American heroes are popping up like free, wild flowers in a field being plowed up by a bulldozer. Mayor Marty Walsh of Boston has said he will protect immigrants in his city no matter what, He said, if necessary, immigrants can live in city hall, in his office, or in any office in the building. This is one beautiful man, one great American. He stands in front of the microphone and a room filled with press and says what he thinks and what he will do. Thank you, Mayor Walsh, for your courage and your inspiration to the rest of us.
The fear and reticence engendered by Donald Trump is affecting the production of TRUMPED. I'm idealistic enough to believe in the Amendment l of the Constitution which guarantees freedom of speech. One writer insists on a pseudonym to avoid reprisals at work. And one actor will not perform with us for fear of losing her job. I don't hold anything against either artist. Believe me, I get it. So, what about me? Am I crazy to produce, direct, and co-author a play called TRUMPED? I don't think so. I've taken so many hits in my long life from the little fascists that populate our lives that I reached a point when I said, fuck this, and insist on democracy and on the better angels of America. After all, America is an experiment and always has been. Sure it's an easy nation to criticize. Hell, I do it all the time. But only the way one criticizes a father who doesn't do the right thing. Still, he's your father. Or your mother, either way. So, yes, I love America. In spite of the genocide and enslavement surrounding its founding, and despite all the sins it continues to commit. We all know them, so need to repeat them. Still, I believe in the Constitution. I also believe in what James Baldwin once said when he spoke about this country being the only one on earth where all the races and ethnicities try to live together under one roof. No other nation has this challenge. The world looks to us to see if we can pull this off without killing one another in the process. So, we here at The American Poetry Theater are doing our part. We are, after all, The AMERICAN Poetry Theater. And TRUMPED is our next exploration into what that means.
Two of my actors tell me we need some humor in Trumped. Humor? Humor! I don't know about humor for this play. I mean just what is our take on this presidency about to hit us like a nightmare? I suppose we could insert some humor. Shakespeare has humor, says one actor. Comic relief, yes. Yes, I know about this. So maybe comic relief. Is this the right way to go? By now I am not sure about too many things. Which is a lie. Because I am sure there is nothing funny about Donald Trump. And I think trying to find humor in any of this is a delusion. So, I'm listening to Mozart's Jupiter, my favorite of all symphonies. An incomplete symphony written as the master was approaching his death at a very early age. Written as creditors were pounding on his door. I've always identified with this piece. I'd listen to it out on the porch when Thuy-Duong and the boys were asleep on warm summer nights here by the sea. Those were idyllic nights, idyllic days, a long, long time before Trump and the cynicism and despair that have shrouded America. We all need the Jupiter now. We're all facing oblivion now. Before our time.
Qutation marks intended.
One of the first things you learn as a student of literature is that form and content are one.
That's it for today.
In 2017, why not get involved with The American Poetry Theater and just say what's on your mind? Make your comments, state your piece, have courage, maintain your faith, believe in love, fight for children, fight for the poor, the dispossessed. Remember Flint, remember Standing Rock, remember all those locked down in the gulag-plantation-prison-system, remember Malcolm, King, Gandhi, remember your ancestors, your grandparents, your father, your mother, do it for your kids, or my kids, do it for all the kids. Stop complaining in your head, thinking the worst, contemplating suicide, living in despair. Speak, preach, support.
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Drove home in the rain from Asbury Park public library where I attended another meeting of the Dialogue Group- a group of concern, intelligent cirtizens who try to improve the welfare of the community. After the meeting, spoke privately with a wise black woman who is a wisdom keeper. She told me she witnessed the lynching of her uncle in Florida when she was a girl. The two of us sat there, I assume close in age, and contEmplated soberly the fate of America now that Trump has been elected. I urged her to be sure to send me some of her wisdom in a monologue for TAPT's late February production of The American Flag: Trumped. I asked her to tell us about the lynching and to draw whatever connections she wants to our current situation. Outside in the rain we hugged and she said to me, "peace and love, peace and love."
It looks like this will be the title of our Feb 26-28, 2017 show at House of Independents in Asbury Park.
I've sent out a call for monologues today to a variety of people, including actors, writers, poets, activists, and conscientous and conscious friends. I've also given the word to TAPT actors and personnel that the process begins for the new play. There is a December 15th deadline for submission of monologues by anyone who wants to have his/her remarks considered for the play. Naturally, not everyone's work can make the cut since the play will likely run 60 to 90 minutes. For those of you who don't know, The American Flag: 50 States of Being in America is our signature production which we do annually. This is our third year. Each year the play differs since we deal with current events and conditions in America.
So, if you want to be considered for this important (they're all important!) production, send your monologues (poems are monologues too) to Uly46@aol.com or call Rich at 732-822-4338 if you have any questions. This will be a powerful show with our reactions to the election and our concerns for the future. As always, TAPT is a blues there for the people. And there is much to be blue about. But, too, in keeping with the orgins of the blues in America's slavery foundation, TAPT turns pain into beauty. Be part of it, as a writer, actor, or audience... rpq
Just re-read TAPT'S Mission Statement. And glad I did. It encourages me, literally gives me courage, to continue, to go on, to fight the bastards, to throw ice water on my tired face, and to do the only thing I find really worth doing in this short dream of a life- Tell the truth to the best of my ability regardless of the consequences, the family I lose, the friends I lose, the enemies I make. All I really need to do is remember my former students- in places like Passaic High School, Brookdale Community College, Neptune Adult School, and Class Academy (formerly in Long Branch), and especially my Home Instruction students in Passaic and Lyndhurst- to refocus, remember, renew my own strength and conviction, and to remember why I started The American Poetry Theater in the first place. So, for you who are reading this entry, please do go to our Mission Statement right now and join us in any way you can in our fight against fear and ignorance, our own and others.
Like so many others, I'm still trying to process the Trump election victory. Very difficult. No, I didn't vote for Clinton. I knew Jersey would go to her, which thank god it did. So I had the luxury of actually voting my conscience- a straight Democratic ticket and Jill Stein. This is what it's come down to? Having to vote for a third party candidate who can't win. Justifying it by saying my vote adds to the momentum of growing a new party in time for the next election? Probably just bullshit, you know. Bottom line is I was enthusiastic about Sanders. And I knew from alternate media, certainly not corporate media, that he'd been cheated out of a victory in the primaries by the DNC and Clinton-backing Democrats in high places. Anyway- my own brother tells me I am now assigned to the "vestibule" of hell. And my niece/god child says I am an "accessory to a crime." Disappointment,anger, and most of all pointing fingers of blame rule the day. I didn't bother telling them that we ALL have a part in this current blow to democracy- this includes my brother and my niece.
So what am I writing about here? I'm simply writing. That's it.
On a very positive note, I went to an Asbury Park Dialogue Group pot luck dinner in Asbury tonight and met some terrific people, particularly three beautiful, brilliant, wise women. I'm grateful for this. It's good to know, good to connect with, such strong, intelligent folks during these times.
And finally, for this entry-- the Trump election has made deciding what TAPT's February production will actually be very difficult. The dates are set-- Feb 26, 27, 28 at the House of Independents in Asbury Park, which is our home- both the town and the theater. And thanks to Morgan Sackman and Dave Cruse for making it so. The next play? Originally going to be an all black production- black writers, actors, directors.
Topic was to be Black Lives Matter. However, with the current crisis upon us, with feelings going haywire, with the crazies, the fascists Trump is surrounding himself with-- the next play will have to expand. More to be said in the near future.
This is the third attempt to post this. BLACK STATES may well be the title of our next play, scheduled for Feb 26, 27, 28- Sun, Mon, Tuesday. Although it's not determined yet, the thought is to have an all black cast, black writers, and black director. The play will be about the conditions of black lives here in America. Whatever its title, and whatever its racial make-up, you can count on The American Poetry Theater giving you another informative, provocative play to generate discussion and changes in society... rpq