Going ‘Behind the Broken Words’
Upcoming play at college in Baldwin brings poetry into the theater
On March 28, Emmy award-winning actors Roscoe Lee Browne and Anthony Zerbe will prove that actions speak louder than words when they perform their two-act play "Behind the Broken Words" at Baker University in Baldwin.
"Behind the Broken Words" combines 20th century poetry with theater. The result is a performance that since its reprise in 1996 has toured more than 90 theaters across the country.
"It should be a very exciting night," said Phyllis Rambin, interim director of the Artist and Lecture Series.
Browne and Zerbe visited Baker last year for a performance and workshop.
"They were absolute spellbinders," said Alice Ann Callahan, a retired Baker professor who at the time was director of the series.
The show includes the poetry of William Butler Yeats, Dylan Thomas, e.e. cummings and Robinson Jeffers, to name a few. Browne and Zerbe, who began touring in the '70s, also work with scenes from dramas and comedies.
The show, which travels a college-centered schedule, aims to interest their audience often college age in poems that might otherwise be considered class assignments.
"Poets take the feelings that we all have, the feelings that live in the ether, and articulates them," Zerbe said in a recent press release. "And when they are beautifully articulated somehow that makes them accessible to everyone who's ever been in their presence."
Lucy Price, who chairs the Baker University English department, complimented the show on its connection with the audience and with her students.
"From the point of view of the English department, their presentation of poetry is a wonderful setting for the word delivered orally," Price said.
Zerbe's repertoire includes movies such as "Cool Hand Luke," "License to Kill," "Star Trek IX: Insurrection" and "True Crime" with Clint Eastwood and James Woods. He's appeared on television in such shows as "Gunsmoke," "Mission: Impossible," "Murder She Wrote," and his Emmy award-winning role in"Harry-O."
Browne, who began his theater career with the inaugural season of The New York Shakespeare Festival and won an Emmy for his role in "The Cosby Show." Browne has appeared on "ER," "Law & Order" and "A Different World."
The performance, which commands a national following, concludes with something that has caught on as one of the show's most endearing characteristics. As the audience leaves the show, the performance's program is handed out.
According to Browne, this is done to build an uninterrupted relationship between performer and audience.
"The poems speak directly from your head to the listener's head and from there to the other, more rarefied regions like the heart, the soul," said Browne.
"Behind the Broken Words" will begin at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults and $8 for children. The performance will be in Rice Auditorium on the Baker University campus. For additional information, visit the show's web site at www.poetinmo.com or call Rambin at (785) 594-6451 extension 587.