What does it mean to be a man? A playwright, two actors and a percussionist are exploring that question in Guys Dreamin', an autobiographical and improvisation-based piece opening at NY's La MaMa E.T.C., Nov. 6.
Kermit Dunkelberg and Court Dorsey are the actors, Tony Vacca (of Ashland, MA's Pilgrim Theatre) the drummer. Starring with them is Jean Claude van Itallie, a well-known avant-gardist who has written over thirty plays and was connected to La MaMa from its very beginnings. He also worked with the Open Theatre (The Serpent) and with Andrei Serban (an adaptation of Uncle Vanya). Other plays include 1991's Ancient Boys and America Hurrah. He also worked with director (and aphasic stroke victim) Joseph Chaikin in fashioning The Traveler and Struck Dumb. Guys Dreamin' is only van Itallie's second stab at acting; he appeared in the 1988 dance piece, Flesh Chronicles.
Guys Dreamin' was staged as a work-in-progress at the Art Bank in September and at the Black Box Theatre in October, both venues in Massachusetts. Van Itallie plays a gay man coming out to his family; Dorsey plays a midwesterner seeking kindred souls; Dunkelberg is the hitch-hiking kid next door.
Asked about his New York acting debut, Van Itallie told production spokesperson Jonathan Slaff, "Separating writing from acting is like cutting your head off from your body. Shakespeare was an actor, and Brecht and Moliere. Now I teach writing, story-telling, performing, meditation and movement in the same workshop, `The Yoga Of Theatre.' Now practice what you preach, I tell myself. Go on stage. Eeeeeek."
For tickets ($12) and information on Guys Dreamin', directed by Kim Mancuso and Joel Gluck, at Off-Off-Broadway's La MaMa E.T.C., call (212) 475-7710.
-- By David Lefkowitz