You Can Quote Us

While Theatre isn’t just about words, those things that characters say usually matter a great deal both to the group presenting them and to the audience experiencing them. Unsurprisingly, a theater company with the name of Knowledge Workings does pay special attention to the words of others. Hence this post including a link to our commonplace book, a rather extensive list of quotations. T.J. Elliott began this commonplace book in 1990 and continues to add to its quotations. What is a commonplace book? According to the Oxford English dictionary, it is “a book in which ‘commonplaces’ or passages important for reference were collected, usually under general heads; hence, a book in which one records passages or matters to be especially remembered or referred to, with or without arrangement”.

The version that you have through this link is on a Google drive. If you are looking for that killer saying or just ‘le mot juste’, perhaps you will find this collection, which generally captures quotes that are not found in the usual collections, to be of some value. To draw upon just one of our thousands of quotes in the word document, Sextus Empiricus in Fragment 2, as quoted in Against the Mathematicians reminds us that, Though wisdom is common, yet the many live as if they had a wisdom of their own.”

A commonplace book acknowledges that wisdom is common if we only take the time to look to those who offered it in the past and even those sharing it in our present. For for those of us at Knowledge Workings Theater, our work begins with the text, but there is no illusion that whatever text we create is completely original, lacks connections to all of the many texts we have read and heard. One way into the creation of theater is to swim in the words of others, refreshed and challenged, submerged and afloat, until you reach your own spot, your own place where what you think and feel merges with what others have offered. As Tom Stoppard once wrote, “Words are sacred. They deserve respect. If you get the right ones, in the right order, you can nudge the world a little.”
Nudge nudge!
Enjoy!

Second Annual Virtual (Not Necessarily Virtuous) St. Patrick’s Day Celebration

Remember last March?

We do.

On March 12 of 2020, Knowledge Workings Theater had scheduled auditions at the studios of Alliance of Resident Theaters in Manhattan for a staged reading of Grudges. Joe Queenan and I exulted at the prospect of hearing many talented actors read our work in the second of our ‘problem comedies’. (Our first was Alms, which as an Equity Showcase off-Broadway at TheaterLab, enjoyed a sold-out run in May 2019) We were ready to start the collaborative journey to get our new play upon the stage by early summer. We were psyched

You should have no difficulty guessing what happened.

Grudges did make it out to the world via Zoom as that staged reading in May and subsequently as a full production live but digital last July. Our company also managed in November a staged reading of George WS Trow’s seminal 1980 essay Within the Context of No Context on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of its publication in the New Yorker. Then in December, we had a rollicking good time debuting to delighted audiences Keeping Right, the mostly phony Swedish screwball comedy. Obviously, that play had to be performed on Zoom as well, but it helped us live up to our motto #maketheaterlive.

But before we did any of these productions, we celebrated St. Patrick’s Day virtually by getting friends and acquaintances to sing and recite pieces that evoked the warmth and fun and lyricism of that day. The Elliotts have hosted St. Patrick’s Day parties for well over three decades starting with a kind of seisun in Irene Elliott’s one-room apartment on W. 10th St. right next to the Sixth Precinct in 1987. Knowledge Workings Theater couldn’t let St. Patrick’s Day move by silently.

Those 27 videos from last year are still up for viewing on our YouTube channel here and we decided to repeat the experience this year only grander and gaudier. We hope never to repeat the experience of celebrating St. Patrick’s Day online for the rest of our lives, but as Spring approaches and many of us think that we can make out the outlines of that proverbial corner that we all hope to be turning celebration seems an apt activity.

How will this virtual Saint Patrick’s Day fest work? 

  1. You don’t have to be a professional singer; just listen to the guy in the video to the left for verification of that statement
  2. Videotape yourself and/or others singing a St. Patrick’s Day song or reciting an Irish poem. (You don’t have to be on screen if that makes you uncomfortable; you can have the camera looking out the window or some other image.)
  3. Just send us one video, please. We want to involve as many people as possible and there are only so many hours in St. Patrick’s Day.
  4. Need inspiration for a song?  https://www.irishmusicdaily.com/top-20-st-patricks-day-songs Another collection of lyrics is here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1WhBPtUwxZDbhfXqIc061otjYJcYsw_Ge/view?usp=sharing  
  5. And Irish poems? WB Yeats put a collection of good old stuff here Poetry.com offers a wide sample at this search link We recommend Heaney, Kavanagh, Eilean Ni Chuilleanain, Eavan Boland, and, of course, Paul Muldoon.
  6. Post it to Facebook or YouTube. Or save it to Google drive using the hashtag below
  7. Email Knowledge Workings with the link to your video
  8. We will post it on this YouTube channel   so that they are all in one place

Oh, and that hashtag…Nowadays everything virtual has to have a hashtag and I’m proposing #virtualpaddysongs for this campaign. Again.

By now, some of you may be asking what’s the catch? There must be a price tag to participate. Not at all. We just crave your company for the celebration.

However… If you’re looking for a good cause on this day of Celtic heritage  make a donation of whatever amount to Irish Rep. Buy a ticket to one of their online shows, drop a few bucks in their general fund, or donate to the capital fund for the refurbishment of their 22nd Street stages where we all hope to be very soon again sharing the superb dramas and comedies they produce. Their work during the last year entertained and edified so many of us. Our own motto is #maketheaterlive and Irish Rep did that splendidly. (We have no connection to Irish Rep whatsoever; we don’t even know the good folks except by their work. We just think it’s a good thing to give them money on St. Patrick’s Day.)

Questions? Just email Knowledge Workings and we’ll get right back to you.

See you in the ether! Slainte!

Virtual St. Patrick’s Day Celebration — Yes, Again!

Come sing, versify, or just listen
on March 17th, the Feast of St. Patrick,
Patron Saint of Ireland

Last year as the pandemic was new, Gifford and T.J. Elliott of Knowledge Workings Theater put out a last minute call for singers and speakers to create a virtual St. Patrick’s Day cóisir, a party, much as we are used to having for many years on 17 March with friends and family. More than a few generous and talented souls responded and we ended up with 27 videos on our YouTube channel here. Happy St. Patrick’s Day indeed!!!

Now the pandemic is old — and we pray going to leave the stage very soon with all of us giving it a hearty push — yet in its viciousness still requiring us to celebrate this special day at a digital distance. Knowledge Workings Theater intends to accomplish two things with our asynchronous ceili: spread joy and support Irish Repertory Theatre of New York City. We can score the first goal by gathering together those who have a song or a poem or even a dance they wish to share commemorating St. Patrick and Irish heritage along with those who wish to listen and watch. We bag the second goal by getting folks to make a donation of whatever amount to Irish Rep. Buy a ticket to one of their online shows, drop a few bucks in their general fund, or donate to the capital fund for the refurbishment of their 22nd street stages where we all hope to be very soon again sharing the superb dramas and comedies they produce. Their work during the last year entertained and edified so many of us. Our own motto is #maketheaterlive and Irish Rep did that splendidly. (We have no connection to Irish Rep whatsoever; we don’t even know the good folks except by their work. We just think it’s a good thing to give them money on St. Patrick’s Day.)

If you wish to be a part of our celebration or have questions, just email Knowledge Workings On March 16th, we will open up the YouTube channel with your new contributions as well as last year’s offerings. Sruthóidh an ceol agus na dánta gan deireadh; the music and poems will flow without end!

Keeping Right Tix Going Fast

On September 3, 1967, five people in Stockholm with romances and resentments, deals and dilemmas, secrets and second thoughts are in charge of Högertrafik**, this switch from driving on the left to driving on the right.

What could go wrong?

** Don’t worry if you don’t know Swedish; neither do our actors!

See Atticus Cain, Winnie Stack, John Blaylock, Lynn Kim Do , and Ed Altman in Keeping Right the new play by T.J. Elliott. For FREE tix to one of our seven Live Zoom performances, just click here.

If you can, please donate to our GoFundMe effort. During this time of great crisis for those in the world of theater, actors face two daunting challenges: being able to practice their art in some way while stages are dark and dealing with the displacement of their ‘straight jobs’ that allow them in better times to keep body and soul together. We will split all monies donated for Keeping Right equally and exclusively amongst our five immensely gifted actors listed above Just click here to give: $1, $10, or whatever seems right for you.  

Need a laugh? OK, Multiple laughs? Keeping Right opens Live & FREE on Zoom on December 3rd

On September 3, 1967, the Swedish people are set to change from driving on the left to driving on the right. At that same time, a North Vietnamese delegation is present in Stockholm.*

Five people in Stockholm with romances and resentments, deals and dilemmas, secrets and second thoughts are in charge of Högertrafik**, this switch from driving on the left to driving on the right.

What could go wrong?

* Except for those facts, everything in this play is likely to be inaccurate, untrue, or wholly invented.

** Don’t worry if you don’t know Swedish; neither do our actors!

See Atticus Cain, Winnie Stack, John Blaylock, Lynn Kim Do , and Ed Altman in Keeping Right the new play by T.J. Elliott. For FREE tix to one of our seven Live Zoom performances, just click here.

If you can, please donate to our GoFundMe effort. During this time of great crisis for those in the world of theater, actors face two daunting challenges: being able to practice their art in some way while stages are dark and dealing with the displacement of their ‘straight jobs’ that allow them in better times to keep body and soul together. We will split all monies donated for Keeping Right equally and exclusively amongst our five immensely gifted actors listed above Just click here to give: $1, $10, or whatever seems right for you.  

What is WTCONC? A momentous and powerful essay celebrating its 40th birthday with a ZOOM reading. Want FREE tix? Scroll down to links

The November 17th 1980 issue of the New Yorker magazine contained a single essay: George W. S. Trow’s Within the Context of No-Context.  That was where and when I first discovered Trow’s keen study describing how the media had come to dominate and distort our experience of reality. Reading my borrowed copy (no way as an actor ‘at liberty’ could I afford the New Yorker in 1980), the sparse paragraphs entranced and edified me. My amazement and admiration at WTCONC placed me in excellent company. Novelist John Irving wrote that the essay was “essential reading for anyone interested in the demise, the terminal silliness, of our culture.” Laurie Anderson included it in her Top 10 Books to take to a desert island because it was “hilarious and dangerous”.  Ariel Levy praised how “Stylistically, it was remarkable, a hypnotic procession of aphorisms…” Lorne Michaels of Saturday Night Live said, “Trow has it right about everything.”  

And writer after writer has continued over the years to note its power and prescience. Like them, I believe more people should read (and reread) and enjoy Trow’s work. And thus Knowledge Workings Theater is offering three FREE live readings of an abridged version of WTCONC; running time is about 75 minutes, which is shorter than any Judd Apatow movie but longer than most Lesley Stahl interviews.  

You can buy the full essay in book form here from Grove Atlantic, which includes a sparkling introduction by the late author.

Subscribe to the New Yorker and read it in the original version via their archives. 

But why not let our voices reading WTCONC take you to the beauty and grace of Within the Context of No-Context? And did I mention that our limited seating Zoom reading by John Clay , Quanda Johnson , Meghan Cox , and Aaron Long is free? Scroll UP to get your link for one of these live readings on November12th, 13th, or 14th

These immensely talented actors honor and emphasize how vital and profound the words Trow wrote four decades ago remain today. I hope that you will join us.  Knowledge Workings in our summer Zoom production of Grudges stressed the need to #maketheaterlive 

Please donate to our GoFundMe effort. We will split all monies donated for WTCONC equally and exclusively amongst our four extraordinarily talented readers: Meghan Cox, Quanda Johnson, Aaron Long, & John Clay. Just click here to donate  whether $1, $10, or whatever seems right for you.  
And do feel free to forward this message to anyone else interested in seeing actors make text come alive. 
Good Luck & Good Health — and stay tuned for a free Zoom production of our new screwball comedy, Keeping Right, coming this December.

Just click below at the LIVE reading of your choice to receive a return email with your Zoom link to Within The Context of No Context (WTCONC):

To attend the live Zoom reading on:

  • Thursday, November 12 7:30 PM reading, click here

(Running time = 75 minutes; all times EDT)

Admission to any of the three performances of this reading is free because it is more important than ever for us to consider the insights that George WS Trow offered forty years ago. 

However, during this time of great crisis for those in the world of theater, we invite you to donate to our GoFundMe effort. All monies donated will be split equally and exclusively amongst our four extraordinarily talented readers all alums of the late Wynn Handman’s classes: Meghan Cox, Quanda Johnson, Aaron Long, & John Clay. Just click here to donate  whether $1, $10, or whatever seems right for you.

Two Fall Projects from Knowledge Workings

The stages are still closed and predicting when we will be able to put placed upon them again remains difficult. But Knowledge Workings remains dedicated to #maketheaterlive With the help of a squad of talented and determined actors KW will mount two productions on Zoom this autumn: a reading of Within the Context of No Context, the enduring essay by George WS Trow that celebrates its 40th anniversary of its publication this year, and Keeping Right, a new comedy by T.J.Elliott set in Stockholm Sweden on September 3, 1967, the day drivers stopped driving on the left, but otherwise inaccurate, invented and possibly untrue.