Take a Deep Breath
Jean-Claude van Itallie
van Itallie, Jean-Claude (Belgian-born American playwright, performer, teacher, 1936-____),
“Take a Deep Breath,”
a 3-minute ecological sketch in English, set in a mausoleum, 1968,
© 1968 by Jean-Claude van Itallie;
• in Jean-Claude van Itallie’s Seven Short and Very Short Plays (New York: Dramatists Play Service, Inc., 1973), ISBN 082221203X, containing “Harold,” a satire, 2m1f; “Eat Cake,” a comedy, 1m1f; “Photographs: Mary and Howard,” a drama, 1m1f; “Thoughts on the Instant of Greeting a Friend on the Street,” a satire, 1m1f; “The Girl and the Soldier,” a drama, 1m1f; “Rosary,” a drama, 1f; “Take a Deep Breath,” a drama, 2m1f;
• script/rights available from Dramatists Play Service, Inc., 440 Park Avenue South, New York City, New York 10016, U.S.A., telephone 212-683-8960, fax 212-213-1539, http://www.dramatists.com.
• Cited in Play Index 1973-1977: An Index to 3,848 Plays, edited by Estelle A. Fidell (New York: The H. W. Wilson Company, 1978), ISSN 0554-3037, LCCN 64-1054, p. 341.
Man H (m), Hank; Man I (m), Isodore; Woman G (m), Gail.
“. . . [Victims] of air pollution assemble own mausoleum while recounting horrors of their demise.”—Fidell, 341.
“. . . [Written] for Eric Bentley’s cabaret, the DMZ, at the Village Vangard, NYC where it was performed in late 1968 with Cyllnthia Harris, Jim Antonio and Morgan Freedom, directed by Isiah Sheffer.”—Take a Deep Breath by Jean-Claude van Itallie, http://vanitallie.com/plays/TakeDeepBreath.html, accessed September 26, 2001.
• “Jean-Claude van Itallie was born in Brussels, Belgium in 1936, raised in Great Neck, Long Island, and graduated from-Harvard University in 1958.--His trilogy of one-act plays, America Hurrah, was hailed as the watershed off-Broadway play of the sixties. van Itallie was one-of Ellen Stewart's original "LaMama playwrights." He was principal playwright of Joe Chaikin's Open Theater, and for that group-wrote what has been called "the classic ensemble play," The Serpent.--In the seventies, van Itallie wrote his frequently-produced new English versions of the four major plays of Chekhov. Jean-Claude van Itallie’s Chekhov versions are published by Applause Books, New York City: Chekhov, the Major-Plays.--Jean-Claude van Itallie's play, The Tibetan Book of the Dead, based on the traditional teachings, premiered at LaMama-ETC in NYC in 1983. As The Tibetan Book of the Dead for Reading Aloud, van Itallie’s play is published by North-Atlantic Books, San Francisco. Jean-Claude van Itallie's 1985 translation of Jean Genet's The Balcony was commissioned and produced by the American Repertory Theatre in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The Traveller, van Itallie's play about recovery with aphasia, based on van Itallie’s experience helping Joseph Chaikin when Chaikin had a stroke, premiered at the Mark-Taper Forum in Los Angeles in 1987 with John Glover. Struck Dumb, van Itallie’s monologue written with and for Joseph-Chaikin, premiered at the Taper Too in Los Angeles in l988 and performed at The American Place, New York City in 1991. 'Struck Dumb' is published in Best Short Plays, 199l-92. 'Ancient Boys,' van Itallie's play about a gay artist living with AIDS, premiered at LaMama Annex, February, 1991. Jean-Claude van Itallie’s play of Bulgakhov's Master and Margarita premiered at the Theatre for the New City, NYC, in May, 1993.--As a performer Jean-Claude van Itallie appeared in 1988 in Boulder, Colorado as a dancer-performer in Flesh Chronicles, a piece on aging, conceived with choreographer Nancy Spanier. He appeared at the Art Bank in Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts in the first-production of ’Guys Dreamin’ in the fall of 1996. 'Guys Dreamin’,' largely autobiographical, is written by the three actors appearing in it, including van Itallie. 'Guys Dreamin’' performed in Boston where it received excellent reviews and at LaMama-ETC in New York City. In May, 1998 Jean-Claude van Itallie opened at the Art Bank in Shelburne Falls with his one person show (with accompanist Steve Sweeting) War, Sex and Dreams. The show was directed by Joel Gluck. In early 1999, van Itallie-performed it in Santa Monica, California at Highways Theatre, and in New York City at LaMama ETC. 'War, Sex and Dreams' received positive reviews in both the LA Times and the NY Times.--Van Itallie’s book on play writing, The Playwright’s Workbook, was published in 1997 by Applause Books, NYC.--A painter of large black-on-white calligraphies, van Itallie had an exhibit entitled Characters at the Open Center Gallery in New York City in May, 1993.--Jean-Claude van Itallie has taught play writing and performance at Princeton, NYU, Harvard, Yale School of Drama, Amherst, Columbia, University of Colorado, Boulder, Naropa Institute and other colleges. He now teaches ‘Healing Power of-Theater’ on-your-feet workshops around the country at such alternative centers as Esalen and Omega Institutes and the Open-Center in NYC.--Jean-Claude van Itallie lives in western Massachusetts on his farm which he has transformed into Shantigar Foundation, where spiritual and artistic practices meet. Shantigar is a venue for workshops in creativity and meditation, and for creating-performance pieces. Since 1995 summer workshops have been given in the barn, co sponsored with Rowe Conference Center. Under van Itallie’s careful supervision, the century-old barn has been restored as Shantigar’s main workshop space.--Van Itallie is a founding member of the grass roots group, Citizens Awareness Network, which combats production and proliferation-of nuclear pollution.”—Biography of Jean Claude van Itallie, http://www.vanitallie.com/bio.html, accessed May 27, 2003.
• Research could include Gene Plunka’s Jean-Claude van Itallie and the Off-Broadway Theater (Newark, Delaware, U.S.A.: University of Delaware Press; London: Associated University Presses, 1998), ISBN 0874136644, LCCN 98030066, 332 pp., in which Plunka argues that “van Itallie has done more to expand the range of dramatic structure than any other playwright since O’Neill.”—Biography of Jean Claude van Itallie, http://vanitallie.com/bio.html, accessed September 26, 2001.
air pollution, death, mausoleum, memory, victim.