Monday, June 21, 2010
Radio Bloomsday 2010 exceeded our expectations! It was a fantastic night and thank you all for listening in. We have received so many great letters from our listeners who enjoyed the show. Apologies to our California fans who were outraged when Molly went off the air in the middle of her monologue. The good news is that we will be uploading the entire show soon to this blogspot so that people can listen to it again and again whenever they like, including the entire Molly monologue or any other part you may have missed.
There are so many moments from the night that light up my memory. The Sirens section beginning at 9.20 was one of my favorite performances of all time. It started with our artistic director Janet Coleman performing the overture (the first few pages) together with the Displaced Playwright David Dozer. Then Aaron Beall, Tara Bahna-James and Nicole Wiesner performed the first scene as the two bitchy sopranos mocked Bloom over tea and finally T Ryder Smith performed our final Bloom monologue of the evening. The orgasmic giggling of Tara and Nicole as the bitchy sopranos who had just spent the day sunning themselves perfectly captured the musicality that pulsates through this magical episode of the novel and inspired me to want to stage the entire chapter for next year's show. It was everything we hope to achieve with Radio Bloomsday - artists interpreting Ulysses to illuminate the text for the rest of us.
Janet really loved hearing Paul Dooley and Bob Odenkirk's recording in the green room which she was listening to for the first time. Zeroboy's tribute to David Nolan also was a real highlight of the night. Thank you to our wonderful actors on both coasts and to all the engineers who made the night possible. Each year we go deeper into the text, we understand more and are able to share that with you our audience. Ulysses is like the sea, mesmerizing and infinite, teaming with life and the process of bringing out the colors of the text through performance is rewarding, inspiring and renewing. Thalatta! Thalatta!
We will keep you updated with new developments throughout the year. Meanwhile, please send us your comments and suggestions.
Radio Bloomsday 2011 is just 360 days away.
Listen to the first hour of Radio Bloomsday here
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
there will be none of beauty's daughters....
there will be none of beauty's daughters....
there will be none of beauty's daughters....
dead air recovered.
molly waits in the wings.
It is wonderful to listen to in the green room, and funny to see the actors leave the booth afterwards, with brows wrinkled, worried that they hadn't done well, going over the list of their imagined mistakes. Good thing our self-perceptions are rarely accurate.
What is best, I think, after all the prior furious dives into and finicky leans over the sea of Joycean exegesis. to make sure we had the intricacies of reference down, is that the readings themselves are so simple and fun, and - we can hope - capture what was the reaction of Joyce's circle of friends when he first read the work aloud to them: laughter, wonder, joy. - TRS
Caraid O'Brien is a magician with Joyce, her performers, the Joyce line-up. How exciting to be a part of such a talented crew of performers and artists.-MaraMcEwin
photo trs: wbai green room
Aaron Beall and Nicole Wiesner chatting backstage. They will be performing together in the Sirens episode at 9.30
Listening to my dear old friend Paul Dooley read Bloom. I never realized he was actually Irish. But that too! says our artistic director Janet Coleman
photo by trs: aaron and janet
T Ryder Smith read the first few pages of the book, playing all the characters. It was also amazing.
The studio is a hot, Caraid has already changed shirts.
James Kennedy has just walked in. He is reading Bloom at 8pm. Caraid remembers the first time she saw him on television as a criminal in the Irish police show The Bill.
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
We will be broadcasting live in just over 24 hours from WBAI 99.5FM in New York City. KPFA in Los Angeles will be carrying the complete show also with a three hour time delay. You can listen to the show on our blog by clicking one of the links to your right or by visiting wbai.org or pacifica.org
We will also be live blogging from backstage during the show here at radiobloomsday.blogspot.com At 9am this morning in midtown Manhattan, we had an enjoyably intense rehearsal with Mara McEwin and Jim Fletcher who will be performing two extremely difficult excerpts from Oxen of the Sun, written in medieval prose during the 9pm hour. Together, the three of us broke that text down with Jim and his secret love of Chaucer leading the charge. They are going to be great. Also at 9am this morning (west coast time) in Los Angeles at the Pacifica Archives, we recorded Bob Odenkirk as Bloom contemplating childbirth. Bloom sounded great, very funny, in his Chicago voice. Bloom is obsessed with the trials and tribulations of women giving birth, which is typical of his gentle, thoughtful nature. He is a very sensitive fellow. Lord Byronesque indeed.
On Friday, real life couple John O'Callaghan and Jaason Simmons recorded some of Lord Byron's poems that Bloom gave Molly when they were courting and honestly I have never heard two voices sound more sexy. O yes and Paul Dooley who also recorded his piece in Los Angeles last week is fantastic as a hungry cranky Bloom scouting around for his lunch, disgusted with the men he sees shoving meat in their craws. Our marathon of Bloom monologues beginning just before 8pm is going to be a highlight for sure. Not to overdue the superlatives, but this is definitely the most thrilling Bloomsday I've ever worked on.
We have over two dozen actors and singers performing live tomorrow and you can find out more about all of them by clicking the links below right. I am fairly brain dead at this moment but very excited. Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know what you think during the show. It should be available to listen to online for at least a week after the live broadcast and hopefully longer. I'll keep you posted.
Thanks for Tuning in!
Monday, June 14, 2010
Ever since we began broadcasting Radio Bloomsday live from the WBAI studios on Wall Street, David Nolan was our technical director. When all of the other actors had gone home and I was deep into my Molly monologue, wondering if anyone in the world was listening, David's face was the only one I would see as he came in to check my mike and the sound levels. He was the physical representation of our invisible audience listening to the show at their computers or beside their radios across the country and the world.
David was a radio host, a sound archivist, an engineer and completely irreplaceable among many other things. He was a founding host of Morning Dew, a Grateful Dead tribute program. A long time East Village resident, David died suddenly of a heart attack this past February.
His friend for two decades, fellow artist and resident of the East Village, the vocal acrobat Zeroboy (below) has recorded a tribute to David that we will be broadcasting during Radio Bloomsday this Wednesday evening, June 16th. In Ulysses, Bloom's day begins with attending Paddy Dignam's funeral, a friend who died suddenly of a heart attack. Zeroboy plays Bloom at the funeral wondering about the thin veil between life and death. Zeroboy's tribute to David is a soundscape of Joycecean word play created specifically for radio and include's Zeroboy's signature self created sound effects throughout the piece. Our audio engineer Bob Auld did fantastic work layering Zeroboy's sound effects behind his interpretation of Joyce's text. The result is a noir Zombie take on Ulysses, the first of its kind and a fitting tribute to a sound artist like David.
It will be played during the 8pm hour as part of our symphony of Blooms as actors such as Jerry Stiller, Paul Dooley, James Kennedy, Bob Odenkirk, T. Ryder Smith, Jim Fletcher and Aaron Beall perform the inner monologues of Leopold Bloom.
Bloom's thoughts on life and death from the Hades episode of Ulysses: "You must laugh sometimes so better do it that way. Gravediggers in Hamlet. Shows the profound knowledge of the human heart. Daren't joke about the dead for two years at least. De mortuis nil nisi prius. Go out of mourning first. Hard to imagine his funeral. Seems a sort of a joke. Read your own obituary notice they say gives you second wind. New lease of life. Poor Dignam!
Sunday, June 13, 2010
Mannix, age 3 and I attended Bloomsday in Brooklyn yesterday. It was a very sweet affair of about 50 people standing outside pubs reading excerpts from Ulysses. We were not allowed inside the pubs, alas, the world cup had them all filled to capacity, but the roaring of the crowds behind us made for a celebratory backup track. It was a walking tour of bars along fifth avenue. Many Bloomsdays around the world, such as the one in Dublin and the one in Toronto, stage scenes from the book around the city. Usually, they stop at one bar to signify Barney Kiernan's pub and The Cyclops episode. In Brooklyn, the revelers attended six. A bagpipe player started up and led the crowd from one location to the next. There were also several other musicians playing Irish folksongs on the street after the reading. Mannix and I lasted for two bars before he redirected us to a local park. We did have a chance to hear an Irish actor read the opening pages of the book and see Judge Bernie Graham and the DA Joe Hynes read an excerpt from Cyclops. We did not have a beer alas, as Mannix had left his fake ID at home but as Molly says in her monologue: "my belly is a bit too big Ill have to knock off the stout at dinner or am I getting too fond of it."
My first encounter with Bloomsday was when I was eleven in Dublin taking the bus to meet my aunt at Holles Street Hospital the maternity hospital where the fictional Bloom visits the fictional Mrs Purefoy and meets ups with the imaginary Stephen and where my real aunt Mary had a real job as a matron. Coming down to meet me, she had to push through a throng of site seers. What are they here for? I asked. Bloomsday, she said. James Joyce's novel. Americans, mostly. O, I said, marveling at the fact that real people were visiting a fictional character in the hospital and coming all the way from America to do so. Hollis Street is an amazing hospital and it even has an art's budget. One year, it commissioned the playwright Marina Carr to write a play and gave her a stipend and a room in the hospital to do so. The result was the stunning, haunting play, Portia Coughlan which my friend Mercedes staged at Show World a few years ago in its New York premiere.
In Brooklyn, the organizers made note of the fact that the first Bloomsday in Ireland was celebrated in 1954 by Irish writers Patrick Kavanaugh and Flann O'Brien and read a poem by Flann O'Brien. Sylvia Beach organized the first Bloomsday Lunch in Paris in 1929. The day out in Brooklyn was organized by The Friendly Sons of Saint Patrick and they mentioned that they hope to do it again next year which would be grand.
Saturday, June 12, 2010
Jerry Stiller, Alec Baldwin, Paul Muldoon, Paul Dooley, Bob Odenkirk, Charles Busch, T. Ryder Smith, Aaron Beall, Bob Dishy,Amy Stiller, Judy Graubart, Jaason Simmons, John O'Callaghan, Barbara Vann, Jim Fletcher, Zeroboy, Janet Coleman, David Dozer, Tara Bahna-James, James Kennedy, George Heslin, Mac Barrett, Merideth Finn, Mara McEwin, Emily Mitchell, Nicole Weisner, Marcus Goldhaber, Martha Guenther, Barika Edwards, Rosie Goldensohn and Caraid O'Brien as Molly Bloom perform on Radio Bloomsday Wednesday, June 16th, 2010 on WBAI 99.5 FM and wbai.org.
Artists perform excerpts from James Joyce's Ulysses for Radio Bloomsday on Wednesday June 16th from 7pm to 2am on WBAI 99.5FM in New York City and wbai.org. Radio Bloomsday continues the 32-year WBAI tradition of broadcasting marathon performances of James Joyce's Ulysses every Bloomsday as New York's leading artists gather in the WBAI studio on Wall Street to interpret this classic of modern literature. We recorded actors in Los Angeles and New York for the broadcast with over two dozen artists performing live from WBAI during our the broadcast.
The broadcast opens at 7pm with an invocation to the goddess of Irish poetry as Barbara Vann performs the ninth century Gaelic poem, The Hag of Beare.The first hour focusing on the first four chapters of Ulysses. T. Ryder Smith (left) introduces us to Buck Mulligan and Stephen Dedalus in the Martello Tower. Pulitzer Prize winning poet Paul Muldoon performs Stephen Dedalus' inner thoughts as he wrestles with his mind while walking on the beach in the complete Proteus episode. Jerry Stiller reads Bloom's thoughts in Calypso as he makes Molly's breakfast, sits on the toilet and dreams of artistic greatness and reads a letter from his daughter Milly, played by Amy Stiller.
The eight o’clock hour is a mini marathon of Bloom's inner thoughts. James Kennedy as Bloom walking around Dublin, Zeroboy as Bloom at the cemetery, Bob Odenkirk (left) as Bloom imagining childbirth, Jim Fletcher as Bloom mellow on wine, Paul Dooley as Bloom contemplating lunch and T Ryder Smith as Bloom at the end of the Siren's episode.
At 9pm, we debut our new writers segment as poets Merideth Finn and Mac Barrett read from their new work. We return to Ulysses to explore the dozens of literary styles sampled by Joyce throughout the novel (and throughout our broadcast) from Dickensian prose to penny dreadful romances, from Celtic legends to school primers. Alec Baldwin (left) performs in the style of a Celtic legend, Judy Graubart is a psychic conducting a séance, Bob Dishy performs in the style of sentimental gentlemen’s prose. Janet Coleman and David Dozer perform the verbal overture to the Sirens episode. Mara McEwin and Jim Fletcher tackle the medieval prose of Oxen of the Sun. Tara Bahna James performs an original tune composed by Christian Imboden based on the Irish revolutionary song The Night Before Larry was Stretched.
Starting at 10pm, we enter Ulysses in Nighttown as Stephen and Bloom stumble through Dublin’s redlight district in the Circe episode which is written in the form of a play and captures the similarities between artistic creation and drunken revelry. Playwright and female impersonator Charles Busch (left) plays the whore mistress Madame Bella Cohen, T Ryder Smith is the narrator and Aaron Beall is Bloom.
Around 11pm, we turn our sites to Molly Bloom, the singer, the woman, the artist in bed. This three hour segment begins with real life couple John O'Callaghan (Stargate Atlantis, at left) and Jaason Simmons (Baywatch, at left) reciting Lord Byron’s poetry, which Bloom used to woo Molly when they were courting. Alec Baldwin then reads James Joyce's love letters to his wife Nora, the inspiration for Molly Bloom. As always, the evening ends with the complete Molly Bloom monologue, performed by Galway native Caraid O'Brien, as she thinks about her lovers, her husband, her children and her stalled artistic career.
Radio Bloomsday is directed by Caraid O'Brien; and produced by Larry Josephson, Peabody-Award-Winner and President of The Radio Foundation. The Artistic Director is Janet Coleman, host and producer of Cat Radio Cafe and former WBAI Arts Director.
Thursday, June 10, 2010
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
There are many incredible artists involved in our seven hour radio broadcast, actors, singers, producers, writers, journalists and historians. All that we ask is that you devote your life to creating art. A small thing really. Radio Bloomsday: Artists interpret Ulysses.
The amazing Janet Coleman is our artistic director. Her weekly radio broadcasts, Cat Radio Cafe and The Next Hour are a one of a kind wellspring of inspiring information about what it takes to live an artist's life and to create work that influences and inspires the world.
Janet is responsible for bringing Radio Bloomsday to air on WBAI as well as making the broadcast available throughout the Pacifica Network. She also is involved with the artistic content of the program and the casting of the show, inviting extraordinary artists such as Kate Valk, Jim Fletcher, Richard Maxwell, Bob Dishy and Judy Graubart to be part of our broadcast. This year, she has coordinated the addition of Los Angeles actors Paul Dooley and Bob Odenkirk to our ever growing (inter)national broadcast.
Janet is an author and actor. Her publications include The Compass the definitive history of improvisational theatre in America; and (with Al Young) Mingus/Mingus: Two Memoirs. She is a founding producer of the seminal off-off Broadway's Loft Theatre Workshop. She appeared as Evelyn Lincoln in the film 13 Days, as one of the Believers in Richard Maxwell’s ADS, and as Emily Ann Andrews in David Dozer's long-running radio comedy series, Poisoned Arts. Her articles, stories and reviews have appeared in such publications as Vanity Fair, New York, the Village Voice, Elle, Esquire, the Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, Ploughshares, Fence and Global City Review. She is a Contributing Editor to The Bloomsbury Review .
I interview Janet below:
How did you first get involved in doing cultural programming at WBAI?
I started at WBAI as an actress on my husband (pictured at left with Janet) David Dozer's production comedy series, Poisoned Arts, which began in the late Sixties under the direction of Otis MacClay, his college friend who also still works with Pacifica. When Poisoned Arts returned to the air in the early Nineties, I also got involved in live radio and actually producing radio programs myself. David and I now co-host an arts program called Cat Radio Cafe and since early in the Bush years have produced a program of political satire called CCCP: The Monthly Laughing Nightmare.
When I became WBAI Arts Director in 2004, I needed to fill a 55 minute cultural programming slot and invited artists I admired to host -- people who I knew who could talk eloquently -- alone or with others -- for 55 minutes. Gore Vidal did a number of shows (called The Next Hour) as have Malachy McCourt, Reno, Wally Shawn, Karen Finley, Kate Valk and many others. Kate Valk brought Real People Theater, a high school theater group from Brooklyn who performed a play by Lawrence Fishburne. (These shows are archived and available on the web at www.catradiocafe.com.)
What are you most excited about this year?
We are recording actors in Los Angeles, Paul Dooley (above), Bob Odenkirk and others for the first time this year with the help and good graces of Allen Minsky of KPFK and Brian de Shazor and Mark Torres of The Pacifica Radio Archives -- an extraordinary part of the Pacifica Network. The Pacifica archivers are extremely literate and concerned with preserving Pacifica’s cultural as well as its political tradition. They have a huge archive of reel to reel tape, and decades of recordings yet to retrieve. Among their finds was an unmarked but momentous recording of Tolstoy’s War in Peace made at WBAI in the 1970’s. They restored it and rereleased it on the 30th anniversary of the broadcast. The original recording was made as a cultural protest to the Vietnam War. Mel Brooks, Anne Bancroft, Dustin Hoffman, actors, intellectuals and public figures all took part. (We were at war again –in Iraq -- during the restoration and people like Ed Asner and Cindy Sheehan were invited to re-record missing passages.) This was one of many literary programs done at WBAI, the crown jewel of which was probably Bloomsday. WBAI started broadcasting readings from the Shakespeare and Company Bookstore and then later the readings at Symphony Space. For several years, the Symphony Space production moved to WNYC. Mark Laiosa was responsible for bringing Bloomsday back to WBAI in 2003, again by broadcasting the Symphony Space show. We continued the remote broadcast until 2008 when we decided to do a broadcast designed specifically for radio as opposed to broadcasting a theatrical performance.
Ulysses is the novel that ushers in the modern age of literary experiment and an authentic literary revolution, turning the notion of the language of the novel upside down while exploring sex, consciousness, imperialism, alienation and art. These days modernism is a religion that seems to have disappeared in the blur of post-modernism. Yet in extending the possibilities of the artistic act, Joyce’s words, ideas and construction in Ulysses still have never been matched.
What other cultural programming have you done?
We put together an online broadcast of HOWL with discussions of its cultural significance for its 50th anniversary in 2007. Because of the draconian FCC fines for language violations (you can’t broadcast the Seven Dirty Words and more), we were unable to broadcast the show on air, but made it available through our website. We played one of the earliest recordings of Allen Ginsburg reading HOWL. Also, a panel including Lawrence Ferlinghetti, the brave and stalwart publisher of HOWL, discussed its amazing publication history, its sudden and enormous fame, its impounding, the impact of the Beat Generation, and the groundbreaking censorship restrictions that were overcome in the courts. Ginsburg reading Howl. You can listen to it at pacifica.org
Soon after his death, we did a show about Norman Mailer and his work. We had recordings of his voice as well as interviews with his wife Norris, his son John Buffalo, his editor Jason Epstein, the filmmaker D.H. Pennebaker, and authors Frank McCourt and Joyce Carol Oates. Rip Torn, Mailer’s dear friend and co-star in Mailer’s film, Maidstone, showed up a day late, and we played his hilarious and sometimes tearful homage to his pal the following week.
Your literary programming seems to have a political component?
Of course. All great literature is political, even if not intentionally. If an artist is capturing the realities of the world, he/she pays attention to the politics and injustices and imbalances in it. We’ve had a lot of literary figures on our show highly sensitive to politics and First Amendment issues like the satirist Paul Krassner. And poets like Lawrence Joseph, Hugh Seidman and D. Nurkse whose work has been very responsive to issues of war and peace – the fundamental concern of the Pacifica Mission. Cat Radio Café, broadcast every Monday at 2pm, is a radio arts salon that supposedly explores the creative bounty of New York, but we had Marilyn Hacker reading her poetry from Paris; and Maxine Kumin, X.J. Kennedy and April Bernard read from New England. Elizabeth Macklin performed her translations of poetry from the Basque language. I am really interested in “disappeared” languages like Basque, Irish, Yiddish which of course in having survived underground, are political by definition. Harold Bloom did a long interview with me on the 125th anniversary of Leaves of Grass. Bloom is a fan of the jazz artist Charles Mingus (a mighty expansive and Whitmanesque figure himself) and I used Mingus music as a musical coda to Bloom’s brilliant talk. It was an amazing show.
What is the connection between Pacifica radio and the arts?
Pacifica was founded to create a path to resolving conflicts peacefully and what better way to do that than through art and literature. Bringing literature, drama and music to its listeners is written into the Pacifica Mission. It’s startling that Ulysses was declared not obscene in a landmark decision by Judge Woolsey in 1933 and yet on the radio, the most easily accessed public medium, freedom of language is a battle we are still fighting today. To broadcast this indisputable artistic masterpiece in this period of cultural regression, is extremely important.
What was your first experience with Ulysses?
My father first read hunks of it aloud to me from a book about Gertrude Stein and other “obscure” modernist writers. We were living in Brooklyn and guess I was in junior high because I can picture the room we were in while he read. He kept saying of Joyce, “Isn’t this a little too much? This is too obscure, isn’t it?” And I said “No, keep reading, keep reading.” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. The language was so fanciful, so full of fun. My father was amazing really. He introduced me to Wihelm Reich and biogenetics when I was fifteen.
So the first time you heard you Ulysses it was read aloud to you?
Later, when I was 16, I went to school as an undergrad at the University of Michigan. The first year was English composition. Then Shakespeare. And then I took a class on Joyce, Yeats, Eliot and Edwin Muir with the poet Donald Hall. He’d been published and an editor of The Paris Review, but it was his first time teaching. He was an extraordinary teacher. He opened up the book for me. And he was in awe of it too. His TA gave me a C- on my Ulysses paper – explicating one page of the book (my page was 372 from Nausicaa) and I was outraged, because I thought I’d made crucial connections to other themes in the book with practically every word. I brought the paper to Hall, something I never did and he read it and gave me an A. I knew I connected with the book in a way the TA obviously did not. Faugh a ballagh to him.
What is your favorite part of Ulysses?
Whatever I am reading at the moment. I guess Penelope. I really love your Molly Bloom. It is still exciting to hear how completely she owns her own sexuality. Joyce understands that sexuality isn’t only sex it’s personality. Is there another writer who so thoroughly hears the opposite sex?
Who do you hope is listening to the broadcast?
While dropping Radio Bloomsday flyers around NYU, it occurred to me that I hoped that other young peop le would hear, the way I did, this transformative use of language on the radio and, thanks to the luxury of being read to, have a mind-altering aesthetic experience too. Teenagers and people in their early twenties are very open to what’s spectacularly different. They’re tastemakers for a reason: they connect to what’s visceral in art. And so does Joyce.
The third section of our broadcast is devoted to the dozens of literary stylings Joyce employs in Ulysses. In a very funny excerpt, the wonderful actress Judy Graubart inhabites the voice of a New Age American psychic to describe the ghost of Paddy Dignam wafting through the drunken funeral revelers in Barney Kiernan's pub. Dignam's celestial message is to tell his son the location of his missing boot and advise him to get the heels soled. His son poor Patrick Aloysius is destined for the orphanage now that his father is dead.
Two great icons of literary entertainment died this week: Joseph Strick (middle, above with Rip Torn and Henry Miller), who filmed the fist film version of Ulysses and the radio pioneer, writer, actor and producer Himan Brown (left). The Brooklyn born Brown created some of the most popular radio dramas of all time including The Adventures of The Thin Man and Dick Tracy. Joseph Strick also directed Henry Miller's The Tropic of Capricorn.
May they be our spirit guides, our Paddy Dignam's inspiring us with their decades of daring and creative genius as we count down one week to Radio Bloomsday.
"He is gone from mortal haunts: O'Dignam, sun of our morning. Fleet was his foot on the bracken: Patrick of the beamy brow. Wail, Banba, with your wind: and wail, O ocean, with your whirlwind."
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
Sunday, June 6, 2010
I wonder was he satisfied with me
one thing I didnt like
his slapping me behind going away so familiarly in the hall
though I laughed
Im not a horse or an ass am I
I suppose he was thinking of his father
I wonder is he awake thinking of me
or dreaming am I in it
who gave him that flower he said he bought
he smelt of some kind of drink not whisky or stout
or perhaps the sweety kind of paste they stick their bills up with
some liqueur Id like to sip
those richlooking green and yellow expensive drinks
those stagedoor johnnies drink
with the opera hats
I tasted once with my finger
dipped out of that American that had the squirrel
talking stamps with father
he had all he could do to keep himself from falling asleep
after the last time
after we took the port and potted meat
it had a fine salty taste yes
because I felt lovely and tired myself
and fell asleep as sound as a top
the moment I popped straight into bed
till that thunder woke me up God be merciful to us
I thought the heavens were coming down about us to punish us
when I blessed myself and said a Hail Mary
like those awful thunderbolts in Gibraltar
as if the world was coming to an end
and then they come and tell you theres no God
what could you do if it was
running and rushing about
nothing only make an act of contrition
photo of Molly Bloom in bed in Chelsea (Louie Correia)
Saturday, June 5, 2010
Stephen Dedalus, the school teacher and aspiring poet, does have his own chapter, however: Proteus. In fact, he has a whole book (Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man). In Ulysses, he wrestles with his intellect while walking alone along Sandymount Strand. Stephen is the most intellectual character in the novel. His frenemy Buck Mulligan says Stephen "proves by algebra that Hamlet's grandson is Shakespeare's grandfather and that he himself is the ghost of his own father." And in fact we hear him do just that in the library in the Scylla and Charybdis episode of Ulysses, an intellectual tour de force that only the cleverest of actors can perform as Jim Fletcher (left) did for us so wonderfully last year.
Stephen's Jesuit education supplemented by his own literary explorations is as excellent as Joyce's himself. Although he may be young and at times pretentious, there is no question that Dedalus is a truly brilliant man. In Proteus, Stephen examines the senses and what they actually represent, relives his own painful family memories and composes poetry on the beach. He is angry when he thinks of his homelessness, his financial troubles and the fact that no one has recognized his genius. His anger falls away when he follows the thread of an intellectual puzzle or creates an idea, thought or line. I have never heard an actor win the battle with Proteus when attempting this most difficult of monologues in its entirety until this week.
The Pulitzer prize winning poet, Paul Muldoon (left), the literary rockstar that Stephen aspires to be recorded the entire Proteus episode and it was amazing. Unlike in the Penelope episode, there is a little narration in the monologue, requiring, deft and delicate vocal shifts as Stephen moves from a more neutral description to his passionate and frustrated inner most thoughts. Throughout the monologue, Stephen recreates conversations with his drunken insulting useless father, wonders if he has killed his mother by refusing to kneel at her bedside, committed atheist that he is, and reminds himself not to spend what little money he has so quickly. Often the obscure phrases in Proteus fall over the listener like a lapping wave but in this recording Paul manages to fill you up with the hope, the desires, the desperation and the genius of a man on the cusp of greatness with nothing to look forward to but a lifetime of poverty.
The Proteus monologue, one poet playing another, Paul Muldoon wrestling with James Joyce, will be broadcast around 7.15 at the top of Radio Bloomsday on Wednesday, June 16th on 99.5FM in NYC and wbai.org
The beginning of Proteus:
Ineluctable modality of the visible: at least that if no more, thought through my eyes. Signatures of all things I am here to read, seaspawn and seawrack, the nearing tide, that rusty boot. Snotgreen, bluesilver, rust: coloured signs. Limits of the diaphane. But he adds: in bodies. Then he was aware of them bodies before of them coloured. How? By knocking his sconce against them, sure. Go easy. Bald he was and a millionaire, maestro di color che sanno.Limit of the diaphane in. Why in? Diaphane, adiaphane. If you can put your five fingers through it it is a gate, if not a door. Shut your eyes and see.