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Ridiculous!: The Theatrical Life and Times of Charles Ludlam

by

Ridiculous!: The Theatrical Life and Times of Charles Ludlam Cover

 

Awards

2002 Lambda Literary Award Finalist, Biography

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

From his unscripted appearance on an Off-Broadway stage in the revolutionary '60s to the page-one news of his death from AIDS in 1987 at age 44, Charles Ludlam embodied — and helped to engender — the upheavals of his time. The astonishing life and legacy of this force to be reckoned with are at last revealed in Ridiculous!, a literary biography of an American comic genius.

After founding the Ridiculous Theatrical Company in 1967, Ludlam sustained an ever-shifting troupe of bohemian players through two decades of perennially daunting circumstances by writing 29 plays — plays that he starred in and directed as well. While Ludlam's work has become increasingly popular at regional theatres, on college campuses, and on stages throughout the world, his gender-bending theories and wide-ranging cultural impact have reached far beyond Bette Midler, the original cast members of Saturday Night Live, and the countless other artists he influenced during his abbreviated lifetime. Like his early plays, Ludlam's life was rife with the sex and drugs and creative experiementation that characterized the freewheling '60s and '70s.

Based on a decade of research and interviews with more than 150 people who knew or worked with Ludlam — including all of the major players in his troupe and seven of his lovers — Ridiculous! recreates the dramatic life of an inimitable and subversive theatrical master with you-are-there intensity.

Review:

"With devotion, depth and dishiness, critic Kaufman has turned a 1989 Interview article into a decade-long love affair with his subject....Fanatically...the book portrays not merely the man but his era....Kaufman's assiduously researched work is at times heavy going, but will surely hold theatergoers' interest." Publishers Weekly

Review:

"Kaufman...describes this influential playwright and actor's flamboyant life and work in riveting fashion. Ludlam's odd, strict, Catholic household and childhood, the creation and success of the Ridiculous Theatrical Company, and his death from AIDS in 1987 are all well rendered." Library Journal

Review:

"Kaufman...has clearly produced a labor of love in Ridiculous! It is not only the story of Ludlam and the Ridiculous Theatrical Company but also a chronicle of a revolutionary era in American culture....There is much of value to glean from Kaufman's impressive research; one wishes that he had pared it down, though, and focused on fewer extraneous details, and had used a lighter touch in dealing with one of the most colorful and flamboyant bad boys of Off-Broadway." Bevya Rosten, The New York Times Book Review

Review:

"As a performer, Ludlam made Andy Kaufman look tame. And he was a brilliant playwright (The Mystery of Irma Vep is probably his best-known play), his work outrageous, political, passionate, and humane. This exhaustive, fervent biography portrays Ludlam as someone who doesn't seem all that fun to have known personally, but my guess it that Ludlam wouldn't have cared much about that. The main thing that mattered was his genius, which, as Ludlam would have been the first to tell you, he possessed in spades." Adrienne Miller, Esquire (read the entire Esquire review)

Book News Annotation:

A former theater critic for the New York Daily News, Kaufman has been covering theater in New York for some 20 years, and is a long-time contributor to The Nation, the Village Voice, and The New York Times. Here he gives an account of the life of Charles Ludlam (1946-1987), a prominent figure in the theater avant-garde, a pioneer of drag performance, and founder of The Ridiculous Theatrical Company (1967), whose work has influenced such performers as Bette Midler and the original cast of Saturday Night Live. Kaufman spent some ten years researching the book and interviewing key people in Ludlam's life and career. Illustrated with b&w photos.
Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Synopsis:

From his first unscripted appearance on an Off-Broadway stage in the revolutionary 1960s to the frontpage news of his death from AIDS in 1987 at age 44, Charles Ludlam embodied - and helped to engender - the upheavals of his time. The astonishing life and legacy of this force to be reckoned with are at last revealed in RIDICULOUS , a literary biography of an American comic genius. After founding the Ridiculous Theatrical Company in 1967, Ludlam sustained an ever-shifting troupe of bohemian players through two decades of perennially daunting circumstances by writing 29 plays - plays that he starred in and directed as well. While Ludlam's work has become increasingly popular at regional theatres, on college campuses, and on stages throughout the world, his gender-bending theories and wide-ranging cultural impact have reached far beyond Bette Midler, the original cast members of Saturday Night Live and the countless other artists he influenced during his abbreviated lifetime. Like his early plays, Ludlam's life was rife with the sex, drugs and creative experimentation that characterized the freewheeling '60s and '70s. Based on a decade of research and interviews with more than 150 people who knew or worked with Ludlam - including all of the major players in his troupe and seven of his lovers - RIDICULOUS recreates the dramatic life of an inimitable and subversive theatrical master with you-are-there intensity. Winner of the LAMBDA Literary Award for Biography and the Theatre Library Association Award for Outstanding Theatre Book of the Year David Kaufman makes a persuasive case for Ludlam's being a genius ... As a record of Ludlam's life and the theatrical world in which he was both guru and grandmaster, this book is informed and passionate. - Mel Gussow, The New York Times A fascinating portrait of an authentic stage genius and the New York avant-garde scene in which he toiled with such demented and dedicated diligence. - Playbill The phenom who inspired everyone from Bette Midler and Madeline Kahn to Tony Kushner and Paul Rudnick was no box of chocolates - which, as reading experiences go, makes his story all the sweeter. - Vanity Fair This is one helluva piece of work. - Marilyn Stasio, Variety.com

Synopsis:

First ever biography of the controversial and influential actor, director, playwright who was the founder of The Ridiculous Theatre Company.

Product Details

ISBN:
9781557835888
Author:
Kaufman, David
Publisher:
Applause Theatre & Cinema Book Publishers
Location:
New York
Subject:
New Age
Subject:
Musicals
Subject:
Actors
Subject:
Entertainment & Performing Arts - Theatre
Subject:
Gay and lesbian studies
Subject:
Experimental theater
Subject:
Dramatists, American
Subject:
Songbooks - General
Subject:
Actors -- United States.
Subject:
Dramatists, American -- 20th century.
Subject:
Printed Music - General
Subject:
Biography-Entertainment and Performing Arts
Copyright:
Edition Number:
1st
Edition Description:
Includes bibliographical references and index.
Series Volume:
61
Publication Date:
October 7, 2002
Binding:
Hardcover
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Yes
Pages:
500
Dimensions:
8.98x7.00x1.64 in. 2.65 lbs.

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Related Subjects

Arts and Entertainment » Drama » Plays
Arts and Entertainment » Music » Sheet Music » General
Biography » Entertainment and Performing Arts

Ridiculous!: The Theatrical Life and Times of Charles Ludlam Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$5.50 In Stock
Product details 500 pages Applause Books - English 9781557835888 Reviews:
"Review" by , "With devotion, depth and dishiness, critic Kaufman has turned a 1989 Interview article into a decade-long love affair with his subject....Fanatically...the book portrays not merely the man but his era....Kaufman's assiduously researched work is at times heavy going, but will surely hold theatergoers' interest." Publishers Weekly
"Review" by , "Kaufman...describes this influential playwright and actor's flamboyant life and work in riveting fashion. Ludlam's odd, strict, Catholic household and childhood, the creation and success of the Ridiculous Theatrical Company, and his death from AIDS in 1987 are all well rendered."
"Review" by , "Kaufman...has clearly produced a labor of love in Ridiculous! It is not only the story of Ludlam and the Ridiculous Theatrical Company but also a chronicle of a revolutionary era in American culture....There is much of value to glean from Kaufman's impressive research; one wishes that he had pared it down, though, and focused on fewer extraneous details, and had used a lighter touch in dealing with one of the most colorful and flamboyant bad boys of Off-Broadway."
"Review" by , "As a performer, Ludlam made Andy Kaufman look tame. And he was a brilliant playwright (The Mystery of Irma Vep is probably his best-known play), his work outrageous, political, passionate, and humane. This exhaustive, fervent biography portrays Ludlam as someone who doesn't seem all that fun to have known personally, but my guess it that Ludlam wouldn't have cared much about that. The main thing that mattered was his genius, which, as Ludlam would have been the first to tell you, he possessed in spades." (read the entire Esquire review)
"Synopsis" by , From his first unscripted appearance on an Off-Broadway stage in the revolutionary 1960s to the frontpage news of his death from AIDS in 1987 at age 44, Charles Ludlam embodied - and helped to engender - the upheavals of his time. The astonishing life and legacy of this force to be reckoned with are at last revealed in RIDICULOUS , a literary biography of an American comic genius. After founding the Ridiculous Theatrical Company in 1967, Ludlam sustained an ever-shifting troupe of bohemian players through two decades of perennially daunting circumstances by writing 29 plays - plays that he starred in and directed as well. While Ludlam's work has become increasingly popular at regional theatres, on college campuses, and on stages throughout the world, his gender-bending theories and wide-ranging cultural impact have reached far beyond Bette Midler, the original cast members of Saturday Night Live and the countless other artists he influenced during his abbreviated lifetime. Like his early plays, Ludlam's life was rife with the sex, drugs and creative experimentation that characterized the freewheeling '60s and '70s. Based on a decade of research and interviews with more than 150 people who knew or worked with Ludlam - including all of the major players in his troupe and seven of his lovers - RIDICULOUS recreates the dramatic life of an inimitable and subversive theatrical master with you-are-there intensity. Winner of the LAMBDA Literary Award for Biography and the Theatre Library Association Award for Outstanding Theatre Book of the Year David Kaufman makes a persuasive case for Ludlam's being a genius ... As a record of Ludlam's life and the theatrical world in which he was both guru and grandmaster, this book is informed and passionate. - Mel Gussow, The New York Times A fascinating portrait of an authentic stage genius and the New York avant-garde scene in which he toiled with such demented and dedicated diligence. - Playbill The phenom who inspired everyone from Bette Midler and Madeline Kahn to Tony Kushner and Paul Rudnick was no box of chocolates - which, as reading experiences go, makes his story all the sweeter. - Vanity Fair This is one helluva piece of work. - Marilyn Stasio, Variety.com
"Synopsis" by , First ever biography of the controversial and influential actor, director, playwright who was the founder of The Ridiculous Theatre Company.
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