in Donald L. Brooks productions Off-Off Broadway.
Clockwise from upper left, Fierstein's picture and
resume brought to audition for "Xircus, the Private Life
of Jesus Christ" in which Mr. Brooks cast him as Our
Lady of 42nd Street in "Xircus", Fierstein's first
Off-Off Broadway role. Continuing lower right as
Andromache in Brooks' all-male production of
"Euripides' The Trojan Women", at left "Freaky Pussy"
(in black dress), and as Prometheus in Aeschylus'
"Prometheus Bound". Fierstein also appeared in Mr.
Brooks;' productions of Sheridan's "The Rivals", H. M.
Koutoukas' "Christopher at Sheridan Squared"
"Flatbush Tosca" "Infinity"and others.
Click on any image to enlarge.
|Harvey Fierstein in XIRCUS, The Private Life of Jesus Christ, by Donald L. Brooks --
Mr. Fierstein's first role in an Off Broadway production in New York City, 1971 at the
from The Off-Off Broadway Experience
as Our Lady of 42nd Street in Donald L. Brooks' "Xircus, the Private Life of Jesus Christ" at the Performing Garage, NYC -- 1971
I am overwhelmed with memorabilia from the underground of the 60’s and 70’s theatre, and there is no way in hell I can catalogue and publish it all before I kick the
bucket -- perhaps someone is interested in a project of that magnitude -- however, that is another tale.
The first play in which Harvey Fierstein was cast outside of Brooklyn was “Xircus, the Private Life of Jesus Christ” for the dual role of the Clown and Our Lady of
42nd Street. Harvey had arrived with resume and photo in hand to an open non-Equity call (the Equity cast was leaving because I would not sign a contract to turn
the show over to an Off-Broadway production) for replacements of the original cast.
I had been totally unsatisfied with certain aspects of the play, and this development offered a chance to correct all of them -- one being the casting of Our Lady of
42nd Street, who at the end of the play gives a rambling monologue to the audience amidst the gaudiness of a pornographic Times Square blaring “God Bless
The actress who had played the role had decided (most likely with the director’s blessing) that it was her moment -- long drawn out moment, introspective and feel-
sorry-for-me moment, all-wrong moment! The end of the play and its monologue felt like a giant pause before the curtain call, instead of a steady mad swirl to the
conclusion of the evening’s can-can dance to a film of the atomic bomb!
Harvey showed up at the audition with faux credits and a convincing monologue -- I spoke to him about playing the madwoman and the all-out-stops energy that
builds to the conclusion -- he understood. He wanted the part. Well, he’s always blamed “Xircus” and me for his rasping voice because he insisted his lines be heard --
I could not impress upon him that they were not important -- that the mad raving should not be coherent. His screaming was excellent, but he did hurt his voice -- I
will not take the blame, one should have vocal training in order to perform an aria -- however, it did make for a great finale!
Harvey and I went on to over a dozen collaborations -- Euripides “The Trojan Women” (Andromache), Aeschylus “Prometheus Bound”, Sheridan’s “The Rivals”, H.
M. Koutoukas’ “Christopher at Sheridan Squared”, two Megan Terry plays, and finally, upon my advice, became a playwright with “In Search of the Cobra Jewels”
which I directed, continuing on with “Freaky Pussy” and “Flatbush Tosca”.
We went our ways, so to speak, upon the first installment of “Torch Song Trilogy”
I have enjoyed watching the monster I created balloon to stardom!