Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Ulysses in Downtown

Every year, we pre-record some excerpts of Radio Bloomsday to make it easier to switch between segments during our seven hour live broadcast. Today we recorded a thirty minute piece from the Circe episode of Ulysses with three legendary downtown artists : Charles Busch(above), T. Ryder Smith and Aaron Beall.

Joyce bends together several realities throughout the drug fueled orgy that is Circe. Bella turns into Bello, a man, and in turn turns Bloom into Ruby Cohen, awhore/scullery maid. Chock full of scatological references, Circe is one of the most controversial episodes in the book. Zero Mostel starred as Leopold Bloom in one of the most successful adaptations of Ulysses which focused almost completely on the Circe episode. That play, Ulysses in Nighttown, was nominated for several Tony Awards on Broadway in 1974. T Ryder mentioned that that production which he attended was one of his favorite theatrical memories of all time.

Circe is written in the form of a play, as Stephen Dedalus and Leopold Bloom drunkenly wander through Dublin's Red light district. We recorded the section where Bloom explores his perverse sexual fantasies under the tutelage of whoremistress Madame Bella Cohen. The playwright and performer and novelist Charles Busch essayed the role of Bella and brought a disarming sweetness to the character of this famous sadist that was devastating and unique. Charles' new play The Divine Sister opens at Soho Rep this September. The chameleon T. Ryder Smith who is presently playing Hitler, Ronald Regan and Queen Elizabeth (pictured above) in Sara Ruhl's Passion Play read the narration and hilariously about a half dozen other roles. Aaron Beall (below with Molly), the founder of Nada and the New York International Fringe Festival played a stripped down and exposed, quintessentially New York Bloom.

Below is a short excerpt from Circe, as Bella/Bello chastises Bloom. Tune in on Wednesday, June 16th around 10pm to hear these superstars perform the entire piece.

BELLO: (Savagely) The nosering, the pliers, the bastinado, the hanging hook, the knout I'll make you kiss while the flutes play like the Nubian slave of old. You're in for it this time! I'll make you remember me for the balance of your natural life.

(His forehead veins swollen, his face congested)

I shall sit on your ottoman saddleback every morning after my thumping good breakfast of Matterson's fat hamrashers and a bottle of Guinness's porter.

(He belches)

And suck my thumping good Stock Exchange cigar while I read the Licensed Victualler's Gazette. Very possibly I shall have you slaughtered and skewered in my stables and enjoy a slice of you with crisp crackling from the baking tin basted and baked like sucking pig with rice and lemon or currant sauce. It will hurt you.

(He twists her arm. Bloom squeals, turning turtle.)

BLOOM: Don't be cruel, nurse! Don't!

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