THE WHITMAN PIECE

A Touchstone Theatre Production

Written by
Bill George

Directed by
Christopher Shorr

Movement by
Cathleen O'Malley

Stage Manager
Emma Chong

In collaboration with
Moravian College Theatre

The Chronicle is bits and pieces--photos, back story documents, video and confessions--documenting the emergence of The Whitman Piece from little more than a notion of the mind, through it's various incarnations, workshops, readings, and finally to its first public staging April, 2011.

9th July 2011

Post

The work goes on

July 9, 2011.

And the work goes on.  

23rd June 2011

Video

This is no longer Act I, Scene 1—but here it is.  From the Workshop Production of April 2011.  

6th April 2011

Photoset

Photos from The Whitman Piece Tech - Dress  All Rights Reserved by H. Scott Heist

4th April 2011

Video

Ice House Tech Load In Sunday Night.  The Space is ours!  (Tip of the hat to Gary Minyard and PYT.)  JP Jordan lords over the management of Load In and Lisa Jordan and Emma Chong discuss light placement.

29th March 2011

Photo

The Team.  At Moravian.  This is our last full week of rehearsals, and the show HAS to come together NOW!  It’s a big play, and we’re having a hard time getting all the work done.  Photo by H.Scott Heist All Rights Reserved.

The Team.  At Moravian.  This is our last full week of rehearsals, and the show HAS to come together NOW!  It’s a big play, and we’re having a hard time getting all the work done.  Photo by H.Scott Heist All Rights Reserved.

29th March 2011

Photo

Jeremy and me…Opening scene in the graveyard.  Jeremy has been a delight to work with.  He plays the part of Beau.  Photo by H.Scott Heist.  All Rights Reserved.

Jeremy and me…Opening scene in the graveyard.  Jeremy has been a delight to work with.  He plays the part of Beau.  Photo by H.Scott Heist.  All Rights Reserved.

15th March 2011

Question

Anonymous said: did you get an actor?
Sincerely,
Ron Heneghan

Ron, thanks for asking. Yes. Gene Connelly. Appreciate the help. Rehearsals are in underway, and all my neurosis are coming into full play.

9th March 2011

Photo

Rehearsals Have Begun  and I’d like to share part of an email from me to Christopher, after the second rehearsal.  We’re in a lot of table talk right now.  It sometimes sounds like this:  
Christopher, you asked Wednesday night whether the episode of Whitman text in the script was put there by Danny, the playwright of the play within the play, or by me, and of course it was put there by me, but I wasn’t particularly happy with my ability to clearly respond to the logic of what was going on.  Tired.  And it is complicated.  Not just the logic of playwrights but also the logic of the word Religion and how it’s used in different ways.  … The second Spirit Sequence  makes a major proposal about Religion and Spirituality, particularly in relation to the United States of America.  There is the Whitman Quote itself which tells us that:  The non-existence of evil as a substantial thing (opposed to Christianity/Judaism, speaking in broad generalities, where you have to somehow set the balance of sin right). Whitman is saying that evil is like shadow, a result of the light.  It is not substantial.  And he’s saying that the stars, the earth, America are an extension of this light.  That to try and have America without “religion” is to divorce the object from it’s source.  Shadow is part of the whole, the light is all that is real—do not try to discount or eliminate any part as unnecessary.  We will never escape decay, death, evil.  It’s built in to the way we see the world.  And then, finally, he is saying, the way through is through love…but (I, we) hold off positing that idea entirely in the edit we have here because we’re holding that idea until the end.  That’s what I think Whitman is saying.  And it is what We all want him to be saying (me and Danny), but Danny’s trying to say more here.  Danny has this American Pageant idea he’s trying to get Adam to stage.  The poetry is supporting a dramatic idea, story:  the idea behind that is that Danny sees the Civil War as at least part of legendary Armageddon.  In Christian Terms. He sees the American Revolution and the birth of Democracy as the beginning of the establishment of the promised Heaven on Earth and the coming of age of the human race.  He sees the struggle for democracy as a new sort of morality that is slowly taking the place of “the king”, so often the tyrant king—for one, as Nietzsche feared, of “the slave” (certainly relevant to the Civil War and a result of an old patriarchal morality), of compassion, justice for all, humility, the feminine brought into balance with what was before masculine dominated.  Because of this, he sees life as a huge battle that is taking place between these forces and that the Civil War was at the heart of it, a time when people were genuinely losing their blood over it, but it’s a struggle that goes on to this day, that we’re in the middle of.    Bill

Rehearsals Have Begun  and I’d like to share part of an email from me to Christopher, after the second rehearsal.  We’re in a lot of table talk right now.  It sometimes sounds like this:  

Christopher, you asked Wednesday night whether the episode of Whitman text in the script was put there by Danny, the playwright of the play within the play, or by me, and of course it was put there by me, but I wasn’t particularly happy with my ability to clearly respond to the logic of what was going on.  Tired.  And it is complicated.  Not just the logic of playwrights but also the logic of the word Religion and how it’s used in different ways.  
The second Spirit Sequence  makes a major proposal about Religion and Spirituality, particularly in relation to the United States of America.  There is the Whitman Quote itself which tells us that:  The non-existence of evil as a substantial thing (opposed to Christianity/Judaism, speaking in broad generalities, where you have to somehow set the balance of sin right). Whitman is saying that evil is like shadow, a result of the light.  It is not substantial.  And he’s saying that the stars, the earth, America are an extension of this light.  That to try and have America without “religion” is to divorce the object from it’s source.  Shadow is part of the whole, the light is all that is real—do not try to discount or eliminate any part as unnecessary.  We will never escape decay, death, evil.  It’s built in to the way we see the world.  And then, finally, he is saying, the way through is through love…but (I, we) hold off positing that idea entirely in the edit we have here because we’re holding that idea until the end.  That’s what I think Whitman is saying.  And it is what We all want him to be saying (me and Danny), but Danny’s trying to say more here.  
Danny has this American Pageant idea he’s trying to get Adam to stage.  The poetry is supporting a dramatic idea, story:  the idea behind that is that Danny sees the Civil War as at least part of legendary Armageddon.  In Christian Terms. He sees the American Revolution and the birth of Democracy as the beginning of the establishment of the promised Heaven on Earth and the coming of age of the human race.  He sees the struggle for democracy as a new sort of morality that is slowly taking the place of “the king”, so often the tyrant king—for one, as Nietzsche feared, of “the slave” (certainly relevant to the Civil War and a result of an old patriarchal morality), of compassion, justice for all, humility, the feminine brought into balance with what was before masculine dominated.  Because of this, he sees life as a huge battle that is taking place between these forces and that the Civil War was at the heart of it, a time when people were genuinely losing their blood over it, but it’s a struggle that goes on to this day, that we’re in the middle of.    
Bill

21st February 2011

Post

The end of writing…kind of.

I’ve just finished version 4.1 of the Whitman Piece having worked on it for well over a year now.  It’s amazing, frustrating, and downright weird how a script can evolve and evolve and evolve.  Endlessly.  You just run out of time, that’s all.  That’s not entirely true.  Progress is made.  One does get to a point where things aren’t better, they’re just different, but I’m not there yet.  Tomorrow we’ll talk through the script with Christopher (the Director) and the rest of the Touchstone Ensemble—Lisa and JP—and then I get one more hack at it before rehearsals begin in a week.

I’m pretty happy with it, right now, but I expect once it’s “inflated” into three dimensions, there’ll be any number of “leaks” that have to be fixed.  We’ll see.   

21st February 2011

Quote

DANNY
I am the adroit and sure-footed God of all things ballish!
BEAU
Oh, yeah! Eat this!
The Whitman Piece  Act I, Scene 1

8th February 2011

Post

American Dream

Bill,

First, break a leg with this ambitious project.  I certainly hope to get a chance to see it, despite the fact that my nest show opens on the same night this one does…

My sense of how I’m working toward that national dream is by keeping up with the news of current events, and by voting, signing petitions, writing letters to congresspeople and corporations and cabinet members pleading with them to do this or not to that, all in the hope that the country will continue to provide a greater range of equality and freedom (evn when those ideals conflict…).  I also think I help this dream along when I teach students to be more aware of the world around them and to be aware of the moral choices being made around them.

Hope that’s helpful somehow.  Maybe banal, but it’s the best I can do.  

Michael Swanson

Coordinator of Theatre and Dance, theatre professor

Elizabethtown College

Mariel Iezzoni commented on your post.”I once had a cab driver in Washington DC who was from Ethiopia. He ended up telling me that when he came here was no water and no way to get work in his village. He said in America, you can work hard and get somewhere. There is opportunity here in a way that doesn’t exist anywhere else in the world. America as an entity represents opportunity. It was easily the most eloquent way anyone has described “America” to me.” 

6th February 2011

Audio post - Played 0 times

I have a question for anyone who might pass by.  What does the American Dream mean to you, personally?  I mean, I don’t want you to tell me what you think the American Dream is, but, do you participate in some way in a Greater Vision of how this nation is moving forward?  And if so, how does that manifest itself, day by day, in your life?  I’d love to hear from anyone who might take a few minutes to share their thoughts.

—you can contribute directly by clicking on the “submit” button on the upper left corner of the page and typing in your thoughts.  Thanks.

Bill

26th January 2011

Photoset

The suggestions are in, and there are many.  It’s clear that the sprawling nature of the narrative is confusing people and it’s time to cut, to cut good stuff.  I believe Francis will go.  Javier will go.  Perhaps even Catherine.  Many thanks to all who’ve reflected on the work.  There is still much to do.  Much to do.

Bill

20th January 2011

Post

Tonight and Tomorrow Night—The Whitman Piece Readings

Dear Friends,
As you may or may not be aware, I am writing a play to open in the first week of April about group creation of art, the United States of America, and the “Spirit of the Age”.  This play will have interesting implications for any who might see it, but certainly for those interested in “America’s Destiny” and the struggle of creating “art”.  
We’re doing two readings of it for comments from general folks before I start working on the “final” draft.  Tonight at 7 p.m. at Touchstone Theatre, and tomorrow at 8 p.m. 
You are cordially invited.  Please come out and help make the play.
Touchstone Theatre, 321 E. 4th. St., Bethlehem, PA 18015    
Bill

30th December 2010

Photo

And yet another shot of my computer in a different locale!  December 30th., 2010. One year on.  

And yet another shot of my computer in a different locale!  December 30th., 2010. One year on.