AMERICAN DREAMING is our new play, written by Jim Benner, directed by Carl Hoffman, featuring Jim Benner, Denis Coughlan, Muata Greene, Carl Hoffman, Renee Panagos, and Lorraine Stone. American Dreaming is a departure from our recent string of monologue plays- Trumped, Black Lives, Gun Love, in that it is a somewhat (somewhat!) standard dramatic work dealing with the topic of poverty in America. The play will be performed at West End Arts Center, 132 West End Avenue, Long Branch, NJ at 2PM and 8PM, Saturday, May 18th. General Admission seats are $15 at the door. Reservations, which are strongly recommended due to our limited seating, may be made by emailing Uly46@aol.com or by calling 732 822 4338.
The next play from The American Poetry Theater is GUN LOVE. Written by members of TAPT and community members, this is a thought-provoking play that looks at gun violence and violence in general in America. The play features Jim Benner, Denis Coughlan, Muata Greene, Velda Harris, Carl Hoffman, Renee Panagos, and Timo Scott, and is directed by Rich Quatrone. General admission tickets are $18. Since our plays sell out, strongly recommended reservations can be obtained by calling 732.822.4338 or by emailing Uly46@aol.com. Dates of performances are Friday, Oct 5 8PM, Saturday Oct 6 2PM and 8PM, and Sunday Oct 7 3PM. NJ Repertory Company's West End Arts Center is at 132 West End Avenue, Long Branch NJ. A free parking lot is behind the theater.
THE CHALLENGE FOR THE AMERICAN POETRY THEATER
I think back to the 50s when the Beats appeared. When Ginsberg read Howl and shook up America, liberated poets, gave words to national sicknesses and national yearnings. And there was young LeRoi Jones who would become the "Blessed Prince," Amiri Baraka,
to say clearly, without hesitation, no punches pulled, what the experience was of the Africans who had been kidnapped and taken to American to build its wealth without compensation, acknowledgment, or respect.
The Beats knew something important, that Europe's Germany had built gas chambers to kill millions of Jews, that this "great nation" had made lampshades from the skin of its victims, had pulled all the gold from Jewish teeth to melt down and use. And the Beats
knew that America, the child of Europe and of the "Enlightenment," with "great thinkers" like Jefferson and Franklin, had dropped two atomic bombs on two civilian populated Japanese cities without so much as a whimper of conscience.
This is what the Beats knew. And they knew that literature and poetry, both European and American, for all their beauties and truths, did not stop such atrocities. And worse, did not even provide language to speak them adequately.
And so, they set out to speak the truth, in language everyone could understand. The days when the academies had a stranglehold on poetry and literature were through. They had to be through.
Poetry and literature became of the people, for the people, by the people.
In 2014 we find ourselves in a similar place as the Beats. We witness the murder and violence in Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, here in America, and we still have little to no adequate response from the arts communities. American music, with exception of some worthy Rap, is nowhere, filled with masturbation, adolescent fantasy, desire for greed. American poetry is dominated by ubiquitous MFA mentality, with homogenous language and sensibility, which remains genteel and very much at home with gentrification another word for imposing white values on our communities. American theater, too, is dominated by MFA mentality, which allows for only so much difference, so much expansion of the imagination, so much wild sensibility. It is not by accident that Amiri Baraka was not given tenure at Rutgers and was not on the faculty at Mason Gross. To the contrary, when he wrote an honest, brave poem about 9/11, the poem was intentionally misread and its great truly American author vilified.
This is the scene upon which The American Poetry Theater has made its entrance. Our challenge is to break the mold of mediocrity and standard theater-making. Like the Beats before us, we see that standard American and European logic and reason still lead us to destruction, colonialism, hatred for the poor, fear of the different and original, and hiding behind thick walls of money and greed to protect us from the "hoard."
Meanwhile, this way of being is destroying the very home we all rely upon, the earth. TAPT therefore is heading into the unknown. We will move away from the standard logic of American theater into the world of pure Poetry and Imagination. What the shapes of our plays will be is still unknown to us. We will know them as you will know them. Our theater is a true exploration, into ourselves as artists, and into the heart of America. It is an intimidating journey to be sure, one without easy landmarks and guides. But we vow to undertake this journey, for ourselves, and for you as audience and as citizens of America and of the World. As playwrights, actors, directors, and theater makers, we are still learning what the artistic possibilities are. We are, however, not still learning what the problems of American culture and society are. We know them as painfully as you do. We pledge to address them in our theater.
We need your support.
We are looking for investors, people who will invest time, effort, and money to aid us in our mission. If you want to do any of this and be part of TAPE, contact Uly46@aol.com or at 732-822-4338.
– Rich Quatrone
Founder, The American Poetry Theater
July 17, 2014
Back in November we performed BLACK LIVES to sold out audiences (nothing new for TAPT) but what was new was the standing ovations. This was at NJRep's Lumia Theater in Long Branch. We're doing the play again at the Second Baptist Church of Asbury Park on Feb 10th. Tickets can be reserved by going to the church website or by emailing "firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 732-774-5347. Tickets are $15.00. BLACK LIVES is a play of monologues written by members of the community, by TAPT members, and by several others. It tells real life experiences of African Americans. The play is suitable for children and adults.
First, since we don't really consider Puerto Rico a part
of the United States, view it as a foreign nation.
Second, since the inhabitants of this foreign
nation don't really speak English anyway and since
their skin is fairly brown, see it as an enemy nation.
Third, mobilize the army, navy, marines, and air
force for combat.
Fourth, declare war on Puerto Rico.
Five, instead of bullets and bombs, load up our planes
with bundles of food and medicine to be dropped
all over the enemy.
Six, send in thousands of troops who carry food
and medicine, instead of munitions, and have these
Seven, send in tractors and trucks and cranes and
anything else needed to immediately rebuild roads,
bridges, schools, hospitals, and senior citizens centers.
Eight, "kill" this new enemy with love and kindness,
which will be much cheaper than literally killing them
and destroying their homeland.
Nine, residual benefits include American troops coming
home with smiles and healthy hearts and souls.
Ten, makes sure the world media witnesses our attack
on this defenseless island so they see what America
can do when a foreign nation has starving and homeless
That'll teach'm not to mess with Uncle Sam.
Oct 18 2017
I'm a white man doing a play about the lives of black people. What else needs to be said?
So the best way to handle this play is to simply invite black people to speak about their lives.
And this is the way this play is being created. There are no frills. There will be few if any props. We will be performing at a new theater- NJ Rep West End Arts Center in Long Branch. We do not yet know which space we'll be using at this new theater. So there are these challenges. And then there is the challenge of the work itself. Many of the black folks I invited to write for us have not responded. I have thought perhaps it is because I am white. I would understand this. We are creating this play in a most divisive time. Still, we as a theater company plow forward. We are far, far from perfect. But our intentions are close to it.
the new play from
-The American Poetry Theater-
New Jersey Repertory
West End Arts Center
in Long Branch
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Info: 732 822 4338 or Uly46@aol.com
Last night was our first rehearsal, which I always conduct in my apartment here in Spring Lake (aka Sprung Leak). We cram in, all the talent, hopes, fatigue, curiosity, genius of the cast. Working on BLACK LIVES is a very emotional experience for me personally. At times I weep as I work on the script. So many of the monologues, the things said, are so very moving. Bits of the lives of American blacks are laying bare before me as I type, arrange, consider, assign roles, all of this. And last night during rehearsal it happened again. As I read a monologue I just started crying. And it wasn't only me. One of the cast members, as he read a piece, his voice was breaking up. Oh, let me add, outside in the street, the cast and I laughed our asses off in the middle of the stone-dead silence. So-- you do not want to miss the catharsis BLACK LIVES will offer-- the tears and the laughter and the respect this play hopes to offer in appreciation for all the gifts Africans living in America have given us.
Stay tuned for updates. Big news about to come out.
As I write this BLACK LIVES, our next play, does not have a home. I won't post this one on Facebook, not yet. TAPT is an ASBURY PARK arts/cultural/community organization. We belong HERE. I will say more on this soon. Got the bad news yesterday via email. But will make our case today.