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The Classical Theater of Harlem

directed by Christopher McElroen
by Stanislaw Ignacy Witkiewicz

Friday, March 28, 2003 - Sunday, April 20, 2003
Thur.-Sat. at 8PM; Sundays at 3PM

HSA Theater, Harlem School of the Arts
645 St.Nicholas Avenue (near 141st Street), New York, NY Tel: 212.206.1515, or, Subway: #1 to 137th or 145th St

Stanislaw Ignacy Witkiewicz, the son of a Polish painter and a painter in his own right, wrote over 30 plays between 1918 and his suicide in 1939. About a third of these are still unpublished. Yet Witkiewicz, who was practically ignored in his time and left no direct disciples, bestrides the avant-garde like a colossus, mysteriously arousing more excitement in young playwrights than practically any other 20th century writer, even O'Neill. His influence is perhaps magnified by the enthusiasm of European scholars, but his standing as progenitor of the avant-garde is unquestioned. "Witkacy" is known for his outrageously extravagant scenes influenced by all kinds of cults and philosophical speculations. His plays appear to be enjoying signs of a Manhattan revival with a recent production of TUMOR BRAINIOWICZ and a current one of THE MOTHER, both downtown at La MaMa E.T.C., and this one uptown.

The Crazy Locomotive, written in 1923 but not performed until the 1960s, is an avant-garde play that sets a giant locomotive upon the stage and sends it off at a frantic pace. This huge technological beast rushes forward, hijacked by super villains, and pulls society behind it to a disastrous conclusion. Startling discontinuities and surprises erupt throughout, in which duchesses and policemen, gangsters and surrealist painters, psychiatrists and locomotive engineers wander in and out, kill one another, and carry on philosophical conversations at the same time. The play runs under one hour.

The Classical Theater of Harlem is a dynamic and unique theater company dedicated to producing the classics for a new, young, and culturally diverse audience. Since 1999, CTH has presented fourteen classic plays, garnered 24 AUDELCO nominations for Excellence in Black Theater, and won a 2001 OBIE Award, Off-Broadway's most prestigious honor. Recent productions include the acclaimed MA RAINEY'S BLACK BOTTOM, Director McElroen's uncompromising adaptation of Richard Wright's NATIVE SON, and the recent revival of Jean Genet's THE BLACKS: A CLOWN SHOW.

The CTH can be contacted through Harlem School of the Arts, (212) 926-4100, or Brett Singer & Associates, (212) 575-0263.

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