thumbnail of Seminars in theatre; Episode 5 of 31
Hide -
If this transcript has significant errors that should be corrected, let us know, so we can add it to FIX IT+
But I think what you have to accept in the second act is the confrontation between the two boys whether one realizes for the first time that he has become victimized in the homosexual structure that exists in the prison it's the ability of the audience to recognize the desperate need for contact and the realization by the boy Smitty the protagonist of this is I think painful for many members of the audience to recognize that what you are saying that if you're putting the onus on the order you know no I'm not putting the onus on the audience but I'm saying that it's. I have found it a place where it's with the critical critical judgment is often second to the psyche and the ability to accept me by saying I had a friend who said he objected to the premise of the play was that any man under given conditional conditions could become a homosexual. And I said that's not what the play is about but if that is what the play if that's what the play's about you it reveals more about you than the play because the play deals with the boy who when the choices are narrowed as they are in prison realizes instead of being victimized he will seek at least a camaraderie with this
one boy who has extended himself and he makes a homosexual overture and what that does to him because his inclination is not to be homosexual is so destructive that it causes this emotional. People when them and I think as a result because I'm emotional appeasing people and many of the audience members I don't know what the answer to that is isn't this. Two things first. The play itself is so valuable because I compare it to the cancer research where these people send in money for cancer research. Cancer has to be exposed and examined and tested when people come to the play and buy tickets they in a sense are exposing their selves if no one else to what is the cancer of our society which is our prisons. And my very shy friend Paul over here said maybe perhaps the second act affects maybe you particular because this is when
the truth starts coming out and I can see that with them and operate you get to a point with this pain and we don't want it to happen. Well this I think you're making a good point. However let me say the people versus Mr. playa haha. That's alright because why not. But anyway I think again when an audience is embarrassed it's not so much because of their hidden psychological problems as it necessarily is a faulty technique. In other words let me plantain happen at every performance that has made it happen the day that you can maybe. I know that when the performances we have only had many groups of four mechanics and the audience that there's very little in there where we get involved in a problem about. Yeah but we get involved about a subject the subject being very dear to a member of auditor reminds me of what Malcolm Boyd wrote in The Times as personally as reading about. The
fact that we now can board as you know the author of Are you running with me jesus and writes about the fact that all men have problems and whether they whatever color they are would have religion whatever they all have problems and if an artist writes a book about these problems and he attacks it from the point of view of a human being with a problem rather than our subject having some kind of stereotyped image then he artistically creates work and gets an involvement about the subject. I think if we talk about prison conditions as a subject. There is room for an artistic and aesthetic approach to it which will not only not only demonstrate and highlight the prison condition but elevated to such a degree that it leaves a lasting monument on someone's mind. Now all I'm all I'm suggesting that I just and this is opinion I throw out we can move on to another area is that had the direction in that area because you and you said at this point this this scene demonstrates how desperate men are for human
contact some kind of contact. Well the actors in this area had been I think subtly done had there been such. It takes work not underestimating as at all the point would have been made much much stronger and would have been much more lasting. We wouldn't be I least I would be quibbling with the with the thing at that time or now let me go and I'll drop it because I mean I want to be against the people too long. But here we are against them as long as you are well. When the time is right. But I wanted to ask. And Paul specifically about the actors. What did you think of their performances I mean in terms of people you've seen in prison and and their reality. Do you feel that they exaggerated through acting or do you feel that they were. Came pretty close to really you know warming up.
During the 20 years or the 20 years I had much time to meet each and every one of them. And they're come inside. I think that's the word because sometimes they portray two or three types in one and then many times there the individual portrayal I met and known personally each and every one of them. And then rock up and here I go again Victor Victor Arnold who plays rock in the play and get that clear. Had you gone to prison to observe inmates or or did anyone anybody a member of the cast go to any of the president. Well we all the cast that is took two trips out to Rikers Island as a matter of fact and and we get in this thing of course we didn't see but what was on the surface of things you know and when
we ask questions there and they were very shocked and the first thing we asked is where the homosexual and they almost fell from the floor because they showed us what I thought the first purpose of the visit was not really to see not hoping to see but to further an actor's point of view. Sights sounds smells senses how his signals have the physical plant itself. And to try to make it register and it certainly doesn't register because it's an anybody very letter I told him and I'm going to fight me. And yet it's one of it's been renovated I have no wings at i even the adolescent division both you know visions yet which is a new set up. They have one one man to a cell. They've tried to do. There are many and I'm using the word as ugly as I possibly can with the most ugly kind of taken you can think of there were there have been many reforms and certainly are not on a physical level. You could go there and say if you have decided that prisons are to
do the job that we have set them up to do which I think society accepts it which is payment that Rikers Island and probably some of our other prisons that have been renovated and reform has moved in on the physical level that they're really not bad at all. And I knew you could almost feel it again if you're of that frame of mind that the prison is for payment. I think most people are. I'm glad there are some who are not. I'm not and I think there are other people who are not because you can't pay back physically the plant in most cases is they coming along they're doing well. And still it's called voting. We were lucky everyday. The press Yeah great concern is is the food. And that's not. How the men don't starve to death right. And some of them outside was starving. So in that sense maybe the better right never understood all the concern about how the food isn't present because when I
was in college the student union food was just awful and the best four years of my life and I didn't you know I found I wanted to contribute something here. I found this not the case what with my connection with fortune and men's eyes for so many months now. And having met some really fascinating interesting people who have and are on both sides of the law and the general public as such. I this is what I've discovered a great apathy. On the part of the general public in so far as the apprehended what I'm saying what I'm trying to say is that for all intents purposes their interest their being the public's interest and set 100 Center Street over and over and over again. I discovered this but with my close friends
who are sophisticated and and contributing members of society and whatever else and essentially compassionate and sensitive people. I smile at that. But as far as they're concerned it's all over once there's this person is apprehended arraigned tried sentenced and the wheeling and Ryan you know you know after thought there was no afterthought and I think I want to follow this through because I think it has merit. When I found myself in a discussion with a friend of mine when I was investing time I think this is getting to the nitty gritty. And I could only give the script to this friend who's incidentally prior to what she has invested and been a theatregoer and a conscientious citizen to boot to go on a skiing trip weekend which is all fine. I came back on Monday and said Victor so what. And I said well I said put it this way and I wasn't at that point defending the
play but more so a matter of it having to live having to live. I said your wife was walking down Grove Street in a village and she's accosted and she's mugged Hedberg is taken She's bruised the guy is caught he's taken to the precinct the whole procedure the wheels of justice come into the picture and they're gone. He sends and he goes out to Rikers. Same thing whatever institutions we have available. There are plenty. Now let's assume he's going to do two and a half to five. My friend terribly upset terribly bothered and rightly so rightly so I mean you know. Hasn't allowed himself to think past his initial hurt to himself to his people means going to come out.
The fact is X comes out now and and it comes out it was obviously because the statistics bear it out. Would you say your friend will have moved or he will not have to confront that person again. But how do you think what. The last time he will he can he want to deal with people of done time in the question is what happens to them when they weren't living. Living where I live in the slums I watch a mother who we work with for a period of two years to get heart to commit hos son because he's a drug addict and you know part of it. We know now we know enough about drug addiction we don't know too much but we know enough to know that the mother son relationship is primary in many many cases as it is for many many problems. But in this case there is that there's a feeding on. And we get to a point where she will call the police she had him put in Rikers for six months came out went back on the drugs the program the new programs came into effect. Dr. Ramirez was appointed and I hope it was seeing that she committed him again and she had to sign papers and.
He was up up someplace in the Bronx and one of the houses that they contain them in now and he escaped. And they ended up in her house one morning in pajamas and she was frightened to death because that's how mothers in my neighborhood get killed because the son that they've tried to help according to the rules and regulations of society whatever good sense I and people like me have brought in to help are. And we say this is a good thing. And he comes back and she has to face it. So what she did was give money central Puerto Rico and he's gone now tonight and she won't worry about what she what she came to my house that morning at 7:30 and was petrified. And so your friend would never have to deal with people going in and coming out again. But people in my neighborhood in the slums. This is one of the terrible things that happens to them. They know but we are a society where people are very concerned about the safety of walking down the street is that you hear constant complaint about that the people they're afraid of are people who have most likely done time and who have come out who have been put into use rather than increased consider the rate of
recidivism so that we're now know if other way clearly our government programs come into that. No it's not not you know not not major but we did so far I think I think let me say just one quick thing because I can only talk two hours a night. And as far as the second AG goes on backstage last I know what I want to say this is a test for dollars and cents point of view from a dollars and cents point of view. I really think we're cheating ourselves we have to prove it. Ultimately we are because I want to comment on everything that you said Victor Victor and John and the whole panel what you're discussing now is the fundamental universal problem of always treating the effect enough because in order to begin to look at anything and I don't think it's apathy exclusively with conditions in prison. I think there's apathy in our in our whole society and everywhere. Everywhere you turn there's apathy and where ever any problem exists there are motives that
people have for trying to improve. Various situations. We don't know what they are sometimes the individual doesn't know what they what it is really that motivates him to try to improve the condition. We don't really care what the motive is I guess as long as the condition improves. Right. But when you if you ask the let's say the enlightened citizen who can look at this from a far. He can look at a crime committed and he's not touched by it and he has apathy toward this. I think it's a miracle to expect a man who's been touched by it. Not to have actually negative feelings he won't have apathy. He will have just the opposite. But we are all the people and we are are all of the. First of all why and I threw the question out. I think you answered it already though Victor and you said we're cheating ourselves in terms of dollars because ultimately someone is released from prison if he's not rehabilitate and this is really supposedly I guess the idea behind prisons and that is to rehabilitate we
now know how large that I said our circumspect now what is the reason for prison punishment. Payment that you cannot make. As a punishment for anyone committed. That's the way it exists that's what should exist I mean why should we have prisons or not you know what should we have when someone commits a crime don't want prisons and we don't one hospitals we want. Re educational centers and this is possible because it would cost less money in the end but it's a big structural thing but the answer is No. We don't want presidents and we don't want hospitals. I want to get re educated in this is the only thing that kept me out of prison this long and help me function as a decent human being because I've gotten re education. The thing that the thing that I found fascinating and meeting so many men who have done time is that they are they have committed a crime and then go into a system in which Then the structure of the system they are forced to perform and do things that if they did it on the outside they have they have a big time. So how can they be expected to come
back and adjust to a society which has inflicted a situation which doesn't teach it which they can abuse Oh it comes to this. We won't pay for it. And we ought to ding ourselves we have a minimum requirement for the guards. And. I would want a lot more done with the guards. At this point joining other guards in the prisons I would question why men take this job. I would want to do an awful lot of work rehabilitating them before I expose them in terms of the power situation to the men that are under them. The convict I I'm a little afraid of using the word re-education although that's what we mean because it appears in 1904 we have re-education centers for people who don't fit into conforming society and certainly I wouldn't and that's not what we're talking about. But I would start with the penal institution as it's set up because we're not going to throw it away. We
just want we have it and right now we want it out. So that I would say the program princes that I worked in we had some autonomy but we could not do certain things with those men. For instance the first day we had the staff and the staff of good people these were people who chose to work there on their own. The first day I said hey. Well when the men come in tomorrow morning at conferences and stuff we're going to call them and no one had thought about this. You know and I was really surprised. That's why I brought it up. And these again better than average Educators Counselors better than average people who wanted to go there and do the job and no one had thought about it. And we went through an hour and a half of twisting and turning because I said and I explained why we must start calling them Mr. And we went through and I got very angry I use the my my my supervisor all kinds of things.
It was finally resolved by letting us do what we felt most comfortable with. Which was not really a lousy compromise it really isn't good. But it was a beginning for the staff and we I in order I pushed I demanded I cried for weekly conferences and we had time schedules we couldn't fit in and find we we cheated them by taking two hours off their program on a Friday so we couldn't meet because we did not know and I know the staff didn't. I know I didn't know because I worked with a man outside and I know that they didn't know at all. And we're just beginning to get into what rehabilitation is what re-education is. What do you do with these men how do you do something with them and I know the answer is you have an emotional relationship with them and it's got to go two ways. They have to know they have impact on you as a person and that hurts. With John let me ask you a question. I mean it is the whole panel. What what. Number one there's this question as always comes up on panel discussions and we
read about in the papers that films dealing with crime television series dealing with crime and in the plays perhaps dealing with crime is possibly increases the crime statistics and by that I simply mean that this influences someone to go out and commit a duplication of what is seen on film or stage is there in your experience or anybody's experience here is that a valid comparison. No it's an excuse but also because I don't think you can including Fortune I think I've ever seen anything like you know no impetus to stay out of prison. And I wasn't including Fortune and men's eyes and that no excerpt so well done by the way. I would personally have liked to met Queenie. Yeah there's a strong. My experience has been that homosexuals as projected from the few can make twenty and Forty second Street you can be fine I don't think you know you see I don't think Gilmore was asked in an interview Larry wrote a prison and he said he walked up and down for the second straight year so we said Boys and he
is partly right. Every five minutes. All right I want to do what they can because we will recognize that you are the character that comes across is us strong character and homosexuals and not using protection. Projected this way I know they're not and get this the first shock I think for the audience is when Rock jumps back. Yes we know well when Rock makes the threatening gesture to the other the kid and Queenie who is flamboyant an obviously homosexual and doing all those carrying on in the first few minutes jumps up and jumps over and run because we mediately stereotype the character that material. That's the tough guy and suddenly the audience is faced with a kind of we're going to I think that was powerful for the audience for me. But what you're right John. Did you ever come in contact with Broadway rose at Rikers Island. A-Train I heard I know we couldn't we couldn't when I was in the adolescent vision Well maybe
maybe it was a Broadway role yes. What is Broadway Rose in that connection. Broadway home essential and very clever and very powerful personality. She would take no lip or he will take part in me. He will take no lip from anyone and is an individual. You know I think excuse me Pat. We we are dangerously screwed into a discussion about homosexuality which I don't think is the issue. Also I mean if we remember not the nation it is not the issue. You know I'm saying I'm also not it may not be the issue but it's not knowledge not the issue. Because when we have to consider if we want to be realistic that we have in the. Air. In every strata of our cultural life in this city and throughout the nation our leading works are leading many many things are responsible and responsible by homosexuals and I think there is not a secret to anyone.
But on the other hand I and I make another suggestion which you probably will get angry about the rivalry. It is from looking at that play I could see where someone would mind going to prison. Oh I haven't had that so often and well let me pass. But see as I feel it necessary every Tuesday night and I'm trying not to get it to make a comment to the audience. I hope you people out there don't think this place about homosexuality it's about man's inhumanity to man and this is just an effect of what you just said is something that you have said that you committed the crimes and standing on the side as a rehabilitation person as you talked about. What crimes you committed and how you stood there waiting for them to arrest you. I think that it is true that there are people who have serious problems and they do use prison as a way of returning to our womb like situations and then use the armed forces for this. I see people use other more acceptable methods so no I think it
is right that there are people I would say that we could use but he wanted people who were on the outs have never done time who would. I don't know where you get the notion that it's a homosexual think that we're so much on our sexuality that we don't aren't Well let me suggest this but that's like saying that what a heterosexual man want to go to a woman's prison where he would where he'd be confined when he could have sexual relations with any woman he chooses on the outside may not have the same kind as a rock and the other kid had. I just resent having a live audience or an ex-convict who. I was having a beer with and half in jest was saying that he's trying to work out something so he can get back inside for Christmas but not stay too long after what you're saying Dave I'm only saying here's the list there are many complex factors in the psychological makeup of human beings I don't think any of us know all of the answers to them. Otherwise there wouldn't be any prisons. I think as we could talk about I suggest that there are many forces working in all of our brains and in our nerve centers etc. where we do things that consciously we don't know what why we're doing that. But I say someone I don't suggest that any person is going to go to sea ports in a
man's hours and walk away saying well I want to go to prison. I swear I'm going next week because I look like I had a great camaraderie a great life and I'm around only one boy was raped another was beaten up. Yes but if I look at this one isn't it in its most simplistic way. Oh no you had to be very thick but you could look at it that way. Right and all right we have a minute and in that last minute what I do want to say is fortune in men's eyes. Which is that actors playhouse has been in it eight months now is not great theater. It's good theater and it will keep you interested. I mean that much I I certainly see and it's a good thing. I want to thank the producer David Rothenberg. Victor Arnold who plays rock in the play Pat McGarry Paul Jones and John Davis formally the educational counselor with the federal program on Riker's Island are joining us on our panel tonight. This is the national educational radio network of.
Please note: This content is only available at GBH and the Library of Congress, either due to copyright restrictions or because this content has not yet been reviewed for copyright or privacy issues. For information about on location research, click here.
Seminars in theatre
Episode Number
Episode 5 of 31
Producing Organization
WNYC (Radio station : New York, N.Y.)
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
If you have more information about this item than what is given here, or if you have concerns about this record, we want to know! Contact us, indicating the AAPB ID (cpb-aacip/500-1r6n3s97).
Series Description
For series info, see Item 3231. This prog.: About play "Fortune of Men's Eyes," (or "Fortunate Men's Eyes"), written by ex-convicts. David Rothenberg, producer; Victor Arnold, actor; Paul Jones, John Davis and Pat McCarrey (or McGarrey)
Media type
Producing Organization: WNYC (Radio station : New York, N.Y.)
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 68-11-5 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:25:55
If you have a copy of this asset and would like us to add it to our catalog, please contact us.
Chicago: “Seminars in theatre; Episode 5 of 31,” 1968-02-26, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed April 25, 2024,
MLA: “Seminars in theatre; Episode 5 of 31.” 1968-02-26. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. April 25, 2024. <>.
APA: Seminars in theatre; Episode 5 of 31. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from