New York

Richard Foreman and John Zorn

Ontological-Hysteric Theater

I first became aware of the work of Richard Foreman and his Ontological-Hysteric Theater thanks to a review of Rhoda in Potatoland in 1975. My recollection is misty but I think it was an assertion to the effect that Foreman was to Heidegger as Brecht to Marx that caught my fancy—not that I’d read Heidegger or even Marx then, but the names meant something to me. My first direct contact was with Book of Splendors, Part Two, two years later—though in the meantime I had seen the production of Brecht and Weill’s Threepenny Opera that Foreman directed for the New York Shakespeare Festival in 1976. By now, I don’t see his works so much as individual, self-contained entities but as installments in the ongoing saga of how Richard Foreman thinks and feels about thinking and feeling, closer to one of those endless open-field poems like Ezra Pound’s Cantos than to anything else I know of in the theater.

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