Chaikin, Joseph (American playwright, actor, teacher, director, 1937-June 22, 2003), and Sam Shepard (nee Samuel Shepard Rogers, American playwright, writer, actor, November 5, 1943-____), “
“Tongues,” a __-minute monodrama, a piece for voice and percussion, set on a bare stage, in real time,
(+ nonspeaking percussionist)
© 1981 by Sam Shepard and Joseph Chaikin;
• in Sam Shepard’s Seven Plays, introduction by Richard Gilman (Toronto, Ontario, Canada; New York: Bantam Books, 1981), ISBN 0553142577, containing “True West,” “Buried Child,” “Curse of the Starving Class,” “The Tooth of Crime (A Play with Music in Two Acts),” “La turista,” “Tongues,” “Savage/Love”;
• also, in Sam Shepard’s Tongues (A Piece for Voice and Percussion) and Savage/Love (Toronto and New York: Bantam Trad. Edition, 1984), 336 pp. (London: Faber and Faber, 1985) (New York: Bantam Books, 1986), 2nd printing, 336 pp.;
• script/rights available from Samuel French, Inc., 25 West 45th Street, New York, New York 10010-2751, U.S.A., telephone 212-206-8990, fax 212-206-1429, http://www.samuelfrench.com; or 7623 Sunset Boulevard, Hollywood, California 90046-2795, U.S.A., telephone 213-876-0570, fax 213-876-6822; or 80 Richmond Street East, Toronto, Ontario M5C 1P1, Canada, telephone 416-363-3536, fax 416-363-1108; or Samuel French, Ltd., 52 Fitzroy Street, London W1P 6JR, England, SF 22733.
Speaker (m), Percussionist (nonspeaking m).
The performer describes someone of varied human dimensions, a person who is part of other people and of nature. Tonight, the person hears a new voice. It tells him he is isolated. He mourns his state, dies, and leaves his body. He considers the mundane aspects of his human existence, and varied voices speak through him of their lives. Voices come singly then in a duologue about hunger. Hunger grows into an amorphous foe. Voices cry the preciousness of now. But the moment speeds past. The person wonders about his state of death. To music from the Glenn Miller era, the person sings about “from this moment on.” Then he turns to correspondence, studying complimentary closes of letters. In other voices, he tries to communicate. In a concluding litany, he explains “when you die.” This shifts into an upbeat extolling of nature and people. The person can hear, feel, and learn: “Tonight I‘m learning its language.”
• The plot description focuses on the speaker. Of equal importance is the percussionist. The playwright says, “Actors wishing to perform this piece would necessarily have to develop their own means and experiment according to their given situation. The various voices are not so much intended to be caricatures as they are attitudes or impulses . . . .” He adds, “The choices of instrumentation can be very open, but I feel they should stay within the realm of percussion.” The production company must find the right audience for this piece; it is not for everyone. Still, the challenges are intriguing. Dauntless artists can delight in this piece.
• Premiered at the Magic Theatre, San Francisco, California, U.S.A., summer, 1978, with Chaikin as Speaker, Shepard as percussionist and director. First New York production was in a double bill with Savage/Love, at the Public Theatre, November, 1979, performed by Chaikin, directed by Robert Woodruff.
• Research could include Tongues, analog sound cassette (New York: Harris, 1978).
• Also, research could include Linguaggi: (per voci e percussioni), 1980.
• Also, research could include Sam Shepard: Tekst and Context (Amsterdam, Netherlands: Theater Frascate, 1989), including translations of seven Sam Shepard plays including Tongues and Savage/Love, coauthored by Joseph Chaikin.
• Also, research could include Joseph Chaikin’s The Presence of the Actor, 1st TCG edition (New York: Theatre Communications Group, 1991), 161 pp., reprint from original publication (New York: Atheneum, 1972.), ISBN 1559360305.
• Also, research could include Gideon Lester’s essay Unlikely Human Beings, http://www.amrep.org/past/green/green1.html, accessed September 29, 2006.
• Also, research could include Clive Barnes’ "Chaikin Speaks in Shepard’s “Tongues,” New York Post, November 16, 1979; see Savage/Love, http://www.departments.bucknell.edu/theatre_dance/shepard/savagebib.html, accessed September 29, 2006.
• Also, research could include Eileen Blumenthal’s Joseph Chaikin: Exploring at the Boundaries of Theatre (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press; 1984), pp. 171-84.
• Also, research could includeWayne Edmonstone’s “Theatre,” Vancouver Sun, October 11, 1980, 3.
• Also, research could include Leah D. Frank’s “Theatre,” New York Times, January 13, 1980.
• Also, research could include Mel Gussow’s “Intimate Monologues Speak to the Mind and Heart,” New York Times, December 9, 1979, 3.
• Also, research could include Mel Gussow’s “Theatre,” New York Times, November 16, 1979, 6.
• Also, research could include Carol Lawson’s “Two Shepard Plays Opening Tuesday at the Other Stage,” New York Times, October 31, 1979, C28.
• Also, research could include James Leverett’s “Other Voices, Other Ruins,” Soho Weekly News, November 22, 1979, 47.
• Also, research could include New York Times, November 16, 1979, 6:5.
• Also, research could include New York Times, December 9, 1979, 3:1.
• Also, research could include I. Sadowskaguillon’s “Collaboration between Sam Shepard and Robert Cordier for ‘Savage Love’,” Avant Scene Theatre, 1985 (764), 45ff.
• Also, research could include Douglas Watt’s. “Talk and, uh, Music. Whew!" The Daily News, November 15, 1979.
• Also, research could include Steven Winn’s “Magic Schedules Baitz, Shepard,” San Francisco Chronicle, June 7, 1994, E4:3.
• “Joseph Chaikin, actor and director, was born in Brooklyn in 1935 and educated at Drake University. He directed one of the most influential experimental theater groups in the United States, the New York City based Open Theater, which he founded in 1963 after working as an actor with the Living Theater. For nearly a decade, the Open Theater devoted itself to the collaborative creation of drama, investigating the essential problems of human existence. Chaikin’s work with the Open Theater, which included directing 14 original plays, was honored with the Vernon Rice Award for "outstanding contribution to the theater." Among other distinctions, Chaikin was a six time Obie Award recipient, including the very first Lifetime Achievement Obie Award in 1977. He was also awarded two Guggenheim Fellowships, the National Endowment for the Art’s first Annual Distinguished Service to American Theater Award, The Edwin Booth Award, and honorary degrees from Drake University and Kent State University. In 1999 Chaikin was awarded the "Last Frontier" Directing Award at the Edward Albee Theatre Conference in Valdez, Alaska. His book, The Presence of the Actor, was re-released by TCG Publications in 1991. Chaikin was the first American director to be included in the Cambridge University Press’ Directors in Perspective series on the world’s most influential theater directors. He was one of four American directors to be featured in Routldege Press’ Twentieth Century Actor Training. His work has been documented in the Greenwood Press series of bio-bibliographies and in the film, "Going On" by Steve Gomer. In 1984 Chaikin underwent open-heart surgery and experienced a stroke which resulted in aphasia. His recovery process was the source of inspiration for several theatrical pieces, including "The War In Heaven" (a collaboration with Sam Shepard), "The Traveler" by Jean-Claude van Itallie, "Struck Dumb" (a collaboration with Jean-Claude van Itallie) and "Night Sky" (developed with Susan Yankowitz). Chaikin continued to direct productions in New York for New York Shakespeare Festival, Manhattan Theater Club and Women’s Project, Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles, Atlanta’s 7 Stages Theater, San Francisco’s Magic Theater, Toronto’s Studio Theater and Tel Aviv’s Neve Tzedek Theater. An acomplished teacher, Chaikin conducted workshops and seminars throughout the United States, Europe, the Middle East and South Africa. In 1992 Chaikin directed Bill Irwin in an Obie-award winning production of "Texts for Nothing" by Samuel Beckett at the Joseph Papp Public Theater. From 1994 to 1996, Chaikin worked with author Susan Yankowitz on a new version of "Terminal", a play originally created by the Open Theater in 1970. Chaikin’s 1996 collaboration with Sam Shepard, "When the World Was Green", was premiered at the Cultural Olympiad of the 1996 Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta and then played at New York’s Public Theatre, Cambridge’s American Repertory Theatre, and most recently at the Singapore Arts Festival and the Chekhov Festival at the Moscow Arts Theatre.”—Joseph Chaikin-Biography, http://www.lovely.com/artservices/chaikin-bio.html, accessed February 27, 2006.
• “Joseph Chaikin first donated his papers to the Department of Special Collections and Archives of Kent State University in 1972. He continues to add material to his collection periodically. The highlights of the collection are items documenting Chaikin's life as an actor, founder of The Open Theatre, and an important American theater director and theorist. Drafts, notes, and the manuscript of his book, The Presence of the Actor, provide a look at his career in the theatre which has spanned over thirty years. These early materials were cataloged at item level and are represented in a separate inventory. For a catalog of these early materials, the researcher could also consult Joseph Chaikin: A Bio-bibliography (New Jersey: Greenwood Press, 1992) and also see our online Guide to Sources on Joseph Chaikin and the Open Theater• Also, research could include for additional sources. . . . In the following inventory, general correspondence is grouped chronologically except for major correspondence which includes Stella Adler, Julian Beck, Robert Brustein, Samuel Beckett, Eric Bentley, Jerry Grotowski, Judith Malina, Arthur Miller, Joseph Papp, Andrei Serban, Sam Shepard, Susan Sontag, and Jean-Claude van Itallie. The collection is a valuable resource to the scholar interested in Joseph Chaikin himself, The Open Theatre, off-Broadway, directing, performance theory, and ensemble theatre. . . . Actor, director, and theorist Jospeh [sic] Chaikin was born 16 September 1935 in Brooklyn, New York to emigre parents. His father was a teacher and the family moved to Iowa where his father taught Hebrew. He received his education from Drake University in Des Moines, and in 1972 was awarded with an honorary doctorate. Kent State University would also award him the same degree in 1990. In 1955 he moved to New York City and co-founded The Harlequin Players with whom he acted and directed. Chaikin joined The Living Theatre in 1959 and acted in Brecht and Ionesco plays, earning the first of his six Obies for his portrayal of Galy Gay in Brecht's Man Is Man. In 1963 he founded The Open Theatre, the country's premiere avant garde experimental ensemble theatre. He acted in their version of Beckett's ‘Endgame’ and directed Jean-Claude van Itallie's ‘Interview’ and ‘The Serpent’ and Meg Terry's ‘Viet Rock.’ After ten years The Open Theatre disbanded and Chaikin went on to form The Working Theatre in New York, an actor-teacher training ensemble. He also founded The Other Theatre with van Itallie, and directed productions of van Itallie’s Chekhov translations. In 1976 he founded the Winter Project, an annual twelve-week workshop with actors, musicians, and writers who explored storytelling for the theatre. As a director, his Beckett productions were highly successful for their lucidity. The Hollywood Reporter said ‘Chaikin has created a “Godot” that's full of wit and wisdom and is immediately accessible.’ Of ‘Endgame’, Mel Gussow in the New York Times wrote, ‘Mr. Chaikin is an experimental artist who is scrupulous when dealing with classics. This is an authentic “Endgame” down to the last agitated pause.’ Beckett and Chaikin corresponded and Beckett wrote a poem for Chaikin titled, ‘Comment Dire,’ which he translated into English as ‘What is the Word.’ Chaikin acted and directed in Europe and the Middle East. He assisted Peter Brook in Royal Shakespeare productions of ‘US’ and ‘The Tempest,’ mounted a production of ‘The Dybbuk’ in Israel, and conducted workshops with Jerry Grotowski. In 1984 Chaikin suffered a stroke leaving him aphasic. Following this he perservered as a seminal figure in American theatre, and drew upon the experience of his stroke. He collaborated on three pieces dealing with apahasia, as co-author and actor: ‘Struck Dumb,’ with van Itallie, and ‘Savage/Love’ and ‘Tongues,’ with Sam Shepard. He was awarded six Obies, including the first ever Obie for lifetime achievement in the theatre, The Drama Desk award, the Vernon Rice Award, the Brandeis University Award for Distinguished Actors, the New England Theatre Conference Award, the prestigious Edwin Booth Award, as well as two Guggenheim fellowships and grants. Chaikin published and was the subject of numerous articles on the theatre at home and abroad. In 1972 he published the book, The Presence of the Actor. He was the first American director to be included in the Directors in Perspective series of books on the most influential theatre directors, living or dead. Chaikin died in June 2003.” [Christine McBurney-Coen, 4 August 1994; last revised March 2005]—Joseph Chaikin, Papers, http://speccoll.library.kent.edu/theater/chaikin.html, accessed September 28, 2006.
• “Sam Shepard (born November 5, 1943) is an American playwright, writer and actor. He was born Samuel Shepard Rogers in Fort Sheridan, Illinois. His many works are known for being frank and often absurd, and for having an authentic sense of the style and sensibility of the gritty modern American west. Shepard is also a respected actor of stage and motion pictures. His play Buried Child received a Pulitzer Prize in 1979; other notable work includes Curse of the Starving Class in 1978, True West in 1980 and A Lie of the Mind in 1985. He also continued with his collaboration with Bob Dylan that started with the surrealist film Renaldo & Clara on an epic, 11 minute song entitled "Brownsville Girl", included on the 1986 Knocked Out Loaded album and later compilations. In 1986, Shepard was elected to The American Academy of Arts and Letters. Shepard was previously married to actress O-Lan Jones (born O-Lan Barna) from 1969 to 1984, by whom he has one son, Jesse. He met Oscar-winning actress Jessica Lange on the set of a movie they both starred in, Frances. He moved in with her in 1983, and currently lives with her and their two children in Manhattan.”—Sam Shepard - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sam_Shepard, accessed September 29, 2006.
• Chaikin photograph from Theater Guru Joseph Chaikin Dies at 67: Theater News on TheaterMania.com, http://www.theatermania.com/content/news.cfm?int_news_id=3663, accessed September 28, 2006.
• Shepard photograph from Sam Shepard - Picture - MSN Encarta, http://encarta.msn.com/media_461519734/Sam_Shepard.html, accessed September 28, 2006
death, epistemology, experimentation, hunger, instrumentation, isolation, perception, percussion, voices.