PLAYS ABOUT EZRA
List researched and compiled by Archie Henderson
(Last updated 1 April 2022)
PLAYS ABOUT EZRA POUND
- Alleman, Michael J. A Pound of Flesh: Ezra Pound at St. Elizabeths.
Ph.D. Thesis, The University of Texas at Dallas, 2007, pp. 120-291.
Synopsis: 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.
A play in two acts. Characters with speaking parts include Amy, Anteil [also spelled Antiel], Artemis, Babs, Bubba, Chorus, Cross, Dalmen, Doctor, Doctor 1, Doctor 2, Doctor 3, Dorothy, Duval, Edwards, Francis, Gaudier, Guard, Hall, John, Joseph [Joesph], Kasper [Kaspar], Kavka, Ken, Lano, Luther, Maybelle, Mickey, Olga, Overholser, Parker, Pier Delle Vigne, Pound, Reapers, Sheri, Silk, Three Men, Three Satans, Williams, Yeats, and Young Reaper.
- 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.
Characters: Pound, Olga, Dorothy, Mary, and Corporal Whiteside.
Produced: Feb. 1-Mar. 12, 1978, by the New Playwrights' Theater, 1742 Church St. NW, Washington, D.C., directed by Robert Graham Small.
Kenneth Arnold's plays Personal website
Behr, Caroline. Possum in the Bughouse. 1986.
Characters: Ezra Pound, T. S. Eliot, Nurse, and Will.
Premiered at the Old Red Lion, Islington, London, 2-17 May 1986.
- Bertram, Christian. "CANTOS von Ezra Pound." 2018.
Hörspiel, Hessischer Rundfunk /Deutschlandfunk Kultur, 2018.
Director: Christian Bertram.
Music: Gebrüder Teichmann.
A radio play based on the translations of The Cantos by Eva Hesse, Manfred Pfister, and Rainer G. Schmidt.
Description and here and here.
First broadcast on June 27, 2018. Audio.
- Bingham, Sallie. Treason. 2006. Published in Bingham, Treason: A Sallie Bingham Reader (Louisville, KY: Sarabande Books, 2020).
A play in two acts.
Time: The action of the play takes place between 1941 and 1965, in Italy, the Tyrol, and Washington, D.C.
Characters: Ezra Pound; Dorothy (Shakespear) Pound; Olga Rudge; Sgt. Paul Whiteside; Dr. Winfred Overholser; Sheri Martinelli; Marcella Spann; John Kasper; Mary Rudge; and Elder Lightfoot Solomon Michaux.
Synopsis: Ezra Pound helped make the careers of T.S. Eliot and James Joyce, translated texts from many languages, re-discovered much of the music of Vivaldi, and wrote operas. And he was a womanizer, an anti-Semite, a racist, an absent father, and a traitor to his country. Spanning over twenty years, Bingham's play exposes the man behind the genius through the eyes of five women who loved him. (John Willis and Ben Hodges, Theatre World. Vol. 63, 2006-2007 (Milwaukee, WI: Applause Theatre and Cinema Books, An imprint of Hal Leonard Corp., 2009), p. 125).
Synopsis 2: 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.
World premiere: Perry Street Theatre, New York; First Preview: June 8, 2006; Opening Night: June 15, 2006; Closed July 29, 2006; 7 previews, 46 performances. Produced by Perry Street Theatre Company (Martin Platt and David Elliott, Co-Directors). Director, Martin Platt.
Poster Sally Bingham's plays
Published in Bingham, Treason: A Sallie Bingham Reader (Louisville, KY: Sarabande Books, 2020).
- 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."
- 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, in a run ending June 25, 2006.
- Colby, Sasha. "These Were the Hours." [2015?]
A play in two acts about Nancy Cunard.
Characters: Nancy Cunard, Bill Bird, Louis Aragon, Georgette Goasgüen, Lévy, Robert Mcalmon, Ernest Hemingway, Ezra Pound, Edouard Norvale, Mayor of La Chapelle-Réanville, Henry Crowder, Pablo Neruda, Deliveryman 1 and 2, Reporter 1, 2, and 3, Waiter at café in Havana pre-recorded voice, male American who threatens Cunard in New York by phone.
Published in Sasha Colby, Staging Modernist Lives: H.D., Mina Loy, Nancy Cunard, Three Plays and Criticism (Montreal & Kingston o London o Chicago: McGill-Queen's University Press, 2017), pp. 209-295.
- Colby, Sasha. "The Tree." [2006?]
A play in two acts about H.D. Originally titled H.D.: A Life.
Synopsis: "The Tree is a twenty-five-character, one-woman auto/biographical play that draws on H.D.'s memoirs, romans à clef, poetry, and letters. Other sources include documents in the H.D. collection at Yale, autobiographies by H.D.'s associates, biographies, and other critical accounts that create an underlay for the script."Published in Sasha Colby, Staging Modernist Lives: H.D., Mina Loy, Nancy Cunard, Three Plays and Criticism (Montreal & Kingston, London, Chicago: McGill-Queen's University Press, 2017), pp. 45-105.
Premiered by Simon Fraser University Vancouver and the Vancouver Fringe Festival at Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, on September 15, 2006.
- Cron, Charles L. The Expatriates: A Play in Two Acts.
- de Grazia, Alfred. Poet-Traitor Ezra Pound. A Play in Two Acts. 2001.
- 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.
Edward De Grazia's plays Full text
- de Grazia, Edward. The Saga of Hoo Fasa: A Peripatetic Play.
A play in one act.
Characters: Simon, a prisoner; Edwards, a Negro guard; Hoo Fasa, a poet; Dandy Line, a young girl; T.S., a poet; J.J., a poet; Gerty, a young girl; two young girls, friends of Gerty; Stoutman, a detective; Blood, a guard; Slaughter, a guard; Steele, their officer.
- Deer, Sandra. Sailing To Byzantium.
First presented at Actor's Express in Atlanta under the direction of Chris Coleman, Jan. 10, 1997.
A reading of the play, directed by Libby Appel, took place at the Angus Bowmer Theatre, Ashland, Ore., in September 1996. The play was produced at the Black Swan, Ashland, Ore., April-June 1998, under the direction of Chris Coleman, during the season of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.
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.
Sandra Deer's plays
- 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.
- Dieffenbach, Jon Michael. The Exile of Ezra Pound.
Produced: Nov. 1987
- 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.
Abstract: The play takes place in a military detention camp near Pisa, Italy. The time is spring. summer, and fall of 1945. Imprisoned poet Ezra Pound awaits his trial for treason.
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.
World premiere: The Wilma Theater, Philadelphia, February 22-April 16, 1989. Directed by Blanka Zizka. Playbill. Also produced at John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Washington, D.C., summer 1989. New York debut at the off-Broadway Judith Anderson Theater, April 1995.
Characters: Ezra Pound, MP, Till, Lawyer, Doctor.
Tom Dulack's plays
- Einhorn, Edward. The Marriage of Alice B. Toklas by Gertrude Stein. 2017.
Produced by Untitled Theater Company No. 61 at HERE Arts Center, 145 6th Ave., New York, May 10-28, 2017, directed by Edward Einhorn.
- Findley, Timothy. "Daybreak at Pisa: 1945."The Tamarack Review 83-84 (Winter 1982): 90-97. Rpt. as "Daybreak at Pisa" in Findley, Dinner Along the Amazon (Markham, Ont.: Penguin, 1984). "This is a scene from a work-in-progress: a play about the poet Ezra Pound. The characters are self-explanatory; but perhaps it should be said that the cage referred to is the cage in which Pound was kept at the end of the Second World War by the American military authorities while he was being detained in Italy before being sent to the U.S., where in time they would attempt to bring him to trial as a traitor. In the end he could not be tried because he was found to be legally insane.—T.F." Free online.
- Findley, Timothy. The Trials of Ezra Pound. 1990.
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.
Characters: Chief Justice Bolitha Laws, Toady, Julien Cornell, Dorothy Shakespear, Ezra Pound, William Carlos Williams, Dr. Winfred Overholser, Sheri Martinelli, Arthur Beatty, Donald Anderson, Dr. Wendell Muncie, Ellen Deutsch, Isaiah Matlack, and Dr. Carlos Dalmau.
Broadcast as a radio docudrama on CBC (Canada), March 26, 1990. Produced and directed by Damiano Pietropaolo. Credits. Produced at the California Repertory Company at Cal State Long Beach's University Theatre, April 1997, and the Stratford Festival of Ontario, directed by Dennis Garnhum, in the Tom Patterson Theatre, 111 Lakeside Dr, Stratford, Ontario, July 8 (beginning of previews; opening July 17)-Aug. 17, 2001. Production photographs of the Stratford Festival production. Performed at the Shipping Dock Theatre, directed by Barbara Biddy, in the Visual Studies Workshop building, 31 Prince Street (corner of University Avenue), Rochester, NY 14607, February 11-March 6, 2005.
"Ezra Pound has always fascinated me principally because I'm a writer and an anti-fascist and our politics are so widely divided. I fell in love with his writing when I was about 19, not with the Cantos (a series of 117 poems written 1925-29 [sic] attempting a massive, unifying reappraisal of history), because they're very complicated, but his relatively short poems, because many of them have great beauty. As I grew to know more about him and what developed with his extraordinary broadcasts, I just thought this was so horrifying. I began to be very baffled about how these two extraordinary opposites could exist in one mind, and that was where my interest perked up. I put him in a novel called Famous Last Words (1982) and thought, 'One day I'm going to have to write a play because what this man's about is so theatrical and powerful. Through the course of the play, he can conjure his wife, mistress, poet friends and protégés. The people he hates and the people he loves can all be brought into focus through Ezra's mind, and that creates the drama. The attitude of Jewish conspiracy to run the world was what Ezra was largely about. People like him made it possible for other people to go on strengthening their anti-Semitic attitudes, and as a consequence, their racist attitudes. I remember reading that [playwright] Arthur Miller heard Ezra on the radio when he was 17 or 18 and said it scared the hell out of him. He really thought that what Ezra was propounding was going to happen. I think it's self evident that you can't tolerate Ezra's words and expect any minority to maintain its right to exist and explore its own culture, but at the same time—and I had to learn this in a very harsh way—it isn't good enough for me to just hate him. That doesn't achieve a thing. I had to learn how to understand him as a human being, and when it's someone you really loathe in terms of what he had been saying and doing, it's very hard to go back to the human factor and say this man is a human being. All this comes out of one of us, so what are the rest of us capable of? I'm hoping what will happen is that members of the audience will in some way begin to look at themselves and ask where their prejudices lie and [explore] how deeply those prejudices can affect the lives of other people." (Timothy Findley, in an interview with Suzanne Chessler, "Examining Ezra Pound," The Detroit Jewish News, June 29, 2001, pp. 70-71, free online).
Review About Timothy Findley
- Fish, Miles Dayton. Music and Other Arts of War. 2020.
Screenplay. Free online and here.
- Franza, August. Who Needs 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)
- 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.
- Giudici, Giovanni, Il Paradiso: Perché mi vinse il lume d’esta stella. Satura drammatica. Presentazione di Franco Brioschi. Genova: Costa e Nolan, 1991 [Pound appears on pp. 10, 12, 31, 32, and 89].
- Guthrie, Adrian. Pisan Canto: A Theatre Piece from Plays of Pure Land. 1987 and 1999.
- Hall, Frances Benn. Ezra's Noh for Willie.
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.
- 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.
Hayley Heaton's plays
- Hill, Jeffery James. And They Played Tennis in Hell: A Screenplay.
M.A., Simon Fraser University, 2012.
Synopsis: 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 levelled 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.
Characters: Characters: Erving Goffman; Ezra Pound; Dorothy Pound; T.S. Eliot; William Carlos Williams; Sheri Martinelli; Young Lady – Administration Building; Attendant – Chestnut Ward; Angelica Schuyler Choate-Goffman – Aegle; and St. Elizabeths Hospital – A Federal Institution.
Full text and here
- Hodge, Brad, and Derek Mosely. Ezra Pound Movie Script. CreateSpace, 2008. Amazon link.
- 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
Margaret Hollingsworth's plays
- Hunter, Steve. A Pleasant Madman. A One-Act Play.
Synopsis: The poet Ezra Pound is tried for treason by the United States.
Steve Hunter's Plays
- 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.
Excerpts in English
- Kandel, Stephen. The Trial of Ezra Pound. [ca. 1982].
Outline, research, correspondence cast list, clippings, and notes are in the James Goldstone papers, 1895; 1957-2000, Series: 4, Projects, 1959-2000, Rauner Special Collections Library, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH 03755, https://ead.dartmouth.edu/html/ms1073_Series4_Boxes_d1023e7205.html.
- 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.
- Kops, Bernard. Ezra. Adam International Review 42.431-433 (1980): 21-62. Rpt. in Kops, Plays. One (London: Oberon Books, 1999).
A play in one act. Time of action: 1945-1958.
Synopsis: Ezra Pound's incarceration at the U.S. Army Detention Centre between Pisa and Viareggio in May 1945.
Characters: Ezra Pound, Dorothy Pound, Benito Mussolini (Il Duce), Antonio Vivaldi, and Claretta Petacci.
Broadcast on 7 May 1981 at 19:30, 4 Feb. 1982 at 19:30, and 8 Oct. 1991 at 21:20 on BBC Radio 3 in a production directed by Cherry Cookson. Produced at Half Moon Theatre, Mile End Road, London, 1 May-13 June 1981, directed by Rob Walker, as part of the BBC/Arts Council scheme to commission new work for radio and the theatre.
"Ezra Pound wrote such beautiful poetry. We want him therefore to be a beautiful human being. We want our heroes to be perfect. This play asks questions. This play is about the paradox of Ezra Pound. How is it possible that one of the greatest poets of the twentieth century could also indulge in the obscenity of racial hatred? How is it possible that the Orphic dreamer could also support fascism? We tend to kick our monster upstairs, to pretend he doesn't belong to us; in this way he is pigeonholed and explained away; we also get trapped in coming up with easy answers; we also indulge in stereotypes. Ezra Pound, this complex flawed genius is our monster, our Caliban." (Bernard Kops, in the programme here).
"He was a great poet. I found Ezra Pound when I was very young. And although I didn't understand most that he wrote I absolutely loved it. And it came as a great shock many years later to discover that he had done all these terrible things, been involved with this terrible cause, and I went into a state of shock, really. It took me a long time to come back to him and to try and find out why he behaved like this. He himself at the end of his life said, 'the trouble is, I fell for the suburban prejudice of antisemitism.' He was a genius, but he was a flawed genius. He got involved with wanting to change the world. It's very dangerous, that. He got carried away with monetary policies. The idea that the Jew had been the usurer and the money changer is a fact of many cases in medieval history. Jews were forced into these professions. He fell for the old cliché. You know, I mean, there's a great poet falling for stupid sentiments. He went out on a limb and he couldn't come back." [Hiley: "A lot of the play concerns itself with periods of incarceration immediately at the end of the war when he was arrested and was kept, we learn, in a cage that was really designed for a gorilla, and later, he spent a lot of time in a mental asylum in the United States of America. This is the setting for most of the play. Do you think that by concentrating on that period of his life rather than the period when he was making his regular, very antisemitic broadcasts, for example, do you think that you could be accused of writing actually rather a sympathetic portrait of him?"] "I'll try to explain why I've been sympathetic, to a certain extent. We always expect our, you know, monsters to be monstrous all the time. How easy it would be if it were so. We all know about the people who looked after Belsen and Auschwitz, that they loved their family, they were kind to animals and dogs. What I'm saying is, if you say they were monsters merely, you kick them away from us. Because we have got to try and understand that if he is Caliban, he is our Caliban, he belongs to us. We've got to understand the nature of this craziness, these facets in human nature that can suddenly switch off when it comes to another person's humanity. What I've done is try to show the obscenity of his broadcasts, to show how ridiculous and mad the whole thing was. And I present the broadcasts almost verbatim. I overlap, but these were the original broadcasts, his original words, and it seemed absolutely mad that any great man, any poet, who used language so beautifully, so convincingly, could indulge in these incredible obscenities." (Bernard Kops, in a broadcast interview by Jim Hiley, "Poet or criminal? How should we remember Ezra Pound?" Meridian - BBC Sounds, 15 May 1981, audio.)
Online production archive.
Bernard Kops' plays
- Livingston, Guy. Bad Boy of Music: Rise and Fall of a Composer. Radio National (Australian Broadcasting Corporation), February 25, 2015.
Script (Scene 1. Ballet mécanique). Recording (Scene 1).
- Luke, Peter. Ez. 1980s?
"Ez, commissioned by the Hampstead Theatre Company (and not yet produced), is about the non-trial for treason of Ezra Pound. The first act is set in a cage in a Pisan prison; the second, in St. Elizabeths hospital in Washington, where Pound spent more than a decade Some of Pound's best work belongs to this period, but Luke is more concerned with the contradictions inherent in his character: an egotist, he would share his scraps of food with a cat; a racist, he made friends easily with blacks. He emerges as victim of a genius inseparable from irresponsibility . But when he is eventually released , he is no longer so sure that what he believed in was right. His confession that he was at fault brings the play to a close." (Terence Dawson, "Luke, Peter (Ambrose Cyprian)," Contemporary Dramatists, with a preface by Ruby Cohn; editor D.L. Kirkpatrick; consulting editor James Vinson (Chicago: St. James Press, 1988), p. 333).
- MacDonald, D. Lorne. The Idaho Kid. 1981.
A play in one act.
Produced at the Theatre Centre, Toronto, in 1981.
- Marshall-Stoneking, Billy. Sixteen Words for Water: a Play in Two Acts.
North Ryde, NSW: Angus & Robertson, 1991. 78 pp. Free online.
Synopsis: Set in Ezra Pound's room, Chestnut Ward, St. Elizabeths Hospital, Washington, D.C., in late winter/early spring 1958.
Characters: Ezra Pound, The Psychiatrist, and Betsy.
World premiere: Sydney Theatre Company, The Wharf Theatre, August/September 1991, directed by Rhys McConnochie.
A 2005 production at La Mama Theatre, Carlton Courthouse (Carlton, Melbourne; closed on March 26 of that year), with Tim Robertson, Caroline Lee and Natasha Jacobs, was directed by Lawrence Strangio and designed by Peter Corrigan. A production file for the production is located in the La Mama Theatre production files, 2005-2011, 2012.0285, The University of Melbourne Archives, 120-122 Dawson Street Brunswick, VIC, 3056 Australia, http://gallery.its.unimelb.edu.au/imu/imu.php?request=multimedia&irn=1681.
Reviews. Stage Productions (1991-2011).
- McCall, Audie. "The Bardo of American Poets, Patriot and Expatriate." Act II, Section Five of An American Book of the Dead - The Game Show. 2003.
Characters include Announcer, Aunt Emily, Dr. Bill, Host, Ibm, Langston, Ol T.S.E., Sister Sylvia, Uncle Ezra, and Uncle Walt.
- 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.
- Murray, Robert. The Good Lieutenant.
Four New Yale Playwrights. New York Crown Publishers, 1965.
A three-act play based on events in the life of poet Ezra Pound.
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.
Premiered by the Yale University School of Drama, directed by F. Curtis Canfield, New Haven, CT, Nov. 6, 1965. A television production, directed by Glenn Jordan, appeared on the Sunday Showcase, June 5 and 7, 1966, Sept. 28, 1966, and May 30, 1967.
- Nigro, Don. Anima Mundi. New York: 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.
Don Nigro's plays
- Nigro, Don. Waste Land. 2016.
Characters include T. S. Eliot, Vivienne Eliot, Mrs Porter, Miss Stein, Mother Eliot, Virginia Woolf, Bertie Russell, W. L. Janes, Ezra Pound, and James Joyce.
The world premiere was produced by Collaborative Artists Ensemble at Studio/Stage Theatre, 520 N. Western Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90004, April 6-May 5, 2018. Directed by Steve Jarrard.
- 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.
Characters: Bob Sarafin, Caterina, Bob Dodge, The Conspirator, The Restorer, Pound on the Air, and The Ghost of Freud.
Time: Winter, 1985. Setting: A hospital from which Sarafin imagines different locations during three time periods: (1) USA 1970-1985, (2) Milan, c. 1943, and (3) Milan, late 1400's.
Premiered in Middlebury, Vermont in February 1996, under the direction of Dan O'Brien. Subsequently produced at the Kennedy Center in April 1997 with Dan O'Brien directing.
- 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.
- O'Leary, Sean. Pound: A Play in Two Acts. 2004. Woodstock, Illinois: Dramatic Publishing Company, 2020.
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.
Characters: Archibald MacLeish, Dr. Mary Polley, Ezra Pound, and Nurse Priscomb. Setting: The Staff Library; St. Elizabeths Hospital; Washington, DC. February, 1958.
Productions: Gemini Theater's Pittsburgh New Play Festival, Jan. 31, Feb. 5-7, 2004, directed by Jason A. Fleece; the Arena Stage at 14th & T, Washington, DC, October 28–November 28, 2004, produced by the Washington Stage Guild, directed by John MacDonald; TheatreWorks, Memphis, in a run ending October 22, 2006; Vineyard Theatre in New York, September 18, 2017, produced by Triumvirate Artists, directed by Kathleen Butler; Island Theatre, Bainbridge Island, WA, June 16 and 17, 2018, directed by Steve Stolee; The Lion Theatre on Theatre Row, 410 West 42nd Street, New York, October 1-28, 2018, produced by Triumvirate Artists, directed by Kathleen Butler; and Theatre Artists Studio, Scottsdale, Arizona, Sept. 17, 2021-Oct. 10, 2021, directed by Carol MacLeod.
Parts: Male 2, Female 2.
A review of the Washington Stage Guild production: Trey Graham, "Deadly Poet's Society," Washington City Paper, November 5, 2004. Free online.
Reviews Sean O'Leary's plays Full text
In a 2018 Forbes interview, Leary stated, "I'm not a Pound scholar. Before beginning the play, I knew three things about Ezra Pound. First, he was a literary genius and immensely influential in shaping the standards by which we've judged literature since the beginning of the 20th century. Second, he was a hubristic bigot and a generally awful human being. And, third, he underwent, in a very short period of time that coincided with his discharge from St. Elizabeth's, a remarkable deterioration that transformed him from a gregarious and energetic force into a withdrawn and insecure shell of his former self. That made Pound a perfect subject for the problem I wanted to explore: How do we, can we, should we react when, in old age, we’re suddenly confronted with the realization that we’ve made a mistake so awful that it’s irredeemable? . . . I think and hope that the play is an admonition to never allow to [go] unchallenged in ourselves and in our institutions the kinds of delusion and falsehood that went unchallenged in Ezra Pound. Because eventually and, if there's any justice, inevitably, the victims of our delusions will rise and purge us of our sins." (Darryn King, "Christopher Lloyd Is A Troubled Genius," Forbes, Oct 11, 2018, free online).
- Pacanins, Federico. Alta Traición: Ezra Pound vs. Thomas Mann. tecno.hernanrosas.com, 2020.
A play in three acts and an epilogue.
Premiered by the Asociación Cultural Humboldt, Caracas, Venezuela, 31 Aug.-8 Sept. 2019, directed by José Tomás Angola.
- Parkin, Judd. A Moveable Feast. 2017.
An adaptation of A Moveable Feast, by Ernest Hemingway.
Directed by Jane Jones.
Produced at the Book-It Repertory Theatre, at Café Nordo, 109 S Main St, Seattle, WA, February 9-April 2, 2017.
The Early Life of Ezra Pound.
- Petrillo, Leonardo. Ezra in gabbia. Il caso Ezra Pound. Doria di Cassano Jonio (CS): La Mongolfiera, 2018.
Premiere: Teatro Goldoni di Venezia, 16 and 17 November 2018. Directed by Leonardo Petrillo. Produced by Teatro Stabile del Veneto and Officina del Teatro Italiano.
Also produced at the Teatro Sala Umberto, Rome, 27-28 November 2021, directed by Leonardo Petrillo.
- 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: David Pownall.
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
- 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.
- Razavi, William M. The Private Life of Ernest Hemingway: A Play. 2001.
Free online and here.
- 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. Description: Poet. Propagandist. Prisoner. Pariah. Set in WWII-era Italy and based on the true story of Ezra Pound, the American modernist poet turned fascist radio broadcaster.
"Ruth Halaj Reitan talks about her interest in Ezra Pound, and how her studies led her to begin a screenplay which focuses on the story of Pound's mistress. She explains the process of creating a screenplay, and the importance of each step." Audio with PowerPoint.
Entered in the 17th Annual Canes Film Festival, Bill Cosford Cinema, Coral Gables, FL, May 2, 3, 4, 2014.
- 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.
Excerpts from the play: Sample 1 Sample 2 William Roetzheim's plays
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.
- 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.
- 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.
Synopsis: The play opens with Pound's arrest for treason. The succeeding scenes move to Pisa, Washington, and finally Spoleto in the summer of 1965.
- Sinclair, Upton. The Enemy Had It Too. A Play in Three Acts. New York: The Viking Press, 1950.
Poet Ezra Pound is called Ebenezer Ounce.
- Smith, Bob and Roberta. One Man's Battle with the Art Establishment.
Bob and Roberta Smith's Epstein Studio Theatre, 2012.
Video online: Part I Part 2.
- Smyth, Donna E. Sole Survivors.
In Maiden Voyages: Ship's Company Theatre Premieres, 2000-2002. By Scott Burke, Michael Melski, and Donna E. Smyth. Scott Burke, editor. Fredericton, NB: 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.
- 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.
- Springate, Michael. Dog and crow. A Play. Montréal: Guernica, 1990. 127 pp.
Synopsis: Drama about art and politics. Examines fascist ideology of Ezra Pound and Benito Mussolini. The action of the play takes place from 1928-1946 and moves from Italy to America.
Characters: Ezra Pound; Dorothy Pound; Antonio, peasant from Southern Italy; Grazia, Communist organizer; Benito Mussolini; Claretta Petacci; Interrogator of the Italian state; Pietro, Antonio's brother; Dr. Overholser, American psychiatrist; Young Man, Italian immigrant.
Premiered in Toronto by Necessary Angel Theatre on 13 January 1988, directed by Richard Rose.
Michael Springate's plays
- St Maur, Gerald. Cant and Canto: A Monodrama Tracing the Dramatic Events in the Controversial Life of Ezra Pound. Edmonton, Canada: Corpus Vocis Publications, 2015. (Original drama series, no. 5).
A play in four acts.
- 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.
- 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.
- Weidman, Jerome, and James Yaffe. Ivory Tower: A Play in Three Acts. New York: Dramatists Play Service, Inc., 1969.
Cast of Characters: 11 men, 1 woman (Harold Gutman, Wendell Drew, Daniel Webster Clark, Vincent Rimini, Simon Otway, Guard, Court Clerk, Judge O'Brien, Captain Robert Pasquale, Felix De Winter, Eugene Binet, and Beatrice Otway).
Place: New York City.
The protagonist, Simon Otway, is a poet modeled after Ezra Pound. "Mrs. Ezra Pound's barristers requested a copy of 'The Ivory Tower' script, said to be about a Fascist poet. Herbert Swope Jr., the producer (wearing his best poker face), claimed the play's traitor 'is a fictional character.'" (Walter Winchell, "A New Singer In Cosa Nostra," Albany Times-Union, Albany, N.Y. (Oct. 29, 1963), p. 6).
Synopsis "In 1943 an American poet living in self-exile in Paris made several broadcasts to invading American forces urging them to lay down their arms and stop the bloodshed. This absorbing and disturbing play poses the question: Did he or did he not intentionally commit treason?… Simon Otway, the central figure, is so overwhelmingly in detail, so articulate, that he becomes the unwitting artist-on-trial and the ultimate victim of his own character. The trial brings about a kind of catharsis—a mind-bending recognition of his real motives." (http://www.dramatists.com/cgi-bin/db/single.asp?index=0&key=1547)
World premiere: The Professional Theatre Program of the University of Michigan, directed by Marcella Cisney, Ann Arbor, Michigan, May 10-14, 1967. An American Playwrights' Theater production, also directed by Cisney, was performed by the Rochester Community Players, RCP Playhouse, South Clinton Avenue and Goodman Street, Rochester, Nov. 10-18, 1967. Another Cisney-directed production took place in the John Drew Theater, Guild Hall, East Hampton, L.I., Aug. 26-31, 1968.
OPERAS ON EZRA POUND AND HIS WORK
Brielle, Jonathan. Himself and Nora. 2005.
A two-act musical "that tells the sexy and tumultuous relationship of legendary Irish writer James Joyce and his muse, Nora Barnacle. The story takes place between the years of 1903-1941 in Dublin, Trieste, Paris, Zurich and features a contemporary score with an Irish flare." Excerpt from the production script.
Characters: Ezra Pound, Giorgio, Harriet Weaver, Himself, James Joyce, John Joyce, Man #1, Man #2, Nora Barnacle, Priest, Sylvia Beach, and Woman.
First staged in 2005 at the Old Globe Theater in San Diego. Revised for the New York Musical Theater Festival in 2012. Produced at The Theater at St. Clements, New York, July 9-19, 2012; Hamilton Stage at the Union County Performing Arts Center, Rahway, NJ, by the American Theater Group, April 24-May 12, 2013; and the Minetta Lane Theatre, New York, May 14-August 6, 2016.
Review in NY Times; Broadways World
Blog: Leiter, Samuel L. "'Himself and Nora': A Portrait of the Artist and His Muse." The BroadwayBlog, June 6, 2016, free online.
- Lutyens, Sally. Blossoms From the East. A concert-staged opera. 1985.
Based on a book by John J. Nolde, Blossoms from the East: The China Cantos of Ezra Pound (Orono, ME: National Poetry Foundation, University of Maine, 1983).
Premiered at the Al Cyrus Pavilion Theatre, University of Maine, Orono, ME, June 20, 1985, under the direction of Ludlow Hallman.
- Syumak, Alexey. Cantos. 2016.
One-act opera for solo violin, chamber choir and percussion based on a biography and works of Ezra Pound.
Text in English, Latin, Greek, French, and other languages.
World premiere by musicAeterna orchestra and 25 choir singers, under the direction of Semion Aleksandrovsky, in Perm in December 2016.
Playbill with illustrations
- Winther, Frans. EZRA. 2005.
Music by Frans Winther. Libretto by Peter Laugesen based on Ezra Pound's life and poems. Summary and here.
Three performances by Ensemble MidtVest and Odin Teatret, under the direction of Frans Winther, took place at Knudsens, Nørregade 40, Holstebro, Denmark, August 27-29, 2005.