Monday, May 18, 2020

106. THE CORNER. From my (unpublished) ENCYCLOPEDIA OF THE NEW YORK STAGE, 1970-1975

Bob Delegall, Petronia.
"In Lieu of Reviews"

Reviews of live theatre being impossible during these days of the pandemic, THEATRE'S LEITER SIDE is pleased to provide instead accounts of previous theatre seasons--encompassing the years 1970-1975-for theatre-hungry readers. If you'd like to know the background on how this previously unpublished series came to be and what its relationship is to my three The Encyclopedia of the New York Stage volumes (covering every New York play, musical, revue, and revival between 1920 and 1950), please check the prefaces to any of the entries beginning with the letter “A.” See the list at the end of the current entry.

THE CORNER [Drama/One-Acts/Race] S: Marsha L. Eck; C: Theoni V. Aldredge; L: Ian Calderon; P: New York Shakespeare Festival; T: Public Theater/Other Stage (OB); 6/22/72-7/30/72 (46); “Andrew” [Crime/Death/Friendship] A: Clay Goss; D: Rafic Bey (Carl Taylor); “His First Step” [Drugs] A: Oyamo; D: Kris Kreiser; “The Corner” [Friendship] A: Ed Bullins; D: Sonny Jim Gaines

This evening of one-acts by black writers began with a Pirandellian device wherein a “spectator” created a disturbance at the door to the theatre and had to be dealt with by producer Joseph Papp. The altercation was prologue to Clay Goss’s “Andrew,” a symbolic drama about the eponymous ghost (Rafic Bey, who directed). He returns to his ghetto haunts to confront the two men (Frankie Russell Faison and Alfred Dean Irby), childhood buddies of his, who killed him.

Slim in plot, “Andrew” consisted largely of memory material pertaining to the early lives of the trio. It was fuzzy and devoid of action.

In “His First Step,” two young men of the ghetto await the arrival of Sam (Cornelius Suares), who is bringing drugs for one of them. This fellow, named Pritchard (Michael Coleman), aspires to be a pop singer and displays some of his talent for his friend, Country (Ilunga Adell), as they wait. Sam, a Stepin Fetchit act-alike, arrives high on dope and Pritchard departs to audition for a talent scout. The play “never rises higher than conversation,” complained Clive Barnes.

The play that gave the evening its title was the strongest. It concerned Cliff Dawson (Bob Delegall), a character familiar in the cycle of plays Ed Bullins was writing at the time. Again set in the ghetto, it tells of Cliff’s decision to leave his street corner cronies and their aimless lifestyle behind so as to make something of himself. The action is taken up mostly with conversation among Cliff and his friends, and Stella (Petronia), a heavy-drinking girlfriend whom Cliff is leaving for another woman, the soon-to-be mother of his child.

These were rough-spoken plays, well performed but essentially undramatic, with little overt activity. There were “three curtain-raisers to a main event that never takes place,” concluded Barnes.

Previous entries:

Abelard and Heloise
Absurd Person Singular
“Acrobats” and “Line”
The Advertisement/
All My Sons
All Over
All Over Town
All the Girls Came Out to Play
Alpha Beta
L’Amante Anglais         
American Gothics
And Miss Reardon Drinks a Little       
And They Put Handcuffs on the Flowers
And Whose Little Boy Are You?
Anna K.
Anne of Green Gables
Any Resemblance to Persons Living or Dead
As You Like It
The Au Pair Man

Baba Goya [Nourish the Beast]
The Ballad of Johnny Pot
Barbary Shore
The Bar that Never Closes
The Basic Training of Pavlo Hummel
The Beauty Part
The Beggar’s Opera
Behold! Cometh the Vanderkellens
Be Kind to People Week
Berlin to Broadway with Kurt Weill
Bette Midler’s Clams on a Half-Shell Revue
Black Girl
Black Light Theatre of Prague
Black Picture Show
Black Sunlight
The Black Terror
Black Visions
Les Blancs
Blasts and Bravos: An Evening with H,L. Mencken
Blue Boys
Bob and Ray—The Two and Only
Boesman and Lena
The Boy Who Came to Leave
A Breeze from the Gulf
Brief Lives
Brother Gorski
Bullshot Crummond
The Burnt Flower Bed
Button, Button
Buy Bonds, Buster

The Cage
Candide (1)
Candide (2)
The Candyapple
Captain Brassbound’s Conversion
The Caretaker
La Carpa de los Raquichis
The Carpenters
The Castro Complex
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
The Changing Room
Charles Abbott and Son
Charley’s Aunt
Charlie Was Here and Now He’s Gone
Chemin de Fer
The Cherry Orchard
The Chickencoop Chinaman
The Children
Children! Children!
Children in the Rain
Children of the Wind
The Children’s Mass
A Chorus Line
The Chronicle of Henry VI: Part 1, Part II,
The Circle
Clarence Darrow
Cold Feet
Conditions of Agreement
Coney Island Cycle
The Constant Wife
The Contractor
The Contrast
Cooler Near the Lake