We’re trying to bring a new spirit into the theatre. A joyfullness, voluptuousness, virtue


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“We’re trying to bring a new spirit into the theatre. A joyfullness, voluptuousness, virtue.”

The Breasts of Tiresias

by Guillaume Apollinaire

That is what Apollinaire came out to his audience with in 1919. The opening night of The Breasts of Tiresias created a riot. The audience apparently argued about whether they were in Paris or Zanzibar. Certainly a new spirit had been born in the theatre.
Having played the role of The Husband in college, I was intimately aware of the power of this play. However, in rehearsal I remember being quite lost as to what the hell was going on. The director seemed to think that in the confusion we would find meaning, but that didn’t happen. We performed Louis Simpson’s translation honorably not missing a note, but had little to truly grasp onto. There were moments that sat dead on the audience, parading as hollow absurdity.
When Karen Williams offered me “an every Sunday in March at the Knitting Factory gig” my mother was the one who suggested Breasts. In September I decided that it would be TRIBE’s first real offering in New York, but that a new translation, adaptation was needed. I was certain that if I went back to Apollinaire’s original script, the play would make sense.
I called on Molly Gallagher to investigate with me. Not only was she a fantastic writer, artist, and collaborator, she also knew French and was a great friend. Together with the rest of the newly formed TRIBE in New York, we went about our work. The collaborative team met every Sunday for brunch through Fall and Winter. The group of us were incredibly different in so many ways, yet there was great respect for all, which made our meetings exciting and illuminating.

For me the play’s essence is found in the line: “And since that night, I too, light one by one, all the stars within that were extinguished.” This was our job now. To reignite the fire, in the theatre and ourselves.

Louis Simpson read our translation and didn’t like it. He said that he would allow us the performances at the Knitting Factory but would never approve of it again. This I must confess. However, it is my belief that no play or book should be bound to any one translation. Especially one that is over thirty years old. Even if we only changed one word in a line, the line’s meaning completely changed. For example, Mr. Simpson writes The Husband’s first line as “Give me lard, I tell you. Give me lard!”, when we saw the morning domestic dispute as “Give me bacon, I tell you. Give me bacon!”. This is to say that even though over half of the words used in our translation are the same as Mr. Simpson’s, the interpretations are completely different.
Our last night demanded back to back performances, so every one could safely see the show. The week before, James Ferguson got popped in the mouth because he didn’t have room in the small AlterKnit Theatre to get out of the way of Alison Tatlock’s stage hit. The audience weren’t even given seats as there wasn’t enough room. At the end of the day, Time Out New York wrote that the performance was “45 manic minutes of amazing theatre”, and TRIBE had set their precedent in New York.
A little over a year later, TRIBE presented Molly Gallagher’s urban operetta Suc Daddy. The summer after Breasts Molly sent me two poems she had written, “Mr. Scrotum’s Song” and “Eager Beaver”. The poems had Molly’s amazing wit and talent for words and they were also alarmingly honest and biting. I wrote her back, saying that if she continued writing the piece we could take it on as TRIBE’s next work. Come September there we all were again sitting around a table for Sunday brunch, with Molly’s twelve pages or so of text. Needless to say, that was lift off.

It is a great pleasure for me to put these two texts together as they are a testament to Molly G.’s brilliant words and to a spirit that continues to dare the boundaries of theatre. They both are separated by eighty years, yet they seem to come from the same womb, dealing with the same problems of sex and the sexes. They both attack their modern world with poetry and rhyme, and ask more from an audience than their attendance. Engagement is demanded.

If I say anymore, I will have said too much.

Eric Wallach


By Guillaume Apollinaire

Adaptation by Molly Gallagher and Eric Wallach

New adaptation based on the translation by Louis Simpson


Eric Wallach Director

Alison Tatlock * Therese/Tiresias

James Ferguson Husband

Ilyana Kadushin Policeman

Eliot Angle Lacouf/Son

Lars Hanson Presto/Reporter

Behzad Pasdar The People of Zanzibar


Eric Wallach Director/Producer

Jasmine Maddison-Roberts Producer/Co-Costume Design

Christopher Stahl Stage Manager

Michael Whitney Settings

Molly Gallagher Costume Design

Debra Travis Lighting

Jeremy Bernstein Sound/Musical Composition

Behzad Original Rap Music

Ilyana Kadushin, Eric Wallach Choreography

Joshua Price Assistant Stage Manager

Rob Clausen House Manager

Michael Whitney, J. Maddison- Bubble-wrap Dress Design

Roberts, Molly Gallagher


an urban operetta


Shelayna Kennedy Shelly

Jessica Sparlin Connie

Kimberly Gambino Sadie

Erica Schroeder Joanne

Lea Gulino * Hurricane Fran

James Ferguson Mr. SofT

Mark Greenfield Hunka Burnin Love

Yehuda Duenyas * Ernie/Mr. Scrotum


Molly Gallagher Playwright

Eric Wallach Producer/Director

Jeremy Bernstein Musical Composition

Erin Colligan Choreography

Michael Whitney Set Building and Design

Debra Travis Lighting

Johanna Burke Costumes

Sybille Jud Slides

Sian Foulkes Graphics / Collaborator

Angelina Burnett Stage Manager

Marbree Sullivan Assistant Stage Manager

James Ferguson Collaborator

Josh Reynolds Press Rep

breasts of tiresias

a surrealist drama


Guillaume Apollinaire

new adaptation by

Molly Gallagher


Eric Wallach

adaptation based on the translation by

Louis Simpson

07/01/99 draft three

1996 TRIBE

This script is the culmination script of the production of The Breasts of Tiresias that ran at the Knitting Factory every Sunday in March 1996.

The cast was as follows:
Eric Wallach Director

Alison Tatlock Therese/Tiresias/Fortuneteller

James Ferguson The Husband

Ilyana Kadushin The Policeman

Eliot Angle Lacouf/Son

Lars Hanson Presto/Reporter

Behzad Pasdar The People of Zanzibar
The collaborative team was as follows:
Director/Producer Eric Wallach

Producer/Co-costume Design J. Maddison-Roberts

Stage Manager Christopher Stahl

Settings Michael Whitney

Costume Design Molly Gallagher

Lighting Debra Travis

Sound/Music Composition Jeremy Bernstein

Original Rap Music Behzad

Choreography Ilyana Kadushin/Eric Wallach

Assistant Stage Manager Joshua Price

House Manager Rob Clausen

Skirt Design Michael Whitney, Molly Gallagher

and Jasmine Maddison-Roberts
Note: The bold-faced dialogue is amplified and spoken directly to the audience.


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