The American Legacy
220 East Fourth Street ~ New York, New York 10009
(212) 995 8410
"One of my favorite downtown theaters" ~ Martin Denton, nytheatre.com
4th Annual Living Literature Festival
The theater's annual festival of performances inspired by the works of an American author.
10 guest artists and companies celebrate the life and literature of Herman Melville.
Doug West* and David Eiduks*
in Ishmael and Ahab Mon Amour
by Michael Bettencourt
Photo by Steven Lembark.
- 25, 2009
This year's festival features:
full length plays...adaptations...
readings of Melville's works...artwork...
unique explorations of
Herman Melville and his enduring influence.
by Dan Evans
A LuLu LoLo Production
All set to start work on his masterpiece Moby Dick, Herman Melville finds himself paralyzed by writer’s block and goes on a downward binge until a prostitute and an archangel come to his aid.
by Scott Barrow
A Stages on the Sound Production
Early 19th Century. Napoleon’s armies march, the French navy swells, and Britain tries desperately to retain control of its empire, impressing fishermen and convicts into naval duty. Discipline onboard is essential, but can the human spirit coexist with martial law?
Ishmael and Ahab Mon Amour
by Michael Bettencourt
When the Whale spits Ahab back onto the land, it gives Ahab one last command: "Find Ishmael so you can find forgiveness." This was a hell that Ahab -- and Ishmael -- had not expected.
Mr. Melville's Playhouse
by David Lally
"Come on in, and pull yourself up a chair!
Let the fun begin, it's time to let down your hair!
Mr. Melville's so excited 'cause all his friends have been invited
To go wacky, at Mr. Melville's Playhouse!"
Join Mr. Melville, Bartleby, Billy Budd, Pierre, Ahab and all the others at Mr. Melville's Playhouse! Heck, even Moby Dick may show up!
The Composition of Herman Melville (abridged)
a new play by Rick Mitchell, with music by Max Kinberg
THE COMPOSITION OF HERMAN MELVILLE (abridged) is steeped in the world of Melville and 19th century America. As the play examines the author's early success, fall from popularity, family difficulties, and historical moments related to abolitionism and the Civil War, an ongoing play-within-the-play (loosely based on an 1840s, theatrical freak show) parodies the cannibal-captivity narrative of Melville's first and most popular novel, Typee. The play's various strands (including fragments from Melville's texts) ultimately converge, as the author's "intentions" begin turning against him. A world premiere production.
For a review of the (longer) published version of the play, please go to: Composition of Herman Melville
a musical play by Danny Ashkenasi
A Frederick Byers Production
The odd tale of the crow of a mysterious cock that lures an excitable, debt-ridden landowner onto a strange journey of discovery. Adapted from Herman Melville's short story with music by Danny Ashkenasi, award-winning composer/performer of Twainathon's beTwixt, beTween & beTWAIN and Poe-festival's The Tell-Tale Heart - a musicabre. www.ashkenasi.net
Melvilliana: A suite of poems
Written and performed by Angela Alaimo O'Donnell
Inspired & fired by affection & obsession, O'Donnell’s poems engage & explore the extreme qualities of the Melvillian Imagination. Part homage, part exorcism, the poems immerse the hearer in the words and worlds of Herman Melville and the strong, strange places to which his books transport us.
The First Lowering
by Laura Livingston
Ishmael and the crew of the Pequod go out in the whale boats, for the first time of the voyage, to chase a pod of whales. A cast of ten performs Melville’s text, almost as an athletic event, evoking the ship, the whale boats, the chase, the ocean, the whales, a storm, a capsizing, and a rescue at sea.
by Alejandro Morales
A Packawallop Production
In a not too distant future, after an economic collapse, luxury liners shelter the very rich from the squalor of the cities. Summoned by his superior Lucas Brown, William Bell must entertain Edwards, a drunk passenger. In a dark bar on board the ship, the connections between all three men are illuminated forcing them to confront what they desire and what they'll never possess. Inspired by Melville's Billy Budd.
A Tanglewood Tale
A staged reading of a full length play by Juliane Hiam
“Truth is ever incoherent, and when the big hearts strike together, the concussion is a little stunning.”— Herman Melville to Nathaniel Hawthorne
In 1850, the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts were a magnet for the culturally, intellectually and artistic elite, including, among many others, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Herman Melville. During this time, Hawthorne labored at “House of the Seven Gables” and also the children’s tales of “A Wonder Book,” while Melville was pouring his life’s blood into “Moby-Dick.” The men were at different places in their careers but both struggled with critical acceptance and financial security. They found in each other what Melville described as an “infinite fraternity.” The friendship, however, was intense, emotionally wrought, and short-lived, ending abruptly in 1851. “A Tanglewood Tale” is a reimagining of this extraordinary friendship, mixing historical drama drawn from the men’s and their families’ journals and letters with magic realism as characters from Hawthorne’s writing bring to life his own inner struggles. The play was first produced by Shakespeare & Company in 2001.