Camino Realby Tennessee Williams
directed by Sarah V. Michelson
starring Erin Hogan, Jordan K. Kamp, Mike Mihm, Laura Montes, Adam Perabo, John Atzberger - musician
Brooklyn on Foot ProductionsBrooklyn, New York USA
On September 30, 2007, I went to the 2nd Annual Tennessee Williams Festival at Provincetown, Massachusetts. A company of five young actors called Brooklyn on Foot, founded by a young woman named Fayna Sanchez, performed Camino Real outdoors on Aquarium Wharf. The performance,directed by Sarah V. Michelson, began in the afternoon in hot sunshine; by the time we got to Block Fifteen, la Madrecita cries out: “Everyone must see clearly!” It had begun to grow dark. Quixote and Kilroy exited the world of the play, traveling out into the terra incognita like Jim and Huck, like Humbert Humbert and Lolita, like Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarty, two uneasy riders off on the great American road trip. The play ended in evening shadows. The bitter cold returned us to an unforgiving reality. And yet we went on. We had been through an experience. We were restored to our old world withnew eyes. The Aquarium Wharf became the Globe theater— Tennessee’s teatrum mundi. Was it the derring-do, the versatility, the exuberance of the fi ve actors playing all the parts that gave it the focus? I understood my 1960 rapture with the play. Here on Aquarium Wharf, its spirit welcomed me as electrically as it had forty-seven years before! Boat traffic coming and going behind the play disintegrated any fourth wall between actors and audience on Aquarium Wharf, and this banishment of the proscenium, made me think of Artaud who wrote in the “Masterpieces” section of Theatre that “It is not upon the stage that the true is to be sought nowadays, but in the street.”
Camino Real reminded me of something. Yes—those days in the early 1960s when something called Off-off-Broadway began at places like the Caffé Cino and Café La Mama. That’s what the Beat movement had been about, what Ferlinghetti, (echoing Henry Miller) called “a Coney Island of the mind.” That was what the Cinema’s New Wave was about. That spirit that would find its voice three years later in 1963 with the advent of the Beatles-—their nutty extravagant joy—the intoxicating violence of The Rolling Stones who asked “Sympathy for the Devil.” When I first heard Bob Dylan’s “Desolation Row,” I wondered if he knew Camino Real. In 1968, the Paris student riots created a new anarchy. One of its famous posters read: “Be realistic. Demand the Impossible.” Did Camino Real’s rag-tail joie de vivre make it a precursor of all this? Was Camino Real the harbinger, the John the Baptist, the Big Daddy of this new sensibility?
Excerpt from “An Introduction in Nineteen Blocks,” published with Camino Real by New Directions, copyright © 2008 by John Guare, used by permission of John Guare.