The Martin E. Segal Theatre Center in New York City presented Roy Cohn/Jack Smith: Remembering Ron Vawter livestreamed on the global, commons-based peer produced HowlRound TV network at howlround.tv on Monday 13 November 2017 at8 p.m. EST (New York) / 7 p.m. CST (Chicago) / 5 p.m. PST (Los Angeles).
Join us for a rare screening of a tape of a live performance of Ron Vawter’s legendary performance piece, Roy Cohn/Jack Smith, 25 years after it opened at The Performing Garage in 1992. Followed by a discussion with director Gregory Mehrten, author Gary Indiana, and critics and scholars David Román and Alisa Solomon. Moderated by Frank Hentschker.
Vawter’s two-part solo performance is a double portrait of two complex minds and two opposing manifestations of gay sexuality. Roy Cohn, written by Gary Indiana, is a fictitious imagining of an after-dinner speech that might have been delivered by Donald Trump’s mentor, the homophobic right-wing lawyer and sleazy back-room politico, Roy Cohn, to the “American Association for the Protection of the Family” in 1976. The second part, Jack Smith, is based on an audio recording of a performance by Jack Smith, the notorious underground filmmaker of Flaming Creatures fame, who, in flamboyant harem drag, constructed his own private theater of resistance from fragments of Arabian Nights kitsch, avant-garde film feuds, and passionate B-movie camp. Cohn and Smith had nothing in common except their homosexuality and their deaths from AIDS in New York in the late 1980’s. Vawter, who embodies both men without imitation, died of AIDS in 1994. Born in 1948, he was a founding member of The Wooster Group, and also worked with many leading directors of the Downtown scene.
Greg Mehrten is an actor, director, writer, translator, and designer who has been making theater Downtown since 1975. A graduate in Theater Arts/Directing from UC Santa Cruz, he was invited by Lee Breuer to come to New York to work with Mabou Mines. He continues to work with Lee and Mabou Mines, including his upcoming role, alongside Maude Mitchell, in Glass Guignol, The Brother and Sister Play, at the new PS122. He has also worked (often many times) with directors JoAnne Akalaitis, Zoe Beloff, Anne Bogart, Kyle DeCamp, Jonathan Demme, Alison Folland, John Jesurun, Elizabeth Lecompte of the Wooster Group, Ruth Maleczech, Christina Masciotti, Richard Maxwell of New York City Players, Brooke O’Harra, PearlDamour, Bill Raymond and Linda Hartinian, David Schweizer, Ron Vawter and Marianne Weems, and Bruce Yonemoto, among others. He was a Member and co-Artistic Director of Mabou Mines from 1980 to 1991 (OBIE Award for Sustained Achievement, 1984), and is currently an Associate Member of the Wooster Group.
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