Soren Agenoux’s adaptation of A Christmas Carol took the audience deep into the soul of Ebenezer Scrooge, with absolutely no sentimentality. Michael Smith, who directed it, recalled that it was based more on the Scrooge McDuck comic than the Charles Dickens story. “There was also kind of an anti-Vietnam streak to it,” Smith said. “It was very obscure, because it was written in this kind of raving amphetamine haze that Soren Agenoux did so well.” Actress Jacque Lynn Colton, who played the Ghost of Christmas Past, recalled the show’s wild run. “I was kind of on the fringes of it all,” she said, “because I was not a gay boy, and I wasn’t into drugs or anything.” In one of her scenes, Colton was given a prop birthday cake with candles to wear on her head while she recited a two-page monologue, which was mostly poetic gibberish. Cino lighting genius Johnny Dodd slowly dimmed the lights so that when Ondine blew out the candles at the end of Colton’s long speech, the Cino went pitch black. This sort of technique is common today, but it was shockingly new at the time. The play was packed with allusions to pop culture and Factory scene inside jokes, with Ondine’s character spouting free-associating lines such as, “I help support certain establishments, certain recognized charities—the Girls of Chelsea Amphetamindell—THE VELVET UNDERGRINDLE.” Andy Warhol saw A Christmas Carol several times and sent his lieutenant Paul Morrissey to film it for the compilation film Four Stars.
From Chapter 12 of The Downtown PopUnderground — order online, or from a local independent bookstore
Ellen Stewart extended the downtown diaspora’s connections across the globe, touring shows overseas and bringing international troupes to her theater. La MaMa’s first forays abroad began in June 1965 with a European trip taken by Jacque Lynn Colton and Mari-Claire Charba (who appeared in the Andy Warhol film Soap Opera). Colton and Charba met when they were cast in a LeRoi Jones play, The Baptism, and they appeared together in Tom Eyen’s Off-Off-Broadway hit at La MaMa, Frustrata, or the Dirty Little Girl with the Red Paper Rose Stuck in Her Head Is Demented. The two soon hatched a plan to get Eyen to write them a play as an excuse to go to Europe, and they had quite a send-off. “Tiny Tim and Harry Koutoukas and Tom Eyen and all of Off-Off-Broadway came down to the boat to see us off,” Colton said, “and threw roses at us. She and I had our floaty chiffon scarves blowing in the wind. It was all very picturesque.” Charba and Colton performed Eyen’s The White Whore and the Bit Player on a transatlantic ocean liner, then put on Eyen’s show everywhere from Amsterdam to Paris.
From Chapter 16 of The Downtown PopUnderground — order online, or from a local independent bookstore