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The Burden of Irony, the Onus of Cool: The Wooster Group’s Influence on Cannon Company and Richard Maxwell

By Daniel Mufson

Dominating the downtown theater scene in New York, the Wooster Group has become an institution with its own set of traditions. Numerous younger experimental theater artists have passed through the Performing Garage practically as a rite of passage to their own self-fruition; people who have worked at the Garage have gone on to collaborate with or form almost all the major young ensembles working in New York’s downtown scene: GAle GAtes et al, Collapsable Giraffe, Radiohole, and The Builders Association, to name a few. . Both Richard Kimmel, director of the Cannon Company, and Richard Maxwell have worked with the Wooster Group: Maxwell interned at the Garage for six months in 1994, just after moving to New York from Chicago; Kimmel began interning at the Garage before he received is MFA in directing from Columbia University in 1998, and he continues to work with the Group today, recently serving as Assistant Director on the Group’s To You, the Birdie. But even before Richard Kimmel or Richard Maxwell actually set foot in the Performing Garage, they had both studied the Wooster Group as part of their university coursework in the performing arts.

Although the other groups I mentioned are doing worthwhile work and will hopefully continue to do so, I want to focus on the work of Richard Kimmel and Richard Maxwell primarily because the two of them have taken a more critical and revisionary stance vis-à-vis the Wooster Group than most of the others. Taking a page from Harold Bloom, I am thinking here about influence not necessarily in terms of source-hunting or allusion-counting but rather in terms of relations between works and the way one production implies a critique of another by any variety of tactics-a corrective swerve, an effort at taking a gesture one or more steps further, or a gesture of negation. In our present discussion, questions of influence come into play when considering fascination with multimedia technology, the use of irony, and the attitude a work seems to have to the possibility or legitimacy of genuine, vulnerable emotional responses in the context of formally challenging work.

The events of September 11 precipitated a flood of self-questioning, not least within the artistic community, and one of the consistent refrains came in the form of the question, Is this the end of irony? Will we now see a reawakening of political engagement and commitment that the formalist experimenters of the downtown scene have-with the noteworthy exception of queer and feminist artists-largely avoided? And yet if we look at Puss, the Cannon Co.’s adaptation of Tieck’s Der gestiefelte Kater (1797), and any number of Richard Maxwell’s plays, one realizes that the air of irony and intellectual detachment that has lain at the heart of the Wooster Group’s work for many years now was already being challenged long before the myth of America’s isolation was so forcefully punctured.

Before discussing the work of Kimmel and Maxwell, it might be worthwhile to review briefly notions of irony and detachment in the context of the Wooster Group’s work. The Wooster Group began making theater in the highly charged political environment of the mid-1970s. At the time, its partial move towards apolitical postmodern performance was in itself tantamount to a gesture of dissent from the politicization of countercultural artists and ensembles. Influenced in part by the highly political Richard Schechner yet admiring the insular worlds of Richard Foreman and Robert Wilson, LeCompte staged a retreat of sorts from political and social commitment to themes such as the Vietnam War, racial prejudice, and sexual oppression, a commitment that had pervaded the work of so many other artists and ensembles at the time. For example, the Group’s first productions, the first parts of Three Places in Rhode Island, used the personal life of Spalding Gray as a starting point.

But, as mentioned, the retreat from political and social issues proved itself to be partial rather than full. The Wooster Group toyed with issues of militarism in North Atlantic (1984) and race in Route 1 & 9 (1981), but its treatment of such issues was allergic to the slightest tendentiousness-reveling in the coy and ambiguous. Indeed, the opacity of their “position” vis-à-vis their themes precipitated on occasion considerable controversy, as in their use of minstrelsy in Route 1&9. In that instance, without the security provided by an explicit critique of minstrelsy, the Wooster Group left itself open to accusations of racism to the point of jeopardizing their funding from state arts organizations. Similar problems arose as a result of their use of pornography in the same production.

As a result of these controversies, and also because of the repeated use of certain staging practices, the Wooster Group has become known for stylistic habits that practically may be codified, individually or as a total package: the rows of fluorescent lighting; the metal, skeletal grid that either frames or in fact constitutes the set; the use of audio samples to caricature certain movements in the manner of certain children’s cartoons; actors, either sitting at tables or standing, speaking into microphones, while facing out towards the audience; an ironic mode of acting, in which the actor often seems to smirk at or undercut the emotion suggested by the words of a line of dialogue; and of course the use of video and sound technology to alter the visual and auditory landscapes of performance.

All of these devices constitute Verfremdungseffekte, distancing the audience from the traditions of empathy so ingrained in psychological realism. As a result, Wooster Group performances often provoke laughter or surprise; an admiration for their precision and ingenuity; perhaps occasionally a feeling of shock or anger-although I think even that is less and less the case; but seldom, if ever, do the performances evoke fear or pity or sorrow, all of which usually require a degree of identification with the stage characters. Indeed, in reviewing the Wooster Group’s To You, the Birdie, critic and Brooklyn College professor Charles McNulty aptly compares the layers of technique and what has become a layer of traditional avant-garde stylistic praxis to the emotionally cincturing effects of Racine’s alexandrine lines, the formal rigor sharply restricting-if not completely stifling-any visceral sense of the pathos of the tragedy.

Much of the distancing employed by the Wooster Group stems from its use of irony, which manifests itself in at least three ways: first, there is a discrepancy between the literal meaning of the lines of dialogue and the meaning conveyed by the actors’ delivery; the second type of irony is derived from the first, namely, the irony that Schlegel spoke of as a “permanent parabasis,” or turning out to the audience; third, the productions take place in Northrop Frye’s sense of a the Ironic Mode, that is, the manner of depiction suggests characters who are “inferior in power or intelligence to ourselves, so that we have the sense of looking down on a scene of bondage, frustration, or absurdity.” For example, in To You, the Birdie, the Group presents a scatological Phèdre paralyzed by her neuroses and a Theseus reduced to a caricature of a flexing bodybuilder. Finally, as D.C. Muecke points out in Irony and the Ironic, in the twentieth century the traditional definition of irony-saying one thing and suggesting the contrary-has given way to a notion of irony as “saying something in a way that activates not one but an endless series of subversive interpretations,” “a perpetual deferment of significance.” This type of irony has also manifested itself consistently throughout the Wooster Group’s work.

Kimmel and Maxwell have explored different ways of responding to these practices, but their impulses share some common roots. Each one has acknowledged that a certain level of irony is unavoidable in creating artistic work today; at the same time, each has expressed frustration with an irony that suffocates emotion or undermines ideas of emotional genuineness or authenticity. Both are musicians who have played in and continue to play in rock bands and who speak admiringly of the energy and emotion generated by rock concerts. Richard Kimmel’s most recent project was a piece of paratheater called Pleasuredome, a weekend-long experience in which the audience’s dancing and revelry would be interrupted by choreography and scenes by his performers. Richard Maxwell, for his part, recently performed with his rock trio, the New York City Players, as part of the Phat Tuesdays series at the Galapagos venue in Brooklyn. But after one acknowledges those interests and concerns, any similarities become much more difficult to find. Their answers to the Wooster Group model pivot on the question of irony, but at angles virtually opposite to one another.

Kimmel immediately signals his preoccupation with irony in choosing to perform an adaptation of Tieck’s Der gestiefelte Kater, which in its own time was a radical challenge to contemporary bourgeois tastes as well as to techniques of undermining illusion, incorporating self-referential commentary into the action of the play. Aside from the actors falling out of character, the play itself appears to slip out of its position as a play. As Nicholas Saul has pointed out in his essay, “Aesthetic Humanism,” Der gestiefelte Kater was an attempt at conducting a dialogue with the public in which the poet “must plead grovelingly for understanding”; Tieck, aside from critiquing his contemporaries, was grappling with what many of the Romantics perceived as an overwhelming literary tradition, a problem which Kimmel perceives himself as confronting theater artists today. Tieck’s play ends with the character of the Author asking the audience to “forget [its] knowledge,” and longing for “a new kind of poetry which can be better felt than described.” Upon having these sentiments scorned, with the audience throwing rotten fruit and crumpled paper at him, the Author realizes the futility of his proposition, saying, “No, the gentlemen out there [in the audience] are better than I am at this new kind of poetry. I withdraw.”

In Puss, Kimmel re-stages techniques of the Wooster Group as well as those of Richard Foreman and a handful of other representatives of what might be considered the contemporary canonical avant-garde. He indulges, self-consciously, in flagrant imitation and quotation. Exploring the depths of the derivative gesture, Kimmel draws attention to the familiarity-one could even say hegemony-of Wooster Group staging techniques within the downtown New York theater community. By using Tieck’s Der gestiefelte Kater to make this critique, Kimmel in essence traces a lineage of self-referentiality as critique in modern performance.

Kimmel’s version of Puss does not limit its theft to the Wooster Group but steals from all of the icons of New York’s experimental scene. Plexiglas and strings colored white and black cut through the stage à la Richard Foreman; a dance scene is performed to music from Einstein on the Beach; movements are copied from Anne Bogart productions. Clearly though, the overwhelming stylistic presence in the production is that of the Wooster Group. Aside from the fact that the production itself takes place in the Performing Garage, two of the most salient characters of the play as performed by Cannon Company are shaped by Wooster Group productions. Tieck’s character Hanswurst, the court fool who in Tieck’s hands represented a type of Commedia-influenced character whose presence on German stages was at that time being actively discouraged by critics, becomes a blackface figure from Route 1&9; Tieck’s Leander, the wise man, plays his role in Kimmel’s production over a video screen, under the pretext of having sustained an injury in rehearsal, but of course the reference is to the Wooster Group and its latter-day incarnations of Brace Up!, in which a sick Ron Vawter became “present” via video.

Kimmel makes important alterations in the play. Aside from changing Tieck’s writer-author into a twentieth-century director-auteur, the self-referential, self-destructing fiasco of the play results not from the excessive education and aesthetic preconceptions of the critics in the audience but rather from the excessive education and aesthetic preconceptions of the artist. It is Kimmel’s directorial character-or Kimmel himself?-who burdens the stage with too much knowledge, a knowledge that stifles creativity. In the Tieck text, the performance is consistently interrupted by critics chattering in the gallery, until one of the more negative of the lot, Bötticher, is urged by his peers to leave the theater instead of burdening them with his opinion. In Kimmel’s version, the critics’ banter is suppressed for most of the production and is generally limited to barely audible muttering until quite late in the play, at which point a critic and her companion get up and leave, loudly condemning the production’s lack of originality. The remarks that the critic yells are by this time usually shared by a not insignificant portion of the audience, many of whom were not aware that the critics were plants. In the video I’m about to show you, you will notice that a not insubstantial portion of the audience applauded her comments. The reaction was similar the night that I saw the play as well. The section of the video I’d like to play for you takes place after the director-author has had an argument with one of the actors, and the actor playing Hanswurst performs a monologue on political correctness-which actually vaguely echoes a speech made in Charles Mee’s adaptation of Orestes-that ends up being the last straw for the critic planted in the audience. {PLAY VIDEO HERE}

Reactions to the production were, for the most part, negative. The New York press either ignored or rejected the production. In The Village Voice, Charles McNulty confirms the impression that audience members shared the opinions anticipated by the critic of Kimmel’s own creation: “there are times,” McNulty writes,

when one can’t help but rue the legacy of Richard Foreman and the Wooster Group. This is not to undervalue the way these contemporary legends have invigorated our alternative theater; it’s just not always easy to sit through the work of their disciples. Of course, for every bona fide genius, there’s an army of admirers trying to duplicate the magic. But couldn’t the new crop of Downtown directors evince just a little more anxiety of influence?”

 

According to Kimmel, many members of the artistic community were enraged by the production. Some were angry that they had been fooled by the critics planted in the audience; other artists, apparently sensitive to the charge of derivativeness, viewed the production as a critique by Kimmel of their own work. Kimmel has said that he welcomed the negative reactions to the work because for him, one of his chief aims was to provoke a genuine emotional response of the sort that, in his view, is not a typical facet of downtown productions today. In a sense, he is returning from a twentieth-century breed of irony to a Romantic one in that he deploys irony not to eliminate emotion but to balance it. He highlights the avant-gardist’s dilemma today: as he puts it, “How do we keep making it strange when it’s already been made so strange?”

One could beneficially compare Puss to a somewhat similar project, namely, the 1997 production of Three Sisters by Richard Schechner and East Coast Artists, in which Act I was played à la Stanislavsky, Act II using Meyerhold’s biomechanics, Act III set in a Stalinist gulag, and Act IV in a Wooster Group-influenced style of postmodernism. What sets Puss apart is its attempt to use self-referentiality and ironic devices in order to decrease the audience’s critical distance rather than to increase it; it is a critique of the culture of sampling and the postmodern assumption that originality is a fiction, and its means to this ends consists in offending the audience with creative bankruptcy to the point of provoking fury. Originality may or may not be a fiction, but derivativeness definitely becomes intolerable. In Puss, it is no longer only the characters on stage who are the victims of dramatic irony, unaware of the reality of the performance, but the audience as well. And in a final sense, Kimmel reconstructs rather than deconstructs Puss, in that he revives Tieck’s initial use of the play as a weapon of critique against the stage practices of his contemporaries.

Richard Maxwell pursues another path. Where Kimmel indulges in Verfremdungseffekte and the fetishization of technology in order to question both of them, Richard Maxwell rejects the outer trappings of technological finesse perfected by the Wooster Group and revels in the absence of sophisticated stage machinery. Where the Wooster Group has used advanced sound technology such as digital vocal harmony processing, Maxwell’s actors in House and Drummer Wanted use a cheap, handheld tape player to provide the musical accompaniment for their songs. The sets are deceptively plain; for example, as the set for House, Maxwell replicates that plain white wall with a pay phone that existed in the space where the production was rehearsed.

Rhetorically, he bases his style on the idea of a rejection of style; in interview after interview, Maxwell talks about his aim of “eradicate[ing] any evidence of a style” even though he says he “understand[s] the ridiculousness of the statement.” In contrast to the line delivery of Wooster Group actors who seem to comment on their dialogue even as they recite it, Maxwell has his actors recite their lines under the pretense of removing any type of attitude whatsoever towards what is being said; delivery is almost completely stripped of tonality. The actors make faint vocal gestures at emotions that seldom achieve anything even close to full expression. This eliminates the brand of irony associated with Wooster Group actors but in fact creates another kind of irony insofar as there remains a disjunction between the words spoken and the meaning with which they are imbued. On the one hand, draining a passionate dialogue or monologue of its emotion provokes laughter from the audience; on the other hand, this tonal stepping-out-of-the-way exercised by the actors allows the audience greater liberty to consider the emotional possibilities of the line, almost as if they were reading the text on the page. Meanings may be variable, but not infinite. Emotions, muffled as if being suffocated under a pillow, feel all the more vigorous in their imagined struggle to break free. We are no longer in Frye’s Ironic Mode, looking down on the people on stage; the characters are similar to those found in the audience, and the portrayals, directorially speaking, show more compassionate humor than snide mockery.

Maxwell takes a markedly different path away from the Wooster Group than Kimmel does, but both of them recognize the unavoidability of self-referentiality, irony, and the tradition of the avant-garde while expressing frustration with what they perceive as the eradication of vulnerable sentiment. Maxwell is acutely aware of the difficulty involved in balancing the two concerns. With his band this past February at Galapagos, Maxwell played a song by a honky-tonk singer named Lefty Frizzell called “The Mom and Dad Waltz,” with the following lyrics:

 

And in my heart, joy tears start, ’cause I’m happy

And I pray every day for Ma and Pappy

And each night I’d walk for miles, cry and smile

For my Mama and Daddy

I want them to know I love them so.

 

He prefaced the song by telling the audience, “You can laugh at this, but it’s not supposed to be funny.”

Although this wasn’t a theatrical performance per se, I think it reveals a great deal about Maxwell’s approach to his drama. His band, consisting of a six-string guitar, a bass guitar, and drums, was a stark contrast to the trio in which Kate Valk played at a fundraiser at New York’s downtown presenting theater, HERE, in 1998, in which the trio of musicians filtered their voices through vocoders and the music was not played on musical instruments but rather programmed on computers and synthesizers. Maxwell’s approach to theatrical staging is more sophisticated than his straightforward-but enjoyable-performance of honky-tonk music, yet there is still this idea that, “You can laugh at this, but it’s not supposed to be funny.” In Showy Lady Slipper, for example, a moment comes at the end of the play where the three young women learn from a phone call that the love interest, John, has just died in a car accident. On stage, the revelation provokes laughter because of the accelerated and deceptively blasé presentation of events, but the moment was inspired by the actual death of Maxwell’s brother-in-law. I would argue that the serious roots of the incident penetrate the staging. After the news of John’s death comes, the three women hurriedly and unconvincingly sing the final song, “O how I loved you / I can’t live without your love,” after which they exit as stoically and the play comes to an abrupt finish. The saccharine, trite harmonies contradict the weight of the moment as well as their stony facial expressions, yielding an effect more hollow than humorous. The absence of dialogue after the event suggests a milieu which, because it is incapable of expressing thought about events of such magnitude, makes a gesture at expression through the contemporary layman’s poetry of a pop song, realizes the inadequacy of that gesture, and then shuts down into silence.

Although his work has been described as depicting awkwardness-a statement which must mainly be based on the young women portrayed in Showy Lady Slippery-most of the plays possess strong narratives with characters not afraid to make important-albeit sometimes circuitous-statements and to take decisive actions. House is a classic revenge narrative; Cowboys and Indians tells a story based on a true account of an 1846 journey across America’s Oregon Trail; Boxing 2000 also bears the marks of a classic tale of an underdog stepping into the ring. Whereas physical awkwardness almost always entails a restless shifting to and fro, Maxwell’s actors remain still as stones for most of the dialogue, and when they move, they move with precision and economy.

In two of Maxwell’s more recent works, one senses the director starting to wrestle with his own legacy. As Philippa Wehle has pointed out, the intonation used by several actors in Boxing 2000 starts to veer surprisingly close to what one might encounter in conventional psychological realism. The movement in that piece was also less restricted, as actors seemed less conscious of every move and in some cases twitched their arms and hands as they spoke-minimally compared to the work of most other artists, but for Maxwell there was an uncharacteristic amount of stage business. At about the time Boxing 2000 was being developed in a workshop with NYU students, Maxwell wondered aloud if “maybe the way to go is the realism route. Maybe you almost have to play a trick on the audience… to convince them that there is no style. […] The most common reaction I get from the audience is that it’s about the formalistic nature of it, the stylization of it…. Even though I understand it’s probably unavoidable, it’s something that gets under my skin.”

But in Maxwell’s most recent work, Drummer Wanted, he has shied away from moving any closer to realism and there is not the slightest trace of fidgeting or undisciplined movement. The line readings are again done with a feeling of highly attenuated but not completely deadened emotion. Here, however, in a story about a young man trying unsuccessfully to get his life in order so that he can move out of his mother’s house after having injured his leg in an accident, the two actors punctuate the dialogue and movement with sudden, jarring outbursts. Suddenly, an actor will break his or her quasi-monotone with a shouted phrase; a still pose will rupture into a sudden frenzy of movement.

The writing itself begins to deploy playful repetitions as well as a jarring logic, a sometimes almost surreal quality of incongruous juxtapositions, all of which serve as a type of Verfremdungseffekt. Towards the end of the play, the son, Frank, learns that he has won a $150,000 insurance settlement, but at about the same time, his relationship with his mother breaks down and she throws him out of the house. (The father, by the way, died long ago.) The last lines of the play are as follows:

MOM: Get out fucker.

(pause)

 

FRANK: What? What the hell was that? What are you talking about? Are you talking about breaking a vicious circle? I mean, I guess you are, because there’s no other way out. Are you willing to take it to the next level? Willing to take the consequences of breaking a vicious circle? Because you don’t know what that means. We don’t know what that means. That’s okay. I got balls, see? You saw ’em. I don’t apologize for the money. I get the money. I get the money. The money is MINE. Don’t look back like that. I can do it myself. Just got to break through it, I want to get at it. This is it Rey. I’m coming for ya. I’m outta here. I’m flyin’ I see my opening. This is not a conflict with any of you this is a conflict with me. This is the easiest thing and I never saw it. All that agonizing over nothing. All the songs and pieces of songs. They’re all on tape. 15 fucking years, dude. 5,000 miles of tape. But there’s a lot of music left. It’s all written down. I still have em all, and I can play them any time. That’s the record. Right there. There’s no other record than that. Tapes and tapes of it. That’s the record. That’s the circle. What do you know? It’s about time. It’s about time. It IS about time. Can you let go of the idea. Can I let go of the idea. Can I let go. Go with the flow. The idea makes me sick. But what would happen if I let go? Who knows. Might be nice! You never know. I want to let go. I want to let go so bad. I see the other side. It’s a beautiful thing. But it takes balls, right? That’s what you’re saying? Well, I see your point. I know you. You’re from my dream. And I never took you seriously. All those nights added up to something. They did didn’t they. Here I am. oh no. Oh no! There’s the threshold, dude. Dad, I’m beginning to feel a little cheated. You were right…No need to worry.

 

Throughout that entire closing monologue, Frank and Mom stay motionless, and yet there the language seems to imply several perceptive shifts and there are several points where one is no longer sure that Frank is addressing his mother. What Maxwell is proving himself expert at doing is exploring the means of balancing the emotional and intellectual engagement of the audience, communicating a point of view as a writer and director without pinning things down so narrowly as to remove all flexibility of interpretation. Under Maxwell’s hand, the detachment wrought by irony becomes partial again, rather than total.

In essence, Kimmel’s and Maxwell’s works signal that reports of the death of irony were, to say the least, premature, as both have taken different, provocative tacks in questioning the inherited techniques of the avant-garde without totally abandoning them, heating up the cooling effect of irony and making audiences wonder about the nature of “making it strange.” Richard Kimmel’s production of Puss seems as though it might have been a dead-end experiment that cannot be taken further; on the other hand, several critics, including myself, underestimated the potential variety belonging of Maxwell’s work when it first started to win widespread notice in 1998. Nevertheless, it is hard not to imagine Puss as a question about the benefits and burdens of the Wooster Group’s legacies while Maxwell’s work constitutes an answer-paradoxical and straightforward, self-conscious and sincere.

 

Works Cited

 

Bloom, Harold. The Anxiety of Influence: A Theory of Poetry. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997.

McNulty, Charles, “Sons of Frankenstein.” The Village Voice, June 20, 2000, Vol. 45, Issue 24, p. 84.

Muecke, D.C. Irony and the Ironic. London: Methuen, 1982.

Mufson, Daniel. “The Hydras of Irony and Style.” In AlternativeTheater.com at http://www.alternativetheater.com/CommentaryMaxwellInterview.html.

Mufson, Daniel. “How Do You Make Strange What’s Already Strange” In AlternativeTheater.com at http://www.alternativetheater.com/CommentaryKimmelInterview.html.

Saul, Nicholas. “Aesthetic Humanism,” in The Cambridge History of German Literature, edited by Helen Watanabe-O’Kelly. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1997.

Savran, David. Breaking the Rules: The Wooster Group. New York: Theatre Communications Group, 1988.

Schlegel, Friedrich (1963) [1797]: “Zur Philosophie”. Philosophische Lehrjahre 1796-1806, Erster Teil, ed. Ernst Behler. Kritische Friedrich-Schlegel-Ausgabe Bd. 18 (Zürich: Thomas-Verlag), 1963.

Wehle, Philippa. “Rich Maxwell: Dramatizing the Mundane.” In TheatreForum, Issue Number 18, Winter/Spring 2001.

Frye, Northrop. Anatomy of Criticism. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1957.

 

 


For example: Michelle Stern, co-founder and producer of GAle GAtes, performed in the recent revival of North Atlantic; Collapsable Giraffe founder Jim Findlay designed and built sets for the Wooster Group; Founder of the Builders Association, Marianne Weems, worked as the Group’s dramaturg and performed in Brace Up!; John Collins, member of Elevator Repair Service designed sound for some Wooster Group productions; and at least two members of Radiohole have done technical work for the Group.

 

 

Following the precedent of other critics, such as David Savran, I refer to LeCompte’s work starting with Sakonnet Point as being done by the “Wooster Group” although productions prior to 1980 were done under the name of the Performance Group.

Friedrich Schlegel (1963) [1797]: “Zur Philosophie”. Philosophische Lehrjahre 1796-1806, Erster Teil, ed. Ernst Behler. Kritische Friedrich-Schlegel-Ausgabe Bd. 18 (Zürich: Thomas-Verlag), 1963. p. 85.

Northrop Frye, Anatomy of Criticism (Princeton: Princeton University Press), 1957.

D.C. Muecke, Irony and the Ironic. (London: Methuen, 1972), p. 31.

Nicholas Saul, “Aesthetic Humanism,” in The Cambridge History of German Literature, edited by Helen Watanabe-O’Kelly. (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press), 1997. p. 236.

Gerald Gillespie’s widely used English translation presents the last line as, “No, the gentlemen out there are better than I am at farce. I withdraw,” but the German text refers not to farce but “dieser Dichtungsart,” which the poet has just described as something “die sich besser fühlen als beschreiben lässt.” These last lines, and the throwing of fruit and paper, are omitted from Kimmel’s version, although the production fizzles out in a comparably deflated fashion.

Charles McNulty, “Sons of Frankenstein.” The Village Voice, June 20, 2000, Vol. 45, Issue 24, p. 84.

Interview with the author. Published as “How Do You Make Strange What’s Already Strange” at http://www.alternativetheater.com/CommentaryKimmelInterview.html.

Ibid.

Interview with the author. “The Hydras of Irony and Style.” Published on AlternativeTheater.com at http://www.alternativetheater.com/CommentaryMaxwellInterview.html.

Philippa Wehle, “Rich Maxwell: Dramatizing the Mundane.” In TheareForum, Issue No. 18, Winter/Spring 2001, p. 78.

Interview with author. “The Hydras of Irony and Style.” Published on AlternativeTheater.com at http://www.alternativetheater.com/CommentaryMaxwellInterview.html.

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