PLAYS ABOUT EZRA POUND
(1) Alleman, Michael J. A Pound of Flesh: Ezra Pound at St. Elizabeths. Ph.D. Thesis, The University of Texas at Dallas, 2007
This dissertation is a two part project comprised of a play about the poet Ezra Pound and the introduction which incorporates critical and scholarly material in order to illuminate the characters and issues within the play. The play is set in St. Elizabeths Hospital in Washington, D.C. and uses a combination of historical figures and invented characters to advance a ''creative'' interpretation of the controversial personality of Ezra Pound. In the play, Pound directs the unruly and irrational mental patients in a staged adaptation of Dante's Inferno written by a Jewish patient suffering from amnesia. This play-within-a-play allows Pound to engage with critical influences like Dante, personal loves like Dorothy Pound, Olga Rudge, and Sheri Martinelli, and political controversies like fascism and anti-Semitism. Worldcat
(2) Arnold, Kenneth. The House of Bedlam.
Synopsis: Based on the last days of the poet Ezra Pound in Rapallo, Italy. Escaping from the retreating German army, Pound takes his wife to the apartment of his mistress, Olga Rudge, where they are joined by the natural daughter Olga bore him. The resulting conflict brings to a head the domestic and political troubles that Pound had been creating for himself as a collaborator with the Mussolini regime. His arrest by the American army lands him in a cage, where his black guard, Whiteside, gives him a painful education in humility and humanity.
New Playwrights Theater, Washington, DC
Parts: Male 2, Female 3.
(3) Bertram, Christian. "CANTOS von Ezra Pound." Hörspiel, Deutschlandfunk Kultur, 2018.
Director: Christian Bertram.
Composition: Gebrüder Teichmann.
Based on the translations of The Cantos by Eva Hesse, Manfred Pfister, and Rainer G. Schmidt.
(4) Bingham, Sallie. Treason.
Synopsis: Treason takes Pound from his broadcasts for Radio Rome railing against the U.S. involvement in World War II, through 1945 when he was arrested and jailed on 19 charges of treason at Pisa. Declared mentally unfit for trial, he was remanded to St. Elizabeth's Hospital in Washington, DC, for 12 years. Pound was released only after a long campaign waged by admirers such as Hemingway and Eliot. Treason examines the quintessential poet and firebrand, Ezra Pound, who betrayed his country, his art, his wife, his mistress, and everyone he knew.
Produced: opening June 15th for a run through July 29th, 2006
The Perry Street Theatre off-Broadway, New York.
Parts: Male: 3, Female: 4
(5) Bolipata, Jed. Mad Man: a new play and film. 2013.
Synopsis: "The play begins . . . on February 13, 1946, inside a federal courtroom in Washington, DC. With the burden of proof on the defense, and Pound brooding silently in the background, Prosecutor and Defense Attorney examine and cross-examine, in one grueling 90-minute session, three psychiatrists, two from the government and one hired by the defense. The Defense Attorney tries to show that Pound's mind has come unhinged due to a lengthy period of solitary confinement shortly after his arrest. The Prosecutor is convinced he is faking it in order to avoid the death penalty. The final witness, the head of the mental hospital where Pound is being held, seems to have ulterior motives."
(6) Bolus, Michael Peter. Pound of Flesh.
Synopsis: In the summer of 1945, the American poet Ezra Pound--one of the acknowledged leaders of English Modernism--was arrested in Italy and subsequently indicted for high treason against the United States for a series of pro-Axis broadcasts he delivered over Radio Rome during World War II--political rants which extolled the virtues of Fascism while viciously denigrating Roosevelt and Churchill. Pound of Flesh is a dramatization of Pound's emotionally charged confrontation with the young American soldier who is guarding him--an encounter which exposes Pound's brilliance, passion, generosity, and venom with equal force and conviction. Pound of Flesh was not conceived as a biographical account of Pound's life, but rather, as a dramatic arena in which particular tensions and questions might be examined and pondered. As Leo Tolstoy once wrote: "a drama is not designed to tell the entire story of a man's life, but to place him in a situation in which his entire being becomes clear by the way he unties the knots." Pound's "entire being" will never become completely clear to us, but his poetry and politics provide fruitful terrain for the exploration of a universal and timeless dilemma.
Boston Playwrights' Theatre, 949 Commonwealth Ave. Boston MA,
September 28, 1997. A staged reading.
The Berkshire Theatre Festival, Unicorn, Stockbridge, MA,
August 9-18, 2001. Directed by Peter Wallace.
The Odyssey Theater, 2055 S Sepulveda Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90025.
June 25, 2006.
(7) Cron, Charles L. The Expatriates: A Play in Two Acts.
(8) de Grazia, Alfred. Poet-Traitor Ezra Pound. A Play in Two Acts. 2001.
(9) de Grazia, Edward. In the Caged Panther's Eye: (The Saga of Ezra Pound).
Synopsis: A poetic retelling of Pound's life. Includes T.S. Eliot and James Joyce.
La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club New York.
(10) de Grazia, Edward. The Saga of Hoo Fasa: A Peripatetic Play.
(11) Deer, Sandra. Sailing To Byzantium.
First presented at Actor's Express in Atlanta under the direction of Chris Coleman, Jan. 10, 1997.
West Coast premiere at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in 1998.
Characters include W.B. Yeats, Georgie Yeats, Dorothy Shakespear, Olivia Shakespear, Henry Hope Shakespear, Ezra Pound, and Maude Gonne.
Produced: 2005. Echo Theatre, Bath House Cultural Center, Dallas.
(12) Dickey, R.P. The Idaho Kid (a Play About Ezra Pound), 1981
Working Notes in the R.P. (Robert Preston) Dickey Papers, Archives of the University of Missouri.
(13) Dieffenbach, Jon Michael. The Exile of Ezra Pound.
Produced: Nov. 1987
(14) Dulack, Tom. Incommunicado. New York: Theatre Communications Group, 1989. 51 p. (Plays in process, v. 10, no. 4).
New York, N.Y. (440 Park Ave. S., New York 10016): Dramatists Play Service, 1990. 58 p.
Synopsis: Arrested in Italy in 1945 by the liberating U.S. troops, the famous expatriate poet, Ezra Pound, was imprisoned in a cage and treated like an animal--which many people considered him to be. At issue were some eighty-four wartime radio broadcasts that Pound had made on Italian radio, broadcasts which, while purporting to discuss economic theory, were in fact rabid anti-Semitic diatribes. Scornful of his captors, Pound takes delight in taunting them with his immense erudition and intelligence, winning small victories not only over the uneducated young black M.P. who is detailed to guard him but also confounding the lawyer and psychiatrist who are sent to interview him. Unrepentant and even indignant at his incarceration, Pound seems to unbend only when speaking with a fellow prisoner, a black G.I. awaiting execution, and he is furious when he is informed that a group of fellow writers, including Ernest Hemingway, are encouraging a plea of insanity to account for his actions. Seemingly unassailable in his isolated brilliance and paranoia, Pound does appear momentarily shaken when confronted with evidence of the Nazi death camps--but, as history confirms, it was, in the end, hatred rather than compassion that sealed the destiny of this gifted but tragically misguided man.
Cast: Men, 5.
(15) Findley, Timothy. The Trials of Ezra Pound. Winnipeg: Blizzard Pub., 1994. 78 p. Toronto: HarperPerennial Canada, 2003. 114 p.
Synopsis: This drama, presented in two parts, depicts the life and trial of poet Ezra Pound, who was accused of treason for anti-American speeches he made during World War II. Through a series of flashbacks that occur to him during his trial, Pound recalls fragments of his life before and after his arrest in Italy. Part one recalls Pound's anti-Semitic and pro-Fascist radio broadcasts in Italy during the war; his relationships with his wife and his mistress Olga; his surrender to American soldiers; his acquaintance with an excused juror named Arthur Beatty; the nervous testimony of Dr. Muncie, who tries to prove Pound is psychologically unfit to stand trial for treason; and a journalist's vituperative questions to poet William Carlos Williams about his contemporary. In part two, Dr. Overholser takes the stand, also hoping to prove Pound's mental incompetence. Due to the intervention of a fellow doctor, however, it becomes clear that many of the psychiatrists who examined Pound considered him mentally sound. Pound's overzealous plea that he is sane, however, has the reverse effect, convincing jurors that the poet was not responsible for his actions. Credits.
Stratford Shakespeare Festival
(16) Franza, August. Who Need Ezra Pound?
Synopsis: A full-length play, with lyrics, about the controversial life of the great American poet, Ezra Pound.
(August Franza Collection, Special Collections Department, University Libraries, Stony Brook University, Manuscript Box 15)
(17) Georges, Kat. "Jack the Rapper." 1999? Three Somebodies: Plays About Notorious Dissidents. New York: Three Rooms Press, 2018.
The play features T.S. Eliot and Ezra Pound.
Premiered at the Marilyn Monroe Memorial Theater, San Francisco, on Oct. 8, 1999.
(18) Guthrie, Adrian. Pisan Canto: A Theatre Piece from Plays of Pure Land. 1987 and 1999.
(19) Hall, Frances Benn. "Ezra's Noh for Willie." in Ezra's Noh for Willie and Other Plays. [Adams, Mass]: Mountain Press, 1996. 180 p.
Synopsis: Life of Ezra Pound employing conventions of Noh drama. Background music, dancing.
Cast: Men: 4. Women: 2, Extras: y.
(20) Heaton, Hayley. The Man in the Newspaper Hat.
Synopsis: The Man in the Newspaper Hat is a fictionalized portrayal of what went into the creation of Elizabeth Bishop's poem, "Visits to St. Elizabeths." Bishop wrote this poem during her visits with the controversial poet, Ezra Pound, who was remanded to St. Elizabeths in 1946 after having stood trial for treason where a special jury found him incompetent. Each scene is built upon aspects of Bishop's poem and follows both characters as they come together, "poet to poet."
45th Street Theatre, NY.
(21) Hemingway, Ernest. A Moveable Feast. 2017.
Conceived by Jane Jones & Judd Parkin.
Adapted by Judd Parkin.
Directed by Jane Jones.
Produced at the Book-It Repertory Theatre, Seattle, February 9 – April 2, 2017.
(22) Hill, Jeffery James. And They Played Tennis in Hell: A Screenplay. M.A., Simon Fraser University, 2012.
Abstract: In 1955, a young Jewish Canadian sociologist named Erving Goffman began a year of fieldwork at St. Elizabeths, a federal institution for the insane. Goffman's time at St. Elizabeths would eventually lead to the publication of Asylums, a text highly critical of institutions and psychiatry, which became a key text in many areas of academia. At the same time, Ezra Pound, an American poet was well into his tenth year of confinement at St. Elizabeths, having been found of unsound mind and thus incapable of defending the charges of treason leveled against him by the United States Government. This is the imagined story of the circumstances surrounding their meeting, and the subsequent development of an unlikely friendship forged on a tennis court in "hell". It is also the telling of a tale in the form of a screenplay that encompasses the multiple layers of madness, genius and beauty captured within the confines of St. Elizabeths. It is a work of fictional truth that has carefully woven together allusions to many of the works that influenced Pound's writing of The Cantos, such as the Odyssey and the Divine Comedy. In the end, it is also a story of how life's circumstances can propel one in a direction that may not have seemed likely at the time.
(23) Hodge, Brad, and Derek Mosely. Ezra Pound Movie Script. CreateSpace, 2008. Amazon link
(24) Hollingsworth, Margaret. Poppycock. Blizzard Publishing, 1988.
Synopsis: Three of the most powerful men of the century, Pablo Picasso, Adolf Hitler and Ezra Pound, are examined in relationships with one woman who is featured in each of their lives.
Theatre Resource Centre, Toronto, ON.
Parts: Male 1, Female 3
(25) Hunter, Steve. A Pleasant Madman.A One-Act Play.
Synopsis: The poet Ezra Pound is tried for treason by the United States.
(26) Ibsen, Árni. Skjaldbakan kemst þangað líka [The Turtle Gets There Too]. Reykjavík: Egg-leikhúsið, 1984.
A play about William Carlos Williams and Ezra Pound.
Premiered in Iceland in 1984 by Egg Theatre.
Also staged by Lilla Teatern, Helsinki, 1985; Egg Theatre (in English), 1986; RUV Radio Theatre, 1988; Akureyri Theatre Company, 1988; and The Luminous Group, New York, 1999.
(27) Köpf, Gerhard et al. Ezra & Luis, oder, die Erstbesteigung des Ulmer Münsters: ein Spiel. Mit essayistischen Kletterhilfen zu Pound und Trenker. [Ezra & Luis, or, The First Climbing of the Ulm Cathedral. A Play. With essaystic climbing supports on Pound and Trenker]. Herausgegeben von Christina Karafiat und Fabian Kametz. Innsbruck: Löwenzahn, 1994. 175 p.
(28) Kops, Bernard. "Ezra." Plays. One. London: Oberon Books, 1999. 197 p.
Synopsis: Ezra Pound's incarceration at U.S. Army detention Centre between Pisa and Viareggio in May, 1945.
New Half Moon, London
Cast: Men: 3, Women: 3
(29) Marshall-Stoneking, Billy. Sixteen Words for Water: a Play in Two Acts. North Ryde, NSW: Angus & Robertson, 1991. 78 p.
Synopsis: Set in Washington D.C.'s St. Elizabeth's Hospital in 1958. Poet and fascist Ezra Pound, indicted for treason, faces the choice of going to trial or pleading insanity.
Cast: Men: 1, Women: 2
(30) Moher, Frank. McLuhan: The Musical. Music and Lyrics by Gerald Reid. 1994.
In two acts. Premiered by The Great Canadian Theatre Company, Ottawa, in October 1994.
(31) Murray, Robert. "The Good Lieutenant." Four New Yale Playwrights. New York Crown Publishers, 1965.
Synopsis: A poignant emotional confrontation between a lieutenant, who is a sensitive, civilized young man, and his prisoner, an arrogant poet of genius, reminiscent of Ezra Pound.
Produced for television: September 28, 1966.
WNDT-TV (Newark, NJ)
("Pick Of Tonight's Best TV Shows," The Herald Statesman, Yonkers, N.Y., Wednesday, September 28, 1966, p. 3)
(32) Nigro, Don. Anima Mundi. New Yok: Samuel French, 1994.
Synopsis: A young American poet arrives in London at the turn of the century, falls in love with a troubled dancer and has his fortune told by Madame Blavatsky. Each tarot card triggers a vivid scene from his turbulent future. Yeats in the tower, the Satanist Alister Crowley, and cranky Ezra Pound in the mad house are there as well as Oscar Wilde among some French ladies of easy virtue, a shell-shocked Everett in no man's land, the bitter ballplayer Rex, and the manic Captain Blood. At a wild seance, Wilde's ghost is summoned to discuss God and chocolate eclairs. This poetic play traces the young American's search for his elusive love, God and the meaning of art in a stunning tapestry of memories and nightmares.
Parts: Male 8, Female 5.
(33) O'Brien, Dan. The Last Supper Restoration: A Play. New York: S. French, 1998. 66 pp.
Synopsis: Drama about a dying shirt designer with dreamlike delusions about his art restorer father, Leonardo Da Vinci, Sigmund Freud, and Ezra Pound.
Act(s): 2. Cast: Men: 4, Women: 1
(34) O'Connor, William Van. In the Cage: A Play in Four Acts.
Dixon, Calif.: Proscenium Press, 1967. 36 p. (The "Lost play" series, no. 6).
Synopsis: Based on the story of the incarceration of Ezra Pound.
Produced: June 7-24, 1973, directed by Richard Kuss.
The American Theater, New York.
(35) O'Leary, Sean. Pound: A Play in Two Acts. 2004.
Synopsis: Ezra Pound was America's greatest poet, literary critic, fascist, and anti-Semite. Charged with treason and judged insane, Pound dominated St. Elizabeth's psychiatric hospital much as he had the literary world until, at age 73, he suddenly retreated into an emotional shell from which he never fully emerged. The play, POUND, imagines what might have happened to irreversibly change the character of Ezra Pound.
Pittsburgh New Play Festival, Pittsburgh, PA.
Parts: Male 2, Female 2.
(36) Pownall. David. Pound on Mr. Greenhill. 1997.
Synopsis: "In the last years of his life, one of the largest literary figures of the 20th century, Ezra Pound, fell silent. The man who had been branded a traitor and judged insane by American authorities abandoned poetry and chose instead to communicate with that other prodigious talent, Claudio Monteverdi."
(Radio Times 3813 (2 March 1997): 112.
Broadcast on BBC Radio 3, March 2, 1997, at 19:30. 100 min. Schedule.
Directed by Eoin O'Callaghan.
Unknown: Ezra Pound
Unknown: Claudio Monteverdi.
Ezra Pound: Richard Johnson
Olga Rudge: Clare Higgins
Mr Greenhill: Ronald Pickup
Allen Ginsburg: John Guerrasio
Caleb: Alan Marriott
Father: Garrick Hagon
Mother: Liza Ross
Jane/Air hostess: Alice Arnold
Geoffrey/Waiter/Priest/Andrea: Chris Pavlo
(37) Raddatz, Fritz J. Der Pound-Prozeß.
Director: Günter Hahn.
A radio play. First broadcast Deutschlandfunk / Westdeutscher Rundfunk,
Oct. 26, 1985.
Characters include a narrator, Ernest Hemingway, Ezra Pound, James Laughlin, Julien Cornell, the Presiding Judge, Robert Frost, Robert L. Allen, Dr. Wendell Muncie, Mr. Matlack, William Carlos Williams, T.S. Eliot, Mr. Luce, and Allen Ginsberg.
(38) Razavi, William M. The Private Life of Ernest Hemingway: A Play. 2001.
(39) Reitan, Ruth Halaj. CAGED. 2014 [film script]
Synopsis: CAGED is inspired by the love-hate triangle among the notorious American poet Ezra Pound, his wife Dorothy, and his lover and muse Olga Rudge, set in fascist-era Europe.
Entered in the 17th Annual Canes Film Festival, Bill Cosford Cinema, Coral Gables Fl., May 2, 3, 4, 2014.
(40) Roetzheim, William. Pound: The Poet on Trial.
Synopsis: This play gives Ezra Pound his trial on charges of treason that the government never permitted. This play also deals with issues of freedom of speech, economic theory with an emphasis on the Social Credit movement of the 1930s, and anti-Semitism.
American International Theater, Inc., Theatre Row Studio, New York.
Parts: Male: 1.
a review of a production in the Midtown International Theatre Festival, New York, 2009:
Nathan Burstein, "A bissel of this, a bissel of that," The Jerusalem Post, 07/14/2009 14:00.
(41) Schewe, Phillip F. Ezra Pound. 1989.
Synopsis: A four-act play. "The Spirit of Romance" (act I) shows Pound as an impressionable boy visiting his birthplace in the Wild West (1898), as a college student discovering literature (1906), and as an instructor at Wabash College (1908), where he is fired for accommodating a lady visitor overnight. Act II, "Blast," is about Pound at the height of his literary influence in London during World War I. He and his friends try to launch a cultural revolution. Act III, "Rockdrill," concerns Pound's incarceration in an army prison camp (1945) as he awaits trial for treason. Act IV, "A Lume Spento," is about Pound in the year of his death (1972). As Alberto Giacometti paints his portrait, Pound is visited by various characters, real and fictional, from his poems.
(42) Sherman, William David. The Case of Ezra Pound. Anglo-Welsh Review 19.43 (Autumn 1970): 85-108.
A documentary play in six scenes, taking place between 1945 and 1965.
(43) Smith, Bob and Roberta. One Man's Battle with the Art Establishment.
Bob and Roberta Smith's Epstein Studio Theatre, 2012.
(44) Smyth, Donna E. Sole Survivors. Maiden Voyages: Ship's Company Theatre Premieres, 2000-2002. By Scott Burke, Michael Melski, and Donna E. Smyth. Scott Burke, editor. Fredericton: Broken Jaw Press, 2003. 127-188.
A two-act play based on the life of poet Elizabeth Bishop. Originated as a one-woman play, Running to Paradise which was produced by the Studio Group in Wolfville and Halifax in 1998 and published by Gaspereau Press in 1999. Re-fashioned for the Ship's Company Theatre in Parrsboro, Nova Scotia, which produced it in August 2000.
Characters include Elizabeth Bishop, Charles Darwin, Ezra Pound, Marianne Moore, Mother, Cal (Robert Lowell), and Lota Soares.
(45) Sobsey, Adam. Western Men or Opposite To Humanity.
Synopsis: A surrealist one-act play about the relationship between Ezra Pound and Wyndham Lewis.
Produced: October 15-17, 2010.
The Little Green Pig Theatrical Concern at Duke's Nasher Museum of Art.
(46) Springate, Michael. Dog and crow. A Play. Montréal: Guernica, 1990. 127 p.
Synopsis: Drama about art and politics. Examines fascist ideology of Ezra Pound and Benito Mussolini.
Cast: Men: 7, Women: 3.
(47) Starling, Simon and Graham Eatough. At Twilight: A play for two actors, three musicians, one dancer, eight masks (and a donkey costume).
Synopsis: At Twilight’ is an ambitious new project by Simon Starling, developed in collaboration with theatre director Graham Eatough, which revolves around a WB Yeats play, ‘At the Hawk’s Well,’ which was written and performed in April 1916 in what Starling describes as “an odd cross-cultural mash-up in an English garden, at a traumatic moment in European history”. The play was written by Yeats while working with poet Ezra Pound and was inspired by traditional Japanese ‘Noh’ theatre. It is a fusion of Irish folklore and what Yeats then saw as an exciting new possibility for theatre.‘At Twilight’ encapsulates this dynamic discourse between tradition and the avant-garde, in a kind of absurd, dramatised tussle between history, mythology and Modernism. Extending from the core of the play through the circumstances of its coming into being, ‘At Twilight’ weaves together some surprising and significant inter-connections of influential figures and works through a particular time and place. This first presentation of Starling’s project coincides with the centenary of the play’s first appearance, in the middle of the First World War.
Performances: Holmwood House, Glasgow, August 26–28, 2016.
A production to accompany the exhibition 'At Twilight' at The Common Guild, 2 July-4 September 2016.
Script by Simon Starling and Graham Eatough
Directed by Graham Eatough
Choreography by Javier De Frutos and Scottish Ballet
Music by Joshua Abrams and Natural Information Society
Costumes made by Kumi Sakurai and Atelier Hinode Tokyo, Japan
Masks made by Yasuo Miichi, Osaka, Japan
Blast trees made by Simon Hopkins/Scott Associates Sculpture and Design, Glasgow.
Commissioned by The Common Guild in collaboration with the Japan Society, New York.
Go to website.
(48) Steer, Michael Maxwell. "The Original American In Paris: The Story of George Antheil." 1988.
BBC Radio 3 drama-documentary, based on George Antheil's autobiography, Bad Boy of Music.
Featuring the first broadcast performance of some of his piano music realised using a MIDI files performed on a Yamaha Disklavier.
Produced by John Powell.
Characters include George Antheil, Igor Stravinsky, Ezra Pound, Irving Schwerké, Caesar Searchinger, Fernand Léger, Donald Friede, Aaron Copland, William C Williams, Virgil Thomson, Margaret Anderson, Mrs Bok, and unnamed newsboys and critics.