Michael McClure's The Beard, one of the Beat culture's few significant contributions to the theatre, will close its second run at La MaMa Dec. 5. Performances began Nov. 18 in the larger downstairs theatre. The first production, which ran in the smaller, upstairs space Sept. 23-Oct. 10, did well enough in this first major New York revival of the work to warrant a return visit. Lawrence Sacharow (Three Tall Women) directs.
A trippy dialogue between Billy the Kid and Jean Harlow in the great beyond, The Beard raised many a hackle when it debuted in California in 1965 -- not surprisingly, since the play climaxed, so to speak, with an explicitly simulated sex act between cowboy and starlet. Initial productions were cut off early in their runs. And a Hollywood mounting was raided by police on 14 consecutive nights, while being roundly denounced by the likes of Charlton Heston and Nancy Reagan.
The Beard fared significantly better in New York, where it won Obies for star Billie Dixon and director Rip Torn.
Eva Patton and Leo Marks will star as Jean and Billy in the LaMaMa show. Sacharow won a Lucille Lortel Award for his direction of Albee's Three Tall Women, and netted an Obie for his work on Len Jenkin's Five of Us, also at La MaMa.
The Beard design team includes Beowulf Boritt (sets), Tracey Dorman (costumes) and Jane Cox (lighting). Daniel Levy composed the original score, performed by Bohdan Hilash. For information on The Beard, which opened Sept. 23 call (212) 475 7710.
-- By Robert Simonson and Christine Ehren