Went to see Class Act at ACT last night --
one-man show starring John Aylward
about the legendary Northwest poet and UW professor,
Theodore Roethke. Amazing performance by Aylward.
This was no sit-down-and-reminisce experience. Roethke was
bi-polar, and the highs and lows of this psychopathy
were vigorously portrayed. Aylward romped about the stage,
lit fires, pranced with a chair on his head,
ripped pages from notebooks, danced cheek-to-cheek
with a striped bathrobe, invoked the spirit of his father,
and sweat profusely. I was fortunate, in my university
schooling, to study with several of Roethke's former students --
notably Nelson Bentley, Richard Hugo and David Wagoner.
Aylward lovingly and accurately became the Roethke I knew
from stories and his poetry, especially his notebooks,
Straw For The Fire. (I lived and breathed
SFTF in my early twenties; my paperback copy
is now minus its cover, a right tatterdemalion
of its former self.) Written by David Wagoner,
Class Act is a must-see for anyone
interested in the roots of the Seattle literary tradition.
It closes August 26th.