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Eric Bogosian - Theresa Lang Theatre at Marymount Manhattan College (New York) - Wednesday, January 11, 2005

21 January 2006

On a wet and dreary Wednesday night, noted author, playwright, screenwriter, stage and screen actor, and spoken-word artist (a venerable Renaissance man) ERIC BOGOSIAN spoke to an auditorium that couldn’t have been more than a third full. There were reasons for this; the lecture was advertised only to the Marymount community and since most of the students and many of the staff and faculty members are away in January, the potential audience was thus lessened considerably. Regardless, Bogosian soldiered on. First he introduced himself and his work, and then he launched into some new monologues that he plans to complete with renowned avant-garde composer ELLIOTT SHARP (who is known for, amongst other things, a work based around the mathematical Fibonnaci series of numbers) and debut later this year at music venues like Mercury Lounge.

The highlight of these new monologues is a piece where Bogosian plays an aging ex-rock star whose wild days are behind him. The character is currently content spending time with family, breeding Arabian horses, meditating and getting a “ka-ching in the old brokerage account” every time a song of his ends up being used in a car commercial, thanks to his dead bandmate’s past insistence that they keep the rights to their songs. However, a cloud of guilt looms over him because of his bandmate’s death. If this sounds bizarre, then I’m not doing it justice. It has to be seen to be truly appreciated.

After reading the monologues, Bogosian took some questions from the audience. The most memorable one of these had to do with his influences. He spoke at length about what brought him to New York and how when he started out, he wanted to bring the energy of punk rock to theatre. He cited THE CONTORTIONS (led by the inimitable JAMES CHANCE) as an influence on his work. He explained that from the mid ‘70s to the mid ‘80s, New York City had an art scene that encompassed visual art, performance art, punk rock music, poetry, and other mediums and it wasn’t as split up as it is now; everyone fed off each other and off of those different mediums. He also lamented how expensive New York has become for artists (and everyone else) to live in, saying that his intern shares a 2-bedroom apartment in Bedford-Stuyvesant and that the whole place rents for $1400 per month. He said that like his intern, he was also scared when he came to live in New York, but that at least he didn’t have to pay nearly as much in rent. Point taken.

After the talk concluded, the Bogosian amicably signed books (and in my case a spoken word CD of his called Pounding Nails in the Floor with My Forehead) and spoke at length to students, faculty, staff, and other guests who showed up.


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