The CUNY Graduate Center’s Segal Theater is hosting “Poetry in Theatre: Early Frank O’Hara + Plays by Contemporary Poets, with Judith Malina,”a wonderful-sounding program devoted to the New York School’s innovative blending of poetry and theater, and its legacy. The program is centered around a reading of Frank O’Hara’s very funny and great early play Try! Try! and will feature a conversation with the co-founder of the Living Theater, Judith Malina.
The now-legendary group of 1950s American poets called the New York School—including John Ashbery, Barbara Guest, Kenneth Koch, and Frank O’Hara—crossed artistic disciplines and collaborated frequently with painters, sculptors, and theatre artists including Julian Beck and Judith Malina of The Living Theatre. Together, these forward-thinking artists created a hive of activity that might be considered a precursor to today’s Off-Off Broadway theatre scene. But what is the state of such cross-disciplinary involvement today? The Segal devotes a day to revisiting these seminal collaborations between poetry and theatre and to highlighting the legacy of the poetry/theatre connection in New York. With an afternoon of readings from contemporary writers who traverse both theatre and poetry, including Ariana Reines, Jim Fletcher, Kenneth Goldsmith, Bob Holman, and Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Yusef Komunyakaa, followed by an evening reading of Frank O’Hara’s early play Try! Try! A Noh Play, presentations of poetry by Lemon Andersen, Sibyl Kempson, and Christopher Knowles, and an unmissable conversation with Judith Malina (Co-Founder, The Living Theatre).
2pm: SOMEWHERE NEAR HERE by Yusef Komunyakaa (Pulitzer Prize-winning poet), directed by Kenneth Sean Collins
3pm: LORNA written and directed by Ariana Reines and Jim Fletcher
4pm: FIDGET by Kenneth Goldsmith, directed by Tom King
5pm: CLEAR THE RANGE by Bob Holman and Bob Rosenthal, directed by Allison Troup-Jensen
6:30pm: Christopher Knowles reads THE SUNDANCE KID IS BEAUTIFUL and other poems
6:45pm: Lemon Andersen
7pm: TRY! TRY! by Frank O’Hara, directed by Elise Thoron and featuring Judith Malina (The Living Theatre), Michael Laurence, and David Margulies
7:30pm: Panel with writers and Judith Malina, moderated by Frank Hentschker
8:30pm: Sibyl Kempson
More information about the event can be found here.
It’s not clear which of the two versions of O’Hara’s Try! Try! they will be staging. I’d love to hear more about the performance. For what it’s worth, there’s an extended discussion of O’Hara’s Try! Try! in my book, Beautiful Enemies (249-254).