[Marxism] fwd: Irving Beinin, Presente!

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Wed Nov 30 12:16:59 MST 2005


>This campaign was managed
>by a long-time comrade, Frank Fried.

Frank's an interesting character. I had a phone conversation with him once 
but never had a chance to interview him as I did Sol Dollinger and Irwin 
Baur. After the Socialist Union collapsed, Frank got involved in music 
productions sort of like Bill Graham.

International Socialist Review Issue 23, May-June 2002

Travels with Karl Marx

Brian Jones chronicles his experiences performing Howard Zinn's one-man 
play Marx in Soho across the country

House lights up part of the way
. Marx enters, wearing a black frock coat 
and vest, white shirt, black floppy tie
. He walks to the edge of the 
stage, looks out at the audience, and seems pleased, a little surprised.

I have to admit that I was a little nervous to have Howard Zinn on the 
phone. I was about to play Karl Marx in Zinn’s new one-man play, Marx in 
Soho. I had already been an active socialist for about five years, so I 
knew about Marx
that wasn’t a problem. But portray Marx? On stage?

I fancied myself a Marxist, but not Marx-like! Marx was German and Jewish, 
and I’m neither. Marx wasn’t going to be around to tell me if I got it 
wrong, but Zinn was. I decided to take the blunt approach.

"I’m 25 and I’m Black," I warned him.

Zinn paused for about eight seconds. "Well, they did call him ‘Moor,’ you 
know."

(clip)

I was doing so many one-off shows–fly in, do a sound check, do the show, 
fly out–that while parts of the show started to really shine, the 
performance as a whole was still not as crafted, as well-cooked as it 
needed to be. I didn’t have an opportunity to stay in one place long enough 
to cook it until I met Frank Fried.

Frank Fried, who saw the play when it first came to the Bay Area for a 
weekend in November 1999, is a producer, but more than that, he is a 
socialist and has become an important friend and mentor to me. Frank has a 
lifetime of stories from the movement that never fail to impress. "I didn’t 
sign up to be a summer soldier," he would always say.

Frank was a steelworker-turned-superstar music producer, right when folk 
music was exploding and was about to become rock and roll. He had seen the 
dark days of McCarthyism, the social explosions of the 1960s and 1970s (he 
was very active in the Civil Rights Movement), and their retreat again in 
the 1980s, and still hadn’t given up on the dream. The "Folk King" long ago 
retired from the Pete Seegers and Bob Dylans of the world to take up pet 
projects
films, books, and, yes, Marx in Soho!

Somehow Frank convinced Adam Hochschild and Alice Walker, authors of King 
Leopold’s Ghost and The Color Purple, respectively, to sign on as 
co-producers of Marx in Soho in San Francisco. We ran for a month in 
Theatre Artaud, and in that time, I think we counted that approximately 
2,400 people came to see the play!

Always the shrewd businessperson, Frank sold tickets to groups like the 
Green Party, various unions, and left-wing formations; they were given a 
discount and allowed to use the show as a fundraiser. One such group was 
Speak Out!, an agency that books engagements for progressive speakers and 
artists. They immediately embraced the show, adding Marx in Soho to their 
catalog. Overall, our publicity was quite widespread, and we ended up 
getting a very broad turnout beyond the "usual suspects."

It was a gift just to be able to do the show in the same place day after 
day in front of so many audiences. In hindsight, it’s clear we had rented 
way too much space. I had audiences of 250 some nights, and 13 others. 
However, this forced me to develop a more consistent performance. I wanted 
to achieve the same feeling of playfulness, the same energy, the exact same 
connection with the audience, regardless of its number.

full: http://www.isreview.org/issues/23/marx_in_soho.shtml

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