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  • Writer's pictureJason Jenn

NYC @ La MaMa Etc with Robert Patrick – Part 1

Singing a duet with Robert Patrick of his original song “Harmony” during La MaMa Etc’s “Coffeehouse Chronicles #140: Robert Patrick” on Feb 4, 2017 at their First Floor Stage – photo by Fussy Lo Mein

I had a splendid time in NYC accompanying Robert Patrick Playwright on his long-awaited and anticipated return to La MaMa Etc. for the premiere of “Hi-Fi | Wi-Fi | Sci-Fi”, in which directors Jason Trucco and Billy Clark delivered fascinating technological approaches to one act plays by Robert Patrick from the 1960’s & 1970’s that were very ahead of their time in predicting future (now contemporary) situations. It was marvelous to see such an engaging and techno-magical treatment of Robert’s work – something that I think even the most familiar with Robert’s plays would be pleasantly surprised and impressed by. Robert was stunned by it all – to which he came up with an explanation of his experience – something along the likes of “I’m experiencing a kind of jet lag between 1961 and 2017”.

I enjoyed watching Robert get caught in the projector lights, so absorbed in and dazzled by the immersive 360 degree video across the way on opening night, he didn’t realize he was on display!

I tagged along on his adventure to document his journey and experience a bit of NYC through my dear friend’s eyes. Robert moved to LA from NYC in the early 90’s, and had only been back for a few short, one-day visits for special events. The folks from La MaMa were great hosts, graciously opening their doors to us both in order to welcome him back for a week and a half so that he had time to take in many of the show’s performances and to enjoy reconnecting with so many wonderful people. They held a “Coffeehouse Chronicle” panel event of “expert friends” from various points in Robert’s history on Saturday, Feb 4. I felt honored to be part of the event representing Robert’s recent prolific exploits in the LA Underground Performance scene during the past 5 years. I can’t quite describe how remarkable it was to witness so many theatrical luminaries of the Off Off Broadway scene that came out to see Robert that afternoon – there was so much history in the room – it was vibrating. I got to hear delightful stories, which were like getting to admire exquisite and rare crown jewels for a brief moment shown to me by those who actually got to wear them.

Some of the theatrical luminaries and friends from Robert’s life that shared the stage to discuss their experiences during the Coffeehouse Chronicles #140 – (from left to right) producer John Wolfson, Robert, actress extraordinaire Carol Nelson, (seated) playwright William Hoffman, (standing) prof. Arthur Adair, Coffeehouse host Michal Gamily, (seated) author/actress/archivist Magie Dominic, (standing) actor Jordan Beswick, me, and author/publisher Michael McGrinder.

The play took a rather interesting twist during our visit. Robert and I sat with the directors over breakfast the day after the opening night to share some of our notes and observations. It was decided at the table that the show would be propelled to another level by having Robert close the production with one of his a cappella songs. Funny enough, Robert had a song, from his “Bobcappella!” show that I produced, which fit the theme of the show perfectly – even using the title elements of “Hi-Fi | Wi-Fi | Sci-Fi” within the body of the song as rhymes. Suddenly Bob was in the show!

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