Naked July: Day on Which a Man Dies
The Day On Which A Man Dies by Tennessee Williams headlines National Pastime Theaters 1st annual fine arts festival Naked July: Art Stripped Down. At the National Pastime Theater the entire month of July will be filled with lovely, provoking and aggressive bodies. Paintings are created onstage in The Day On Which A Man Dies first with airbrushes to wet the surface of paper tacked to the floor, then the lead character crawls naked onto the fresh red paint of the paper: turning his entire body into the instrument of art. When the artist/actor rises smeared with red paint he has himself become a work of art and counterpart to the image on the flat surface.
Tennessee Williams finished the play in 1960 but held the text in reserve. It was rediscovered in 1991 and waited seventeen years for its world premiere in Chicago in 2008. The National Pastime Theater is reviving that world premiere performance for its Naked July festival. Day On Which A Man Dies opens Friday, July 3rd at 8p and runs Fridays and Saturdays in July, closing August 1st.
The Day On Which A Man Dies is a translation of Japanese Noh drama into performance art. The text is subtitled An Occidental Noh Play, but it also echoes the practices of the Japanese group of painters and sculptors who called themselves the Gutai. As in Gutai works, in The Day On Which A Man Dies paintings are created and destroyed in the course of a performance, the bodies of the performers are painted, and the setting is made of paper. According to the director, David Kaplan:
Noh plays are ghost plays, and the ghost evoked in this play is Jackson Pollock. Artists and poets who defied convention in order to articulate ecstasy beyond convention, who had intoxicated visions, and who were doomed in their search yet kept searching, were central to Williams romantic ideas of creation. In some way Williams himself was haunted by Pollock, and other inspirational suicidesthe American poets Hart Crane and Vachel Lindsay, and Williams friend, the Japanese writer Yukio Mishima, to whom The Day On Which A Man Dies is dedicated.
Williams, while summering in the Provincetown art colony of the 1940s, worked on the plays that would establish his reputation, The Glass Menagerie and A Streetcar Named Desire. During those creatively fertile years he became friends with several Provincetown painters including Jackson Pollock. Jackson Pollacks death, in the summer of 1956, affected Williams deeply. Pollock died when he drove his car into a tree in the Hamptons. Williams had done the same thing in Italy, with the intent to kill himself, and Williams considered Pollocks death a suicide. Williams The Day On Which A Man Dies explores an artists frenzied hunt for new means of expression that culminates in his suicide.
Following the festival, the National Pastime Theater in association with the Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival will take this production on the road to perform as special guests at the Pollock-Krasner House in East Hampton and Provincetown Tennessee Williams Festival in Massachusetts.
National Pastime Theater
4139 N Broadway
Chicago, IL 60613
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