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Howard Zinn's "Marx in Soho" with Jerry Levy, New York City, March 31 & April 1, 2006

Howard Zinn's Play "Marx in Soho" with Jerry Levy

Two Benefit Performances for Autonomedia

New York City, 8 PM, March 31 & April 1, 2006

Brecht Forum, 451 West St
(btw Bank & Bethune St, A/C/E/L to 14th St & 8th Ave, 1/2/3 to 14th St & 7th Ave).
$10-$25 donation.
Reservations recommended.

718-963-2603, info@autonomedia.org & www.autonomedia.orgImagine all Karl Marx would have to say after one hundred years of just being able to watch...

“By showing us Marx the man, Zinn poignantly humanizes him. By showing us Marx the theorist, Zinn gently educates us. And by bringing Marx into today’s era, Zinn cleverly and unmistakably argues the relevance of Marx’s ideas in our time.” — Backstage West

“Whatever your leanings, it’s hard not to come out of this show stirred and stimulated.” — San Francisco Bay Guardian

“Engaging and charismatic” —Washington Post

Howard Zinn’s “Marx in Soho” portrays the return of Marx roughly a century after his death. Embedded in some secular afterlife where intellectuals, artists, and radicals are sent, Marx is given permission by the administrative committee to return to Soho London to have his say. But through a bureaucratic mix–up, he winds up in SoHo in New York. From there the audience is given a rare glimpse of a Marx seldom talked about; Marx the scholar, the immigrant, the family man. Asking the question "Was Marx a Marxist?", Zinn casts a divergent light from the totalitarian movements his theories have long been associated with. Responding to the fall of the Soviet Union and the conventional perception that Marx’s ideas are dead, Zinn resurrects this controversial historical figure, embraces democracy and passionately rejects the ideological rigidity of many of his followers with the phrase “I am not a Marxist.” In poignant, funny, and intimate narrative, Zinn convinces us not only that Marx is not dead, but that his critique of capitalism remains relevant today.

This production of "Marx in Soho" will benefit Autonomedia, a non-profit, all-volunteer publishing collective.

About Jerry Levy

Jerry Levy, who teaches sociology at Marlboro College in Vermont and plays Marx, says the one-man show examines not only the political issues of Marx’s day, but also his interpersonal ones with his wife and daughter. It points to the relevance of those issues today, in modern life, according to Levy. Karl Marx is alive, well, and on his way to talk about the fall of communism, his life, and the relevance of the collapse of the Soviet Union to today’s world through this play.

Some Words from Jerry Levy:

"When Stan & Barbara Charkey suggested I consider performing 'Marx in Soho,' I was immediately captivated by Howard Zinn’s play representing this 19th century thinker and revolutionary who has had more than 100 years to think about his life and watch the unfolding of history since his death in 1883. A student of Marx’s ideas, I never thought I would be a student of his character. But here I am.*

Jerry Levy has appeared with the Actor’s Theater, the Vermont Theater Company, and the Elm City Players, and in productions at Marlboro College in numerous roles since moving to Vermont in 1975. He has recently appeared as Weller in D.L Coburn’s “the Gin Game,” and directed Herb Gardner’s “A Thousand Clowns” with Acting on Impulse.

Levy has performed "Marx in Soho" in London, Paris, Berlin, Bremen, Madrid, Belfast, Derry, Nimes, Montpelier, Santo Domingo, and throughout North America.

About Director Michael Fox Kennedy:

Michael Fox Kennedy has returned to theater and writing after a 20-year career in the field of mental health. He has been performing his one-man play about Abraham Lincoln, “Even We Here,” and recently appeared with the Apron Theater as Robert, the Father, in David Aubern’s “Proof.”

More on Howard Zinn

Howard Zinn is a historian, playwright, and social activist. He was a shipyard worker and Air Force bombardier before he went to college under the GI Bill and received his Ph.D. from Columbia University. He has taught at Spelman College and Boston University, and has been a visiting professor at the University of Paris and the University of Bologna. He has received the Thomas Merton Award, the Eugene V. Debs Award, the Upton Sinclair Award, and the Lannan Literary Award. He lives in Auburndale, Massachusetts.

Zinn was raised in a working-class family in Brooklyn, and flew bombing missions for the United States in World War II, an experience he now points to in shaping his opposition to war. In 1956, he became a professor at Spelman College in Atlanta, a school for black women. (From Wikipedia)

Howard Zinn was interviewed at a "Marx in Soho" performance in Cuba in May of 2004:

ZINN: And I am going to try to prove it by bringing him back on the scene. And from there I’ll show the U.S. public what Marxism is really about. Marx himself would explain the difference between Stalinism and Marxism. I’ll remind people what Marx’s criticism of capitalism was. I would demonstrate that these ideas have much to with the United States today. In other words, that Marxist criticism today is exact and current.

INTERVIEWER: One of your students, the well-known novelist Alice Walker, has defined the writer as a sort of medium ... How was Howard Zinn inspired to revive Karl Marx?

ZINN: When I was 17, I began to read Marx and Engels. At 18 I began to work in a shipyard. Together with three other radical young people, I organized the Young Shipyard Workers Union. At that time, unions were very exclusive and young persons could not join them. The four of us became a team and met once a week. We read Marx and many years later, when I became a professor, I gave a seminar on Marxism. I read a lot of literature on Marx and became interested in his family life. For me to learn about him as a human being is as important as learning of his ideas.

My first theater work was not about Karl Marx but about an anarchist and feminist, Emma Goldman. That play was shown in several cities of the US: New York and Boston, but also in London and Japan. Later, already interested in the theater, I decided to write a play about Marx. I made this decision after the fall of the Soviet Union because, after its fall, everyone thought that Marxism had died. So I tried to tell the US public:

Marx is not dead and I am going to prove it by bringing him back to the scenario. From there I would teach this same public the difference between Stalinism and Marxism. I would remind them what Marxist criticism of capitalism consists of. I would demonstrate that these ideas have much to do about the US today. In other words, that Marxist criticism of capitalism is still exact and current today.

Since I didn’t want to only represent ideas, I added information about the relationship between Marx and his family, a little bit of humor, and a vision of what a new society could be. That is why I have Marx speaking in the Paris Commune of 1871. The Commune is a small light.

INTERVIEWER: What has been the reception of Marx in Soho in the United States? Didn’t they confuse you with Groucho Marx?

ZINN: The US people know more about Groucho Marx than about Karl Marx. The play has been shown in forty venues in the US, mostly for a university public. The number of spectators has fluctuated from three hundred to a thousand and the play has always been well-received, perhaps because it presents Marxist ideas clearly and simply. It is a question of common sense. The play is a combination of humor and experiences, human and family, and one can even laugh at Marx. It is what happens when Jenny laughs at him and Eleanor does the same. I think this is more attractive for the public. Marx doesn’t come on stage as someone who knows it all.

INTERVIEWER: Is there a presence in US academies, the universities, is his work studied?

ZINN: Sometimes. Perhaps in one out of every hundred universities there is a course on Marxism. There are many courses of political philosophy and perhaps a few days are set aside for Marx. Usually his ideas are not taught with exactness.