An avant-garde actor/director who rose to fame as the founder of New York’s innovative Open Theater, Joseph Chaikin’s legacy of rejecting conventional theater in favor of a more experimental approach lives on with such efforts as Viet Rock and The Serpent. Born in Brooklyn and raised in Des Moines, IA, Chaikin studied at Drake University before his love for the stage led him to become a member of the Living Theater from 1947 to 1963. Founding the Living Theater in 1963, the troupe’s wildly unconventional productions gained Chaikin and company a reputation as truly imaginative visionaries, and Chaikin would teach acting on the side as a means to make ends meet. In addition to the 14 plays Chaikin directed for the Living Theater, he frequently collaborated with Sam Shepard for such efforts as Savage/Love and Tongues at the Public Theater. After suffering a stroke, Chaikin used the experience as inspiration for numerous stage productions, including The War in Heaven (again collaborating with Shepard and Night Sky (collaborating with Susan Yankowitz). The recipient of five Obies (including the first-ever Lifetime Achievement Obie) and numerous other accolades, Chaikin was still working tirelessly in theater at the time of his death in June of 2003. He was 67. ~ Jason Buchanan
The man (Joseph Chaikin) becomes the voice of a mother, a worker, a blind man and an exchange between two contradictory characters. The percussionist (Sam Shepard) syncopates with his drums between and over the voices. At the Magic Theatre where it was recorded the pair sat back to back, the man facing the audience, the percussionist behind among his drums, only his arms visible.
The Man: Joseph Chaikin
Percussionist and Director: Sam Shepard
Recorded and Edited by: Paul and Irene Oppenheim.