New York

Ron Vawter

The Performing Garage

Throughout the ’80s, the likes of Spalding Gray, Eric Bogosian, Karen Finley, and Holly Hughes developed a genre now referred to as performance monologue. With his current work, Roy Cohn/Jack Smith, Ron Vawter joins this group. In retrospect, Jack Smith (1932–89) can be viewed as the progenitor of these contemporary monologuists, with their emphasis on the performer’s own writings, and on personal or larger cultural references that provoke rather than amuse their audiences.

Smith’s hesitant monologues, delivered from self-made sets, were as seemingly haphazard and individualistic as a heap of street debris that might be called home by a bag person. Objects became animated by his constant touching and prodding, as he willed meaning from them by sheer concentration. Clothing seemed to refuse to sit properly on his body, and he would redirect beads, or ties, found toys, or bottles. Then he

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