[Marxism] Spalding Gray

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Mon Mar 8 16:52:28 MST 2004

NY Times, March 8, 2004
Spalding Gray, 62, Actor and Monologuist, Is Confirmed Dead

Spalding Gray, the wry monologuist and actor who transformed his personal 
experiences, fascinations and traumas into such acclaimed pieces as 
"Swimming to Cambodia" and "Monster in a Box,"was confirmed dead today, two 
months after his wife reported him missing, a spokeswoman for the city 
medical examiner's office said. He was 62.

Mr. Gray's body was pulled from the East River near Greenpoint, Brooklyn, 
on Sunday and was identified through dental records, said the spokeswoman, 
Ellen Borakove. The authorities did not provide the cause of death.

Mr. Gray, who had been battling depression, was reported missing on Jan. 
11, a day after he had left his apartment in Manhattan and never returned. 
He had told his family that he was going to see friends.

Several witnesses told detectives investigating the disappearance that they 
had seen Mr. Gray aboard the Staten Island Ferry on the night of Jan. 10, 
the police said.

Almost always seated behind a simple desk, with a glass of water, a 
microphone and some notes, Mr. Gray practiced the art of storytelling with 
a quiet mania, alternating between conspiratorial whispers and antic 
screams as he roamed through topics large and small.

This talent was perhaps never better displayed than in "Swimming to 
Cambodia," his 1984 monologue in which his experiences filming a small role 
in the movie "The Killing Fields" became a jumping-off point for exploring 
the history and culture of war in Southeast Asia. The piece was itself 
turned into a noted film, directed by Jonathan Demme, in 1987.

"Swimming" may have been Mr. Gray's most famous work, but for 25 years, he 
turned out a consistent stream of well-crafted, well-received pieces on 
subjects as varied as writing ("Monster in a Box," 1990) and illness 
("Gray's Anatomy," 1993), to less-weighty issues like learning to ski 
("It's a Slippery Slope," 1996) and performing while high on LSD ("Point 
Judith," 1980).

His relentless self-absorption drew a broad range of audiences, from those 
at such high-end, 1,000-seat theaters as the Vivian Beaumont at Lincoln 
Center (where he produced four shows during the 1990's) to downtown crowds 
at the 100-seat theaters at the Performing Garage and P.S. 122, two 
performance spaces where he typically fine-tuned his monologues.

While his performances resembled — and influenced — the confessional style 
of contemporaries like Eric Bogosian and John Leguizamo, Mr. Gray's work 
also displayed an instinctive curiosity and taste for first-person 
research, turning his life travels and travails into a type of closely 
observed,— and publicly performed, autobiography.

A self-confessed depressive, he reportedly attempted suicide at least once 
before in recent years, Mr..Gray had a common refrain in many of his 
monologues: a search for larger meaning, a quest, as he put it, for "the 
perfect moment."

The monologues were also, for the record, usually painfully funny.

full: http://www.nytimes.com/2004/03/08/arts/08CND-GRAY.html

Louis Proyect
Marxism list: www.marxmail.org 

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