Boston Repertory Theatre: Part Three

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide

entire contents copyright 1998 by David Zucker


1971 - 1978

by David Zucker

Part Three

Feb 4, 1974 - 12:15am (ok, so that makes it Feb 5)
Animal Farm is still running. With over 42 performances to its credit it is now the Rep's second longest running show. It has improved tremendously, gotten much tighter and the cast and I both know the show so much better now. I'm glad I'm not in it. By watching every performance (or so) I have been able to help keep it fresh, new, ever changing and exciting. The action of the play has grown much clearer and believe it or not has moved steadily towards farce. I now call it, "A political Farce," denoting not only the comedy in the show, but the farcical elements of our own society's politics: Comrade Nixon/olean (Naploean) and his crew of "Squealer's." The audience's reaction is great. During the press conference scene it is not unusual to have lines such as, "Things may seem hard, but there is not in reality a shortage of food," or "I will merely preface these production figures by saying that things look very good," always get laughs, sometimes applause, and occasionally stop the show.
There have been four cast replacements with another one in the works. Gerry (Berns) has a bad back and cannot continue playing Boxer (The work horse), "Already the Chiropractic Van is on its way." The fate of Animal Farm hangs not so much on how long audiences continue to come to see it, but rather on how long the legs, knees, backs, and wrists of the actors can hold out. Turning the Ace Recording Studio into a theatre seems like a joke, but we have signed a lease and are still waiting for permits. Where are we going to get $60,000.00 to make the place meet fire codes? Cross your fingers! Luv is in rehearsal. Gerry is playing Milt, who has to dive over the railing of a bridge and land below on some mattresses. Perhaps we will have to place a ladder on the other side and stage the leap in slow motion so he can climb down to simulate falling... or maybe his back will get better by opening night.

Feb 5, 1974 - 11:45pm
These entries are bound to get monotonous, coming every day, or as every day as I can. I can see them becoming a list of events without comment. This was, I guess, such a day: T'ai Chi in morning, up at 7:00am, to class by 8:00, rehearsed act 2 of Luv for the first time; discovered that Harry Berlin has no dignity at all. Rehearsed Joe Pilato fist time to take over role of Old Major in Animal Farm. He almost didn't take the role because it is a major time commitment for only one show a week in rep. Discussed trucker's strike and the possibility of a food famine. Will certain foods like meat become legends, fairytales? Will people end up killing for a head of lettuce? Shopped at the food co-op; whole wheat bread for $0.40/ loaf. Got stoned, came home. ....Oh yeah! $10,000.00 more came through to help with new theatre. Hope permits come through as well.

Feb 6, 1974 - 11:30pm
Harry Berlin has no spine. He's a jellyfish.
Things looking better for Ace Studio. I think I'll get into describing how much fun it was to clear out the place for three-four weeks on tuesdays; knocking down walls, carrying tons of old reels of tapes and records to the junk pile; filling four HUGE dumpsters; coating our lungs with filth worse than the accumulation of 20 years of chain-smoking; sub-zero weather and me jumping up and down on garbage so as to fit more in the dumpster because it was so fucking expensive. Then finding out at the beginning of one certain workday that we may lose the building because we were going to have a lot of trouble with the permits.
My whole day is filled with rehearsals and company meetings and T'ai Chi (after setting up the theatre for the last performance of Tiger)

(DZ note: At that time we were in a theatre space at the First&Second church at the corner of Berkeley and Marlborough streets in the Back bay. Other people, including the church on Sundays, used the space so we had to set it up every Wednesday - stage sets, lighting board, seating risers and chairs - and then break it down every saturday night after the last performance of The Little Prince.)

Home now. Trucker's strike still going on. Gasoline in short supply; too much bad news. Food prices soar, more killings, Nixon continues to play King, refuses to hand over vital evidence to courts and we the people sit and write in frustrated rage at the way we are treated What can we do? No one ever assassinates a right wing conservative. Always cutting down the liberals. Gee, I wonder who could be doing it? G'night.

Feb 7, 1974 - 11:58pm
Animal Farm only had 66 people tonight (thurs).. usually has more. And we did our WBCN 2-for-1 special over the radio. Weather has been bad but so is the political situation. It is no longer funny, is getting too real, too immediate, too close. A.F. is accordingly getting too relevant and the satire seems to not be satire anymore. Well, we'll see what happens tomorrow. Maybe the cast is too tired and sore even with 4 new members - soon to be 5. Maybe Luv, if it's good, can take its place. The world needs desperately to laugh - not as escapism but as release, to let off steam safely and keep the lid on our sanity. Cross your fingers for Luv. Spent most of the day writing checks. Am I ever SICK of business managing - bills, forms, checks, statements, income tax, loans, deposits, box office.... YECH!!! My head is spinning. Wrote about 30 checks today. Salaries are getting better through the good graces of a Mass. Council grant which adds $22.73 to each week's salary for 11 people. Must go now - 7am T'ai Chi tomorrow, and I have to do Virginia's laundry. She pays for a cab to T'ai Chi, then to Charles St. (Where our business offices and rehearsal space are), and I do her laundry. Sounds fair to me!

Feb 8 - Fri - 11:30pm
Looking back over this journal I find that I was possessed of sharper wit in the old days. I think I was of lighter mind and lighter responsibility then. Things are too serious today; not only in terms of the state of our society but also in terms of the state of the Rep. We are worn out, tired, we need a rest. But do we have a rest in front of us? Sort of. We only have to build a theatre. Excuse me, I think I'll faint now.

Feb. 10 - 1974 - Sun morn 12:15am
Little Prince tonight (Saturday) - Packed house - took in a record of $786.00. Bart (McCarthy) saw the show for the second time since he did the Narrator (my role now) in the original production at Brandeis. A Good show; I'm out of my slump - I was missing the warmth and gentleness of the author - too pushy - too hard) (Too stoned and too tired to write more)

Feb 11 - Monday - 11:30pm
Even-odd gas rationing. Car still snowed in. Two tickets from mindless meter maids informing me of the illegality of parking on any street during a snow removal emergency. Fed up with that and have decided to take no more risks; I will promptly remove my vehicle to the livingroom of our 7th floor apt. Tight fit in the elevator.
Mom is in the hospital in Waltham. Found out today. Didn't have enough gas to get there. Virginia called an Amoco station (I was chicken) and asked them to bring me some gas because someone had siphoned all mine out. I had originally called merely asking if they had gas. They said no more today; tomorrow at 8:00am. Virginia said I was dumb not to use my Amoco club card and get them to bring gas over. As I said, I was chicken, I don't like asking for favors. The 2 1/2 gallons ($1.50) they brought over was a godsend.

Feb. 13 - Wed early morn. - 12:30am
Workday yesterday (Tuesday). Didn't think there was much left in the building to tear out! Was oh so wrong! Place now looks messier than ever and we still have two more walls to go. Filled four HUGE dumpsters and estimate 2 more. Must have saved over $200 worth of lumber and thrown out a few tons of nails. Hope the place doesn't float away.
Opened accounts with Shawmut bank. Went over dressed in my Tuesday work clothes; dirty face, dusty shoes, pants, etc. Got the old formal business like approach mixed with more than a little condescension as I was kept waiting while the officer held several conversations with friends and fellow workers about how hot his coffee was this morning. Then I handed over a check for the theatre's first deposit; $10,000.00. From that moment on, as if by magic, I was treated with smiles, familiarity bordering on friendship, and dozens of inquiries from this servant of mine as to how it was going and how soon did we think we would be opening. I think we'll have a respectful relationship, the Shawmut Bank and the Rep ... as long as we keep bringing in the dough.
Tests not back on Mom yet.

1971 - 1978 - Part 4

1997 - 1978 - Part 3

1971 - 1978 - Part 2

1971 - 1978 - Part 1


THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide