Teenagers huddle in their own groups of interaction, and their friends pass in cars and honk. No one appears to be hurrying, and the screech of "rubber" is only for attention. There is touching and dramatic threatening. There are teenage mothers who do not seem to be much older than their babies and old men and women who seem to be much older than they are. The teenage boys attempt to imitate the street-corner men, and the teenage girls flirt with these masculine symbols of their black world. The school traffic dominates the Belmar scene twice a day, five times a week. But these scenes disguise the poverty and undernourishment, the dropouts, alcoholics, drug addicts, the health problems, the lack of recreation and aspiration, the shoes that distort feet, the merchants who exploit meager incomes, the landlords who offer poor housing, the automobiles no one can afford, the shoddy goods the residents are forced to buy from the few credit merchants who will serve them, the unemployment, the high crime rate, teenage illegitimacy, and the potential despair in every tomorrow which is hidden from those who do not want to see. No one perspective or single conceptualization will ever communicate to us what Belmar is. It is many different kinds of places to many different people at various times and under a range of circumstances. So the author is under no delusion that he can describe to you what Belmar is. What I can do is to attempt to communicate some feelings, give you some glimpses of what I and others see at given moments in timeâ€”snapshots of a complex process. . . . As Maybelle expresses: I don't mind the dirt, rats, bugs, roaches, plaster [falling], leaks, killin', stealin', bums, and no privacy so much. I'm old now and I've just about lived my life. But
56 damn, I don't want to look down the road and see that's all that's there for my grandchildren. Jist give â€™em a chance, jist a chance! If they don't make good of it, then that's on them. But my God, give 'em a chance. Everybody ain't no fool. We know, and so does everybody else, our schools ain't no good. And we get the teachers that nobody else wants. You ought to see 'em walking around like hippies, tryin' to look like they like the ghetto and makin' it home to the suburbs when school is out. They here because they can't do no better and they ain't foolin' nobody. And you sure can't fool these kids. They know what's waitin' for 'em. They see it every day after school in the streets. They know what their chances are by the way get treated in school. You can't fool kids. That's why they're always singing and dancing and playin' basketball and football. They know where the action is. But it should be in school too and in decent jobs. Not jist that one or two blacks up front, but in all jobs. You can't fool kids. If there's a chance, they will know it somehow and go after it. That's why they practice on that field [basketball court] to two o'clock in the morning and sometime all night. You can't fool kids. . . They'll know when they really got a chance. Jist give our children a chance. Stop lyin' about the "equal" stuff. You can't fool people always and you can't fool God at all. Another "genuine" resident expresses differently: It's cuttin' and shootin' and cussin'. It's being beat up or beatin' somebody else up. It's laughin' because it's funny or crying because it hurts. There ain't no in between. It's raw, baby. It's being chased or runnin' after someone. It's talkin' about people or being talked about. It's workin' and screwin' and dyin'. It's touchin' people and people touchin' you. You got to take the press of flesh. It's action, baby, and when it's over you get the blues till it starts all over again, if you ain't dead yet. So we go out on the avenue after work or on weekends to see and be seen, to be in the happenings because that's where it's at if you ain't sanctified [a dedicated church worker] or a turkey ["mainstream" or "spurious"]. If that street could talk, it would tell you about the blood, sweat, and tears, the piss and the spit that ran there, dried up, and blowed away like we do. The fight, the fuck, the fun, it all happens here; the pimp, the faggot, the wino, the drug addict, and the prostitute come by here. It's the greatest show on earth. This is the ghetto, man, and this is how we have to make it here. Kennedy and Rockefeller want to be president, Howard Hughes wants to be left alone, Mellon wants more money, Nixon wants to be king, and you, you want to be God [understand everything]. I just want to watch the world go by, feeling little pain as possible. But then I can't do no better. I'm on the bottom rung of the ladder, and the next step up is outta sight. If it wasn't, I would be reaching just like the other suckers. This doom affects the spirits of residents who are exposed to aspire to middle-class neighborhoods. As "spurious" Winston explains:
57 One bad thing about going to the show [movie theatre] is going home after it's over. You sit there in the show and see big houses, fine lawns, and pretty streets, and then, you go home and walk through your streets to your house and what do you get? Garbage and rubbish in the streets. Dog shit and guys pissing on the sidewalk and in doorways; empty houses boarded up with the boards ripped off so garbage and rubbish can be dumped in them. As you walk by, the funk [foul odor] almost kills you. Empty lots are full of junk cars, rubbish, garbage, funk, and weeds that grow up to the sky. The streets are dark and cramped, and the sidewalks are so bad and dangerous too that you have to walk in the street. Then you look at the houses and even the good ones are shit when you think of the ones in the movies, much less the shacks. Boy! It makes you feel bad! It makes you think you're not much in the world. It makes you scared, you may never get out of all this. It makes you think you are like the placeâ€”the garbage and rubbish and funk and high weeds. It makes you want to steal and lie and cheat and, yeah, even kill to get out, to get away, to breathe a little clean air, to taste a little freedom. And when you think that this is what your children are going to have too, why not? What do you have to lose? . . . Some of Belmar, of course, is a scene of blight. The empty buildings and vacant lots attest to a process of abandonment. Yet beneath this economic facade, there is a social substance. Many people who live here still feet a sense of belonging to this neighborhood. The young and old men who man the corners, day and night, monitoring all activities within their vantage points, regard Belmar as their turf. The residents who patronize the few remaining business enterprises and converse with and engage their proprietors finally sense that this neighborhood belongs to them because no one else wants it. The informal atmosphere of the local bank with its long lines attests to this. This has now become not only a place to transact business, but also a place to meet and interact with one's neighbors. The atmosphere here is different from any other bank in Pittsburgh. It has a distinctive Belmar characteristic. People sit in chairs and wait for patrons. People stand outside the entrance and engage those who enter and leave. Peddlers and solicitors stand at the entrance and attract attention to their wares and causes. Even the black tellers and officers relate to and interact with, as well as serve, their customers. To many of these welfare and food-stamp customers, this is a new experience. They have become important and this bank's most numerous patrons. This style, demeanor, and atmosphere are pervasive among the few businesses that remain in Belmar; [this] is the very character that makes these enterprises belong to the people that live here. The plumber's shop, stocked sparsely and with no apparent rationale; the restaurant, so small that takeouts are obligatory; the fruit and vegetable market, where most of the produce seems to be on the sidewalk; the Justice of the Peace office; the hardware store; the drug store, where nothing is accessible to the reach of customers; the variety stores; and the many taverns are evidence that this placeâ€”Belmarâ€”exists, notwithstanding how the people in the wider society perceive it. Belmar belongs to the people now, but given the economic scheme of this society, it is an urban desert. It is discouraging to observe that, rhetoric of political and community "leaders" notwithstanding, little has changed in the quality of life for the residents of Belmar from 1976 to 1991. So these residents, who for most of their lives have lived in neighborhoods in which they could not feel a membership, now discover a new sense of importance in Belmar. This neighborhood is theirs to do with as they wish and are able. They now possess a neighborhood
58 completely, but it is one that most others have abandoned. Some of the residents are unaware of the pervasive impact upon Belmar of the economic sense of things. Belmar, or places similar to it, is all they know. This is their place, their cradle and tomb. They will live here and die here, unless they are routed again . . . . The people of Belmar are like people everywhere—they have their pains and their pleasures, their drama and their boredom. But life here is often full and exciting. . . . Yet, they are all the victims of the past, when Belmar was selected as an economic and social dumping ground. Today, it is a desert with most shelters being old and inadequate. But the land is potentially as valuable as it was a century ago, so it is being cleared. It is being accumulated by the local governments one way or another. This process destroys the human ecology and the social network, but it creates attractive sites for investment. When this process goes far enough, the money interests will take control of Belmar once again. The people of Belmar represent some of the best people in the world. Some (the "genuine") have demonstrated that in spite of restricted access to the institutional resources touted by the ideology of "mainstream" culture and society, they live, enjoy life, and "make it." . . . They are proof that even though they have not achieved the ideals of America, they survive. Here we find people who recognize that they will spend their lives in Belmar or places like it. They are aware that they will never have much more money than they have today or many more possessions than they had yesterday. Some of the problems and predicaments are a result of being poor and black in America; others exist because of the variety of lifestyles in Belmar. Whatever the plight we discover here, it is indigenous to American culture and society. . . . Discussion Questions/Activities 1. In August Wilson’s Jitney there is no single pro- or antagonist; rather, several characters’ stories take center stage, and, ultimately, the group decision to remain in their neighborhood completes the action. It may be interesting to consider similar group-centered plays: the Spanish play Fuente Ovejuna (The Sheep Well) by Lope de Vega, the Greek tragedy The Trojan Women and comedy Lysistrata, the modern musicals Hair, A Chorus Line and Rent, Ibsen’s An Enemy of the People, Gorky’s The Lower Depths, and so on. 2. The world of Jitney is predominantly male and unmarried, except for Becker, whose first wife died when their son Booster went to prison, Youngblood, whose relationship with the mother of his child is in danger, and Philmore, whose wife “throws him out” by the end of the play. Many studies of African-American families have found that most single parent families are headed by women, and that there is a history of fathers absenting themselves from families. (Some say this is a carryover from slavery, when black families were routinely broken up by their masters.) Do you think these studies motivated or influenced Wilson as he created the world of this play? What do you make of Becker giving Youngblood fatherly advice but rejecting his own son? 3. Wilson is known for his lyrical writing, particularly for characters like Fielding and Shealy, who sustain themselves with dreams, hopes and wishes, and whose communities value them and their outlook. Why do you think this is so? Do you think they are more valued in this neighborhood than elsewhere or do they have a place in every community?
59 Read some of Wilson’s other plays. Who are the idealists in The Piano Lesson, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Fences? How about in O’Neill’s The Iceman Cometh, Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard or The Seagull, or Synge’s Playboy of the Western World? 4. Put yourself in Youngblood’s place, or Rena’s, or Booster’s. Would you do anything differently than them? Why? If you would do as they do, what are your reasons? Sources Consulted Allegheny Country municipal map. No editor. 16 July 2002. Allegheny County, PA. 24 July 2002. www.county.allegheny.pa.us/economic/munis/index.asp An American Palace of Culture: The Carnegie Institute and Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. James D. Van Trump. Pittsburgh: Carnegie Institute and Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation, 1970. NA 735 P53 V35 1970 August Wilson. Hinda Barlaz. June 2000. Adelphi University. 12 April 2002. www.Adelphi.edu/~barlazh/AugustWilson.html August Wilson. No editor. © 1998. Dartmouth College. 12 April 2002. www.dartmouth.edu/~awilson/bio.html August Wilson. Larry Wichterman, PA Biographies. ©1998. Geocities.com. 15 April 2002. www.geocities.com/Heartland/4547/Wilson.html August Wilson timeline. Chris Rawson. ©1999. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. 15 May 2002. www.post-gazette.com/magazine/19991216awtimeline9.asp Billy Eckstine. No editor. ©1999-2000. Len Triola Promotional Services, Inc. 19 August 2002. http://www.lentriola.com/eckstine.htm Billy Eckstine. No editor. ©1999. The Encyclopedia Britannica Guide to Black History. 19 August 2002. http://blackhistory.eb.com/micro/185/30.html Can Workers Have a Voice?: The Politics of Deindustrialization in Pittsburgh. Dale A. Hathaway. University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1993. HD 5708.55 U62 P584 1993. Though this treats the early 1980s Hathaway prefaces his work with a review of Pittsburgh industry as it was in the 1970s.
Charles Martel. No editor. ©2002. Encyclopedia.com. 30 July 2002. http://www.encyclopedia.com/searchpool.asp?target=@DOCTITLE%20Charles%20Martel Community in a Black Pentecostal Church: An Anthropological Study. Melvin D. Williams. London: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1974. BR 563 N4 W523 The Conversation, Romare Bearden. No editor. ©1995-2000. Art.com. 25 July 2002. www.art.com/display_artist.asp?XRFID=274465&TKID=2041198&CrlD=145
Count Basie. No editor. ©2002. VH1.com. 19 August 2002. http://www.vh1.com/artists/az/basie_count/bio.jhtml The Human Dilemma: A Decade Later in Belmar (A Revision of On the Street Where I Lived). Melvin D. Williams. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich College Publishers, 1992. F 159 P69 N49 1993 The Homewood neighborhood Williams describes is part of Wilson’s Hill District.
Interview with August Wilson. Herb Boyd. ©2001. The Black World Today. 12 April 2002. www.tbwt.com/views/specialrpt/special%20report-3_4-26-00.asp Jitney review. David Kaufman. ©2002. New York Daily News. 15 April 2002. www.nydailynews.com/2000-04-26/New_York_Now/Theatre/a-64559.asp King Hedley. Andrew C. McGibbon, site mgr.; Ben Pesner, content producer. ©2002. IBM and Tony Awards Productions. 18 June 2002 www.tonys.org/nominees/shows/kinghedley.html Lena Horne. No editor. No date. Kennedy Center.org. 18 August 2002. http://www.kennedycenter.org/programs/specialevents/honors/history/honoree/lhorne.html Neighborhoods: The Hill District. Barry L. Chad, ed. 26 April 2002. Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. 7 May 2002. www.clpgh.org/exhibit/neighborhoods/hill/hill_n.html The Numbers. Students of Kenyon College. 1999-2000. North by South.org. 12 August 2002. http://www.northbysouth.org/2000/baseball/Numbers.htm Pittsburgh: An Urban Portrait. Franklin Toker. University Park, PA: The Pennsylvania State University Press, 1986. F 129 P63 T65 1986 Pittsburgh: Then and Now. Arthur G. Smith. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1990. F 129 P643 S65 1990 Quotations. Franklin C. Baer. ©2000. Creativequotations.com. 15 May 2002 http://creativequotations.com/cgibin/sql_search3.cgi?keyword=August+Wilson&boolean=and&frank=all&field=all&database=all Sarah Vaughn. Aaron Myers, ed. ©2000. S. Burton Services. 19 August 2002. http://www.bostonenet.com/blackachievers/SarahVaughn/ Wilson, August. “Characters Behind History Teach Wilson About Plays.” The New York Times. 12 April 1992.
61 About West Side Story From: the Music Theatre International webpage West Side Story, which opened on September 26,1957, is a landmark in American musical theatre history. Directed and choreographed by Jerome Robbins, the show was written by composer Leonard Bernstein, librettist Arthur Laurents and lyricist Stephen Sondheim. West Side Story, a musical adaptation of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, transplants the young lovers to the violent streets of [1950s] New York where they are doomed by social conditions they cannot control. The powerful, swiftly moving plot is driven by turbulence and tension. The musical covers a period of only two days; scenes blend into one another as the inevitable progression of events unfolds. Shakespeare's feuding families, the Montagues and the Capulets, have become two feuding neighborhood gangs: the Jets and the Sharks. The Jets consider themselves "American”: white and of European origin. The Sharks are dark-skinned Hispanics, some black, all from Puerto Rico. The Jets are fiercely loyal, proud of who and what they are, and determined to keep their turf (the neighborhood). The Sharks are just as loyal, proud and determined to establish their identity by staking out their claim to turf in the neighborhood. The authorities—police, social workers, parents—don't realize the intensity of the feud, the depth of the hostility among these “kids." They are too willing to be fooled by superficially acceptable behavior on demand. But just as these teenagers are capable of loving with a surprisingly deep, tender passion, they are equally capable of hating with an uncontrollable, volcanic passion that boils over and explodes. The result is tragedy. The world that West Side Story plunged into in the ’50s is still with us today. Gangs still war brutally for a piece of neighborhood turf. Bigotry and racism still trigger murder. Love still struggles to survive in a violent world. In writing Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare created a timeless tale of love destroyed by senseless hatred in feudal Verona for his Elizabethan audiences. Jerome Robbins, Leonard Bernstein, Arthur Laurents and Stephen Sondheim transformed that tale into a monumental, classic work of American musical theatre with a powerful message for audiences around the world. About the Creators Leonard Bernstein (Composer) — One of this century's geniuses, the composer, conductor, pianist and writer Leonard Bernstein was equally at home in the concert hall and popular theatre. . . Bernstein was considered one of the most talented musicians of his generation. He was a pianist, lecturer, television personality, and author. He was the first American to serve as musical director and conductor of the New York
62 Philharmonic (1958-1969). His works for the theatre included On The Town, Wonderful Town, Candide, West Side Story, Mass and 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. His operas included Trouble In Tahiti and its sequel, A Quiet Place [though some consider his Candide more opera than musical theatre]. He also composed symphonic works, choral works, ballets and the score for the film On The Waterfront. The son of a Russian-Jewish immigrant who had worked himself up from nothing to become a successful businessman, Leonard Bernstein was born in Massachusetts in 1918. He became interested in music at age 10, when a relative sent an upright piano to the Bernstein household. The young Bernstein badgered his father until he agreed to let the boy take piano lessons. From the first, his father discouraged him from taking music seriously. Where Sam Bernstein came from, musicians were “the lowest of the low.” He sent his son to Boston Latin, one of the most academically demanding schools in America, where the boy excelled at everything, effortlessly. During high school, Bernstein succeeded at academics and athletics, but it wasn't until his years at Harvard University that he began to pursue music as a career. From 1935 to 1939, he studied piano with Heinrich Gebhard and composition with Walter Piston and Edward Burlinghame. [During his college years he also occasionally performed as a pianist, a practice that carried over into his conducting career; he was known to conduct from the keyboard.] Bernstein also spent two years, after college, at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, where he studied conducting with Fritz Reiner and continued studying piano. Upon graduating from Curtis, he created his first published composition, "Clarinet Sonata," in 1942. Summers Bernstein spent at Tanglewood, a musician’s school and colony established by Russian-born Boston Symphony Orchestra conductor and composer Serge Koussevitsky, who was, like composer Aaron Copland, a mentor to “Lenushka”; at times Koussevitsky treated Bernstein more like a son than a student, and, in fact, when Koussevitsky died his widow gave the young conductor a cape and other articles of clothing from her husband’s wardrobe. Bernstein accepted an offer from Artur Rodzinski, in the summer of 1943, to be assistant conductor of the New York Philharmonic orchestra. In November of that year, much sooner than he ever dreamed, a culture hero was born. On the 14th of that month Bernstein learned that the scheduled guest conductor, Bruno Walter, had come down with the flu and could not conduct. Bernstein, who had no chance to rehearse, had to step in for the evening's coast-to-coast CBS Radio broadcast performance. Nervously, he stepped into the fray and conducted a thrilling performance that amazed the audience and landed the 25-year-old on the front page of The New York Times. Happily, Bernstein’s parents were in attendance. Two months later, Bernstein presented his first symphony, the Jeremiah Symphony, a work that won the New York Music Critics' Circle award. The ballet, Fancy Free, choreographed by Jerome Robbins to Bernstein’s score, made its debut three months later and was an enormous hit. In fact, its popularity sparked the decision to transform it into a musical. Bernstein suggested to Robbins that Betty Comden and Adolph Green be hired to create the libretto and lyrics, and so, with the legendary George Abbott producing, Fancy Free became On the Town, a joyous musical about three sailors on a wild 24-hour leave in New York. The production debuted on December 28, 1944. Bernstein worked as conductor of the New York City Center Orchestra from 1945 to 1948. During his time here, he created his trademark style of conducting, including theatrically
63 thrusting his arms and erotically twisting his hips. Music critic, Harold Schomberg, described Bernstein as "the most choreographic of all contemporary conductors." In 1959, he composed his second symphony, The Age of Anxiety, inspired by a W.H. Auden poem. The next decade took Bernstein on a journey through a variety of pursuits. In 1951, Bernstein married the actress Felicia Montealegre Cohn, and two years later, he became the first American to conduct the orchestra of La Scala opera house. The following year, 1954, he was nominated for an Academy Award for his score for On the Waterfront. He also wrote the score for the Broadway musical, Candide, which opened in December 1956; the libretto was by playwright Lillian Hellman, based on French Felicia, Alex, Bernstein, Jamie philosopher Voltaireâ€™s novel. In the spring of 1957, Bernstein won an Emmy for "Best Musical Contribution to Television" for his performance in Omnibus on CBS. Fall of that year brought the smash, West Side Story, for which he created the score, to the National Theatre. Leonard Bernstein took the musical to new heights of seriousness in his 1957 production West Side Story, based loosely on Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. Its true subject was the growing menace of gang warfare (or "juvenile delinquency" as it was known then) in the context of racial tensions created by clashes between whites and Puerto Rican immigrants. Consciousness of racism was very much on the rise in the U.S. of the late Fifties; and Bernstein, a life-long liberal, wanted to portray the issue in an uncompromising fashion. The subject is treated in a fairly complex fashion. Note especially "I Want to Live in America" [see The Lyrics, below] which expresses the ambiguous feelings of the immigrants about their homeland while forthrightly condemning American white racism. By the time West Side Story was first produced in 1957, Bernstein was at the peak of his career. Though not yet 40, he had already composed two full-length symphonies, a ballet and scores for three Broadway musicals. For the next 20 years, feeling he had paid his theatre dues, he abandoned the stage and pursued a hectic career of conducting, recording, lecturing and composing for the concert hall. In 1958, he [was offered the position of] music director of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. . . . Bernstein published his first book, The Joy of Music, in 1959, the same year he began his position as musical director of the New York Philharmonic; his second book, The Infinite Variety of Music, came in 1966. He stayed with the Philharmonic for 11 years, stirring and enrapturing audiences with his vibrant showmanship and the passionate music he extracted from his musicians. In 1969, when he left the Philharmonic, he was named Laureate Conductor for life, an unprecedented honor. Over a 10-year period, he recorded all the symphonies of Mahler, Brahms and Beethoven, and several operas. In 1963 in Tel Aviv, he conducted the world premiere of his symphony, Kaddish. More an oratorio than a symphony, it involved massed voices, a narrator and elaborate jazz effects. [His daughter Jamie recently sang one of the major roles of this piece.] The dramatic choral fugue from his work was much praised when played in Boston the following year. Two years later he also produced his Chichester Psalms, an altogether simpler, more tuneful work: Bernstein's slow music at its best. During the 1970s, Bernstein involved himself in a number of artistic projects. He composed Mass, a theatre piece for singers, players, and dancers, in 1971. The next year, he returned to Harvard to lecture as the Charles Eliot Norton Professor of Poetry. In 1976, he led the Philharmonic on a gala bicentennial tour of Europe and the United States. Also, that year, he won an Emmy for Outstanding Classical Music Program for a PBS show called Bernstein and
64 the New York Philharmonic. New York presented him with the Handel Medallion in 1977, recognizing him for his many achievements and for his magnificent contribution to the culture of New York City. Bernstein was a Kennedy Center Honoree in 1980. Throughout his life he was influenced both by 20th-century classical composers, such as Stravinsky, Shostakovich, Mahler and Copland, and by jazz, which he felt was the single most important musical phenomenon of the 20th century. Manhattan, where he lived for much of his life, formed the setting for three of his five musicals (On The Town, 1944, Wonderful Town, 1953, West Side Story, 1957). The result is aggressive music, which excites and inspires. In 1989, Bernstein conducted an orchestra of international musicians to celebrate the struggle for independence in Eastern Europe, then appealed for brotherhood in East and West Germany. The concert was broadcast live in more than 20 countries. All his life Bernstein was determined to prove that an American musician, taught entirely within America, could be acclaimed and respected throughout the world of classical music. Two years before his death in 1990 he received Germany's highest music award, the Siemens Prize, something which must have made him feel he had achieved this. . . . He was working on the final stages of Arias and Barcarolles when he died in October 1990. Arthur Laurents (Librettist) â€” An award-winning playwright, screenwriter, librettist, director and producer, Arthur Laurents has been responsible for creating the librettos of many Broadway shows including Gypsy, Anyone Can Whistle, Do I Hear A Waltz?, Hallelujah, Baby!, and Nick and Nora. He wrote the screenplays for The Snake Pit, Anna Lucasta, Anastasia, Bonjour Tristesse, The Way We Were and The Turning Point. He also wrote the plays Home Of The Brave, The Time Of The Cuckoo, and A Clearing of The Woods. He directed I Can Get It For You Wholesale, Anyone Can Whistle, Gypsy, La Cage Aux Folles, Birds Of Paradise and Nick and Nora. Stephen Sondheim (Lyricist) - Stephen Sondheim is the father of the modern American musical. He took the classic form bequeathed to him by Rodgers and Hammerstein and reinvented it to reflect and analyze the anxious mood of this country throughout the last three decades without losing any of the brio and originality that has made the American musical perhaps the most cherished product of our popular culture. Sondheim wrote the lyrics for West Side Story, Gypsy and Do I Hear A Waltz? He wrote lyrics and music for (A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The) Forum, Anyone Can Whistle, Company, Follies, The Frogs, A Little Night Music, Pacific Overtures, Sweeney Todd, Merrily We Roll Along, Sunday In The Park With George, Into The Woods and Assassins. He wrote additional lyrics for Candide. Side By Side By Sondheim, Marry Me A Little and Putting It Together are anthologies of his work as a composer and lyricist. Stephen Joshua Sondheim was born in 1930, the son of a successful New York dress manufacturer. An intense and curious child, he showed exceptional talent from an early ageâ€”skipping kindergarten and reading everything he could get his hands on by the time he was five. The first and most profound influence on Stephen Sondheim was the great Oscar Hammerstein II, a family friend and neighbor in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, where Sondheim
65 lived with his mother after his parents were divorced. At the age of 15, Sondheim wrote his first musical, By George, for his school and proudly showed it to his mentor. Hammerstein not only told him it was one of the worst things he had ever read, but also showed him why. Sondheim claims: "In that afternoon, I learned more about song writing than most people learn in a lifetime." Hammerstein also let Sondheim fetch coffee and type out scripts during rehearsals for Allegro, South Pacific, and The King and I [choreographed by Jerome Robbins]. His education continued at Williams College where he majored in music and graduated magna cum laude in 1950; on graduating college, Sondheim won the Hutchinson Prize, which enabled him to study composition with Milton Babbitt, the avant-garde composer and tutor at Princeton University. While Broadway was always his destination, he began his career in Hollywood as a scriptwriter for the comedy series Topper. It wasn't long, though, before he had met Arthur Laurents and then Leonard Bernstein . . . Bernstein was 39 and already a world-respected musician; Sondheim was 27 and an almost unknown composer and lyricist; his talents were raw and undeveloped, and yet he received an offer to act as co-lyricist with Bernstein. But Sondheim didn't want to be seen only as a lyric writer [and] he complained to Hammerstein that he couldn't write lyrics for a people and class (underprivileged Puerto Ricans) of which he had no personal knowledge. Fortunately, his mentor advised him to work with the top professionals who had approached him. Bernstein was supportive of the young man's budding talent, claiming that working with him was like being with an “alter ego.” Just before the show's New York opening, Bernstein insisted on having his credits as co-lyricist removed. He felt that the young man had earned his spurs and should receive sole credit for the work. After West Side Story, Sondheim went on to write the lyrics for Gypsy, on which he worked with yet another great Broadway composer, Jule Styne. Then came a string of Broadway shows for which he wrote both music and lyrics. He was to work again with Bernstein—albeit briefly—on the 1973 revival of Candide. He also wrote lyrics for Richard Rodgers (Do I Hear a Waltz?) in 1965, although it was not a success. Sondheim's other major musicals include Pacific Overtures (1976), a piece about American colonialism in Japan, and Sweeney Todd (1979). . . . [In 1988] Sondheim wrote three songs for the film Dick Tracy, directed by and starring Warren Beatty, for the character Breathless Mahoney, played by Madonna. . . . Sondheim was made professor of musical theatre at Oxford University in 1990, the first person to be appointed to the position; in the following year his Assassins opened Off-Broadway and was seen in London in 1992. He has won five Tony Awards for his scores of Company, Follies, A Little Night Music, Sweeney Todd, and Into the Woods. Probably no one else on Broadway has composed scores more perfectly suited to the plays for which they are written than Sondheim, whose music evokes moods of emotional ambivalence and complexity demanded by his characters and their situations. His lyrics are universally acknowledged as musical theatre's best: clever, razor-edged light verse laced with puns, literary allusions, and playful rhymes. This mastery of form earned Sondheim a Kennedy Center award in 1993. "I write generally experimental, unexpected work," says Sondheim and certainly his work had come from generally unexpected sources: Greek and Roman playwrights (The Frogs, Forum), Swedish film comedies (A Little Night Music), Victorian penny dreadfuls (Sweeney Todd), Kabuki (Pacific Overtures), impressionist paintings (Sunday in the Park with George), fairy tales (Into the Woods), and the twisted lives of presidential assassins (Assassins). "I've
66 never been conscious of trying to further the theatrical language," claims Sondheim. "It comes from a feeling of not wanting to cover the same material twice." . . . Jerome Robbins (Director)-Dancer, director, choreographer, producer and writer Jerome Robbins started his career in 1930 as a ballet dancer. With the ballet Fancy Free (1944), he became a major choreographic force. His works are currently in the repertories of the world's major ballet companies. Between 1944 and 1956 he created, directed and/or choreographed fifteen musicals, all inventive and varied in subject matter and tone. These productions included Peter Pan, Pajama Game, Call Me Madam, On The Town, Billion Dollar Baby, High Button Shoes, Miss Liberty, The King And I, Wonderful Town and Bells Are Ringing. He followed West Side Story with Gypsy, and Fiddler On The Roof. He also directed the Tony Award-winning retrospective of his work, Jerome Robbins' Broadway. He was born Jerome Rabinowitz, October 11, 1918, son of Jewish immigrants. As a child he studied the piano and violin as well as dance. In 1935, the young man who was to become Jerome Robbins (he changed his name to suit a professional career) graduated from Woodrow Wilson High School and spent a year at New York University before leaving to pursue a career as a dancer. He studied ballet with Ula Duganova, Eugene Loring, and Antony Tudor; modern dance with the New Dance League; interpretive dance with Sonya Robbins; Spanish dance with Helene Viola; and Asian dance with Nimura, and in 1940 he joined American Ballet Theatre as a dancer. Robbins joined the American Ballet Theatre in 1940 and made his solo debut there as Petrouchka in 1942. Two years later, he created and choreographed his first ballet, Fancy Free. Leonard Bernstein composed the music for the smash hit, a performance that received 20 curtain calls on its opening night in April 18, 1944. In 1945, Robbins choreographed Interplay, a ballet that intermingles ballet and jazz dance [with motifs from childrenâ€™s games]. His first serious work, Facsimile, with a score by Bernstein, broke radically with ballet tradition by having one of his characters, a woman being mauled by two men, cry out for help. In 1947, he both directed and choreographed Look Ma, I'm Dancin', becoming only the second choreographer to perform both roles simultaneously. From early on in his career, Robbins was known as a fiercely determined man uninhibited by the usual standards. In 1948, he joined the New York City Ballet as a dancer and choreographer, then the following year he became the associate artistic director under George Balanchine. One of his first pieces was The Guests, with music by Marc Blitzstein. Essentially it presented two groups that never mixed socially at a masked ball, during the course of which one male and female from each group fell in love, to the shock and dismay of their peers (when all were unmasked). It was presented in January 1949, the same year Robbins expressed his notion of adapting Romeo and Juliet to Leonard Bernstein. He won a Dance Magazine Award in 1950 for his title-role performance in Balanchineâ€™s The Prodigal Son. For the next few years, his choreographic output was very random. His ballet, Age of Anxiety, based on a W.H. Auden poem and accompanied by Leonard Bernstein's music, won a Dance Magazine Award for "outstanding creativity in the field of American ballet." The next year, he choreographed Rodgers and Hammerstein's The King and I. Three months later, his ballet, The Cage, a disturbing production about predatory females, opened.
67 In 1953 . . . fearing blacklisting in the entertainment industry, Robbins testified before the House Committee on Un-American Activities, and denounced former colleagues as members of the Communist party. Because of this he received the unforgiving hostility of some artists and fellow co-workers for many years to come. . . . In 1954, Robbins helped exhilarate a whole generation of theatregoers when he choreographed and directed the legendary production of J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan, starring Mary Martin and Cyril Ritchard. One year later, he won an Emmy for a television version of the show. Three years after the enormous success of Peter Pan, Robbins, along with Bernstein, Arthur Laurents, Oliver Smith, and Stephen Sondheim, brought West Side Story to [Broadway]. This electrifying musical about rival street gangs featured Bernstein's jazzy street-tempoed score and classic Robbins dancing—young American kids filling the stage with turbulent movement. Once again, Robbins won a Dance Magazine Award for "extending the expressive range of the Broadway musical theatre." Three years later, Robbins recreated the show's "Cool," "America," "Jets," and other dance numbers for the film version of West Side Story. He won two Academy Awards, one for directing and one for his "brilliant achievement in the art of choreography on film." The film won 11 Oscars in all. Robbins formed his own ballet company in 1955, called Ballets USA, for which he created Moves, an abstract ballet without music; in 1959, he directed and choreographed Gypsy for Ethel Merman. In 1962, he directed his first non-musical play, Arthur Kopit's Oh Dad, Poor Dad, Mama's Hung You in the Closet and I'm Feeling So Sad. The following year, he directed Brecht's Mother Courage, starring Anne Bancroft. In 1964, Robbins again directed and choreographed for Broadway with the captivating Fiddler on the Roof. The musical won nine Tonys the following year, two of them for Robbins' direction and choreography. During the 1970s, Robbins created such radical and original works as The Golden Variations, The Watermill, Dybbuk Variations, and Chansons Madecasses. He remained with the New York City Ballet until 1990—after the death of George Balanchine in 1983, he shared the post of artistic director with Peter Martins—when he gave his official farewell at the Festival of Jerome Robbins' Ballets. In 1981 he received a Kennedy Center Award. He returned briefly to Broadway in 1989 with an anthology of past hits entitled Jerome Robbins' Broadway. Jerome Robbins proved his never-ending creativity throughout his career by continually pushing the conventional bounds of dramatic and balletic expression. He was an extraordinary showman and a major force in the world of theatre and dance. His dedication to dance will live on in his ballets. Jerome Robbins died of a stroke in his home in New York City in July of 1998. Setting: The streets of New York City, the 1950s. In the course of two frantic days Maria and Tony meet and fall in love but fall prey to the violent prejudices held by their respective peer groups. Characters The Jets Riff - the leader, Tony’s best friend. Tony - his friend, Maria’s beloved. Action, A-rab, Baby John, Snowboy, Big Deal, Diesel, Gee-tar, Mouthpiece, Tiger
68 Their Girls Graziella – Riff’s girl Velma – Graziella’s best friend. Minnie, Clarice, Pauline Anybodys – possibly a feminist undercover, but way too far ahead of her time. The nickname undoubtedly refers to the fact that neither the boys nor the girls want to spend time with her. The Sharks Bernardo - the leader, Maria’s big brother, Anita’s main squeeze.. Chino - his friend, Maria’s fiancé by arrangement, not choice. Pepe, Toro, Indio, Luis, Anxious, Nibbles, Juano, Moose Their Girls Anita - Bernardo's girl, Maria’s friend and coworker. Maria - Bernardo's sister, beloved of Tony, not Chino. Rosalia, Consuelo, Teresita, Francisca, Estella, Margarita The Adults Doc – Tony’s boss, the drugstore proprietor, who tries to look out for him like a surrogate parent. Shrank - a police lieutenant who dislikes what the Jets do with their turf, but dislikes the Sharks because they exist in his world. Officer Krupke – the cop on the beat who tries to keep the Jets in line ineffectually (on a good day). A figure of fun in their eyes. Glad Hand – a wannabe social worker who doesn’t understand the young people or take their troubles seriously, like the police officers. Vocabulary PRs=Puerto Ricans. I’m a casual – A-rab means he’s a casualty because of the Shark attack on him, “piercing” his ear. That makes you a P.R. tomato – Snowboy is teasing A-rab, calling him a Puerto Rican party girl now that A-rab’s ear has been “pierced.” My old man says them Puerto Ricans is ruinin’ free enterprise – Actually, Baby John’s father is upset that Puerto Ricans are participating in free enterprise, opening corner stores and seamstress shops like the one Anita and Maria work in; his father doesn’t like the competition. Protocality calls for . . . – Riff means that there is a protocol, a procedure to be followed in arranging the rumble. I understand the rules—Native Boy – Bernardo is calling Riff black as tension escalates between the two gangs.
69 Callate! – Maria is shushing Tony in Spanish: callar means to silence, so, in its command form it means quiet! Ya vengo – Maria tells her Papa that she’ll be in in a minute. Buenos noches – Good night. Te adoro, Anton – I love you, Tony (literally, I adore you). Who is really a Polack – Bernardo is deriding the American point of view that U.S.-born children of immigrants are Americans while Puerto Ricans, though born U.S. citizens, are foreigners, and he’s doing that with the ethnic slur polack, instead of Pole. Vamonos, chicos, es tarde – Let’s go, boys, it’s late. Hoodlums – criminals, gangstas. Tin-horn (immigrant scum) Slang A petty braggart who pretends to be rich and important, from the horn-shaped metal can used by gamblers for shaking the dice; or, a political shill, from the metal horn one added to his cane through which one shouted slogans about one’s candidate of choice. d.t.’s – delirium tremens. A-rab’s father is accused of being an alcoholic. Bruja – Sp: witch. Querida – Sp: dear. Buenas tardes – Good evening; it’s too early for “Good night.” It’s just his neurosis that ought to be curbed – Freudian psychology still held sway in America in the late 50s, early 60s. Headshrinker – a psychologist, psychiatrist, analyst. Psychiatry is somewhat familiar to many Americans but its terms sound mysterious, so its practitioners were often portrayed as exotic. My grandma pushes tea – Grandma is selling marijuana, the active chemical ingredient being THC, thus, “T” or “tea.” I got a social disease – Well, in those days the phrase social disease referred to sexuallytransmitted diseases. Riff is making a dark pun. Be a schmuck - A clumsy or stupid person; an oaf. Wotta buncha Old Man Rivers: they don’t know nothin’ and they don’t say nuthin’ – Anybodys refers to the song “Old Man River” from the Hammerstein-Kern musical Showboat: Ol' man river,
70 Dat ol' man river He mus' know sumpin' But don't say nuthin', He jes' keeps rollin' He keeps on rollin' along. Por favor – Sp: please. No comprende – Sp: You don’t understand. Di nada – (or de nada) Sp: It’s nothing; don’t mention it. Greaseball – The Jets are commenting on Anita, accusing her of looking unkempt. They would say the same of any PR and most Italians, Greeks, etc. Jive Slang Cut the frabbajabba – chatter. Gassin’, crabbin’ – talking/spreading hot air; complaining for the sake of complaining, not to effect change. Daddy-o – a precursor to man and other generic words applied to any male held in your esteem. Spics – Micks – Wops — Latinos, Irish, Italians, i.e., not Americans. Glory Osky – a socially acceptable exclamation used in place of “God!” or “My God” when those were not necessarily permitted out loud. Buggin’ – (bug) v: to react with extreme or irrational distress or composure. Note: usually only used in the past progressive tense. ("I was bugging after she got home.") And, of course, COOL. Michael Quinion, in the World Wide Word section of his webpage, relates some of the history of this well-known word in response to the following question: From Stephanie Matthews: "I'm interested in the history of the word cool as a slang word. Apparently it was first used in the musical West Side Story by Bernstein, [et al.]. Is this true? Can you enlighten me any further?" Cool has had several meanings, nearly all of them older than West Side Story. Its history is more than a little complicated, because several of its senses overlap, and it's hard to be sure when the rather ill-defined modern slang term came into the language. Also, it's not always possible to understand how it was being used in some older examples. One slang sense is "controlled, cautious or discreet," which was fashionable in the early 1950s in the phrase stay cool. This is first recorded near the end of the 19th century, but it's really a subtle transformation of a standard English form that goes back to Beowulf, in a rather literary metaphor for being unexcited, calm or dispassionate. This turned up in the 18th century in the
71 slangy expression cool as a cucumber that is still with us, and in the mainstream language as keeping a cool head—being unemotional or in total command of oneself. Some researchers suggest that at about the same time a second sense grew out of this standard English meaning, to refer to something that was superlative, exciting or enjoyable (or less strongly, something merely satisfactory or acceptable). The older English meaning was sometimes rather negative, since to be unemotional and in control might imply you were also withdrawn or depressed, lacking warmth, or unenthusiastic (as in someone getting a cool reception). Black American English, it is suggested, could have turned this on its head to make something cool its very opposite. If this is true, it would be the first example of a type of slang construction common in modern American Black English—for example bad or wicked. This use of cool only really caught on in the 1930s, but is still common (and is well known, for example, among young people in Britain as well as America, even though a few now insist on spelling it kewl [especially online, right?]). This overlaps somewhat with another slang sense, recorded from the beginning of the th 19 century, that referred to somebody who was assured, audacious or impudent. This turned up in phrases like a cool customer or a cool fish and is also recorded in American English from the 1840s onwards. Yet a fourth sense, of something sophisticated or fashionable, is first recorded from the middle 1940s but is probably rather older. (There are other senses, but let's not make an already complicated story even more difficult to understand.) Elements of all these ideas came together in the jazz world in the 1940s, especially in cool jazz—for example Charlie Parker's Cool Blues of 1947; jazz aficionados used the term to distinguish this style from the hot jazz then in vogue, but also with undertones of at least some of these earlier meanings. It's with jazz that the slang term was most closely associated and out of which it became more widely known throughout the English-speaking world. In the Fifties cool could variously mean restrained, relaxed, laid-back, detached, cerebral, stylish, excellent, or other affirmative things. It became the keyword of the Beat generation and in the 1960s it moved into teen slang—where it has largely stayed. What is surprising about cool is how long it has been around. Even if you ignore its prehistory, it has stayed in fashion for 50 years or more, a long time for a slang term. And it has remained slang, and not moved into the mainstream. Today it's just as commonly encountered as it was in the Fifties and Sixties. Now that's cool . . . The creation of West Side Story In 1949, dancer and choreographer Jerome Robbins suggested to composer Leonard Bernstein that they join forces on a modern musical version of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet (See Robbins’ bio, above). He thought the love story, set against a background of family feuds, had universal appeal. Robbins proposed that they update the plot using a Jew and a Catholic as the main characters. He named the project East Side Story and called in writer Arthur Laurents to work on the libretto. Bernstein, though initially enthusiastic, decided he had too many other commitments and the project was put to one side. Six years later, meeting by accident in Los Angeles, Bernstein and Laurents again discussed the project. On this occasion, Laurents fired Bernstein's imagination by suggesting that they use a black and a Puerto Rican as the hero and heroine caught in the middle of street gang rivalry. Laurents took out his old libretto and Robbins was contacted. Stephen Sondheim was enlisted to write the song lyrics, despite his protestation, “I've never even known a Puerto Rican.” The creative team was now in place. . . .
72 [They] did not want to create an opera, an operetta, or a musical tragedy. Between 1955 and 1957, they worked to create a form of musical theatre “unlike anything done before.” . . . According to Robbins, the motivating creative challenge of the West Side Story collaboration was to bring highbrow artistry into the commercial theater. "The aim . . . ," he said, "was to see if all of us—Lenny [Bernstein] who wrote 'long-hair' music, Arthur [Laurents] who wrote serious plays, myself who did serious ballets, Oliver Smith who was a serious painter—could bring our acts together and do a work on the popular stage. . . . The idea was to make the poetry of the piece come out of our best attempts as serious artists; that was the major thrust." West Side Story was surely a daring, innovative experiment, seemingly ahead of its time; yet the Rehearsing during auditions: Bernstein show also represented the culmination of the at right, with Carol Lawrence (Maria) integrated concept musical that traced back to behind him; Sondheim at the piano Oklahoma! Under the driving, authoritarian force of Robbins' direction, all the elements of book, score, choreography and design would be woven seamlessly to support what he defined as the show's central theme: "the futility of intolerance." There was to be more music and more dancing than ever before, with a lean, gritty book that borrowed more plot than poetry from Shakespeare's tragedy. . . . Working with Bernstein on the lyrics, Sondheim sought "to bring the language down to the level of real simplicity [while still expressing the serious themes]." According to Bernstein, the key to his edgy, feverish music was the tritone interval, as was apparent in the melody of "Maria" and throughout the score “in that the three notes pervade the entire piece, inverted, done backwards. I didn’t do all this on purpose. It seemed to come out in 'Cool' and as the gang whistle [in the 'Prologue']. The same three notes." Bernstein suggested that while he and Sondheim were working on music and lyrics, "We raped Arthur's playwrighting. I've never seen anyone so encouraging, let alone generous, urging us, 'Yes, take it, take it, make it a song.'” This was certainly the case with Tony's first-act song, "Something's Coming," which lifted its title from Laurents' scenario and incorporated his lines, "it may be around the corner, whistling down the river, twitching at the dance—who knows?" Links between songs underscored the fervent passion of the lovers, as with the strain of woodwinds connecting "Tonight" and "Somewhere." Bernstein also borrowed, or cannibalized in his fashion, unused music from his work on Candide, including "Gee, Officer Krupke" and "One Hand, One Heart." . . . While past efforts to turn Shakespeare into musical theatre had always involved adaptations of the Bard’s comedies, West Side Story was the first attempt to use one of his tragedies as the basis for an American musical. Laurents chose to let the story wind its own way, using the original as a reference point [though sticking] as closely as he could to Shakespeare's original plot: the star-crossed lovers became native New Yorker Tony and Puerto Ricanimmigrant Maria; Shakespeare's Montagues and Capulets became rival gangs the Jets and Sharks; and the great love scene was transposed from balcony to fire escape. According to Carol Lawrence, who played Maria in the Broadway premiere, at first the collaborators thought Maria should die, as Juliet does, but when Laurents broached the idea to Richard Rodgers—he and his partner Oscar Hammerstein knew Laurents, Robbins, Bernstein and Sondheim—Rodgers replied,
73 “You know, the moment that Tony dies, Maria is dead already. Her life is over. You don’t need to kill her. It’s sadder if she has to live on alone.” So Maria lives. To make the characters timeless yet realistic, Laurents invented a special street language, as he felt contemporary slang would date the piece. He even pre-empted the widespread use of cool, which was not modified into its slang form until several years later. Laurents planned the musical numbers very carefully. With the exception of “Gee, Officer Krupke,” which is pure light relief, every song arises from one of the three dramatic situations in the show: the feud between the Jets and the Sharks, Tony and Maria's mutual love and Anita's remonstrations with Maria. Robbins too wanted his work to be as integrated as possible with the other elements of the show. The routines he The dance at the gym, on Broadway developed were street-wise and vibrant with alternately crouching and leaping dancers performing athletically to Bernstein's Latin American-inspired cross-rhythms, mambos and cool jive. . . . [Speaking about her experience on the film,] Rita Moreno said, “What [Robbins] did that was so unusual was that he choreographed for character. He choreographed the way a writer writes.” . . . The production was not without problems. The original producer, Cheryl Crawford, dropped out six weeks before rehearsal and Hal Prince [not yet the Broadway producer/director] took over at the last minute. Robbins hired young dancers who, while fitting the age profile of the piece, had little acting experience. To make them act like real street gangs, he encouraged them to live out their stage roles, even to the extent of not socializing with members of the other gang. It worked so well that one cast member complained that no one would eat with her. The show opened in Washington, DC, to mixed reviews from the critics. When it moved to Broadway, though, it was an artistic triumph and was commercially successful. The qualities of Russ Tamblyn (left) & the Jets rehearse West Side Story made a profound impression on critics Jerome Robbins’ dances for the movie and audiences alike, who were amazed by a show that was both rough and tender, realistic and haunting, old-fashioned but as current as tomorrow’s news. . . . As Bernstein wrote in his diary on the day of the Washington opening, “what made it come out right is that we all collaborated, we were all writing the same show.”
74 West Side Story ran on Broadway for 734 performances before embarking on a national tour. . . . After the tour, in a daring move, Prince brought the production back to Broadway, kept ticket prices low, and the show ran for a further 249 performances, bringing the total to just under 1,000. In 1961, producer Robert Wise made West Side Story into a memorable film, which Sondheim credits with transforming the show from a cult favorite to a smash hit. Starring Natalie Wood, Richard Beymer and George Chakiris, it is widely acknowledged as one of the finest movie musicals of the 1960s. The film was awarded 10 Academy awards, including Best Picture, and a special award went to Jerome Robbins “for his brilliant achievements in the art of choreography on film.” The film also made stars of Rita Moreno and George Chakiris, a member of the original London stage cast. Both received Best Supporting Actor Oscars, while Irene Sharaff was honored for her costumes. Some Thoughts about West Side Story From Director Anthony Salatino West Side Story truly demonstrates how dancing, singing, acting and design can merge into a single means of expression. The dance elaborates the story’s themes and moods, and contrasts the differences between the opposing gangs. The Sharks’ body language is more martial arts-like and represents the pride of the Puerto Rican people. The Jets have a free spirit, a youthful sense of abandonment, a carefree style. Both the Sharks and the Jets have urgency about them . . . impulsive, a sense of ownership. When they clash, their hatred toward each other exposes a physical sense of chaos. Each of their styles is a visual symbol of who they are and how they relate to each other. Motion, emotion and thought are integrated in the movement, emotions, songs, acting and combat scenes. Themes of identity, territory and power are focused in this work. This is a restless time. The music by Leonard Bernstein, which I believe is his strongest work for the Broadway stage, is full of specific musical motifs, rhythmic tension and descriptive tonalities that weave American jazz and Latin rhythms in a powerful descriptive and emotional way that drives and informs the characters and story line. There is such energy in this score, sometimes impulsive, lyrical, passionate, tragic, dream-like, sinister . . . . always creating the musical fabric of the story. A Note on Puerto Rico From: A Brief History of Puerto Rico and Encyclopedia.com The Foraker Act of 1901 established the relationship of the United States with Puerto Rico and many of its provisions are still in force. During this period the Puerto Ricans were in a citizenship limbo as they weren't citizens of Spain and the title "Puerto Rican citizen," although it applied, meant little, as Puerto Rico was not a free country or legally part of another. This ambiguity was finally solved by the Jones act of 1917 by which Puerto Ricans became American citizens and Puerto Rico became an unincorporated territory of the United States. . . . Partial self-
75 government was granted in 1947, enabling citizens to elect their own governor for the first time. In 1952 a new constitution made Puerto Rico an autonomous part of the United States called the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, or Estado Libre Asociado de Puerto Rico. . . . Puerto Ricans now have most of the benefits of American citizenship, including federal welfare aid but Puerto Ricans are unable to vote in United States presidential elections despite being subject to service in the armed forces. There is great public interest in resolving the political status issue and the main difference in the political parties is their differing views of the status issue. The Partido Independista calls for total independence as a nation-state, the Populares support the present commonwealth status, and the Partido Nuevo Progresista advocates statehood, hoping to see Puerto Rico become the 51st state of the United States. The people of Puerto Rico have a love of their country, or "patria," that accepts the free association with the mainland but emphasizes loyalty to their own culture, way of life, spirit, folklore, hospitality, and ways of getting along with others. Many Puerto Ricans move between the island and United States mainland to get the "best of both worlds": culture, identity, and a familiar environment in the former; material wealth, education, acquisition of skills, and opportunities for their children from temporary residence in the United States. Many return to the Caribbean; some stay in the United States; and Puerto Ricoâ€™s Las Rocas mountains the constant circulation of Puerto Ricans between homes is now an enduring feature of the island's experience. Economically Puerto Rico has a greater variety of industrial, commercial, and financial service activities and a better developed transportation network than other Caribbean islands. Statistics show that it has some of the most favorable economic and demographic conditions in Latin America and the Caribbean. In comparison to the United States, however, Puerto Rico's position is still quite below that of Cueva del Indio, coastal lava formations the poorest state of the Union, Mississippi. . . . Puerto Rico's fertile soil supports one of the densest populations in the world. The Puerto Ricans are descended from Spanish colonists and also from Native Americans and Africans. Spanish and English are the official languages, although Spanish is predominant. Roman Catholicism is the main religion. Spanish is the medium of instruction, but English is studied as a second language by all students.
76 Pre-Performance Questions • Write an essay comparing one of the following similarities between Romeo and Juliet and West Side Story: Young people fiercely loyal to each other The importance of a social dance Love at first sight Secret wedding Friend killed and the compulsion to retaliate Family-approved suitor vs. personal choice Sympathetic, yet ineffective adult figure Worlds that do not allow for the innocence and beauty of love • What are the causes of the tragedy in West Side Story? • Does the fact Tony and Maria act hastily and impulsively contribute to their tragedy? • Does the fact Tony and Maria disobey the wishes of their families and social groups contribute to their tragedy? • Is the tragedy of West Side Story a tragedy of fate? • Which actions make the outcome of the plot unavoidable? • Do you find the fact Maria lives on without Tony more or less tragic than the death of both Romeo and Juliet? • Nationalities and cultures around the world have different, often opposing views of love and marriage. Maria is expected to enter into a marriage with Chino arranged by her family. However, she finds herself romantically attracted to Tony. What are the benefits of arranged marriages? What are the drawbacks? • Would you be willing to enter into an arranged marriage? Why? Why not? • Explore the history of arranged marriages. Why have they occurred at certain periods of history and not in others? In certain cultures and not in others? Do they still exist today? • Do you believe in the kind of love at first sight experienced by Tony and Maria? Write an essay in which you discuss whether or not love at first sight can be the basis of a lasting relationship. • Maria and Tony come from two distinct cultural backgrounds. Why was their relationship a threat to both groups? • How are interracial and interreligious marriages viewed in our own society? What forces in our society preserve negative attitudes towards such marriages? • What is the attitude in your own community towards marriages between members of different religious, racial, or social groups? Do you agree with these attitudes? How have they been formed? Have they changed in the last twenty-five years? Do you think they will change in the future? Why? Gangs, Peer Pressure and Values • The belief systems of the Sharks and the Jets set the tragic events of West Side Story into motion. What are some of the expressed values and principles of the two groups? Do you think these values and principles are good or bad? • How does adhering to these values contribute to the tragic outcome? • Why do young people feel the need to belong to gangs? • Why does Riff want Tony to be present at the rumble? Why does Tony attend?
77 • Could Tony's thoughts and actions surrounding his confrontation with Bernardo have been handled differently? • Anita is proud of her affiliation with the Sharks and of her cultural heritage. She is also a good, caring friend to Maria. How do these two qualities create a conflict for her? How do they affect her actions in West Side Story? • Write a description of what you think would have happened to Tony and Maria if the Jets had not assaulted Anita in the drugstore and she had delivered Maria’s true message to Tony. • How does Chino's loyalty to Bernardo affect the action? • Write about an experience you have had that involved peer pressure. How did you react? How do you feel about the outcome? • Read a book or group of articles on gang culture in the United States today [the Post Standard ran some articles about local gangs this past summer]. Report on a contemporary gang culture. • The role of women in the gangs of West Side Story is very peripheral. What is the current and emerging role of women in gang culture? How do female gangs differ from male gangs? • Discuss the character of Anybodys. Create a history for her character that explains her allegiance to the gang and her need for acceptance by them. • Discuss the causes of violent behavior among young people in contemporary America. Research the possible involvement of television in causing violent behavior. • The morality of the Sharks and Jets centers around group loyalty and protection of turf by any means. Discuss this concept. • Loyalty to other gang members seems to have a greater value to the Sharks and the Jets than the value of an individual life. What is the value of life in our society? Are the attitudes the same in different economic classes? • What is the pattern in America today for settling social disputes? By rational means or through violence? How effective is the law in settling disputes? Cultural Conflict in West Side Story • Friction between groups of diverse backgrounds is part of American history. What factors in contemporary life contribute to this problem? What can be done to control it? • Imagine yourself as an immigrant today. How would you feel about leaving your homeland, about learning a new language, about making new friends? • What causes the members of one group to dislike and distrust another? What happens when these attitudes are officially sanctioned? • What is stereotyping? Why is it dangerous? • Different nationalities came to the United States to escape poverty, civil unrest, and political repression. In their search for a better life, like the Puerto Ricans in West Side Story, these immigrants often encountered problems and antagonisms. Briefly trace immigration to the United States from the 1820s to the present day from Europe, the Americas, Asia, Australia, Africa, the Pacific Islands and the West Indies. • Research the immigration of Puerto Ricans into the New York City area. What kinds of problems and antagonisms existed for the new arrivals? What is the status quo of the Puerto Rican community in New York City today? • Do the events depicted in West Side Story relate to current problems of more recent immigrants? Pick a specific group, such as Hungarians, Haitians, Cubans, Vietnamese, or Koreans, and research their reasons for coming to this country, as well as the problems they have faced since their arrival. Cover such areas as housing, jobs, discrimination, or difficulty in entering the country.
78 • What is an immigration quota? How have these quotas changed over the years? Are there certain groups which seem to get preferential treatment? Why? What are some of the reasons for immigration authorities for refusing immigrants entry to the United States (i.e. politics, health, race)? • Write about the role of prejudice in the settlement of this country. Are there groups in American society today that experience prejudice? Why? What can be done to change this situation? • Select a contemporary conflict at home or abroad that has its roots in religious, racial or class prejudice. Why does it exist? Cultural Identity • What is cultural identity? • What problems do the Puerto Ricans in West Side Story or any minority group have in retaining cultural identity while living in another dominant culture? • Assimilation is the acceptance of the dominant culture (in the case of the United States, the white, Protestant, Anglo-Saxon culture) by an emigrant group. What are the advantages of assimilation? The disadvantages? • Some immigrant groups retain the strict cultural heritage of their homeland through religion, custom, and language, even if the group is living in another dominant culture. What are the advantages of such retention? The disadvantages? • Amalgamation is blending of certain traditions of a minority culture and those of the dominant culture into a dynamic unity. What are some examples of cultural amalgamation in our country? In your community? • What comment does the song "America” make about cultural identity? • What groups in America have been prevented from total assimilation? Why? • Trace the history of Native Americans assimilation (or non-assimilation) into the dominant culture of the United States. Is this history similar to that of the immigrants? What are the problems of the Native Americans today with respect to cultural identity? The Generation Gap • The adults in West Side Story seem powerless to prevent the self-destructive actions of the young people in their community. Why do you think they are powerless? What could any of them have done differently to change the outcome? • Doc seems closest to understanding the gang members, yet he cannot influence them. Is this entirely his fault? • What are the Jets expressing in the song “Officer Krupke"? • Do parents play any role in West Side Story? Could they have made a differences? • Is a gap in understanding inevitable between generations? Do you have a generation gap with your parents? With your teachers? With other adults in your life? Who is responsible for these gaps? Why? Can these gaps be lessened? How? • Write a description of a social problem in your community involving young people or older people. • Are the leading figures in your community sensitive to the problems of young people? Are the police?
79 General Questions • If you were going to produce West Side Story now, would you set it in the present or in 1957? What changes would you make and why? • Watch the movie version West Side Story. Write a critical essay comparing the film to the show. • Is there a character in West Side Story you admire or with whom you identify? Give your reasons. • Trace the development of Tony, Maria and Anita through the show. How do they grow and change? • Do you think the creators of West Side Story sided with either the Sharks or the Jets? Defend your answer. West Side Story as Musical Theatre • Look at each song in West Side Story. What do you think inspired or “launched” specific songs? • In modern American musicals songs may express a mood or describe a person place or thing but many songwriters try to advance the plot through song also. Identify which songs fit these different categories. • What do we learn about the world in which West Side Story takes place from “America,” or any other song? • Can you think of another place in the show where a song might have been placed? What would be a title for this new song? What would it be about? What kind of music would it have? Try to write a few lines of the song lyric or melody. • Music, lyrics and dance are effectively integrated in West Side Story. Identify the places in the show where dance is used. How is dance used to express emotion? Where is dance used naturalistically? Why is dance more powerful at certain moments than words might be? • Listen for examples of how composer Leonard Bernstein used rhythm to create mood, atmosphere and emotion. • At the very end of the show, as the two gangs appear to be cooperating to carry Tony's body, a peaceful-sounding high chord alternates with a ominous-sounding low note. Yet this dissonance between these two sounds never resolves. By ending the show without a musical resolution (a traditional tonal cadence), what comment do you think Bernstein is making? • For the musically inclined: A tritone is considered to be one of the ugliest and harshestsounding melodic intervals (from C to F-sharp, for example). Play a tritone on a piano keyboard. Bernstein adapted this interval—one that's usually avoided by composers—into many of the songs in West Side Story. Find the tritones in the melodies of "Cool"; “Maria"; the Prologue; or the Finale. Why did Bernstein use this interval? Where else does the tritone appear? Create Your Own Musical • Select a classic play that could be turned into a musical. Why would this play make a good musical? How would it “sing”? What role would music play in it? What kind of music will your characters sing? Will the musical include dance? • What elements of this classic play make it relevant today? Where would you set it in terms of time and place: its original setting, a contemporary setting, etc.? • Outline your musical, scene by scene. • Make a list of the characters you would include. • Make a list of the songs you would include.
80 • Write the first scene, a turning point scene, and the final scene of your musical. • Write a lyric or a melody for one of the songs. -And/Or• Create a plan for a totally new musical theatre adaptation of Romeo and Juliet. Using the basic plot and situation, think of a whole new world in which to place it. If you were going to tell this story today where would it take place? Why? What social issues would still be relevant? Which social issues would you add? •What kind of music would your characters sing? Would the musical include dance? What kind? • Discuss the ideas presented in the show and their contemporary relevance. Sources Consulted Bernstein Revises Bernstein. Janelle Gefland. 23 May 2002. The Cincinnati Enquirer. 22 July 2002. http://enquirer.com/editions/2002/05/23/tem_a_Bernstein_revises.html Brief History of Puerto Rico. No editor. 21 January 1997. Geocities.com. 23 July 2002. www.geocities.com/TheTropics/3684/history.html Conversations about Bernstein. William Westbrook Burton, ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 1995.
Cool. Michael Quinion, ed. 26 August 2000. Quinion.com. 24 August 2002. http://www.quinion.com/words/qa/qa-coo1.htm Dance with Demons: The Life of Jerome Robbins. Greg Lawrence. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2001.GV 1785 R52 L39 2001 Elena’s Travel Guide [to Puerto Rico]. Elena Harley. No date. Dialupnet.com. 23 July 2002. www.rainforestsafari.com/history.html History of Puerto Rico. No editor. ©2002. Encyclopedia.com. 23 July 2002. www.encyclopedia.com/html/section/PuertoRi_People.asp The Leonard Bernstein Collection. Albert Tucker. 14 Feb. 2002. The Library of Congress. 22 July 2002. http://lcweb2.loc.gov/ammem/lbhtml/lbhome.html Leonard Bernstein: A Life. Meryle Secrest. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1994. ML410.B566 S43 1994 The Making of West Side Story. Keith Garebian. Toronto: ECW Press, 1995. Spotlight on Jamie Bernstein Thomas. No editor. ©2001. WQXR FM/The New York Times. 22 July 2002. www.wqxr.com/cgi-bin/iowa/cla/spotlight/article.html?record=273
81 Stephen Sondheim. No editor. ©1994-2002. Sondheim.com. 3 May 2002. www.Sondheim.com/shows/chron.html Stephen Sondheim: A Life. Meryle Secrest. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1998. ML 410 S6872 S43 1998 Tin horn. No editor. ©2000. Bartleby.com. 19 August 2002. http://www.bartleby.com/61/58/T0225800.html * * * *
Backsliding in the Promised Land Michele Lowe Michele Lowe recently made her Broadway debut with The Smell of the Kill, which Syracuse Stage presented Jan. – Feb. 2000. She is currently at work on String of Pearls. Her newest play, Map of Heaven, was developed at the ACT & Hedgebrook Women Playwrights Festival in Seattle; it received a staged reading in Jan. 2000 here at Syracuse Stage. Other plays include Germany Surrenders and the musical Hit the Lights! Her work has been produced at the Intiman Theatre, Berkshire Theatre Festival, Syracuse Stage, Delaware Theatre, Cleveland Play House, The Vineyard, Reykjavik City Theatre, and the Round House Theatre. Michele's screenplay The Emergence of Emily Stark is under option to Avenue Pictures. Her play Backsliding in the Promised Land will receive its world premiere at Syracuse Stage. Setting: Late summer to fall 1996. Synopsis: Herman Grosch is wrestling with a weighty issue: should he continue to live as the well-to-do Episcopal attorney he is known to be, or should he revert/reconvert to the Jewish upbringing he had turned his back on, at his mother’s request, soon after his family’s arrival in the U.S. from Nazi-occupied Europe? A young Jewish family he represents is wrestling with the fate of their young son, who has been on life-support since his premature birth: the doctors see no point in continuing the life support, since the boy will never live a normal life, but the boy’s father is determined to “contribute” a son to his religious community. Could Herman (né Herschel) be the Jew to join the community? Characters Herman (Herschel) Grosch – b. 1925 in Amsterdam to Jewish parents who fled to the U.S. when Hitler began sending Dutch Jews to the camps. Soon after the Grosches arrived here, still badly shaken by what they had undergone and surrounded by people who assume they are not Jewish, the family changed their first names and converted to the Episcopal church. Herman is an attorney in private practice, representing the Baums in their case to keep their son on life support. Lately his secret—is he still actually Jewish?—has been troubling Herman.
82 Saul Baum – father to Leo, the young boy on life support. It is of supreme importance to Saul that Leo live due to his strong Jewish beliefs. Naomi Baum – Saul’s wife, mother to their two daughters (unseen) as well as Leo. Naturally she wants Leo to live but she also realizes that Leo’s body is failing, and that her daughters need her just as much. Jenny – Herman’s personal secretary, who puts up with a lot as Herman goes through some changes. Enid (Esther) Grosch – b. 1927. Enid’s father turned her over to the Grosches’ care when he was taken from their home in Amsterdam by Nazi soldiers. Like the Grosches Esther became Episcopalian (and Enid) soon after they came to the U.S. Something is obviously bothering her: she doesn’t eat, and she overreacts to innocuous events, like the cleaning lady having a camera with her day or the postman delivering mail in a raincoat. When Herman tries to tell her he’s been thinking of returning to his Jewish roots she panics. Ludmilla Wantz – The Grosches’ cleaning lady, an immigrant from Poland who is having an affair with Herman (well, she cooks for him, anyway; they have an orgy of good food). She hates Jews and does not know that the Grosches were/are Jewish. Mimi Grosch – Herman’s mother, backbone of his family. It is she who decides that the Grosches will no longer be Jewish after she makes friends with Protestant women in their new American neighborhood. Vocabulary Episcopalians – The Episcopal Church, according to Encarta, was organized in Philadelphia in 1789, and derives its orders (ministry), doctrine, liturgy, and traditions from the Church of England, or Anglican Church. In the mid-1990s the Episcopal Church reported 2.4 million members and about 7,400 separate congregations in the United States. . . . Like the Church of England, . . . it believes only two sacraments, baptism and the Eucharist, were ordained by Christ; the other five sacraments, although honored, are not universally accepted as divinely instituted in the New Testament. The church as a whole accepts the standards of worship set forth in the revised Book of Common Prayer, but the separate congregations are permitted wide latitude in the observance of ceremonial. The church supports many religious orders of men and women. Adon-o-lam (Eternal Lord) – “‘Adon Olam’” is a beautiful hymn which was probably composed in the eleventh century by Solomon ibn Gabirol. It consists of ten lines. The first six lines express the Jewish concept of God, and the last four lines express the faith we have in God. . . . Adon olam asher malakh b'terem kol y'tzir nivrah L'et na-asah v'heftzo kol a-zai melekh sh'mo nikrah. V'aharei kikhlot ha-kol l'vado yimlokh norah V'hu hayah v'hu hoveh v'hu yih'yeh b'tifarah V'hu ehad v'ein sheni l'hamshil lo l'hah-birah
83 B'li reshit b'li takhlit v'lo ha-oz v'hamis-rah V'hu eli v'hai go-a-li v'tzur hev-li b'et tzarah V'hu nisi u-manos li m'nat kosi b'yom ekrah B'yado afkid ruhi b'et ishan v'a-irah V'im ruhi g'viyati adonai li v'lo irah. Lord of eternity, who is King, He reigned before there was any universe. In the season of His pleasure, all things were created; by His Name, the King, we call Him. After all shall cease, He will yet be a King to be feared. For He was, for He is, and He forevermore will be. He is one, and no second shares His nature of His unique unity, beginningless and unending. All strength is His, and all majesty. He is my God and my living Redeemer. He is my Rock when Sorrows prevail, my banner and my stronghold. He is my cup when I call upon Him. Into His hand I entrust my soul when I sleep and when I wake. And though my spirit may forsake me, the Lord God is for me, and I shall never fear!
Pathmark – a grocery store chain found in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware.
He likes tzimmes – Here’s a healthy recipe for one of Leo’s favorites—though he’s only heard his mother Naomi read about it: 3 Pounds
1 1/2 Pints
Carrots, sliced 1-inch thick
Dark-brown sugar, firmly packed
1/4 Teaspoon Black pepper, freshly ground 21 Ounces
Sweet potatoes, peeled
5 1/2 Ounces Prunes, stoned 4 Tablespoons Flour 4 Tablespoons Cold water 1. Place brisket into a heavy casserole in which it will fit comfortably. Add the water and bring to a boil, skim off foam as it rises. Reduce heat. Add carrots, onion, sugar, salt, and pepper. Cover and simmer slowly for 2 hours. 2. Add sweet potatoes and prunes and simmer until beef is tender, about 20 minutes.
84 3. Preheat oven to 400°F. Transfer beef to a shallow roasting pan. Using a slotted spoon, arrange prunes and vegetables around meat. In a small bowl blend flour with 4 tablespoons cold water until smooth. Bring cooking liquid in casserole to the boil. Gradually stir in flour mixture and cook, stirring constantly, until liquid returns to a boil. Boil and stir for 2 minutes. 4. Pour sauce over meat and vegetables and bake, uncovered, until meat is nicely browned, about 15 minutes. According to SimpleInternet.com, tzimmes is “traditionally served on Rosh Hashana [Jewish New Year],” and “consists of various combinations of fruits, meat and vegetables. Tzimmes may include brisket of beef, sweet potatoes, potatoes, farfel, prunes and other dried fruit, carrots or apples—all flavored with honey and often cinnamon. This casserole-style dish is cooked at very low heat so the flavors have a chance to blend.” Lech Walesa – Enid prays to God that the famous Polish leader get a “pox on his vocal chords.” According to the Nobel Prize website, Walesa was born on September 29, 1943, in Popowo, Poland. “He worked as a car mechanic at a machine center from 1961 to 1965. He served in the army for two years, rose to the rank of corporal, and in 1967 was employed in the Gdansk shipyards as an electrician. In 1969 he married Danuta Golos and they have eight children. During a December 1970 clash between the workers and the government, he was one of the leaders of the shipyard workers and was briefly detained. In 1976, however, as a result of his activities as a shop steward, he was fired and had to earn his living by taking temporary jobs. In 1978 with other activists he began to organize free non-communist trade unions and took part in many actions on the sea coast. He was kept under surveillance by the state security service and frequently detained. In August 1980 he led the Gdansk shipyard strike which gave rise to a wave of strikes over much of the country with Walesa as the leader. The primary demands were for workers' rights. The authorities were forced to capitulate and negotiate with Walesa the Gdansk Agreement . . . , which gave the workers the right to strike and to organize their own independent union. “The Catholic Church supported the movement, and in January 1981 Walesa was cordially received by Pope John Paul II in the Vatican. . . . In September 1981 he was elected Solidarity Chairman at the First National Solidarity Congress in Gdansk. The country's brief enjoyment of relative freedom ended in December 1981, when General Jaruzelski, fearing Soviet armed intervention . . . , imposed martial law, ‘suspended’ Solidarity, arrested many of its leaders, and interned Walesa in a country house in a remote spot. In November 1982 Walesa was released and reinstated at the Gdansk shipyards. Although kept under surveillance, he managed to maintain lively contact with Solidarity leaders in the underground. While martial law was lifted in July 1983, many of the restrictions were continued in civil code. In October 1983 the announcement of Walesa's Nobel [Peace] prize raised the spirits of the underground . . . “The Jaruzelski regime became even more unpopular as economic conditions worsened, and it was finally forced to negotiate with Walesa and his Solidarity colleagues. The result was the holding of parliamentary elections which, although limited, led to the establishment of a noncommunist government. . . . Walesa, now head of the revived Solidarity labor union, began a series of meetings with world leaders. In November 1989 he became the third person in history, after the Marquis de Lafayette and Winston Churchill, to address a joint session of Congress.
85 In April 1990 . . . , Walesa was elected chairman with 77.5% of the votes. In December 1990 in a general ballot he was elected President of the Republic of Poland. He served until defeated in the election of November 1995. “Walesa has been granted many honorary degrees from universities, including Harvard University and the University of Paris. Other honors include the Medal of Freedom (U.S.A.); the Award of Free World (Norway); and the European Award of Human Rights.” Poet Robert Lowell (not the INS agent) was born in 1917 into one of Boston's oldest and most prominent families. He attended Harvard College for two years before transferring to Kenyon College, where he studied poetry under John Crowe Ransom and received an undergraduate degree in 1940. He took graduate courses at Louisiana State University where he studied with Robert Penn Warren and Cleanth Brooks. His first and second books, Land of Unlikeness (1944) and Lord Weary's Castle (for which he received a Pulitzer Prize in 1946, at the age of thirty), were influenced by his conversion from Episcopalianism to Catholicism and explored the dark side of America's Puritan legacy. Under the influence of Allen Tate and the New Critics, he wrote rigorously formal poetry that drew praise for its exceptionally powerful handling of meter and rhyme. Lowell was politically involved—he became a conscientious objector during the Second World War and was imprisoned as a result, and actively protested against the war in Vietnam—and his personal life was full of marital and psychological turmoil. He suffered from severe episodes of manic depression, for which he was repeatedly hospitalized. Partly in response to his frequent breakdowns, and partly due to the influence of such younger poets as W. D. Snodgrass and Allen Ginsberg, Lowell in the mid-Fifties began to write more directly from personal experience, and loosened his adherence to traditional meter and form. The result was a watershed collection, Life Studies (1959), which forever changed the landscape of modern poetry, much as Eliot's The Waste Land had three decades before. Considered by many to be the most important poet in English of the second half of the 20th century, Lowell continued to develop his work with sometimes uneven results, all along defining the restless center of American poetry, until his sudden death from a heart attack at age 60. Robert Lowell served as a Chancellor of The Academy of American Poets from 1962 until his death in 1977. pariah – Saul says Naomi is one after she takes their son off life support. Originally, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, a pariah was any member of a low caste in India, and from this the word has come to mean any social outcast. The She’ma – As early as the 2nd century C.E. the She'ma (not counting the blessings before and after) consisted of three portions of the Pentateuch [known to Christians as the first 5 books of the Bible]: The first was Deuteronomy 6:4-9: Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. Take to heart these instructions with which I charge you this day. Impress them upon your children. Recite them when you stay at home and when your are away, when you lie down and when you get up. Bind them as a sign
86 on your hand and let them serve as a symbol on your forehead; inscribe them on the doorposts of your home and on your gates. The second was Deuteronomy 11:13-21: If, then, you obey the commandments that I enjoin upon you this day, loving the Lord your God and serving Him with all your heart and soul, I will grant the rain for your land in season, the early rain and the late. You shall gather in your new grain and wine and oil—I will also provide grass in the fields for your cattle—and thus you shall eat your fill. Take care not to be lured away to serve other gods and bow to them. For the Lord's anger will flare up against you, and He will shut up the skies so that there will be no rain and the ground will not yield its produce; and you will soon perish from the good land that the Lord is assigning to you. Therefore impress these My words upon your heart: bind them as a sign on your hand and let them serve as a symbol on your forehead, and teach them to your children—reciting them when you stay at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you get up; and inscribe them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates—to the end that you and your children may endure, in the land that the Lord swore to your fathers to assign to them, as long as there is a heaven over the earth. The third was Numbers 15:37-41: The Lord said to Moses as follows: Speak to the Israelite people and instruct them to make for themselves fringes on the corners of their garments throughout the ages; let them attach a cord of blue to the fringe at each corner. That shall be your fringe; look at it and recall all the commandments of the Lord and observe them, so that you do not follow your heart and eyes in your lustful urge. Thus you shall be reminded to observe all my commandments and to be holy to your God. I the Lord am your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt to be your God: I, the Lord your God. “Sie bitte die tur offenen!” – the German janitor asks Herman to open the door just so he can empty the wastebasket, but Herman hears much more in his request. Discussion Questions/Activities/Quotable Quotes These speeches, from the most recent version of Backsliding, provide points of comparison between the characters as well as indicating themes Enid: . . . you can’t shine a light through me . . . Naomi: He was so thin you could see through his skin. Enid: Herman, you’re getting so old, you’re beginning to disappear into thin air. Playwright Michele Lowe seems to be warning us that her people are not “permanent”; that they are vanishing, if not literally, virtually, from the hearts and minds of their loved ones. Or is it that their true selves are clearly seen and their false fronts are fading from view? *
Mimi: Don’t go so close to the window. . . You don’t know who’s out there. Mimi: Get away from the window. You’re too close to the glass. Herman’s mother says these things habitually, as you might remind a child not to play so close to a busy street. Why do you think the windows pose such a threat, in Mimi’s mind? *
Mimi: God would never save you the way I did. That’s how you know God’s a man. No woman would ever let a stranger put a finger on her child. No WOMAN would ever let her children die. . . . It is my responsibility to protect you. If you refuse to be protected, I cannot be your mother. Consider, once you’ve seen or read the play, whether Naomi feels this way? Do you think Ludmilla’s mother believed this when she warned her daughter that the Jews were so bad that they stank of fish? What do you make of the fact that Enid is both motherless and childless? Sources Consulted Adon-o-lam lyrics. No editor. No date. Adon Olam Messianic Congregation. 26 July 2002. http://www.adonolam.org/ Adon-o-lam. July 2002. Amy Gugig. National Jewish Outreach Program. 26 July 2002. http://www.njop.org/Shabbat/Adonolam.htm Adon Olam. JewishEncyclopedia.com. ©2002. The Kopelman Foundation. 26 July 2002. http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/ Episcopal Church. No editor. © 1997-2002 Microsoft® Encarta® Online Encyclopedia 2002. 8 August 2002. http://encarta.msn.com/find/Concise.asp?ti=00019000 Lech Walesa. No editor. © May 27, 2002. The Nobel Foundation. 26 July 2002. http://www.nobel.se/peace/laureates/1983/walesa-bio.html Pariah. The New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary on Historical Principles. Lesley Brown, ed. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993. Robert Lowell. No editor. 23 July 2001. The Academy of American Poets. 26 July 2002. http://www.poets.org/poets/poets.cfm?prmID=10&CFID=10455319&CFTOKEN=17956151 The She’ma. Rosemarie E. Falanga, Cy H. Silver, eds. 16 May 1998. Blue Thread.com. 20 August 2002. http://www.bluethread.com/fringeshma.htm Transliterated Traditional Siddur. Beth El Synagogue Omaha, NE, ed. 25 Feb. 1999. Beit Hillel at The University of Utah. 26 July 2002. http://www.utah.edu/hillel/siddur.htm
Tzimmes. No editor. ©1995, 1996, 1997-2002. SimpleSolutions Corporation. 28 August 2002. http://www.simpleinternet.com/recipes/dictionary.pl?7093 Tzimmes. No editor. ©1999-2000. Vitamins-etc.com. 28 August 2002. http://www.vitaminsetc.com/rec_description.asp?rID=ro0o0n7r1hc
The Crucible Arthur Miller From: Encarta, The Kennedy Center webpage and Pegasos (a really cool webpage from Finland) Arthur Miller, . . . an American dramatist whose works deal with the responsibility of each individual to other members of society, whose plays, simply and colloquially written, . . . spring from his social conscience and from his compassion for those who are vulnerable to the false values imposed on them by society. Born in New York City on October 17, 1915, Miller was the son of a coat manufacturer who suffered financial ruin in the Great Depression of the 1930s. . . . The sudden change in fortune had a strong influence on Miller—often his plays depict how families are destroyed by false values. . . . The family moved to a small frame house in Brooklyn, which is said to the model for the Brooklyn home in Death of a Salesman. Miller spent his boyhood playing football and baseball, reading adventure stories, and appearing generally as a nonintellectual. It was only after he had read Dostoevsky's novel The Brothers Karamazov that Miller decided to become a writer. After his graduation from Abraham Lincoln High School in Brooklyn, young Miller worked as a stock clerk in an automobile parts warehouse for two and a half years until he had enough money to pay for his first year at the University of Michigan, where he intended to study journalism. He finished college with the financial aid of the National Youth Administration supplemented by his salary as night editor on the Michigan Daily newspaper. Before his graduation with a B.A. degree in 1938, he had written a number of plays, winning a $500 Avery Hopwood Award in 1936 and a $1,200 Theatre Guild National Award in 1938 for an effort entitled The Grass Still Grows. After having returned to New York in 1938, he joined the Federal Theatre Project, but, before his first play had been produced, the Project ended. . . . Because of a football injury, he was exempt from the draft. In 1940 Miller married a Catholic girl, Mary Slattery, with whom he had two children. He worked in the Brooklyn Navy Yard and wrote radio scripts heard on the Columbia Workshop and the Cavalcade of America. In 1944 he toured Army camps to collect background material for the screenplay The Story of GI Joe (1945). . . . He also wrote two books during this period: Situation Normal (1944) and Focus, a novel about anti-Semitism (1945). . . . His 1944 play The Man Who Had All the Luck, although not a commercial success, won him the Theatre Guild Award that same year [the play was just revived last spring in New York]
89 and the New York Drama Critics' Circle chose his play All My Sons as the best play of 1947. This study of the effect of opportunism on family relationships foreshadowed most of Miller's later work. Miller's major achievement was Death of a Salesman (1949). It won the 1949 Tony Award for drama and the 1949 New York Drama Critics' Circle Award for best play of the year; it is often cited as one of the finest plays by a contemporary dramatist. It tells, in almost poetic terms, the tragic story of Willy Loman, an average man much like Miller's father. Although Miller generally wrote in a realistic style, much of this play is conveyed expressionistically, through Willy's mind and memory. In his next effort Miller used the 17th century Salem witch hunts as an allegory for the McCarthy era—in Salem one could be hanged because of ''the inflamed human imagination, the poetry of suggestion'' [said Miller]. The Crucible (1953) was The Millers: Arthur, daughter Jane, written in an atmosphere that, according to the author, wife Mary, son Robert, 1953
"accepted the notion that conscience was no longer a private matter but one of state administration." In the play Miller expressed his faith in the ability of an individual to resist conformist pressures. The Crucible became one of Miller's most-produced plays, even though its first Broadway production flopped; however, it did win a Tony Award. In 1956 Miller was called before the House Committee on Un-American Activities. He admitted he had attended certain meetings—four or five writers' meetings sponsored by the Communist Party in 1947; he had also supported a peace conference in New York and signed many appeals and protests—but denied that he was a Communist. Refusing to name others who had associated with leftist or suspected Communist groups, Miller was cited for contempt of Congress, but the ruling was reversed by the courts in 1958. His knowledge of the Brooklyn waterfront informed his characters in A View from the Bridge in 1955, and more of his native city came through in The Price, Miller’s play about a New York policeman (1968). His other dramas include After the Fall (1964); Incident at Vichy (1964); The Archbishop's Ceiling (1977), on the Soviet treatment of dissident writers; Danger: Memory! (1986), two one-act plays presented together; The Ride Down Mount Morgan (1991); and The Ryan Interview (1995). Other works include the screenplay The Misfits (1961), written for his second wife, Marilyn Monroe; The American Clock (1980), a series of dramatic vignettes about the Great Depression; a collection of short stories, I Don't Need You Any More (1967); and The Theatre Essays of Arthur Miller (1978). Miller also wrote the script for Playing for Time, a true-life dramatic special about the experiences of an all-woman orchestra in a Nazi concentration camp, which won four Emmy Awards: Outstanding Drama Special, Miller received one for Outstanding Writing, Vanessa Redgrave won as Outstanding Actress, and Jane Alexander, as Outstanding Supporting Actress. In addition to his novels, Miller has written two books of reportage: In Russia and Chinese Encounters, both accompanied by photographs by his late wife Inge Morath, a professional photographer. His book Salesman in Beijing is based on his experience in China where he directed Death of a Salesman. In 1987, Miller published his autobiography Timebends: A Life, in which he recalls his childhood in Brooklyn, the political turmoil of the 1950s, and the
90 later half of the century. Miller continues to write, winning the 1995 (British) Olivier Award for his most recent play Broken Glass. His most recent collection of essays, Echoes Down the Corridor, was published in 2000. In 1965 he was elected president of P.E.N., the international literary organization; he presided for 4 years. He and fellow Connecticut resident Paul Newman were delegates at the 1968 Democratic Convention. In 2002 Miller was honored with Spain's prestigious Principe de Asturias Prize for Literature, making him the first U.S. recipient of the award. Miller has noted: "The success of a play, especially one's first success, is somewhat like pushing against a door which is suddenly opened that was always securely shut until then. For myself, the experience was invigorating. It suddenly seemed that the audience was a mass of blood relations, and I sensed a warmth in the world that had not been there before. It made it possible to dream of daring more and risking more." Play Chronology From: Pegasos 1944 The Man Who Had All the Luck. 1947 The Guardsman, from Hungarian playwright Ferenc Molnar’s play Three Men on a Horse, from the George Abbott and J.C. Holm play All My Sons, 328 performances—Miller's first major success. 1949 Death of A Salesman (which Miller almost called In His Head), 742 performances. This is the masterpiece to which all Miller's future work was compared—as well as the benchmark for judging new dramatists who treated social issues. (Note: The fall of 1998 saw a new production of the play mounted at Chicago's Goodman Theatre, starring Brian Dennehy and Elizabeth Franz, which later moved to New York, where Ms. Franz won the Tony for Best Actress in a Featured Role.) 1950 The Enemy of the People, adapted from Ibsen's play, 36 performances. 1953 The Crucible,197 performances. 1956 A View From the Bridge, one-act version paired with another one-acter, A Memory of Two Mondays, 149 performances. 1956 A View From the Bridge, two-act version, opened in London. 1964 After the Fall, 208 performances; Incident at Vichy, 99 performances. 1968 The Price, 1972 The Creation of the World, a comic retelling of the story of Adam, Eve, Cain and Abel; closed after 20 performances. A year later he turned it into a musical called Up From Paradise, which Miller directed at his alma mater, the University of Michigan. 1974 The Price, 425 performances. 1977 The Archbishop's Ceiling. 1980 The American Clock, adapted from Studs Terkel's Hard Times. 1991 The Ride Down Mt. Morgan. 1993 The Last Yankee. 1994 Broken Glass. Selected bibliography: Honors at Dawn, 1936 No Villain/They Too Arise, 1937 The Pussycat and
Chinese Encounters, 1979 (w/ Inge Morath) Elegy for a Lady, 1982 Salesman in Beijing, 1984
91 The Expert Plumber Who Was a Man, 1941 William Ireland's Confession, 1941 That They May Win, 1944 Situation Normal, 1944 Focus, 1945 Grandpa and the Statue, 1945 Jane’s Blanket, 1963 I Don’t Need You Any More, 1967 In Russia, 1969 (with Inge Morath) Fame and the Reason Why, 1970 In the Country, 1977 (with Inge Morath) The Theatre Essays of Arthur Miller, 1978 Fame, 1978 - television play
Some Kind of Love Story/ Everybody Wins, 1982 Clara, 1987 I Can't Remember Anything, 1987 The Golden Years, 1987 'The Misfits' and Other Stories, 1987 Everybody Wins, screenplay The Last Yankee, 1990 Gillbury, 1993 Echoes Down the Corridor, 2000
Setting: The village of Salem, Massachusetts, from spring to fall 1692. Synopsis: When some of the young girls of Salem begin exhibiting strange behavior Rev. Parris, concerned that some supernatural force is at work, calls in an expert who confirms that the Devil seems to have sway over them. But how were innocent children “taken” by the Evil One here in the theocratic Massachusetts Bay colony? Was Ann Putnam cursed by an evil neighbor so her babies would die? Or do the Putnams see an opportunity to gather more land to themselves? Could the virtuous Rebecca Nurse be guilty? And Elizabeth and John Proctor? The religious court established in Salem by the colony governor will not rest until it has discovered who may be at the root of all this evil. Character Profiles From: Novelguide.com Reverend Parris - Pastor of the church in Salem. He is the father of Betty and the uncle of Abigail Williams. He believes that he is being persecuted and that the townspeople do not respect his position as a man of God. . . . The townspeople have ousted the last few pastors and Parris fears that he may be next. It is only too easy for him to believe the girls because to not believe them would mean that the trouble would be in his own house (Betty and Abigail). If he cannot control his own household, he may not be trusted with an entire village. Betty Parris - Daughter of the Reverend, cousin to Abigail Williams. She is a weak girl who goes along with her cousin as soon as she is threatened. Until Abigail gives her a valid explanation for dancing in the woods, she lies mute in her bed, terrified of her father's reaction. She is easily made into Abigail's tool. Tituba - Servant to the Parris household and a native of Barbados. She is enlisted by Ruth Putnam and Abigail to cast spells and create charms. When Abigail turns on her to save herself from punishment, Tituba confesses to all and saves herself.
Abigail Williams - Orphaned niece of Rev. Parris, she was once the lover of John Proctor but was turned out when his wife discovered the affair; she is extremely jealous of Elizabeth Proctor and uses her power in the town to rid herself of Elizabeth as well as any others who have insulted her. She cannot let go of her obsession with Proctor. Abigail is the leader of the girls. Susanna Walcott - One of the girls. She is initially sent by Parris to Dr. Griggs to determine the cause of Betty's ailment. She is easily led by Abigail. Ann Putnam -Wife of Thomas Putnam, mother to Ruth. She is a very superstitious woman who believes the childbirth deaths of so many of her babies was caused supernaturally. She sends her daughter to Tituba to cast a spell to discover the murderer; then turns on the so-called â€œwitches.â€? Thomas Putnam - Husband of Ann Putnam, father to Ruth. He is a powerful man in the village with a long family line. He forces his way in whatever matters benefit him and becomes extremely bitter when he doesn't succeed. He is accused of coercing his daughter to accuse people in order to gain their forfeited land. Mercy Lewis - Servant to the Putnam household, a merciless girl who seems to delight in the girls' activities with Tituba and during the trials. The threats Abigail uses on the other girls are unnecessary for Mercy. When Abigail eventually leaves town, Mercy goes with her. Mary Warren - Servant to the Proctor household. Abigail uses her to effectively accuse Elizabeth. John Proctor takes Mary to the court to confess that the girls are only pretending [but] she is not strong enough to fight Abigail and soon . . . Mary weakens and runs back to her side. John Proctor - Husband to Elizabeth. He did have an affair with Abigail that he regrets. He knows that the girls are pretending but cannot tell what he knows without revealing his indiscretion. When Abigail uses her influence to convict his wife, he tries to tell the truth and finds himself condemned. Rebecca Nurse - Wife to Francis Nurse, a pious old woman who has often acted as a midwife for women of the town, including Ann Putnam. She is accused of witchcraft by the girls and convicted of the supernatural murder of the Putnam babies. News of her arrest . . . inspires Elizabeth Proctor to urge her husband to go to the court with the truth about Abigail. Giles Corey - Husband to Martha. He inadvertently gives out information that is later used against his wifeâ€”she is literate, he is not, and he reports she is reading something he does not understand. He accuses Thomas Putnam of using Ruth to condemn people for his personal gain. Realizing his source will be arrested, he refuses to reveal it feeling that he has done too much damage already. He is arrested for contempt of court. He is eventually pressed to death when he refuses to enter a plea (pleading guilty or being convicted would mean forfeiture of his land, leaving his sons with no inheritance). Reverend John Hale - He is considered to be, and considers himself, an expert on witchcraft. He is initially summoned from the neighboring town of Beverly to determine whether the devil is in Salem and enthusiastically participates in the court proceedings. When he finally realizes that
93 the girls are lying, it is too late to change the course of action, so he attempts to convince the condemned to admit to witchcraft and save themselves from death. Elizabeth Proctor - Wife of John Proctor who discovered an affair going on between her husband and Abigail Williams and turned Abigail out of her house. She is Abigail's main target but is saved from hanging because of her pregnancy. In time she feels responsible for driving her husband to infidelity. When he will not lie to save himself, she supports his decision though it will leave her alone: if he must redeem himself in this way, she cannot deny him his redemption. Francis Nurse - Husband to Rebecca Nurse. He is a respected man in the community but is ignored when he attempts to speak for his wife. The old levels of respect and power in the community are gone as the young girls take over. Ezekiel Cheever - Clerk of the court, it is his job to deliver arrest warrants. Marshal Herrick - Marshal of Salem. Judge Hathorne - The presiding judge of the witch trials. Deputy Governor Danforth - He seems to feel particularly strongly that the girls are honest. He is sensitive to the presence of the devil and reacts explosively to whatever evidence is presented. Sarah Good - One of the accused, she admits to witchcraft to save herself from death.
Vocabulary discover – in the sense of uncover, reveal, disclose. incubi – evil spirits supposed to visit sleeping people, especially women, with whom they have sexual intercourse; in medieval days incubi were persons or things that oppressed or troubled people nightmares do. succubi – female demons believed to have sexual relations with sleeping men. During the middle ages prostitutes were also known as succubi. Goody – an abbreviation of the word Goodwife, which the 17th century used rather than Mrs./Mistress. In nominee Domini Sabaoth sui filiique/ite ad infernos – Rev. Hale warns that “in the name of God hold the Sabbath sacred or you will go to Hell.”
94 The crowd will part like the sea for Israel – Elizabeth Proctor suggests that the spectators at the trial will give Abigail room to enter the courtroom just as the Red Sea had to part to allow Moses and his brethren to escape Pharaoh and his soldiers. Pontius Pilate – the Roman official who turned Jesus over to the Sadducees to be executed while washing his hands; people still “wash their hands” of anything or anyone they want no part of. John Proctor in his anger and frustration believes Rev. Hale is like Pontius Pilate. Arthur Miller Discusses The Crucible John and Alice Griffin, Theatre Arts, October 1953 Quoted in Conversations with Arthur Miller The Crucible, which opened at the Martin Beck Theatre in New York last January, has been described as a "powerful play," a "stirring melodrama," a "parable" and a work "chiefly concerned with what happened rather than why." None of these interpretations, however, has been voiced by playwright Arthur Miller, who says that the idea of dramatizing the Salem witch trials had been in his mind for a considerable time, in fact, as far back as his student days at the University of Michigan in the Thirties. "Salem," he explains, "is one of the few dramas in history with a beginning, a middle and an end. The drama is complete, because the people saw the error of their ways quite soon after the tragedy occurred.” He adds that he could not have written the play at any other time than the present. The people of Salem appealed to Miller as characters for a drama because they were articulate. "I was dealing with people very conscious of an ideology, of what they stood for . . . The [religious conflict] they had lived through was still in their minds . . . They were special people and could voice the things that were buried deep in them. Today's writers describe man's helplessness and eventual defeat. In Salem you have the story of a defeat because these people were destroyed, and this makes it real to us today because we believe in defeat. But they understood at the same time what was happening to them. They knew why they struggled . . . they knew how to struggle . . . they did not die helplessly. The moral size of these people drew me . . . they didn't whimper. "We should be tired by now of merely documenting the defeat of man. This play is a step toward an assertion of a positive kind of value in contemporary plays. Since 1920 American drama has been a steady, year-by-year documentation of the frustration of man. I do not believe in this . . . that is not our fate. It is not enough to tell what is happening; the newspapers do that. In our drama the man with convictions has in the past been a comic figure. I believe he fits in our drama more now, though, and I am trying to find a way, a form, a method of depicting people who do think." In discussing the historical basis of the play, Miller revealed that the plot and characters, except for Proctor and his wife, are historically accurate. He went on to indicate that his hero Proctor is a man who fights against the loss of his identity, a loss which he believes would result if he joined the group. L to R: Actor Walter Hampden, Miller, Director Jed Harris, Producer Kermit Bloomgarden
95 "There is a certain pride operating in him," the author pointed out. "Proctor could not go to his death as easily as Rebecca Nurse does. He believed in paradise but didn't want to go there so quickly. “Besides, if you confessed you were a witch, you confessed to being a fraud; you were someone who pretended to be decent but who really was a liar. " Illustrating how the playwright has to make concessions when the play goes into production, Miller mentioned that the first scene, as the play was originally written, took place in a forest, but this had to be altered because of the expense involved in building this set. Later in the run, six months after the New York premiere, Miller was able to include a forest scene [generally that scene is not included in productions, however]. This new production, completely restaged by the author, did away with all scenery, and had the action take place against drapes and a light-flooded cyclorama. Favoring the change, the critics praised the new . . . version as more fluid, forceful and poetic. . . . The playwright was particularly interested in explaining whether The Crucible was intended to be more or less realistic than his earlier Death of a Salesman. "In Death of a Salesman," he said, "I tried to give people a sense of reality in depth. I could have done this by symbolic behavior, like impressionism, but felt that was an old technique. I tried to show the facade-like surface realism of life in realistic acting and at the same time melt this away and bring out the half-conscious, subconscious life and combine both of these with the social context in which the action was taking place. I had to have these two working against each other. "In The Crucible, as I said before, the characters were special people who could give voice to the things that were inside them. There is great danger in pathos, which can destroy any tragedy if you let it go far enough. My weakness is that I can create pathos at will. It is one of the easiest things to do. I feel that Willy Loman lacks sufficient insight into this situation, which would have made him a greater, more significant figure. These people knew what was happening to them; they had insight in the sense that Hamlet has it. A point has to arrive where man sees what has happened to him. I think The Crucible is not more realistic but more theatrical than Death of a Salesman." A man who is always interested in cosmic themes, Miller appears much concerned with what he terms "diabolism”—the fear and hatred of opposites. "And when tensions exist," he explained, "this fear is organized. In Salem these people regarded themselves as holders of a light. If this light were extinguished, they believed, the world would end. When you have an ideology which feels itself so pure, it implies an extreme view of the world. . . ." Miller believes that the temptation toward diabolism has always existed in mankind and exists today. "We have come to a time when it seems there must be two sides, and we look back to the ideal state of being, when there was no conflict. Our idea is that conflict can be mapped out of the world. . . . But until man arrives at a point where he realizes that conflict is the essence of life, he will end up by knocking himself out." The Rebellion in Andover: Neighboring Witch Trials End Before Salem’s From: Andover Historical Society In 1692, more people from Andover, Massachusetts, were accused and arrested for witchcraft than from any other town in New England. Eighty percent of the town's residents were drawn into this witch hunt. Andover also holds the dubious distinction of having the most confessed witches, and the highest number of children arrested. Through petitions that eventually turned
96 public opinion against the trials, Andover led the campaign that brought them to an end. Before the madness was over, however, 3 adults had been hanged and one woman perished in jail. Most people who lived in the 17th century believed in witches. Folklore and magical practices were part of their cultural heritage from Great Britain (see Witchcraft in 16th and 17th Century England, below). The Salem Witch Trials of 1692 were indicative of a society unable to deal with social, economic, religious and political change. Many Puritans then living in the Massachusetts Bay Colony were convinced that the devil was plotting to take over New England and destroy the "Cities of God" they had established in the American wilderness. Evidence of Satan's conspiracy seemed all around them: in the failure of their crops, epidemics, the French and Indian wars, the decline of clergy power, and the loss of their original Royal Charter which resulted in Tombstone of accused witch the breakdown of the legal system. This climate of fear which William Barker, Jr. resulted in scapegoating and intolerance manifested itself differently in various communities. As a frontier town, Andover had suffered sporadic Indian raids. Martha Carrier, the first arrested for witchcraft in May 1692, had been exiled from town several years before "for spreading smallpox with wicked carelessness." Religious strife was a factor in Andover, where townspeople were taxed to support two ministers for one church. The Reverend Francis Dane, the senior minister, did not believe in witches, while his assistant, Parson Thomas Barnard, supported the Trials. Salem, Andover map: http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/salem/witchcraft/
Timothy Douglas on Arthur Miller's The Crucible 15 Feb. 2002 While he was directing A Lesson Before Dying, Timothy Douglas was invited to describe his vision of Miller’s classic (we had just agreed that he would direct the play for us in the 2002/2003 season). Mr. Douglas began his remarks by reminding us that items from a crucible are born in fire. [Webster's dictionary says a crucible is "a vessel made of a refractory substance, as porcelain or graphite, and used for melting materials at high temperatures," is "the bottom of an ore furnace, in which the molten metal collects," or is "a severe trial."] Not only has Mr. Douglas directed The Crucible before but it was the first play he was ever in: he played Putnam. More recently he directed the Pittsburgh Public Theatre's Young Company in The Crucible in a slot usually reserved for a Shakespeare play: the company wanted to try something different, and Douglas suggested Miller's play. As the company did their table work, the play "began to reveal itself”: the political issues and the interpersonal betrayals became clear, and the horrifying sense that these are things we can all understand and want but are unable to thwart became all too clear. As Mr. Douglas noted, it's a very well written play. In speaking with Pearl Cleage (author of Blues for an A1abama Sky, Flyin' West, and Bourbon at the Border) about Pittsburgh's production, he was so intrigued by her comment that she has always wanted to see The Crucible with an African-American cast that he began to imagine what such casting would mean for the play. Douglas explained that, no matter what he directs, the issue of race always arises, whether there are interracial relationships within the play or not; he feels that he needs to find balance between the play’s “world” or point of view and his own perspective. While he appreciates that it is the audience that is being awakened through witnessing a play, his "journey" as a director begins with his question to himself: what has he learned from the play. Douglas needs to learn, to be challenged by the work. African-American survival in our society requires that each African-American individual know everything about European Americans. However, the reverse is not required. When Syracuse Stage's audience hears The Crucible through African-American voices, it will hear the play differently, and think about or reconsider the issues in the play. The Crucible is the quintessentially American play, a "civil war" (in the sense that society is at war with itself) play. The characters honor their ideals by dishonoring others. Mr. Douglas asked himself what the nexus between this American play and African-American issues might be. The conflict as it stands is a conflict between classes, between landowners and the landless. Douglas hopes to indicate different social classes with a black cast by paying attention to skin tone, because there is still a perception among some members of our society, blacks as well as whites, that "if you're light you're alright." Darker skin is equated with failure, taboo (with Africa?), even danger. Thus, in his dream cast, Abigail and Parris would be light while Elizabeth and Proctor would be dark; ideally Tituba would be the darkest. In fact, both she and Proctor should be perceived as African, that is, dangerously unassimilated in comparison to the rest of the community. Historically there have been some entirely black townships in the United States, some of which were peopled by men and women who were never slaves. Our Crucible would be set in a town established by white missionaries and organized by them in such a way that, by the time of the play’s action the residents would have become self sufficient. [More about this will appear in the Crucible-specific study guide.] This community would be torn between the Protestantism of
98 the missionaries and its own African cultural background, a background that includes such ideas as the actual presence of one's ancestors in daily life. Puritanism would be utterly foreign to some of the community, like Proctor, who would then return to their prior experiences, practices and traditions, African traditions. Others would adopt the missionaries' outlook, some with the zeal of the converted. Mr. Douglas noted how he values the "wonderful wisdom" of the older characters in The Crucible, especially Giles Corey and the Nurses, who resemble older whites he encountered in his own growing up, who stayed in their neighborhoods as blacks moved in, and who had no qualms about race. Giles Corey may be played by a white man; the Reverend Hale, representing the missionary society in our production, would also be white. Judge Danforth may be played by a black woman (he has a specific actor in mind). In Crucible Judge Danforth represents the letter of the law which is brought into the community from outside. During the Judge's stay s/he sees the truth of what's happening between the residents and, although s/he has to uphold what has been legislated, empathizes with those “outside" power. Mr. Douglas told us that in West African culture the woman decides the policy in the household, and it is with this in mind that he sees Danforth as a woman. Our production would take place in the play’s original period, that is, in the late 17th century. Douglas acknowledged that since Mr. Miller's play involves actual historic figures some Crucible in Shanghai, directed by Huang Zuolin people may object to this approach. Rachel Edwards Harvith (one of our literary associates last season) mentioned that the topic of racial profiling may be of interest to some groups as a launching point to discussing or seeing the play. Subsequently, in a message to Syracuse Stage’s Artistic Director Bob Moss, Timothy Douglas expanded on his overview: There is an obvious depth in the African-American experience when it comes to issues of and response to oppression—which rarely is given voice at the level of the arguments so simply, and yet so precisely articulated by Arthur Miller. The Crucible, without doubt, stands on its own as one of the most passionate and articulate plays which has, as its theatrical foundation, a constant thrust of intellectual ideas. Any production of this American classic is going to rile and theatrically satisfy the audience . . . but just think of what the “jazz” version of this play would be like. Themes clearly unfolding from the profound foundations of the Salem witch trials and the investigation of McCarthy's HUAC and just how “wrong” they were already pacts a theatrical wallop. But then—through the rhythms and colors of black voices—the “smoke” smoldering there in the vibrations of expression cured by generations of oppression moving through such potent language and structure; a structure absolutely required for expression so as not to obliterate the speaker or the
99 listener for fear of the implosion of anger and guilt of the emotionally bonding pain we share in this still racially divided America. The Syracuse Stage audience will be forced to hear this play in a different way! I have no intentions of altering the structure or style of the play in any way, save that the physical production couldn't be set it in Miller's literal 17th century Salem, but would be set it in an equally morally confining rural, but more “neutral” township—similar to the one I did in the Pittsburgh production which worked very well—but again, like a satisfying piece of jazz, those extra bottom layers of the black experience speaking through Miller's words would lend a kind of universal soul-knowing, the way that jazz reaches everyone on that level, the way you experience Gone With The Wind through Mammy. You almost don't need the words. And that, coupled with the extraordinary words of this play, will be dynamite. Further, as I think of this particular world, we can also layer in subtleties of how race relations within the race fuel “the hunt.” For instance, Abigail has that line about her potential employers "wanting slaves, and I will not black my face for any of them." Clearly in this production the actress playing Abigail would have to be among the lighter skin-toned in the cast. Sad to tell, but within some arenas in the black community there is still this idea that the lighter the skin tone translates somehow into having better breeding, or at least the perception of being less threatening. That's a carryover from ideas that the dominant culture ingrained in us, which remains deeply internalized to this day. Who’s Who The names of the characters in this play are largely drawn from actual 1692 Salem participants. Rev. John Hale was born 3 June 1636 in Charlestown, Massachusetts . . . . He graduated Harvard College in 1657. He married Rebecca Byles in 1664. . . . She was born 1638 in Sarum, England, and died 30 April 1683 in Beverly. Hale was the first minister at the First Parish Church in Beverly, ordained on 20 September 1667. . . . He is noteworthy for his involvement in the Witchcraft delusion of 1692. At first he supported the process of seeking out and prosecuting accused witches. However, after his second wife Sarah was accused (they had married in March of 1684; she was the daughter of Rev. James Noyes), he had a change of heart. In 1697, after her death, he published a book A Modern Inquiry into the Nature of Witchcraft (see facsimile cover, below), in which he condemned those who took a leadership role in the prosecutions. He married third wife Elizabeth Somerby 8 August 1698 in Newbury. . . . John Hale died 15 May 1700 in Beverly. Rev. Hale is buried with two of his wives and several of his children at the Old Burial Ground in Beverly. The inscription on his tombstone reads: Here lies buried ye body of ye Reverend John Hale, a pious and faithful minister of ye gospel and pastor of ye first gathered church of Christ in the town of Beverly who rested from his labors on ye 15th day of May, Anno Domini 1700 in ye 64th year of his age.
A Modest Enquiry Into the Nature of Witchcraft By John Hale Pastor of the Church of Christ in Beverly Anno Domini 1697 Boston in N. E. Printed By B. Green and J. Allen, for Benjamin Elliot under the Town House, 1702 ÂŠ 2000, Rector and Visitors of University of Virginia Deputy Governor Danforth - He was born in 1622, in Framlingham, Suffolk, England. He died from an illness in Cambridge, Massachusetts on November 5, 1699. Danforth was the eldest son of Nicholas Danforth. His father and his brother, Samuel, and Danforth came to New England in 1634. Soon after his arrival, he became interested in public affairs. Between the years of 1659 and 1678, Danforth assisted the Massachusetts government, becoming the deputy governor in 1679. Previously, as an official both of the Bay Colony and Harvard College, he had received payment in land for his services, in time receiving some 15,000 acres. Later on, he became president of the province of Maine, which was then part of the Massachusetts colony. However, Danforth's role showed he cared more about the court than the lives of the sentenced people, until he realized what had actually happened [in Salem], leading him to participate in the "clean-up" trials after the original court was dissolved. He also turned 800 acres of his Framingham land (named for his birthplace) to the Salem families that had lost family members. This land became known as the Salem End Colony. . . . Judge Stoughton - William Stoughton (1631-1701), Acting Royal Governor of Massachusetts: 1694-1699, 1700-1701. William Stoughton is perhaps best remembered as the first Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Court. While serving as Lieutenant Governor, Stoughton was
101 named Chief Justice of the new court in order that he preside over the remaining cases of the Salem Witch trials. Stoughton had no legal training and [yet] served both as judge and prosecutor. Accusations of witchcraft spiraled out of control, and eventually Governor William Phips had to deny the enforcement of the Court's orders. Yet William Stoughton's political life was remarkably unaffected by his connection to the Salem witch trials. When Governor Phips was recalled to London, Stoughton ascended to the Governor's office, while still serving as Chief Justice. He was an adroit politician, who managed the factions of the Colony's politics using the power of his governorship and judgeship and appointments to both his council and to lower courts. Stoughton died while serving as Acting Governor; [he had been reappointed] following the death Governor Richard Coote. Judge Samuel Sewall - As a judge involved in the witchcraft trials in Salem, Samuel Sewall became convinced these convictions were horrible mistakes, which wrongly led the colony to take the lives of nineteen persons. Judge Sewall drafted a proclamation with which the legislature declared a day of fasting and repentance across Massachusetts. On that first "Fast Day" on January 14, 1697, Judge Sewall publicly accepted the "blame and shame" for his actions. At the Old South Church he provided pastor Samuel Willard a letter of confession, which Willard read letter aloud, as Sewall stood before the congregation. Each year Sewall fasted to remember his transgression, and "Fast Day" was declared annually by the legislature over the next two centuries. Sewall served (1692-1728) as judge of the superior Repentance of Judge Sewall court of the colony, being chief justice during the last 10 years. He authored the abolitionist text, The Selling of Joseph, and left behind his famous diary that became an important artifact of this time. Repentance for the witch trials continued in Massachusetts. In 1706 Anne Putnam, one of the accusers of the executed women, made a stirring public confession herself. Just five years later, in 1711 the Massachusetts legislature voted to financially compensate the affected families for "damages sustained by sundry persons prosecuted for witchcraft in the year 1692."
Judge Hathorne - John Hathorne was born on August 5, 1641 in Salem to William Hathorne and Anne Smith. Hathorne, the son of a successful Jonathan Corwinâ€™s house, built in the 1670s farmer, became a noted Salem merchant and a politician. Hathorne's political skills won him a position as justice of the peace and county judge. A very religious man, Hathorne served on a committee to find a replacement for Salem minister George Burroughs in 1686. He later sentenced Burroughs to death in the 1692 witch trials. Hathorne believed the devil could use witches to undermine the purpose of the church and do harm to people. Because of this belief, Hathorne and another justice of the peace, Jonathan Corwin, took very seriously complaints
102 about suspected witches. Both immediately issued warrants for Sarah Good, Sarah Osborne, and Tituba when witchcraft accusations were made against them. As justices of the peace, Hathorne and Corwin conducted initial examinations of the suspected witches. Hathorne often appeared to act more as a prosecutor than an impartial inquisitioner. Consider this exchange during the Bridget Bishop examination: Hathorne: How do you know that you are not a witch? Bishop: I do not know what you say. . . I know nothing of it. Hathorne: Why look you, you are taken now in a flat lye. Hathorne died on May 10, 1717 in Salem. Many years later, Hathorne's grandson, author Nathaniel Hawthorne, added a "w" in his to distance himself from Hathorne because of the role he played in the Salem trials. Samuel Parris was the son of Englishman Thomas Parris, who bought land in Barbados in the 1650s. Samuel was sent to Massachusetts to study at Harvard, where he was in 1673 when his father died. At the age of 20, Parris inherited his father's land in Barbados. After graduating, Parris moved back to the island, . . . leased out the family sugar plantation and settled in . . . Bridgetown, where he established himself as a credit agent for other sugar planters. Parris [had] two slaves, including a woman named Tituba. In 1680, Parris [and his slaves] left the island [for] Boston and during his first New England winter married Elizabeth Eldridge. Through his marriage Parris was connected to several distinguished families in Boston, including the Sewalls. A year after they were married, Parris had his first child, a son, Thomas. A year later a daughter Betty was born, and five years later Susahanna. Parris accumulated sufficient wealth in Barbados to support his business ventures in Boston. Dissatisfied with the life of a merchant [by] 1686, he began substituting for absent ministers and speaking at informal church gatherings. After the birth of their third child, Parris began formal negations with Salem Village to become the Village's new preacher. He and his family settled in Plaque commemorating Salemâ€™s original courthouse the parsonage and Parris began his ministerial duties in July 1689. Dissatisfaction in the community with Parris as a minister began in 1691 and manifested itself in the sporadic payment of his salary. In October, a committee refused to impose a tax to support his salary and firewood through the winter. In response, Parris' sermons began to focus on warnings against a conspiracy in the village against himself and the church, and he attributed the evil to the forces of Satan taking hold in Salem. It was also in 1691 that Parris's daughter Betty and his niece, Abigail Williams (now also living in his household), most likely inspired by the tales of Tituba, began to dabble in fortune telling and other decidedly non-Puritan activities. Perhaps out of fear of the repercussions of participating in these forbidden games, Betty began to develop strange symptoms: pinching, prickling and choking sensations. Several physicians were unable to diagnose the problem, but Dr. William Griggs suggested that her malady must be the result of witchcraft. Parris organized
103 prayer meetings and days of fasting in an attempt to alleviate Betty's symptoms, [beat] his servant, Tituba, into confessing, and fanned the flames of witchcraft suspicions from his pulpit. Once the witchcraft hysteria ran its course, dissatisfaction with Parris grew and intensified. Parris, however, was slow to recognize his mistakes. It was not until 1694 that he apologized to his congregation, [and] opposition to Parris continued until 1697 when he left the village . . . . After leaving Salem, Parris first moved to Stowe, and then on to other frontier towns. Parris died in 1720. Allan Gilbertson, in tracing his family genealogy, has provided the following biography of his ancestor Rebecca Nurse. Mr. Gilbertson has kindly allowed me to include his work in this guide, and I urge those interested to visit his website: www.wizard.net/~aldonna/rn.htm.
Rebecca (Towne) Nurse was baptized at Yarmouth, England, on February 21, 1621/22, the daughter of William Towne and Joanna Blessing. She came to Salem with her family in 1640. In about 1645, she married Francis Nurse, who was born in England between 1618 and 1620. Francis was a tray maker who probably also made other wooden household items. He was Salem's constable in 1672. In 1692, the "black cloud of the witchcraft delusion descended upon Salem Village." Rebecca was a 71-year-old invalid who had raised a family of eight children. The Nurse family had been involved in several land disputes which could have caused ill-feeling among some of the residents of Salem. Nevertheless, most of her contemporaries sympathized with her. The dignity and nobility of her character which she showed throughout the trials undoubtedly helped turn public opinion against the trials. Her story is well-known, and has been written in many historical and fictionalized accounts of the trials, including Arthur Miller's play The Crucible. Soon after the first of the women had been accused of witchcraft, Rebecca Nurse discovered that her name had also been mentioned as a suspect. She is reported to have said, "I am innocent as the child unborn, but surely, what sin hath God found out in me unrepented of that He should lay such an affliction on me in my old age?" On March 23 a warrant was issued for her arrest upon the complaint of Edward and John Putnam. (The Putnam family was among those that had been involved in land disputes with Rebecca and her husband.) As in other cases, Rebecca's examination by judges was accompanied by "great noyses by the afflicted." She repeated her assertion that she was innocent but was committed to the Salem jail. Needless to say, the procedure was a travesty of justice. Belief in witchcraft was widespread in New England at that time, but even in that climate it is surprising that convictions could occur as a result of hearsay, slander and hysteria. Rebecca was indicted on June 2 and subjected to a physical examination by a jury of women. They found what a majority of them believed to be a mark of the devilâ€”although two of the women disagreed, saying the mark was due to natural causes. Rebecca asked that others examine her before she was brought to trial, but the request was denied. Rebecca Nurse was tried on June 29, 1692. Her accusers included the four young girls who initiated the witchcraft hysteria in Salem, Rev. Parris and several members of the Putnam family. Rebecca's son, son-in-law and daughter-in-law spoke in her defense. In addition, some 40 members of Salem Village signed a declaration defending her character. The jury at first returned a verdict of "not guilty." Some who had been accused confessed to practicing witchcraft in hopes that their death sentences would be dropped. One of these women, Goody Hobbs, had muttered, "She is one of us." In light of this the judge asked that the
104 verdict be reconsidered. When Rebecca was asked what Goody Hobbs had meant, she didn't answer. Later she said that she had not heard the question, as she was hard of hearing, and that "one of us" had meant that they were imprisoned together. The Governor granted a reprieve, but when Rebecca's accusers renewed their outcry it was withdrawn. On July 3, Rebecca Nurse was excommunicatedâ€”"abandoned to the devil and eternally damned." On July 19 she was driven in a cart with four other women to Gallows Hill where she was hanged. Tradition says that at midnight Francis Nurse, his sons and sons-in-law found Rebecca's body in the common grave where it had been flung and carried it home for a proper burial. One of Rebecca's sisters, Mary (Towne) Estey, was also hanged on charges of being a witch. The last of the executions in Salem took place in September 1692. In all, 20 people were put to death (including five men), and eight others died in jail. The trials ended perhaps because too many people of good reputation had been accused. By 1703 the General Court made payments to the heirs of the victims and ÂŁ25 was paid to the heirs of Rebecca Nurse. In 1706, Ann Putnam, one of the original four hysterical young women, made a written statement of remorse. She said that the devil had deceived her into accusing innocent people and mentioned Goodwife Nurse in particular. In 1712 the pastor who had cast Rebecca out of the church formally cancelled the excommunication. Francis Nurse survived until November 22, 1695. The house where he and Rebecca lived still stands and is maintained by a historical society. . . . The History of the Salem Witch Trials From: Novelguide.com Arthur Miller's play, The Crucible, is based upon actual events in Salem, Massachusetts, in 1692. Some facts, as Miller admits in the introduction, have been changed. Abigail, for instance was only 11 at the time of the trials and John Proctor was 60. An affair between the two of them is a somewhat far-fetched idea. Betty Parris, who was six at the time, became strangely ill sometime after February 1692. She complained of a fever and crashed about the house in pain. There is much speculation about the actual cause of her symptoms. . . . Theologian Cotton Mather had recently published a book called Memorable Providences describing the suspected witchcraft of a woman in Boston. Betty's behavior in many ways mirrored that described in the book. Closer attention was paid when Abigail Williams, 11-year-old Ann Putnam Jr. (called Ruth in Miller's play), 17year-old Mercy Lewis and Mary Walcott (Susanna) began to exhibit similar symptoms. When Dr. Griggs could not cure the children, he naturally suggested that some supernatural force must be at work. An increasingly larger group, which also grew to include adults, began to complain of afflictions. Sometime after February 25, Betty and Abigail named their tormentors with such consistent stories that it seems the girls must have been working their stories out together. The first people to be accused of witchcraft (Tituba, Sarah Osborn, and Sarah Good) were outsiders. It was easy for the pious townspeople to believe that those who differed from them were influenced by the devil.
105 The antics in the court proceedings went much as Miller portrayed. Displays of the victimsâ€™ apparent affliction when in the presence of the witch were considered valid evidence of guilt. The fervor might have died down at that point but Tituba, who had been adamantly denying involvement in witchcraft, proclaimed that she had been approached by a tall man who asked her to sign his book. She stated that she and four others, including Sarah Good and Sarah Osborn, were in fact witches and flew through the air on poles. At this point, the witch hunting took off. Even the four-year-old daughter of Sarah Good, Dorcas, was accused and jailed. Bridget Bishop, the sixty-year-old owner of a house of ill repute was the first brought to trial. She was the most likely of the prisoners to be convicted considering her deviant behavior. . . . After her conviction however, one of the judges, Saltonstall, resigned in disgust. . . . Bridget Bishop was hanged on June 10, 1692. As time went on the accused were not as disreputable as Bishop. Rebecca Nurse was actually found not guilty but Chief Justice Stoughton urged the jury to reconsider and she was condemned. John Proctor was actually a tavern owner (not a farmer as in the play) and was openly critical of the witch-hunts. He was an example of what would happen to those who spoke out against the proceedings. Proctor was hanged August 19, 1692. Doubt in the validity of the accusations finally began when the ex-Reverend George Burroughs was hung. He recited the Lord's Prayer perfectly, which was thought impossible for one in league with the Devil. Cotton Mather . . . was in attendance that day and his intervention [led] people back to supporting the trials. After all, an innocent person would not be convicted. Giles Corey was, as the play reports, pressed to death for refusing to enter a plea to the charge of witchcraft against him. His wife Martha was hanged three days later with 7 other convicted witches. Her group would be the last to die. Salem was regaining its senses. Reverend John Hale and the villagers found it increasingly harder to believe that so many respectable people would turn to the Devil all at once. . . . Reverend Parris was replaced though he tried to blame those around him. Many of those involved also tried to place the blame on others. Those still in prison were released and in later years, the families of the executed were compensated. . . . A Timeline of the Salem Trials January 20, 1692 Elizabeth Parris and eleven-year-old Abigail Williams began to exhibit strange behavior, such as blasphemous screaming, convulsive seizures, trance-like states and mysterious spells. Within a short time, other Salem girls began to demonstrate similar behavior. Mid-February Unable to determine any physical cause for the symptoms and dreadful behavior, physicians concluded that the girls were under the influence of Satan. Late February Prayer services and community fasting were conducted by Reverend Samuel Parris in hopes of relieving the evil forces that plagued them. . . . Pressured to identify the source of their affliction, the girls named three women, including Tituba, Parris' Carib Indian slave, as witches. On February 29, warrants were issued for the arrests of Tituba, Sarah Good and Sarah Osborne. Although Osborne and
106 Good maintained innocence, Tituba confessed to seeing the devil who appeared to her "sometimes like a hog and sometimes like a great dog, " [and] that there was a conspiracy of witches at work in Salem. March 1 Magistrates John Hathorne and Jonathan Corwin examined Tituba, Sarah Good, and Sarah Osborne in the meeting house in Salem Village. Tituba confessed to practicing witchcraft. Over the next weeks, other townspeople came forward and testified that they, too, had been harmed by or had seen strange apparitions of some of the community members. Frequently denounced were women whose behavior or economic circumstances were somehow disturbing to the social order and conventions of the time. Some of the accused had previous records of criminal activity, including witchcraft, but others were faithful churchgoers and people of high standing in the community. March 12 - 28 Martha Corey, Rebecca Nurse and Elizabeth Proctor are accused of witchcraft. April 3 Sarah Cloyce, Rebecca Nurse's sister, was accused of witchcraft. April 11 Elizabeth Proctor and Sarah Cloyce were examined before Hathorne, Corwin, Deputy Governor Thomas Danforth, and Captain Samuel Sewall. During this examination, John Proctor was also accused and imprisoned. April 19 Abigail Hobbs, Bridget Bishop, Giles Corey, and Mary Warren were examined. Only Abigail Hobbs confessed. April 22 â€“ May 2 Nehemiah Abbott, William and Deliverance Hobbs, Edward and Sarah Bishop, Mary Easty, Mary Black, Sarah Wildes, Mary English, Sarah Morey, Lydia Dustin, Susannah Martin, and Dorcas Hoar were examined before Hathorne and Corwin. Only Nehemiah Abbott was cleared of charges. Dorcas Hoar "I will speak the truth as long as I live."
Examination of a witch, Salem, th T.H. Matteson, 19 c
May 4 George Burroughs, a former Salem minister, was arrested in Wells, Maine. [Maine was part of Massachusetts until 1820.] May 9 Burroughs was examined by Hathorne, Corwin, Sewall, and William Stoughton. One of the afflicted girls, Sarah Churchill, was also examined. May 10 George Jacobs, Sr., and his granddaughter Margaret were examined before Hathorne and Corwin. Margaret confessed and testified that her grandfather and George Burroughs were both witches. Sarah Osborne died in prison in Boston. Margaret Jacobs ". . . They told me if I would not confess I should be put down into the dungeon and would be hanged, but if I would confess I should save my life."
107 May 18 Mary Easty [sister of Rebecca Nurse] was released from prison. Yet, due to the outcries and protests of her accusers, she was arrested a second time. May 27 [Newly appointed] Governor Phips set up a special Court of Oyer and Terminer comprised of seven judges to try the witchcraft cases. Appointed were Lieutenant Governor William Stoughton, Nathaniel Saltonstall, Bartholomew Gedney, Peter Sergeant, Samuel Sewall, Wait Still Winthrop, John Richards, John Hathorne, and Jonathan Corwin. These magistrates based their judgments and evaluations on various kinds of intangible evidence, including direct confessions, supernatural attributes (such as "witch marks"), and reactions of the afflicted girls. Spectral evidence, based on the assumption that the Devil could assume the "specter" of an innocent person, was relied upon despite its controversial nature. May 31 Martha Carrier, John Alden, Wilmott Redd, Elizabeth Howe, and Phillip English were examined before Hathorne, Corwin, and Gedney. June 2 Initial session of the Court of Oyer and Terminer. Bridget Bishop was the first to be pronounced guilty of witchcraft and condemned to death. Soon after her trial, Nathaniel Saltonstall resigned from the court, dissatisfied with its proceedings. June 10 Bridget Bishop was hanged in Salem, the first official execution of the Salem witch trials. Bridget Bishop "I am no witch. I am innocent. I know nothing of it." Following her death, accusations of witchcraft escalated, but the trials were not unopposed. Several townspeople signed petitions on behalf of accused people they believed to be innocent. June 29-30 Rebecca Nurse, Susannah Martin, Sarah Wildes, Sarah Good and Elizabeth Howe were tried for witchcraft and condemned. Rebecca Nurse "Oh Lord, help me! It is false. I am clear. For my life now lies in your hands. . . ." Mid-July In an effort to expose the witches afflicting his life, Joseph Ballard of nearby Andover enlisted the aid of the accusing girls of Salem. This action marked the beginning of the Andover witch hunt. July 19 Rebecca Nurse, Susannah Martin, Elizabeth Howe, Sarah Good, and Sarah Wildes were executed. Elizabeth Howe "If it was the last moment I was to live, God knows I am innocent. . ." Susannah Martin "I have no hand in witchcraft."
108 August 2-6 George Jacobs, Sr., Martha Carrier, George Burroughs, John and Elizabeth Proctor, and John Willard were tried for witchcraft and condemned. Martha Carrier ". . . I am wronged. It is a shameful thing that you should mind these folks that are out of their wits." August 19 Jacobs, Carrier, Burroughs, John Proctor, and Willard were hanged on Gallows Hill. George Jacobs ". . . I am falsely accused. I never did it." September 9 Martha Corey, Mary Easty, Alice Parker, Ann Pudeator, Dorcas Hoar, and Mary Bradbury were tried and condemned. Mary Bradbury "I do plead not guilty. I am wholly innocent of such wickedness." September 17 Margaret Scott, Wilmott Redd, Samuel Wardwell, Mary Parker, Abigail Faulkner, Rebecca Eames, Mary Lacy, Ann Foster, and Abigail Hobbs were tried and condemned. September 19 Giles Corey was pressed to death for refusing a trial.
September 21 Dorcas Hoar, the first of those pleading innocent to confess, has her execution delayed. September 22 Martha Corey, Margaret Scott, Mary Easty, Alice Parker, Ann Pudeator, Wilmott Redd, Samuel Wardwell, and Mary Parker were hanged. October 8 After 20 people had been executed in the Salem witch hunt, Thomas Brattle wrote a letter criticizing the witchcraft trials that had great impact on Governor Phips, who ordered that reliance on spectral and intangible evidence no longer be allowed in the trials. October 29 Governor Phips dissolved the Court of Oyer and Terminer. November 25 The General Court of the colony created the Superior Court to try the remaining witchcraft cases [the following] May. This time no one was convicted. See also The Witchcraft Hysteria of 1692 (http://www.star.net/salem/witches.htm) and The Salem Witch Trials of 1692: A Chronology of Events (http://www.star.net/salem/memorial/default.htm). For some scary fun, go to National Geographicâ€™s virtual, interactive witch hunt (http://www.nationalgeographic.com/features/97/salem/). Boo!
109 From: The Salem Witchcraft Papers (Please note: I have retain the original spelling, abbreviations, punctuation, and so on.) Warrant vs. Tituba and Sarah Osborne Salem febr' the 29'th day, 1691/2 Whereas m'rs Joseph Hutcheson Thomas Putnam Edward Putnam and Thomas Preston Yeomen of Salem Village, in the County of Essex. personally appeared before us, And made Complaint on behalfe of theire Majesties against Sarah Osburne the wife of Alexa' Osburne of Salem Village afores'd, and titibe an Indian Woman servant, of mr. Sam'l Parris of s'd place also; for Suspition of Witchcraft, by them Committed and thereby much injury don to Elizabeth Parris Abigail Williams Anna [Ruth] Putnam and Elizabeth Hubert all of Salem Village afores'd Sundry times with in this two moneths and Lately also done, at s'd Salem Village Contrary to the peace and Laws of our Sov'r Lord & Lady Wm & Mary of England &c King & Queene. You are there for in theire Maj'ts names hereby required to apprehend and forthwith or as soon as may be bring before us the aboves'd Sarah Osburne, and titibe Indian, at the house of Lt. Nath'l Ingersalls in s'd place. And if it may be by to Morrow aboute ten of the Clock in the morning then and there to be Examined Relateing to the aboves'd premises â€”. You are likewise required to bring at the same tyme Eliz. Parris Abig'l Williams Anna Putnam and Eliz Hubert or any other person or persons that can give Evedence in the Aboves'd Case. and hereof you are not to faile. Dated Salem febr' 29 1691/2 * John Hathorne * Jonathan.Corwin Assis'ts (Reverse) (Officer's Return) To Constable Joseph Herrick Const' in Salem according to this warrant I have apprehended the parsons with in mentioned and have brought them accordingly and have mad diligent sarch for Images and such like but can find non Salem village this 1 march 1691/92 *Joseph Herrick Constable
110 Puritanism in New England David Cody, Associate Professor of English, Hartwick College From: The Victorian Web . . . Like their counterparts in Britain the Puritans were extreme Calvinistic Protestants who viewed the Reformation as a victory of true Christianity over Roman Catholicism. They believed that the Universe was God-centered, and that mankind, inherently sinful and corrupt, rescued from damnation (if God so chose) only by arbitrary divine grace, was duty-bound to do God's will, which they could understand best by studying the Bible and the universe which God had created and which He controlled. Their isolation in the New World, their introversion, the harshness and dangers of their new existence, their sense that they were a new Chosen People of God destined to found a New Jerusalem—a New City of God in the midst of the wilderness—insured that American Puritanism would remain more severe (and, frequently, more intellectually subtle and rigorous) than that which they had left behind. The American Puritan tended to interpret the Bible, which had supreme literary value because it was the perfect word of God, even more literally than did his British counterparts. Though many of the original American Puritans—many of whom were both preachers and authors—had attended English universities, they tended to form religious oligarchies and sought to establish a purified church—which meant the frequently harsh imposition of religious uniformity upon an unwilling populace. . . . The overt remnants of Puritanism did not die out in New England until well into the nineteenth century, and it echoes in American society today. . . . Elements of the Puritans’ Faith From: The Victorian Web Introduction: Basic Puritan Beliefs 1. Total Depravity - Through Adam's fall for eating the forbidden fruit, every human is born sinful (Original Sin). 2. Unconditional Election - God "saves" those he wishes - only a few are selected for salvation (Predestination). 3. Limited Atonement - Jesus died for the chosen only, not for everyone. 4. Irresistible Grace - God's grace is freely given, it cannot be earned or denied. Grace is defined as the saving and transfiguring power of God. 5. Perseverance of the "saints" - Those elected by God have full power to interpret the will of God, and to live uprightly. If anyone rejects grace after feeling its power in his or her life will be going against the will of God - something impossible in Puritanism. Forces Undermining Puritanism 1. A person's natural desire to do good works against predestination. 2. Dislike of a "closed" [restricted] life. 3. Resentment of the power of the few over many. 4. Change in economic conditions - growth of fishery, farms, etc. – lessens dependence on the colony as a whole.
111 5. Presence of the leaders of dissent - Anne Hutchinson (whose informal discussions at her home gave scope to Puritan intellects, but her [belief that faith alone was necessary to earn salvation] caused John Cotton, John Winthrop, and other former friends to view her as an antinomian heretic. She defied them, was tried by the General Court, and was sentenced (1637) to banishment for “traducing the ministers.” Several of her followers . . . also left. After helping to found the present Portsmouth, R.I., she quarreled with other founders, eventually moving to Long Island and then to what is now Pelham Bay Park in New York City (1642). There she and all the other members of her family but one were killed by Native Americans), and Roger Williams (emigrated to the Massachusetts Bay colony in 1631. Williams became a teacher (1632) and, after a stay at Plymouth, minister (1634) of the Salem church. However, his radical religious beliefs and political theories—he . . . challenged the Puritans to acknowledge they had separated from the Church of England, and declared that civil magistrates had no power over matters of conscience—alarmed the Puritan oligarchy, and the General Court banished him [but soon thereafter] he founded Providence, a democratic refuge from religious persecution . . . In 1654, Williams was elected president of the colony and served three terms. Williams, though he remained a Christian, disassociated himself from existing churches. . . . Of great personal charm and unquestioned integrity, Williams was admired even by those who, like both the elder and the younger John Winthrop, abhorred his liberal ideas.). 6. The presence of the frontier - concept of self-reliance, individualism, and optimism [as opposed to dedication to and reliance upon the colony; see no. 8]. 7. Change in political conditions - Massachusetts became a Crown colony. 8. Theocracy suffered from a lack of flexibility. 9. Growth of rationality - use of the mind to know God - less dependence on the Bible. 10. Cosmopolitanism of new immigrants. Visible Signs of Puritan Decay 1. Visible decay of godliness. 2. Manifestations of pride - especially among the new rich. 3. Presence of "heretics" - Quakers and Anabaptists. 4. Violations of the Sabbath and swearing and sleeping during sermons. 5. Decay in family government. 6. People full of contention - rise in lawsuits and lawyers. 7. Sins of sex and alcohol on the increase. 8. Decay in business morality - lying, laborers underpaid, etc. 9. No disposition to reform. 10. Lacking in social behavior. Some Aspects of the Puritan Legacy: each has positive and negative implications. a. The need for moral justification for private, public, and governmental acts. b. The Questing for Freedom - personal, political, economic, and social. c. The Puritan work ethic. d. Elegiac verse - morbid fascination with death. e. The city upon the hill - concept of manifest destiny.
112 Witchcraft in 16th and 17th Century England From: Social Studies School Service James I was King of England (1603-1625) when the Pilgrims set sail for Northern Virginia (New England) in 1620. James was a firm believer in witches and witchcraft and the harm they could do. He even wrote an authoritative account of witchcraft entitled Daemonologie. His belief in witchcraft probably inspired William Shakespeare to prominently feature witches in Macbeth, a play widely believed to be an homage to James I and his supposed ancestor Banquo ("Thou shalt [be]get kings though thou be none"). This passage from Witches and Jesuits: Shakespeare's Macbeth by Garry Wills helps us imagine the climate of the times in the late 16th and early 17th century in England: Witchcraft was not just a matter of private concern, filling the law courts with complaints of hexes and love spells. It was a factor in affairs of state. Elizabeth's government showed enough concern when a crude image of herself was discovered that it called in John Dee, the master of occult lore, to prescribe protective measures. This baffled plot against Elizabeth was described by Dekker in The Whore of Babylon, where a conjurer offers his service against the Queen (2.2.168-175): This virgin wax Bury I will in slimy-putrid ground, Where it may piecemeal rot. As this consumes, So shall she pine, and (after languor) die. These pins shall stick like daggers to her heart And, eating through her breast, turn there to gripings, Cramplike convulsions, shrinking up her nerves As into this they eat. This is the "pining" spell witches were known for, the one Shakespeare's witch casts on a sailor (1.3.22-23): Weary sev'n-nights, nine times nine, Shall he dwindle, peak, and pine. . . . Elizabeth was also attacked with hellish potions, including the magic poison smeared on her saddle pommel by Edward Squire. King James was even more plagued by political witchcraft than was Elizabeth. Most of the major conspiracies against his life involved witchcraft. In 1590 Dr. Fian used a "school" of witches to cast spells on him. In 1593 Bothwell's rebellion led to an indictment for witchcraft. In 1600, when the Gowrie Plot failed, magic formulas were found on the body of the man who tried to assassinate the King. It is not surprising that the King should dwell on the dark arts that abetted the Powder Plottersâ€”this was just a new piece in the old pattern of James' psychomachia with hellish powers. (Garry Wills, Witches and Jesuits: Shakespeare's Macbeth) This was the climate of the times when the Puritans settled New England. Witches and witchcraft were often blamed for unknown phenomena, and deeply religious people like the Puritans were especially prone to see the devil's hand in unpleasant circumstances. The wilderness of the New World presented a particularly potent set of unknown circumstances and dangers. Perhaps it is not surprising that the hysteria of Salem was the result.
113 Discussion Questions/Activities Courtesy of the web, especially Lesson Plans What is the relationship of the church to the state in the current form of U.S. government? What was the relationship of the church to the state in colonial New England? How did Puritanism affect the laws and the courts of colonial New England? Other historical concepts useful for the students in understanding the Salem witch trials and Miller's play can be discussed. Students can research these topics in small groups to present to the entire class: Slavery: The slave trade between colonial New England and the Caribbean. Witchcraft: The practice of black magic and sorcery in Puritan New England. The culture of Barbados in the 17th century: The events in Salem can be viewed as a clash of cultures. Other witch trials: New England trials prior to Salem trials; Joan of Arc; Joseph McCarthy: House Un-American Activities Committee hearings. Other more contemporary "witch hunts": they might include Watergate hearings, Whitewater, priests accused of molesting children, ethnicity-related detentions, etc. History of hate groups: Let students come up with their own ideas based on their knowledge of history. Such as Nazism, Ku Klux Klan, Skinheads, etc. Many themes can be found in The Crucible. It is helpful to suggest a few that students might look for as they read. Each can be posted on the top of a sheet of chart paper on a "theme chart" and evidence of it can be added during the reading of the play. Human Cruelty in the Name of Righteousness The Individual and the Community Justice vs. Retribution and Revenge Godliness vs. Worldliness Ignorance vs. Wisdom The Puritan Myth Order vs. Individual Freedom Community: Unity and Exclusion â€“ Who is a part of the community of Salem? Who is excluded? How and why does the trial change the typical order of the community? What happens to the community when the order is changed? Who is included in the community of your school or town? Who is excluded?
114 The Puritan Myth – What is Puritanism? Why did they come to America? If this play is accurate, what myths do you find in definitions, textbook descriptions, and the Puritan's motivations for freedom? What groups can you identify in your school or community? What myths surround stereotypes of these groups? Order vs. Individual Freedom – Why did the Puritans come to America? What level of individual freedom do you see in Salem? What level of order? What happens when one or the other gets out of balance? When does order become autocratic? What is the balance between individual freedom and order in your school or community? A student can add depth to this discussion by reporting on how the authority of the state th in 17 -century Salem, 1950s America, and World War II Germany was driven by "irrational terror [that took] the fiat of moral goodness." Assign each group of students one character. Have them outline on chart paper and report to the class what they have learned about the character and how they learned it. Have students brainstorm and list human frailties found in the character(s) and suggest who possesses each frailty: lust – John Proctor pride – Reverend Hale greed – Reverend Parris revenge – Mrs. Putnam ignorance – Giles Corey self-indulgence – the girls dishonesty – Abigail, the girls, John Proctor Or they could look for the Seven Deadly sins: pride, greed, envy, wrath, lust, gluttony (pertains not only to food but other goods, entertainment or the company of others) and sloth. Frequently in serious literature one character assumes the role of the voice of reason. In Act one of The Crucible, the voice of reason is Rebecca Nurse; later on John Proctor is. Have students examine the play for ways in which Rebecca and Proctor attempt to apply reason to the situation. Students can develop a chart that visually presents the rise of action in the plot. Dramatic readings [of any scenes] that are key to plot development can be presented to the class. The language in the play is probably not unfamiliar to students, but its usage is. Students can examine the play for terms that are used in association with witchcraft. It is interesting for students to search for examples of irony: "I'd almost forgot how strong you are, John Proctor!" "I never knew the lying lessons I was taught by all these Christian women and their covenanted men!" "The marks of his presence are definite as stone." What is meant when John uses the metaphor "your justice would freeze beer"? Or when he says the metaphor "the man dreams cathedrals, not clapboard meeting houses"? What does Hale mean when he says "theology . . . is a fortress"?
115 What does an individual's ability to use figurative language, such as metaphors, tell you about that person? Which characters in the play speak in metaphors? Students might also discuss the various meanings of color words such as white, black, and blush as used by the characters. It is also interesting to note how gender specific pronouns are used â€“ witches, for example, are always "she" but some men are also accused of witchcraft. Students can begin a discussion that can continue throughout the reading of the play about why Miller chose the word crucible for its title. In small groups students can research the relationship of the court and the church in colonial New England and report on their research to the class. In small groups students can research various aspects of the concept of separation of church and state as it exists today: when was it first established, by whom, and why; what are some recent court cases related to it; what are some recent challenges to it. An interesting debate could be conducted on a topic such as school prayer or federal funding of private religious schools. Why does Miller end the play with Proctor's refusal to sign the confession and Elizabeth's refusal to beg him to do so? Several of the characters are particularly well developed in Act four: John Proctor, Elizabeth Proctor, Parris, and Danforth. Have students write a letter, diary entry or other missive from the point of view and in the voice of one of these four characters explaining his/her actions and motivations. Have students develop a character sketch, including movement and expression, for each character. Students can discuss other possible endings for the play and examine if any others would have been realistic given the action of previous acts, particularly in the climax in Act Three. After Reading the Play How is the theocracy broken in the play? Was what happened in Salem important to the development of U.S. democracy? How? Was Salem an autocracy? Who was the autocratic ruler? What did you learn about Puritanism by reading the play? How does Miller's interpretation relate to historical accounts you have read? It may be interesting for students to read Miller's commentary appearing throughout the reader's edition of The Crucible and respond, in writing or orally, as to whether they agree or disagree with his beliefs, whether they believe he achieved his goals, etc.
116 How does the government as presented in the play differ from U.S. government today? How does the relationship of church and state in the play differ from the relationship of church and state today? How would our government and courts differ if we had a single, central religion? (Students might want to compare the U.S. to Iran or Israel.) Students can discuss whether or not the play is a tragedy. Is there a tragic hero? Who has a tragic flaw? What moral weakness or psychological maladjustment do they see? What social pressures are prominent? What examples of irony do you see in the play? What events in Salem can be viewed as paradox? Is the play a political allegory? Sources Consulted Andover and the Witch Trials. No editor. © 2002. Ultranet.com. 18 June 2002. http://www.ultranet.com/~andhists/witchcraftFrame1Source1.htm Anne Hutchinson. No editor. © 1994, 2000, 2001, 2002. The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia. 6 August 2002. http://www.infoplease.com/ce6/people/A0824642.html Arthur Miller. ©2002. Encarta.com. 18 April 2002. http://encarta.msn.com/find/Concise.asp?ti=02FF0000 Arthur Miller. No editor. ©2002. Kennedy Center.org. 16 April 2002. http://kennedycenter.org/programs/specialevents/honors/history/honoree/miller.html Arthur Miller. Kuusankoshen Kaupunginkirjasto. ©2000. Pegasos.com. 16 April 2002. www.kirjasto.sci.fi/amiller.htm Arthur Miller chronology. Elyse Sommer. ©2001. Curtain Up.com. 16 April 2002. www.curtainup.com/miller.html Conversations with Arthur Miller. Matthew C. Roudane, ed. Jackson, MS: University Press of Mississippi, 1987. PS 3525 I5156 Z463 1987 The Crucible. Mrs. Leah Marquis and Mrs. Mello. 27 August 1997. Curriculum Units.com. 16 April 2002. www.curriculumunits.com/crucible/background/framestimeline.htm The Crucible. No editor. NovelGuide.com. 10 July 2002. http://www.novelguide.com/thecrucible/characterprofiles.html
117 The Crucible. No editor. ©2002. Social Studies.com. 16 April 2002. www.socialstudies.com/c/@Ek80nVrt2LnVE/Pages/index.html Deputy Governor (Thomas) Danforth. Dana Bocek, ed. 22 April 2002. Brooke High School (W. Va.), Mrs. Shaffer’s English class. 22 August 2002. http://bhs.broo.k12.wv.us/bhs/crucible/deputygovernordansforth.html History of Maine. No editor. 17 Jan. 2002. Waterboro Public Library, ME. 6 August 2002. http://www.waterboro.lib.me.us/histme.htm#mass Jen’s Crucible Homepage. Jen, ed. 1998. Geocities.com. 15 April 2002. www.geocities.com/CollegePark/classroom/3085/crucible.html Judge John Hathorne. Douglas Linder, ed. June 1998. Law School, University of MissouriKansas City.org. 20 August 2002. http://www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/FTrials/ftrials.htm Headstones. Rachel Altomare, ed. 2001. George Washington HS, Philadelphia, PA. 21 August 2002. http://www.gwhs.phila.k12.pa.us/students/projects/2001/Altomare/salem/picspage.htm Lesson plans, The Crucible. Dr. Arthea J. S. Reed and W. Geiger (Guy) Ellis, eds. ©2000-2002. Teachervision.com. 6 August 2002. http://www.teachervision.com/lesson-plans/lesson3498.html#before%20reading%20the%20play Samuel Parris. Douglas Linder, ed. June 1998. Law School, University of Missouri-Kansas City.org. 20 August 2002. http://www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/FTrials/ftrials.htm Photos of Salem. David C. Brown, ed. 26 Jan. 1998. Salem Witch Museum.com. 21 August 2002. http://www.salemwitchmuseum.com/ Puritanism in New England. David Cody. 1988. The Victorian Web. 11 June 2002. http://22.214.171.124/victorian/religion/puritan2.html Rebecca Nurse. Allan Gilbertson, ed. 11 Nov. 2001. Frontline Communications Corp. 16 April 2002. www.wizard.net/~aldonna/rn.htm Rev. John Hale. Charles E. Wainwright, ed. ©2002. The Wainwright Family of Essex County, MA. 6 August 2002 http://members.tripod.com/wainwrights/halefhr.html Roger Williams. No editor. © 1994, 2000, 2001, 2002. The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia. 6 Aug. 2002 <http://www.infoplease.com/ce6/people/A0852336.html>. Salem Meeting House. No editor. © 2000. Ibiscom.com. 21 August 2002. http://www.ibiscom.com/salem.htm The Salem Witchcraft Papers, Essex County Archives. Margo Burns, ed. 01/22/98. The University of Virginia. 18 April 2002. http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/salem/witchcraft/archives/essex/ecca/P-R.html
Seven Deadly Sins. William E. Rushman, ed. 17 July 2002. The Rushmans. 7 August 2002. http://www.rushman.org/seven/ Judge Samuel Sewall. Douglas Linder, ed. June 1998. Law School, University of MissouriKansas City. 22 August 2002. http://www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/salem/SAL_ISEW.HTM —. Dave Wieneke, ed. © 2002. State of Massachusetts. 22 August 2002. http://www.state.ma.us/statehouse/articles/murals.htm Judge William Stoughton. Dave Wieneke, ed. © 2002. State of Massachusetts. 22 August 2002. http://www.state.ma.us/statehouse/massgovs/wstoughton.htm *
Copenhagen Playwright Michael Frayn Mr. Frayn is a British playwright, journalist and novelist. His plays include Noises Off, Benefactors, Donkeys’ Years, Balmoral, Clouds, Look Look, Alphabetical Order, Make and Break, Now You Know, La Belle Vivette and Here. His translations include Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard (titled Wild Honey) and Platonov, and Leo Tolstoy’s The Fruits of Enlightenment. Mr. Frayn’s most recent novel, Headlong, concerns Martin Clay, an art historian writing a treatise about 15th century Dutch art whose boorish neighbor reveals what looks to be a lost Pieter Bruegel painting that he is anxious to sell; Clay determines to get the painting without letting on what it’s really worth, but his wife Michael Frayn, by Jillian Edelstein. suspects Clay’s plans. Other novels by Frayn include The Book of Fub, On the Outskirts, The Trick of it, A Very Private Life, Clockwise, Landing on the Sun, Sweet Dreams and Celia’s Secret: An Investigation. Essay collections such as The Original Michael Frayn, The Additional Michael Frayn and Speak after the Beep: Studies in the Art of Communicating with Inanimate and Semi-Animate Objects are also parts of his oeuvre, as are the titles First and Last (“an examination of the courage of old age and the prickly affection which can knit a family together,” according to bn.com), Great Railway Journeys of the World and The Copenhagen Papers: An Intrigue, in which Mr. Frayn recounts his receiving a mysterious package from a British housewife that contains pages of faded writing in German that seemed to describe what happened at the Heisenberg-Bohr meeting—or was it all a hoax? Setting: A nondescript place serves as the Bohrs’ residence, where they recreate the evening they hosted Heisenberg, as well as the no-place in which all three comment on and try to recall the actual events of that evening.
119 Synopsis: Margrethe and Niels Bohr, later joined by Niels’ former student Werner Heisenberg, try to grasp what actually happened between the men during a mid-WWII reunion meeting at the Bohrs’ home in Nazi-occupied Copenhagen, Denmark. Naturally there was some discussion of progress made by both Allies and Axis scientists in studying the atom and the atom bomb, but there had been some political discussion as well, outside the house, away from Nazi surveillance, and some accusations of a personal nature—or were there? In attempting to recreate the visit, both the Bohrs and their guest Heisenberg discover that the more they grasp at the meaning of their discussions, to arrive at their positions on the war, on nuclear weapons, on the responsibilities scientists have toward society, the less sure any of them are of what went on between them. Characters Margrethe Bohr – the former Margrethe Norlund, who married Niels Bohr in 1912, a year after he was granted his doctorate in physics. Aside from raising their 6 sons, Margrethe was integral in making their home the entertainment center of his students and fellow scientists visiting the Institute for Theoretical Physics. She does not particularly like Werner Heisenberg but welcomes him to their house to please Niels. Niels Bohr – the renown Danish physicist who redefined the atom in such a way as to prompt 20th century theories and atomic exploration (a fuller biography may be found below). He was known throughout the scientific community for his warm personality and love of entertaining as much as for his groundbreaking theories and research. Werner Heisenberg – a German physicist who spent some time at Bohr’s Institute for Theoretical Physics (together they developed the concept of “complementarity” [see below]; also see his biography below) before he became head of a Nazi-sponsored physics lab back in Germany. Vocabulary Quantum mechanics - Quantum mechanics is the description of motion and interaction of particles at the small scales where the discrete nature of the physical world becomes important. Quantum mechanics represented a fundamental break with classical physics, in which energies and angular momenta were regarded as continuous quantities that could change by arbitrary amounts. . . . Niels Bohr had a large influence on the development of quantum mechanics through his so-called "Copenhagen Interpretation," a philosophical construct which was formulated to provide a fundamental framework for understanding the implicit assumptions, limitations, and applicability of the theory of quantum mechanics. . . . Following [similar] developments, work began to obtain a more rigorous footing for the foundations of the theory. This was achieved by Werner Heisenberg using his so-called matrix mechanics, which provided a matrix-based framework for performing quantum mechanical calculations. Shortly thereafter, Erwin Schrödinger developed a similar theory of wave mechanics by writing down an equation known as the Schrödinger equation. It was subsequently shown that Heisenberg's and Schrödinger's approaches were equivalent, although Schrödinger's turned out to be easier to compute with for most applications.
120 Quantum mechanics contains many counterintuitive properties, including [Heisenberg’s] uncertainty principle, which states that it is not possible to simultaneously determine a particle's position and momentum. . . . Wehrmacht – (German, literally, armed forces.) Nazi Germany’s army. SS - Schutzstaffeln - "Protection Units" - The principal elite organization of the Nazi party which consisted of the Allgemeine (General) SS and Waffen (Armed) SS, the latter forming military divisions as part of the Wehrmacht. Astrophysics – Heisenberg lectures on these, which are “the study of the physical properties of astronomical objects, including stars, planets, black holes, neutron stars, accretion disks, etc. Astrophysics also includes the study of the universe itself, including cosmology. The application of special and general relativity to the study of astrophysical objects is also considered part of astrophysics,” according to Scienceworld. John the Baptist – In Christianity, John the Baptist is known as Jesus’ cousin who prophesied his coming; hence, Bohr says Weizsacker was Heisenberg’s John the Baptist. Institute for Theoretical Physics – Founded in 1921, Denmark’s Institute for Theoretical Physics was in time named for Niels Bohr in recognition of his contributions to the field. It is now the Niels Bohr Institute (NBI), “part of the Niels Bohr Institute for Astronomy, Physics and Geophysics at the University of Copenhagen, and shares premises in [Copenhagen] with the Nordic Institute for Theoretical Physics (NORDITA),” which organization serves the Scandinavian countries. “NORDITA was founded in 1957 at the initiative of Niels Bohr and Torsten Gustafsson. The idea behind NORDITA was (and is) to do first class research and to support theoretical physics research and training in the Nordic countries. NORDITA offers a transdisciplinary, international research environment with strong ties to other Nordic physicists. At NORDITA research is carried out in most parts of theoretical physics, from biological physics to superstring theory and cosmology. . . .” Fission – splitting an atom, “the breakup of a very heavy nucleus into two similar-sized, medium-weight nuclei.” This action is what powers the atom bomb as originally conceived by Allied scientists during WWII. Cyclotron - A device invented by E. O. Lawrence and M. S. Livingston at Berkeley in 1931 that is used to accelerate charged particles by means of a magnetic field. Physicists use this and similar machines to break atoms down into their constituents, to combine atoms, and otherwise test them. Mesons – an atomic subparticle “that is made up of a quark/antiquark pair”; all we really need to know is that Bohr, Heisenberg and their fellow scientists are searching to find the fundamental atomic building blocks in order to better understand the universe. Plenipotentiary – a diplomatic agent, such as an ambassador, authorized to represent his or her country in formal matters.
121 Schrödinger’s cat – basically, Erwin Schrödinger (who apparently didn’t like cats) posed a puzzle: Radioactive material emits radioactive waves periodically (every half-life). If a cat were placed in a sealed box with some radioactive material, how could we know when the cat would die? This is a topic of debate among physicists, not out of concern for the cat, but more in an effort to figure out how radioactive decay works. The following treatment is more fun, as if Dr. Seuss tried to address the problem: Dear Cecil: Cecil, you're my final hope Of finding out the true Straight Dope For I have been reading of Schrödinger's cat But none of my cats are at all like that. This unusual animal (so it is said) Is simultaneously live and dead! What I don't understand is just why he Can't be one or other, unquestionably. My future now hangs in between eigenstates.* In one I'm enlightened, the other I ain't. If you understand, Cecil, then show me the way And rescue my psyche from quantum decay. But if this queer thing has perplexed even you, Then I will and won't see you in Schrödinger's zoo. —Randy F., Chicago *a limbo state, says physics Dear Randy: Schrödinger, Erwin! Professor of physics! Wrote daring equations! Confounded his critics! (Not bad, eh? Don't worry. This part of the verse Starts off pretty good, but it gets a lot worse.) ’Win saw that the theory that Newton'd invented By Einstein's discov'ries had been badly dented. What now? wailed his colleagues. Said Erwin, "Don't panic, No grease monkey I, but a quantum mechanic. Consider electrons. Now, these teeny articles Are sometimes like waves, and then sometimes like particles. If that's not confusing, the nuclear dance Of electrons and suchlike is governed by chance! No sweat, though—my theory permits us to judge Where some of 'em is and the rest of 'em was." Not everyone bought this. It threatened to wreck The comforting linkage of cause and effect. E'en Einstein had doubts, and so Schrödinger tried To tell him what quantum mechanics implied.
122 Said Win to Al, "Brother, suppose we've a cat, And inside a tube we have put that cat at— Along with a solitaire deck and some Fritos, A bottle of Night Train, a couple mosquitoes (Or something else rhyming) and, oh, if you got 'em, One vial prussic acid, one decaying ‘ottom’ Or atom—whatever—but when it emits, A trigger device blasts the vial into bits Which snuffs our poor kitty. The odds of this crime Are 50 to 50 per hour each time. The cylinder's sealed. The hour's passed away. Is Our pussy still purring—or pushing up daisies? Now, you'd say the cat either lives or it don't But quantum mechanics is stubborn and won't. Statistically speaking, the cat (goes the joke), Is half a cat breathing and half a cat croaked. To some this may seem a ridiculous split, But quantum mechanics must answer, ‘Tough @#&! We may not know much, but one thing's fo' sho': There's things in the cosmos that we cannot know. Shine light on electrons—you'll cause them to swerve. The act of observing disturbs the observed— Which ruins your test. But then if there's no testing To see if a particle's moving or resting Why try to conjecture? Pure useless endeavor! We know probability—certainty, never. The effect of this notion? I very much fear 'Twill make doubtful all things that were formerly clear. Now soon the cat doctors will say in reports, ’We've just flipped a coin and we've learned he's a corpse.'” So saith Herr Erwin. Quoth Albert, "You're nuts. God doesn't play dice with the universe, putz. I'll prove it!" he said, and the Lord knows he tried— In vain—until fin'ly he more or less died. Win spoke at the funeral: "Listen, dear friends, Sweet Al was my buddy. I must make amends. Though he doubted my theory, I'll say of this saint: Ten-to-one he's in heaven—but five bucks says he ain't."
—CECIL ADAMS (Somewhere in the afterlife, Bohr the gamester is smiling. ☺) 24 noughts – zeroes: 280 is a number with 24 zeroes!
123 Hiroshima – This Japanese city, on Japan’s Inland Sea, was destroyed by the first atomic bomb; many of those citizens of the city and surrounding area who were not killed developed radiation sickness and died a lingering death months later. Niels Bohr A life-long resident of Copenhagen, from his birth in 1885 till he death in 1962, Bohr received his doctorate in physics from the University of Copenhagen in 1911, just 15 years after his post-graduate mentor, J.J. Thomson, had discovered the electron. (A year later he married Margrethe Norlund, a fellow Dane; in time they became the proud parents of 6 sons.) Working from Ernest Rutherford’s premise that an atom was actually comprised of a small dense nucleus in a cloud of electrons, Bohr combined that idea with Max Planck’s 1901 theory that electrons are held at certain distances from the nucleus according to the levels of energy contained in the atom, arriving at a newly Young Niels Bohr defined, dynamic description of electron “behavior”: if the atom radiates or loses energy, its electrons “fall” Max Planck closer to the nucleus; if the atom absorbs or gains energy, electrons “jump” further away from the nucleus. This greatly spurred atomic experimentation since it reconciled theories about an atom’s nature with the evidence physicists had uncovered in the lab. It also earned Bohr the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1922, when he was only 37. Other theories Bohr proposed included the idea that an atom’s nucleus behaves like a drop of liquid (as regards cohesion, for example), and “complementarity,” the concept that objects may have dual natures (an electron behaves like a particle at times, but may also act in accordance to wave theory) but only exhibit one aspect of that nature at a time. The latter idea he developed together with his protégé Werner Heisenberg. A good deal of Bohr’s work was done while he was a physics professor, first at the University of Copenhagen, and later, at the Institute for Theoretical Physics (where he first worked with Heisenberg), founded in 1920. As is evident in Frayn’s play, Bohr was not “all work and no play” by any means: “Many of Bohr's collaborators in those [pre-WWII] years have written lovingly about the extraordinary spirit of the institute, where young scientists from many countries worked together and played together in a lighthearted mood that concealed both their absolutely serious concern with physics and the darkening world outside. ‘Even Bohr,’ wrote H.B.G. Casimir, one of the liveliest of the group, ‘who concentrated more intensely and had more staying power than any of us, looked for relaxation in crossword puzzles, in sports, and in facetious discussions’ (Martin J. Klein, Britannica.com).” When Hitler assumed power in Germany Bohr recognized the threat Der Fuhrer posed to Jewish scientists and invited many to join him in
124 Copenhagen, even going so far as to donating his gold Nobel medal to Finland’s anti-Nazi efforts. In 1939 Bohr carried news to US scientists from Austrian physicist Lise Meitner that German scientists were actively trying to split the atom, and thus create an atom bomb, which news led to the development of the Manhattan Project, the US’ own atomic bomb program. Soon thereafter Nazi forces overran Denmark as part of their blitzkrieg throughout Europe. Still, Niels and Margrethe Bohr hosted Heisenberg one evening in 1941 while he attended a scientific conference the Nazis had organized in Copenhagen (see The Famous Meeting, below). The Bohrs were ostensibly under house arrest at that point, but still had their champions, for, as Martin Klein relates, “in 1943, under threat of immediate arrest because of his Jewish ancestry and the anti-Nazi views he made no effort to conceal, Bohr, together with his wife and some other family members, was transported to Sweden by fishing boat in the dead of night by the Danish resistance movement. A few days later the British government sent an unarmed Mosquito bomber to Sweden, and Bohr was flown to England in a dramatic flight that almost cost him his life. During the next two years, Bohr and his son Aage (who later followed his father's career as a theoretical physicist, director of the institute, and Nobel Prize winner in physics), took part in the projects for making a nuclear fission bomb [though Niels had strong reservations about the consequences of using such a weapon]. They worked in England for several months and then moved to Los Alamos, N.M., U.S., with a British research team.” Following the war the Bohrs returned to their beloved Copenhagen, where Niels continued his research (grateful Danes renamed Institute for Theoretical Physics in his honor), and, in 1955, organized the Atoms for Peace conference in Geneva, Switzerland. Bohr was also instrumental in founding CERN, Europe’s renown particle accelerator and research station. A man of good humor, great personal warmth and well-known hospitality, Bohr had two bits of advice for young scientists: “Never express yourself more clearly than you can think” and “An expert is someone who has made all the mistakes which can be made, in a very narrow field.” Lise Meitner
Martin J. Klein, the Eugene Higgins Professor of Physics and the History of Science at Yale University, contributed this wonderful article on Niels Bohr to Britannica.com.
Werner Heisenberg Heisenberg was born in Wurzburg, German, in December 1901. He became friends with Wolfgang Pauli early on in his life, the two not only studying physics together at the University of Munich (under Arnold Sommerfeld) but collaborating in further studies afterward. After earning his doctorate in 1923 in Munich he joined Pauli at the University of Gottingen where they studied under Max Born, but the next year Heisenberg moved on to study under Niels Bohr at the Institute for Theoretical Physics in Copenhagen, intrigued as he was by Bohr’s model of the atom (see above) and realizing that, in the decade since Bohr formalized it, further atomic experimentation implied a new model was due. “In June 1925,” according to Patrick
125 Aidan Heelan, “while recuperating from an attack of hay fever on . . . an island in the North Sea, Heisenberg solved a major physical problem” about energy states within an atom that led to “the development of the quantum mechanics of atomic systems” and, later, matrix mechanics. This was just the beginning of a brilliant career, for which Heisenberg is probably best known for his indeterminacy or uncertainty principle (quoted above). Later, he and Bohr described their concept of “complementarity,” which concept, Heelan says, “emphasized the active role of the scientist, who, in making measurements, interacted with the object and thus caused it to be revealed . . . as a function of [his/her] measurement.” Heisenberg held that “active observation was not an absolute datum, but a theory-laden datum—i.e., relativized by theory and contextualized by observational situations” (Heelan). From 1927 to 1941 Heisenberg taught at the University of Leipzig, after which he served as director of Germany’s Institute for Physics in Berlin. (During this time he married Elisabeth Schumacher; in time they had seven children.) There, with Otto Hahn, who had been instrumental in discovering nuclear fission, Heisenberg tried to build a practical nuclear reactor without success. Some say that he focused on a reactor to further persuade the German military that an atom bomb was not feasible because he did not sympathize with the Nazi program; others say that he failed to create either because he was a theoretician and mathematician, not an engineer. He and his fellow physicists were captured by invading British forces at the end of World War II and were interned at Farm Hall, where they learned with the rest of the world that an atomic bomb was feasible when US forces dropped them on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Released by the British he returned to Otto Hahn Germany where he became director of the Max Planck Institute for Physics and Astrophysics in Gottingen (later in Munich) and served as Germany’s representative when CERN was organized. He long believed that his love of music was analogous to his devotion to physics. “Widely acknowledged as one of the seminal thinkers of the 20th century, Heisenberg was honored with the Max Planck Medal, the Matteucci Medal and the Barnard College Medal of Columbia University,” says Heelan, in addition to his 1932 Nobel Prize in Physics for his advances in the field of quantum mechanics. 1927, Werner Heisenberg states his celebrated Uncertainty Principle: The more accurately a particle’s position is known, the less accurately is its velocity known, and vice versa.
126 The Famous Meeting Excerpted from American physicist Jeremy Bernstein’s Commentary magazine article, 1 May 1999 It seems that in September 1941 Heisenberg had come to Copenhagen, where he met Niels Bohr. Denmark was then an occupied country.∗ The ostensible reason for Heisenberg's visit was to take part in a conference of astronomers organized by the so-called German Cultural Institute, an outfit set up to distribute Nazi propaganda. Bohr boycotted the conference and there was some question as to whether he would see Heisenberg at all, even though in the late 1920s and early 1930s the two of them had hammered out together what is known as the "Copenhagen interpretation" of quantum mechanics, still in use today. It seems Bohr wanted at least to invite Heisenberg for dinner, but his wife Margrethe, who never much liked Heisenberg, objected; she felt that his whole visit was "hostile." . . . After dinner, he and Heisenberg had a private talk, the contents of which have become one of the most controverted aspects of Heisenberg's entire wartime record. Of this discussion, Bohr's son Aage . . . has written: “In a private conversation with my father, Heisenberg brought up the question of the military applications of atomic energy. My father was very reticent and expressed his skepticism because of the great technical difficulties that had to be overcome, but he had the impression that Heisenberg thought that the new possibilities (perhaps an implicit reference to plutonium) could decide the outcome of the war if the war dragged on.” Then what happened? According to my informant Hans Bethe, Heisenberg gave Bohr a drawing of something purporting to be the design of a German nuclear weapon. Later this drawing was "transmitted to us in Los Alamos." . . . He told me that he and Edward Teller, asked to analyze the drawing, saw at once that it was a nuclear reactor: "But our conclusion was, when seeing it, these Germans are totally crazy. Do they want to throw a reactor down on London?" . . . I made contact with the late Robert Serber, one of Oppenheimer's closest collaborators and a man noted for both his Hans Berthe today excellent memory and his extensive store of documents. Serber not only filled me in on what had happened but also sent me some corroborating papers. When Bohr got to England in September 1943, he was briefed by the British on the Allied nuclear-weapons program. Whether he told them what he knew about the German program is uncertain. But upon arriving in the United States in early December, he met with General Leslie R. Groves, who was in charge of the Manhattan Project, and apparently showed him some kind of drawing. Groves was sufficiently alarmed to alert Oppenheimer, and on December 31, just after Bohr arrived at Los Alamos with his son, Oppenheimer called together a select group of staff members to meet them. . . . Serber . . . recalled coming in a little late and being told by Oppenheimer that they were discussing a proposal of Heisenberg's for a nuclear weapon and being shown the drawing, which he recognized as a Robert J. Oppenheimer reactor. ∗
(*) Denmark was not the only occupied country Heisenberg visited in the course of the war. In December 1943, he went to Krakow on the invitation of his brother's old schoolmate Hans Frank, then enthusiastically engaged, as the governor-general of Poland, in supervising the extermination of Polish Jewry; one wonders what they talked about.
127 No one I spoke with could say whether the drawing was supposed to have been made by Heisenberg or was done by Bohr from memory, and the drawing itself seems to have vanished. In any case, Bethe and Teller wrote up a report showing that such a reactor could never explode like a nuclear weapon. No reactor could: this is what Frisch and Peierls had understood in 1940. ... Whether Heisenberg ever really apprehended this distinction is another subject of vehement debate. . . . The Farm Hall transcripts [recounting conversations between Heisenberg and other top German scientists during their captivity as British prisoners of war] record a discussion among the Germans just after they first learned about [the bombing of] Hiroshima, and it is clear to me that they lacked even a rudimentary understanding of how a nuclear weapon works. In a few days, Heisenberg figured it out and gave his fellow detainees a lecture; from their comments, it is obvious they were hearing about all this for the first time. In reading Bethe and Teller's report, I realized that this was not just any reactor they were analyzing but a particular design Heisenberg had clung to even though a number of junior theorists [with whom he worked] had demonstrated its inefficiencies. But how to reconcile all this with Aage Bohr's absolute certainty . . . that no reactor was discussed when his father met Heisenberg in 1941 and that no drawing changed hands? Here I will hazard a guess: the drawing came to Bohr from someone else on some other occasion. Indeed, the notion that Heisenberg gave Bohr the drawing simply does not fit his character. Although never a Nazi, Heisenberg was a patriotic German, and both during and immediately after the war he told several people he had wanted the Germans to win. As he confided to Bethe, he was afraid that if the Allies were victorious they would level Germany and destroy German culture; but if the Germans won, the "good Germans" would take over and restore things to the way they had been before the Nazis. Aage Bohr What I think happened is that someone else from [Heisenbergâ€™s group] must have visited Bohr and given him the information. A likely candidate, it seems to me, is the physicist Hans Jensen, who was in Copenhagen in 1942 and did discuss the German program with Bohr. Since Bohr was then still persuaded that, in any practical sense, nuclear weapons were impossible, he probably filed Jensen's report somewhere in his head until he was briefed in England about the Allied project. Then he recalled what he had been told and, perhaps, drew a picture. I cannot prove this, but there are some things about this history that we may never know for sure. . . . Postscript. When I first saw the Farm Hall transcripts in 1992, I thought they had the makings of an interesting play. This is precisely what the well-known British playwright Michael Frayn has undertaken to do in Copenhagen, which is now enjoying a successful run in London. Frayn is not a physicist, but he has evidently read a great deal, and for the rest he has let his imagination wander. . . . Still, Frayn does seem to me to have captured something of Heisenberg's moral ambiguity. His Heisenberg is neither a Resistance hero nor a simple Nazi collaboratorâ€”in Copenhagen, he does not pass the drawing on to Bohrâ€”but something more interesting and perhaps more troubling. Frayn raises the question of why Heisenberg and, for that matter, Bohr never did the relatively simple calculation performed by Frisch and Peierls: the one that showed a bomb could be built. Certainly both of them were capable of it. The suggestion of Frayn's play is that somewhere deep in their psyches they were held back because they did not want to know the answer.
128 Perhaps so. In any case, this is another thing about the history I have been recounting that will probably never be known for sure. Jeremy Bernstein, who witnessed two nuclear tests in the Nevada desert in 1957, is the author of Hitler's Uranium Club, among other books. His "Science, Fraud, and the Baltimore Case," appeared in the December 1998 Commentary.
Frayn says An excerpt from “Creating Copenhagen,” from the Dramatists Guild website During a discussion between Dramatist Guild member Michael Frayn and director Michael Blakemore moderated by Dorian Devins (producer/host of a science-based radio-interview program), Mr. Frayn made the following observations about what he was trying to achieve in Copenhagen as well as his perspective on the two physicists: . . . The play has been glossed by critics, often kindly and favorably, as some moral debate about the rights and wrongs of nuclear weapons, the rights and wrongs of using science for practical ends and for destructive ends. That’s not quite what I intended with the play. [Some people, including] David Cassidy, Heisenberg’s wonderful biographer, [have said] I should have set Heisenberg’s behavior in Copenhagen more firmly in the context of the rest of his behavior during the war, of his visits to other countries and so on. Well, first, there’s a limit to how much you can get into a play. A play has to focus on some particular piece of action. I tried to suggest all that action in that one visit to Copenhagen. The play does indeed deal with the very bad impression that Heisenberg made in Copenhagen, by talking about the war situation, about how he thought Germany was going to win the war, about how he felt they had a moral right to invade Eastern Europe. The way I came to this play was not first through science. I’ve no background in science at all. My background is in philosophy, but of course if you study philosophy, you have to be interested in quantum mechanics, because quantum mechanics has so many philosophical implications, very difficult implications, for philosophy. So, I’ve always had some lay interest in the physics that Heisenberg and Bohr were doing in Copenhagen in the 1920s, [and when I came] across the story of Heisenberg’s visit to Copenhagen [during the war] . . . it seemed to focus something I’d been worrying about for years in philosophy, which is the difficulty of ever knowing what is going on inside other people’s heads. . . . It seemed to me that there was some parallel between the difficulties that Heisenberg and Bohr Tisvalde, the Bohrs’ summer home, and discovered in making any Helsingor (Elsinore) definite statements about the behavior of the physical world and the difficulty in saying anything about human motivation, about why we do what we do. . . . There is some theoretical barrier in knowing why people do what they do and in knowing why one does what one does oneself. This difficulty is what I hope the play is finally aiming at.
129 Of course, it deals with the moral issues, but in a sense, the philosophical ones, the epistemological ones, are logically prior to the ethical ones, because to come to any judgment of people’s behavior, you have to make some estimate of their motives. At the end of the play, Heisenberg and Bohr suggest, ironically and sardonically, that perhaps you should judge human behavior in the way that quantum physics established you should talk about particles, by concerning yourself only with behavior that was actually observable and not with what was not observable. Heisenberg . . . makes the point that, although . . . Bohr was a good man in every way and there’d be many question marks over Heisenberg if you just looked at external behavior, [in fact] Bohr was involved in the deaths of many people [through his work on America’s atom bomb] and Heisenberg—so far as I know—was never in involved in anyone’s death at all. Now, feelings about Heisenberg are so strong on either side—and almost entirely against him—that it’s very difficult to see the position in which he found himself. I am very cautious, both on general philosophical grounds and on the grounds of my experience, in coming to any judgment of Heisenberg. I respect people who do, but I think people who’ve not lived in a totalitarian society should be a little cautious in judging people who had to and have to deal with the intolerable problems it creates for them. I have no experience of Germany under the Nazis . . . but I’ve quite wide experience of the Soviet Union. I used to go there a lot. I used to speak reasonable Russian. I knew many people who were in severe difficulties and had severe problems about what they should do in coping with the situation in the Soviet Union. Some people behaved heroically. They risked imprisonment. They risked the loss of everything they valued in life, and they often suffered the punishment. I admire and feel very humbled by that heroism, but I don’t think you can demand heroism of people. You can hope that they will behave reasonably, but if you could demand heroism of people, it would devalue heroism. . . . When it occurs, we have to step back and bow before it. When people behave elusively and ambiguously and fail to display heroism if they’re facing an intolerable situation, I think one should be a little cautious in one’s judgment. I was struck by the confidence with which people judge Heisenberg and with which how many people have dismissed him, serious scholars who know far more about him and his behavior than I do. . . . Poor Heisenberg suffered agonies from actually teaching [Einstein’s theory of ] relativity in Nazi Germany when it was officially forbidden [due to Einstein being Jewish]. . . . He made some compromise on it and probably agreed not to mention Einstein’s name, but he went on teaching relativity. So . . . my play is an attempt to come finally at the epistemological difficulties rather than the moral ones [because, I feel,] the epistemological ones underlie the moral ones. You can’t get at the moral ones, you can’t make judgments about the behavior of people, until you can be reasonably confident about why they did what they did. Frayn says, II Excerpted from the author’s “Postscript,” Copenhagen The actual words spoken by my characters are of course entirely their own. If this needs any justification then I can only appeal to Heisenberg himself. In his memoirs dialogue plays an important part, he says, because he hopes “to demonstrate that science is rooted in conversations.” But, as he explains, conversations, even real conversations, cannot be reconstructed literally several decades later. So he freely reinvents them, and appeals in his turn to [the ancient Greek historian] Thucydides. . . . [who] explains in his preface to the History of
130 the Peloponnesian War that, although he had avoided “storytelling,” when it came to the speeches, “I have found it impossible to remember their exact wording. Hence I have made each orator speak as, in my opinion, he would have done in the circumstances, but keeping as close as I could to the train of thought that guided his actual speech.” . . . But how far is it possible to know what their train of thought was? This is where I have departed from the established historical record—from any possible historical record. The great challenge facing the storyteller and the historian alike is to get inside people's heads, to stand where they stood and see the world as they saw it, to make some informed estimate of their motives and intentions—and this is precisely where recorded and recordable history cannot reach. Even when all the external evidence has been mastered, the only way into the protagonists' heads is through the imagination. This indeed is the substance of the play. . . . It's impossible to catch the exact tone of voice of people one never knew, with only the written record to go on, especially when most of what their contemporaries recall them as saying was originally said in other languages. There are also more particular problems with all three of my protagonists. Bohr, for a start, was as notorious for his inarticulacy and inaudibility as he was famous for his goodness and lovability. He was fluent in various languages, but I have heard it said that the problem was to know which language he was being fluent in. [Austrian physicist and 1933 Nobel Prize–winner Erwin] Schrödinger . . . described Bohr as often talking “for minutes almost in a dream-like, visionary and really quite unclear manner, partly because he is so full of consideration and constantly hesitates—fearing that the other might take a statement of his (Bohr’s) point of view as an insufficient appreciation of the other's . . .” My Bohr is necessarily a little more coherent than this—and I have been told by various correspondents who knew him that in private, if not in public, he could be much more cogent and incisive than Schrödinger evidently found him. Erwin Schrödinger The problem with Margrethe is that there is relatively little biographical material to go on. She and Niels were plainly mutually devoted, and everything suggests that she was as generally loved as he was. She had no scientific training, but Bohr constantly discussed his work with her, presumably avoiding technical language—though she must have become fairly familiar with even that since she typed out each draft of his papers. I suspect she was more gracious and reserved than she appears here, but George Gamow she plainly had great firmness of character—in later life she was known as Dronning (Queen) Margrethe. She was always cooler about Heisenberg than Bohr was, and she was openly angry about his visit in 1941. According to Bohr she objected strongly to his being invited to the house, and relented only when Bohr promised to avoid politics and restrict the conversation to physics. Bohr himself always refused to be drawn out about Heisenberg's trip in 1941, but she insisted, even after the war, even after all Heisenberg's attempts to explain, “No matter what anyone says, that was a hostile visit.” The problem with Heisenberg is his elusiveness and ambiguity, which is of course what the play is attempting to elucidate. The one thing about him that everyone agreed upon was what Max Born, his mentor in Gottingen, called “his unbelievable quickness and precision of understanding.” The contrast with Bohr is almost
131 comic. “Probably [Bohr's] most characteristic property,” according to [American physicist] George Gamow, “was the slowness of his thinking and comprehension.” As a young man Heisenberg seems to have had an appealing eagerness and directness. Max Born described him as looking like a simple farm boy, with clear bright eyes, and a radiant expression on his face. Somebody else thought he looked “like a bright carpenter's apprentice just returned from technical school.” [American physicist] Victor Weisskopf says that he made friends easily, and that everyone liked him. Bohr, after their first meeting in 1922, was delighted by Heisenberg's “nice shy nature, his good temper, his eagerness and his enthusiasm.” There was something about him of the prize-winning student, who is good at everything required of him, and Bohr was not the only father-figure to whom he appealed. He had a somewhat similar relationship to Arnold Sommerfeld, his first professor in Munich, and in his difficulties with the Nazis he turned to two elders of German physics for counsel, Max Planck and Max von Laue. His closest friend and colleague was probably Carl Friedrich von Weizsacker, who was younger than him, but it is striking that during his internment [under the British, at Farm Hall] the person he chose to confide his explanation of the Hiroshima bomb to was not Weizsacker, Arnold Sommerfeld who was interned with him (although he may well have discussed it with him already), but the 66-year-old Otto Hahn. The American physicist Jeremy Bernstein says that “he had the first truly quantummechanical mind—the ability to take the leap beyond the classical visualizing pictures into the abstract, all-but-impossible-to-visualize world of the subatomic . . .” [His biographer David] Cassidy believes that a great part of his genius was his “ability to adopt a serviceable solution regardless of accepted wisdom.” Rudolf Peierls, [the German-born British physicist integral in determining how much uranium-235 would fuel an atom bomb], stresses his intuition. He would “almost always intuitively know the answer to a problem, then look for a mathematical solution to give it to him.” The obverse of this, according to Peierls, is that “he was always very casual about numbers”—a weakness that seems to have contributed to his downfall—or his salvation— in the atomic bomb program. Margrethe always found him difficult, closed, and oversensitive, and this propensity to be withdrawn and in-turned was exacerbated as life went on—first by his political problems in the Thirties, and then by his efforts to reconcile the moral irreconcilables of his wartime work. His autobiographical writing is rather stiff and formal, and his letters to Bohr, even during the Twenties and Thirties, are correct rather than intimate. . . . I can't claim to be the first person to notice the parallels between Heisenberg's science and his life. They provide Cassidy with the title (Uncertainty) for his excellent biography (the standard work in English). “Especially Rudolf Peierls (front left) and fellow difficult and controversial,” says Cassidy in his introduction, students of Heisenberg (front right) “is a retrospective evaluation of Heisenberg's activities during the Third Reich and particularly during World War II. Since the end of the war, an enormous range of views about this man and his behavior have been expressed, views that have been fervently, even passionately, held by a variety of individuals. It is as if, for some, the Max Born
132 intense emotions unleashed by the unspeakable horrors of that war and regime have combined with the many ambiguities, dualities, and compromises of Heisenberg's life and actions to make Heisenberg himself subject to a type of uncertainty principle . . .” Thomas Powers makes a similar point in his extraordinary and encyclopedic book Heisenberg's War, which first aroused my interest in the trip to Copenhagen; he says that Heisenberg's later reticence on his role in the failure of the German bomb program “introduces an element of irreducible uncertainty.” . . . The concept of uncertainty is one of those scientific notions that has become common coinage, and generalized to the point of losing much of its original meaning. The idea as introduced by Heisenberg into quantum mechanics was precise and technical. It didn't suggest that everything about the behavior of particles was unknowable, or hazy. What it limited was the simultaneous measurement of “canonically conjugate variables,” such as position and momentum, or energy and time. The more precisely you measure one variable, it said, the less precise your measurement of the related variable can be; and this ratio, the uncertainty relationship, is itself precisely formulable. None of this, plainly, applies directly to our observations of thought and intention. Thoughts are not locatable by pairs of conjugate variables, so there can be no question of a ratio of precision. Powers seems to imply that in Heisenberg's case the uncertainty arises purely because “questions of motive and intention cannot be established more clearly than he was willing to state them.” It's true that Heisenberg was under contradictory pressures after the war which made it particularly difficult for him to explain what he had been trying to do. He wanted to distance himself from the Nazis, but he didn't want to suggest that he had been a traitor. He was reluctant to claim to his fellow Germans that he had deliberately lost them the war, but he was no less reluctant to suggest that he had failed them simply out of incompetence. . . . What people say about their own motives and intentions, even when they are not caught in the traps that entangled Heisenberg, is always subject to question—as subject to question as what anybody else says about them. Thoughts and intentions—even one's own—perhaps one's own most of all—remain shifting and elusive. There is not one single thought or intention of any sort that can ever be precisely established. What the uncertainty of thoughts does have in common with the uncertainty of particles is that the difficulty is not just a practical one, but a systematic limitation which cannot even in theory be circumvented. It is patently not resolved by the efforts of psychologists and psychoanalysts, and it will not be resolved by neurologists, either, even when everything is known about the structure and workings of the brain, any more than semantic questions can be resolved by looking at the machine code of a computer. And since, according to the so-called “Copenhagen Interpretation” of quantum mechanics—the interconnected set of theories that was developed by Heisenberg, Bohr, and others in the Twenties—the whole possibility of saying or thinking anything about the world, even the most apparently objective, abstract aspects of it, . . . depends upon human observation, and is subject to the limitations which the human mind imposes, this uncertainty in our thinking is also fundamental to the nature of the world. . . . Bohr reveals his perspective on the Copenhagen meeting Niels Bohr Archive; New York Review of Books Bohr’s family recently decided to publish an unsent letter the physicist wrote to his former student Heisenberg about their now-famous wartime meeting, in part due to interest sparked by Mr. Frayn’s play. Following, then, are Mr. Bohr’s letter and Mr. Frayn’s recent essay about the letter.
133 Dear Heisenberg, I have seen a book, StĂŚrkere end tusind sole [Brighter than a Thousand Suns] by Robert Jungk, recently published in Danish, and I think that I owe it to you to tell you that I am greatly amazed to see how much your memory has deceived you in your letter to the author of the book, excerpts of which are printed in the Danish edition. Personally, I remember every word of our conversations, which took place on a background of extreme sorrow and tension for us here in Denmark. In particular, it made a strong impression both on Margrethe and me, and on everyone at the Institute that the two of you spoke to, that you and [Carl von] Weizsacker expressed your definite conviction that Germany would win and that it was therefore quite foolish for us to maintain the hope of a different outcome of the war and to be reticent as regards all German offers of cooperation. I also remember quite clearly our conversation in my room at the Institute, where in vague terms you spoke in a manner that could only give me the firm impression that, under your leadership, everything was being done in Germany to develop atomic weapons and that you said that there was no need to talk about details since you were completely p. 2 familiar with them and had spent the past two years working more or less exclusively on such preparations. I listened to this without speaking since [a] great matter for mankind was at issue in which, despite our personal friendship, we had to be regarded as representatives of two sides engaged in mortal combat. That my silence and gravity, as you write in the letter, could be taken as an expression of shock at your reports that it was possible to make an atomic bomb is a quite peculiar misunderstanding, which must be due to the great tension in your own mind. From the day three years earlier when I realized that slow neutrons could only cause fission in Uranium 235 and not 238, it was of course obvious to me that a bomb with certain effect could be produced by separating the uraniums. In June 1939 I had even given a public lecture in Birmingham about uranium fission, where I talked about the effects of such a bomb but of course added that the technical preparations would be so large that one did not know how soon they could be overcome. If anything in my behavior could be interpreted as shock, it did not derive from such reports but rather from the news, as I had to understand it, that Germany was participating vigorously in a race to be the first with atomic weapons. Besides, at the time I knew nothing about how far [scientists] had already come in England and America, which I learned only the following year when I was able to go to England after being informed that the German occupation force in Denmark had made preparations for my arrest. All this is of course just a rendition of what I remember clearly from our conversations, which subsequently were naturally the subject of thorough discussions at the Institute and with other trusted friends in Denmark. It is quite another matter that, at that time and ever since, I have always had the definite impression that you and Weizsacker had arranged the symposium at the German Institute, in which I did not take part myself as a matter of principle, and the visit to us in p. 3 order to assure yourselves that we suffered no harm and to try in every way to help us in our dangerous situation.
P. 1 facsimile
134 This letter is essentially just between the two of us, but because of the stir the book has already caused in Danish newspapers, I have thought it appropriate to relate the contents of the letter in confidence to the head of the Danish Foreign Office and to Ambassador Duckwitz. Copenhagen Revisited Michael Frayn, The New York Review of Books 28 March 2002 I urge those interested in the craft of playwrighting to seek out Mr. Frayn’s complete essay (it is available at the Review of Books online site as well as at libraries that carry The New York Review of Books) because he discusses responses to the play as well as his reaction to those responses, as well as the difficulties of writing a fictional account of an actual event taking place between well-known people. For purposes of brevity I have edited the essay to reflect Mr. Frayn’s response to a piece of evidence directly related to the meeting he has imagined in Copenhagen. Now that Niels Bohr's famous unsent letter to Werner Heisenberg has finally been published— and for the most part only confirmed commentators in the differing views they already held—I have been looking back over the entire debate that my play Copenhagen seems to have provoked since it was first produced in New York in the spring of 2000, trying to work out what I still wanted to defend in my version and whether there was anything I needed to modify. . . . The most surprising result of the debate set off by the production of the play, though, has been the release of the Bohr documents. I was told privately about the existence of one of the documents at a symposium on the play organized in Copenhagen by the Niels Bohr Archive in the autumn of 1999. Heisenberg had made public his own version of the 1941 meeting with Bohr, chiefly in two places: a memorandum written in 1957 to Robert Jungk, who was preparing the material for Brighter than a Thousand Suns, and his memoirs, published in 1969. Bohr, however, had never publicly given his side of the story, and historians had been obliged to rely upon what other people (chiefly his son Aage . . . and his colleague Stefan Rozental) recalled him as saying about it. In 1957, however, Bohr had apparently been so angered by Site of Farm Hall, where Heisenberg and other German Heisenberg's version, when he read it in scientists were held after WWII Jungk's book, that he had written to Heisenberg dissenting, and giving his own account. He had never sent the letter though, and at his death in 1962 it had been placed in the archive by his family, not to be released for another fifty years. This was all my informant was prepared to tell me. . . . The existence of the letter was first publicly mentioned, so far as I know, by Professor Holton, at a further symposium on the play organized in New York in March 2000 on the occasion of
135 its production there. He said that he had actually seen the letterâ€”he had been shown it by the Bohr family. He felt bound not to divulge its contents, but I recall him as promising that when it was finally made public, in 2012, it would entirely change our view of the meeting. Now the cat was out of the bag, and at yet another symposium on the play, at the Niels Bohr Archive in September 2001, it was announced that the Bohr family had decided to release the letter early. It also turned out that there was not just the one letter but various alternative drafts and notes relating to it. When they were finally published on the Web on February 6, the whole question of the visit was accorded even wider attention in the press than ever before. . . . The most surprising thing to me in Bohr's first attempt at the letter is its remarkably sharp toneâ€”particularly coming from a man so celebrated for his conciliatoriness [see above]. It is a revelation to have all this in Bohr's own voice, and I wish it had been available when I wrote the play. I recognize that the real Bohr remained much angrier for much longer than my character, that he claimed to have paid much closer attention to what Heisenberg said, and that he claimed to recall it much more clearly. Does it really modify our view of what Heisenberg said, though, and of what his intentions were? Slightly, I think, but not fundamentally. There has never been any disagreement, for a start, that Heisenberg publicly told various people at the institute that Germany was going to win the war, and that its aims, at any rate in the East, were justified. Then again, Aage and Rozental were both already on record as recalling Bohr's saying that Heisenberg had talked about the military applications of atomic energy. . . .. The letter, however, is the first direct confirmation that Bohr believed he was being urged to accept German "offers of cooperation." . . . It's not clear from the letter what Bohr thought this "cooperation" would entail, and the recollection may not be entirely at odds with what Weizsacker recalls Heisenberg as telling Bohrâ€”that he ought to establish contact with the staff of the German embassy for his own safety. . . . The real kernel of the apparent disagreement about the meeting emerges only in later drafts of the letter, where Bohr says that "there was no hint on your part that efforts were being made by German physicists to prevent such an application of atomic science." This appears to be a rebuttal of some claim made by Heisenberg. The belief that Heisenberg made some such claim seems to be widespread. . . . But nowhere, so far as I know, did Heisenberg ever make the claim that Bohr seems to have attributed to him. There is no mention of it in the memorandum to Jungk. Even in the expanded account of the meeting that Heisenberg gave in his memoirs he remained extremely cautious: I hinted that . . . the physicists ought perhaps to ask themselves whether they should work in this field at all. . . . An enormous technical effort was needed. Now this, to me, was so important precisely because it gave physicists the possibility of deciding whether or not the construction of atom bombs should be attempted. They could either advise their governments that atom bombs would come too late for use in the present war, and that work on them therefore detracted from the war effort, or else contend that, with the utmost exertions, it might just be possible to bring them into the conflict. Both views could be put forward with equal conviction . . . . One might think that this sounds like a quite implausibly judicious rendering of anything he might have said. The fact remains, however, that he is not claiming to have made any efforts
136 to prevent work on weapons. He is not even claiming that up to this point the German team had exercised the option of offering discouraging advice, only that they might at some point if they so chose. In any case, Heisenberg says that Bohr "was so horrified by the very possibility of producing atomic weapons that he did not follow the rest of my remarks." . . . There are discrepancies in every other aspect of the evidence relating to this meeting, and it is scarcely surprising that there are some discrepancies to be found between the two participants' own accounts. In both cases they are attempting to recollect something that happened sixteen years earlier, and their perceptions are inevitably colored by strong feelings and conflicting loyalties. On the whole, I think, what's surprising is how slight the differences of substance are, and how readily most of them can be understood. The only really clear-cut disagreement between the two accounts is about a circumstantial detail—where the meeting took place. (I further discuss this matter in the Web version of this article, at www.nybooks.com.) I can't help being moved, though, by the picture that the new documents give of Bohr drafting and redrafting the text of the letter over the last five years of his life—and still never sending it. He was famous for his endless redrafting of everything he wrote, and here he was trying not only to satisfy his characteristic concern for the precise nuance, but also to reconcile that with his equally characteristic consideration for Heisenberg's feelings. There is a sad parallel with the account which Professor Hans-Peter Dürr gave at the Heisenberg centenary symposium in Bamberg last year, of Heisenberg's rather similar efforts to understand what had happened. Professor Dürr, who worked for many years with Heisenberg in Göttingen after the war, said that Heisenberg had continued to love Bohr to the end of his life, and recalled Heisenberg's going over the fatal meeting again and again, trying to work out what had happened. Professor Dürr offered what seems to me the most plausible common-sense estimate of Heisenberg's intentions that has yet been advanced. He thought that Heisenberg had simply wanted to have a talk. Heisenberg and Bohr had been so close that they could finish each other's sentences, and he assumed that he would have only to hint at what was on his mind for Bohr to understand the significance of it. What he had entirely failed to understand was that the situation had changed, and that Bohr's anger about the German occupation would make the old easy communication entirely impossible. Whatever was said at the meeting, and whatever Heisenberg's intentions were, there is something profoundly characteristic of the difficulties in human relationships, and profoundly painful, in that picture of the two aging men, one in Copenhagen and one in Göttingen, puzzling for all those long years over the few brief moments that had clouded if not ended their friendship. It's what their shades do in my play, of course. At least in the play they get together to work it out. Discussion Questions/Activities From: StageNOTES: A Field Guide for Teachers: Copenhagen 1. What stands in the way of accuracy when we describe an emotionally heightened and poignant situation in our lives? Have you been disappointed in a grade you worked hard to get, or in the results of a team effort (sports or other)? Have you been betrayed by a friend? Think back to the circumstances. Can you recall what actions you took or what your mindset or mood was that may have contributed to the result? Even simple memories can be elusive. Describe what your best friend is wearing today (if s/he is in the same room with you, no peeking!), or what you had for dinner last night. Or exactly what you discussed with your friends at lunch. Compare your memories to theirs.
2. Bohr and Heisenberg were teacher and student, friends, colleagues prior to the rise of the Nazis. Try to imagine what it would be like to visit your former mentor as a representative of the country oppressing his country, or to entertain a former student whose relationship to your oppressors is unclear. Margrethe was never as fond of Heisenberg as Niels was: imagine her state of mind. Draft a letter from Heisenberg to Bohr requesting a meeting with him, Bohr’s reply to him, diary entries for any or all of them. Have you ever been challenged to remain loyal to a friend or relative whose opinions and belief vary significantly from yours? What did you do? Was it easy or difficult? 3. A number of participants in the Manhattan Project (physicists and others working on an atomic bomb for the US) were Jews originally from Nazi-occupied countries, who were well aware of what Hitler was doing to their fellow Jews who did not escape. Do you think that had an impact on their enthusiasm for the Project? While none of them knew exactly what such a weapon would do, testing done in the American desert gave them some clear indications; in fact, Einstein thought the bomb should not be used and wrote a letter to FDR asking him to reconsider. Still, military experts state that Pacific theatre casualties would have been unbearable for the Allies if a conventional war had continued there. Weigh these options, researching the effects of nuclear fallout and casualty rates for Pacific troops. Would you support the bomb? What do you think should scientists do when their research leads them into ethical and/or moral gray areas? Sources Consulted Copenhagen Revisited. No editor. © 2002. New York Review of Books, Inc. 17 April 2002. www.nybooks.com/articles/15225 Denmark. No editor. ©2002. Expedia.com. 27 June 2002. www.expedia.com Denmark. James F. Marran, ed. ©1996. Compton’s Interactive Encyclopedia. Heisenberg webpage. David Cassidy. January 2002. Hofstra University and the Center for the History of Physics/The American Institute of Physics. 21 May 2002. www.aip.org/history/Heisenberg/p10a.htm. Institute for Theoretical Physics/Niels Bohr Institute. Ulla Holm, ed. 14 November 2001. University of Copenhagen. 30 August 2002. http://ntserv.fys.ku.dk/afg/NyAFG/frame.asp?afd=NBI Letter to Werner Heisenberg. Finn Aaserud. February 2002. The Niels Bohr Institute. 21 May 2002. www.nbi.dk/NBA/webpage.html Nordita. Hanne Bergen, ed. ©2000. Nordita.com. 30 August 2002. http://www.nordita.dk/ Lise Meitner. James McComish, ed. © 1998. Telestra BigPond.com. 6 September 2002. http://www.users.bigpond.com/Sinclair/fission/LiseMeitner.html
138 Physics terms. Eric W. Weisstein, ed. ©2002. Scienceworld.Wolfram.com. 29 August 2002. http://scienceworld.wolfram.com/physics/ Picture Gallery of Famous Physicists, Astronomers and Mathematicians. Aleksandar Bogojevic, ed. © 2002. Institute of Physics, Belgrade. 22 May 2002. www.phy.bg.ac.yu/web_projects/giants/pictures.html Schrödinger’s cat. Cecil Adams, ed. © 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999 Chicago Reader, Inc. 30 August 2002. http://www.straightdope.com/classics/a1_122.html SS definition. Phil Stokes, ed. ©1995-2001. Demon.com. 30 August 2002. http://www.stokesey.demon.co.uk/wwii/glosss.html World War II definitions. © 2002. Yahoo.com. 30 August 2002. http://dir.yahoo.com/Arts/Humanities/History/By_Time_Period/20th_Century/Military_History/ World_War_II/
Elizabeth Franz Elizabeth Franz won the 1999 Tony Award for best supporting actress for her portrayal of Linda Loman in Death of a Salesman as well as Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Award nominations. Her most recent New York appearance was in Morning’s at Seven at Lincoln Center; prior to that she appeared as Kate in the Public Theatre production of Martin McDonagh's The Cripple of Inishmaan. She originated the role of Kate Jerome in Brighton Beach Memoirs (which also earned her Tony and Drama Desk nominations) and starred in the same role in Broadway Bound. Other Broadway credits include Uncle Vanya, Getting Married, The Cemetery Club, The Octette Bridge Club and The Cherry Orchard. Off-Broadway she created the title role in Sister Mary Ignatius for which she received an Obie Award and Drama Desk nomination. Ms. Franz has appeared in virtually every regional theatre in America and
139 played the role of Mary Tyrone in the Syracuse Stage production of Long Day's Journey Into Night opposite Sam Waterston. Her numerous television credits include Roseanne, Sisters, A Town’s Revenge (Emmy nomination), Notes For My Daughter, Nothing Personal, Shameful Secrets, Face of a Stranger and the title role in Dottie. Among her film credits are Sabrina, The Substance of Fire, The Pallbearer, Thinner, Jackknife, The Secret of My Success, School Ties, Fish in a Bathtub and Story of a Bad Boy. Tina Howe writes for Elizabeth Franz Tina Howe has been writing for the stage for more than thirty years. Her best known works include The Art of Dining, Painting Churches, Coastal Disturbances, Approaching Zanzibar, One Shoe Off, and her most recent play, Pride's Crossing. Howe has won an Obie Award for Distinguished Playwriting, an Outer Critics Circle Award, an American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Literature, a Rockefeller grant, two NEA fellowships and a Guggenheim fellowship. Tina Howe, 2000 In 1987 her play Coastal Disturbances received a Tony nomination for Best Play. Pride's Crossing was selected as a finalist for the 1997 Pulitzer Prize and awarded the 1998 New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Play. Pride's Crossing was recently published (1998) by Theatre Communications Group. Her other works include The Nest, Birth and After Birth, Museum, Women in Flames and most recently, Rembrandt’s Gift. Her works have premiered at the Los Angeles Actors Theatre, the New York Shakespeare Festival, the Kennedy Center, The Old Globe Theatre, Lincoln Center Theatre and the Second Stage. Tina Howe has been a visiting professor at Hunter College since 1990 and an adjunct professor New York University since 1983. Her works can be read in numerous anthologies as well as in Coastal Disturbances: Four Plays by Tina Howe, Approaching Zanzibar and Other Plays, and Pride's Crossing. She has served on the council of the Dramatists Guild since 1990. Major awards include an Obie for Distinguished Playwriting, a Rockefeller Grant, two NEA Fellowships, a Guggenheim, The New York Drama Critics' Circle award, a Tony nomination and two honorary degrees. Tina Howe on Playwrighting The lure of playwrighting. We get to spread our fantasies all over the stage and then invite an audience in to share them. The power, the ecstasy. Think of it—you're one of two sisters: the ugly one who lives under the porch with the field mice. All your life you've dreamed of being someone: a pilot, a healer, a fabulous beauty. So you create a dazzling alter ego, hire the most radiant actress in the land and put her on stage. She breaks hearts and the sound barrier with a toss of her head. Everyone swoons, but no one more than you because you know your place is under the porch. With the field mice. Or maybe you transform someone else: a friend who's languishing in the hospital or an aging relative. You wrap a turban around their head and drop them in the middle of the desert to found a new religion. It's no wonder we call these labors "plays."
140 I'm always surprised when people ask if my plays are true. The joy of the theatre comes from knowing you're being tricked and surrendering to the deceit. In real life, Nora [in A Doll’s House] wouldn't have the nerve to walk out on Torvald, just as Mary Tyrone wouldn't have the presence of mind to come down the stairs, trailing her wedding dress [in A Long Day’s Journey into Night]. Characters on stage make entrances and exits we'd never attempt. . . . There's something very perverse in me that loves trying to do the impossible and put things on the stage that are very hard to stage and that maybe people haven't seen before. And I have this impulse to see how far the form can take me. Because I think of all the arts, the theatre is the most conservative, because you have that ghastly problem of having to sell all the tickets every night. The tools I handle are words. They may be unappreciated or misunderstood, but they tell us who we are. A Select Annotated Tina Howe Chronology Museum, 1976 – An ensemble piece about a day, the last day, in the life of an art exhibit, complete with guards, foreign visitors, art neophytes struggling with audio tours and art students snapping photos and sketching without permission. Howe aptly demonstrates her ability to manipulate overlapping scenes occupying the stage simultaneously to create overall effects while taking normal museum events and occurrences to theatrically exaggerated culminations. The Art of Dining, 1979 – A young couple are trying to launch a restaurant in their home: she cooks, is a real culinary artiste; he waits the few tables, takes reservations and mindlessly eats whatever he can find, sometimes finishing off items she has not cooked yet! On this particular wintry, windy evening they host a married couple who dine sensuously, three women (one of whom is perpetually dieting) celebrating a birthday over many drinks and dinner, and a neurotic young writer meeting a potential agent. Each group, including the hosts, reach emotionally draining climaxes before all is resolved in part through the presentation of a theatrically satisfying flaming dessert. This is occasionally an ensemble piece but is really more a meshing of the separate stories than Museum. Painting Churches, 1983 – Painter Mags returns to the old Boston homestead to help her mother Fanny and father Gardner sort and pack their belongings as they move from the manse to their smaller summer home. Mags has gotten her parents to promise they will finally sit for their portrait, so her easel and materials are set in the midst of the packing. Fanny and Gardner are elderly; in fact Gardner is definitely suffering from senility—and Fanny is suffering from his mental state too. But Fanny entertains herself as best she can, and relies on the cocktail hour to solve the day’s problems. Although they are ostensibly a family unit there is a great deal of cross talk, particularly when the characters are considering what they remember, what could have been and what might be, and there are few references to traditional family ties. Mags does finish her painting but it is as unconventional as its subjects. One Shoe Off, 1992 – Actor Leonard and costumer Dinah are hosting new neighbors (she’s an actor; he’s an editor who often speaks in nursery rhymes) and an old directing friend on a stormy night in their old house that also fosters vegetable growth—under the stairs, in the bedroom
141 closet and so on. Leonard has been unemployed for far too long, and Dinah no longer knows how to dress for the real world; their director friend is delayed by a highway accident; Dinah forgets to turn on the oven, so the turkey takes a few more hours than they had planned . . . The director makes a pass at the neighbor’s wife before he leaves; the neighbors are barely on speaking terms with one another, and Leonard and Dinah are just as confused after as they were before. Tina Howe flirts with absurdist theatre. Coastal Disturbances, 1987 – Holly Dancer, a photographer, flees to the private Atlantic coast beach her family has visited for generations from a troubling relationship only to meet Leo, the lonely lifeguard, who is himself recovering from a failed romance. Other beachgoers include: a young boy and girl whose mothers let them run riot, and M.J. and Hamilton, a couple celebrating many anniversaries at the end of the play. The kids act out, Holly dodges Leo, and Andre, suave European Andre, neatly pressed in his tailored suit and expensive shoes, leads a confused Holly back to her former life. Nominated for a Tony Award. Pride’s Crossing, 1997 – The poet tells us, “Between extremities man runs his course.” Mabel reflects on her life as she prepares a traditional 4th of July croquet party, despite the fact that she and her friends are quite elderly (in their 90s). The arrival of Mabel’s granddaughter and greatgranddaughter prompt her to review her childhood, especially her admiration for her energetic older brothers. Ultimately Mabel discovers a passion for endurance swimming, to her mother’s disgust, and she does swim the English Channel. Still, she is not spared marriage to an alcoholic with a violent temper, despite the fact she had met and apparently loved a Jewish man who shared her passion for distance swimming. His social standing is the challenge she cannot meet. Rembrandt's Gift – “Walter Paradise and Polly Shaw [are] in their sixties and have been married forever. She's a world-class photographer; he's a former actor turned hoarder. Their Soho loft is disappearing under stacks of old costumes that block the windows and doors, creating a fire hazard. The landlord is on his way to evict them when the great Dutch painter Rembrandt suddenly appears . . . . The three then spend the day together testing the limits of art, love and old age.” And her new project for Elizabeth Franz? To date (September 2002) Ms. Howe has told us that the early work on our project was very difficult since she was trying to “create a whole world out of nothing” while she “examined my own demons and how I disguise and transform them.” The playwright has decided to study her own family relationships for the play, and so is working with “the source of my greatest anxiety and upset: my relationship with my mother” as well as the sibling rivalry between herself and her brother. Her father was a well-known radio journalist, Quincy Howe of CBS, whose voice she heard at home and away; he may cast his influence over her work as well.
For those schools who will attend our final play this season, please feel free to contact Pat Pederson for program updates after March.
2002-2003 Season: Our 30th Anniversary Season