Mar. 24, 1998
Never love unlesse you can
What is it that all men possess
Today's Reading: "Never love unlesse you can" and "What is it that all men possess, among themselves conversing?" by Thomas Campion.
Tennessee Williams' play CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF opened on this day in 1955 at the Morosco Theater in New York. Barbara Bel Geddes played the role of Margaret, who tries to win the love of her husband, the alcoholic former football star, Brick, played on opening night by Ben Gazzara. Burl Ives played the family patriarch, Big Daddy.
Twelve years earlier, in 1943, the musical OKLAHOMA! opened at the St. James Theater in New York. It was the first collaboration between Richard Rodgers, who wrote the music, and Oscar Hammerstein II, who wrote the words; the story of two ranch hands, Curly and Jud, on an Oklahoma spread at the turn of the century who are both after the same girl, Laurey. Agnes de Mille did the choreography and that made as much of a splash on opening night as all the great songs: her dances were among the first to continue telling the story rather than just supply a break in the action. Oklahoma! ran for 2,200 performances at the St. James then traveled to London where it ran for over 1,500 nights. It also won the Pulitzer Prize.
It's the birthday in Yonkers, New York, 1919, of the Beat poet LAWRENCE FERLINGHETTI, who after serving in WWII aboard a submarine chaser settled in San Francisco and opened a bookshop called the City Lights Pocket Book Shop. At the time there weren't many paperbacks around and City Lights was a shop full of them. He described City Lights "as a place you could go in, sit down, and read books without being pestered to buy something." The store became the home for the Beat Generation of poets and writers, and Ferlinghetti also turned it into a publishing house - the first to publish Allen Ginsburg's poem "Howl" that became a Beat classic. City Lights brought it out in the spring of 1957 and Ferlinghetti was immediately arrested on obscenity charges. But he won the trial and went on to publish William S. Burroughs, Jack Kerouac and Paul Bowles. He also wrote a pair of novels, two volumes of plays and more than ten books of poetry, including these lines from "I Am Waiting:" "...and I am waiting for the last long careless rapture, and I am perpetually waiting for the fleeing lovers on the Grecian Urn to catch each other up at last and embrace and I am awaiting perpetually and forever a renaissance of wonder."
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®