Category Archives: Caravan to Oz

The Questioning of John Rykener production dedicated to the late Marsha P. Johnson

The Questioning of John Rykener production dedicated to the late Marsha P. Johnson

MARSHAPJOHNSON

The Questioning of John Rykener, a new dance & theater attraction concerning a true tale of a cross-dressing male prostitute in 1395 medieval England is coming to The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center in NYC April 11th, 8pm. The production is dedicated to the memory of trans-activist Marsha P. Johnson and is conceived, directed & narrated by original Cockette Rumi Missabu aka James Bartlett.

“Miss Marsha” P. Johnson embodied the early Gay movement proudly and very LOUDLY.” Marsha was best known in New York City as a gay and transgender rights activist. She was a leader in the 1969 Stonewall Riots that united the LGBT communities to demand an end to police brutality.  When asked what her middle initial “P” meant she replied, “Pay It No Mind” and this became her signature catchphrase. Following the 1992 Gay Pride celebration Miss Marsha was found murdered and her case was never solved.

 

On stage with Hibiscus’ aka George Harris III troupe  Angels of Light (New York), family friend Miss Marsha would be met with standing ovations upon her entrance without ever singing a note or dancing a step. She would inevitably break the fourth wall and start talking to the audience, which whipped them into a frenzied back-and-forth banter leading to another standing ovation. Hibiscus eventually stopped assigning songs and dances to Miss Marsha, because she rarely got to them. Just being Miss Marsha P. Johnson was enough magic to electrify the audience.

 

 The Questioning of John Rykener info: cocketterumi@gmail.com

 

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What people are saying about “Caravan to Oz” – photographer Dan Nicoletta

What people are saying about “Caravan to Oz” – photographer Dan Nicoletta

Angels of LightHibiscus aka George Harris III in “Femme Fatale -The Shocking Pink Life of Jayne Champagne” Photo by Dan Nicoletta c 1976

Talented photographer and friend Dan Nicoletta had this to say about “Caravan to Oz”

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Caravan To Oz – an essential text on theatre history and LGBT history….,November 8, 2014
This review is from: Caravan to Oz: A family reinvents itself off-off-Broadway (Paperback)
This is a treasure trove of theatre and LGBT history. The legendary Harris Family are a significant vessel for understanding the turbulent social changes of the seminal off off broadway era as well as the west coast independent theatre and film and music scenes of the 60’s through the 80’s. But until now, so much about the family had remained a mystery. Those of us in the know and who appreciated the gravity of their legacy longed for a more in depth remembrance of what actually did occur and who the players were in this legendary family that swirled in and around LaMama Theatre and Cafe Cino and Hibiscus who co-founded the Cockettes as well as The Angels of Light theatre companies. (west and east coast troupes)… and now thankfully we have a definitive primary source text that is lovingly and brilliantly crafted collectively by the surviving family members. The book is chock full of meticulous archival material for the history geek in all of us, but is also a heart wrenching personal remembrance as the latter day Harris’s collectively excavate their whirlwind lives. The book and the family are GOLDEN… a joy to read… tons of amazing pictures… I am completely ferklempt about this one… been waiting a long time for something like this to come along…. Hibiscus was always so sweet to me the few times we met… no wonder… his family is lovely to get to know a little through their wonderful memoir….

 

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Two ways to order Caravan to Oz at The Drama Book Shop

Two ways to order Caravan to Oz at The Drama Book Shop

angels of light tnc

 

There are now two ways to order Caravan to Oz at The Drama Book Shop. Visit the shop in New York City at 250 West 40th. The book is in the theater history section. Or visit their website to order it online at the following link: Caravan to Oz

 

 

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The Wherehouse

The Wherehouse

the wherehouse poster

 

 

Our friend Daniel Brown and his wife Michelle own The Wherehouse at 119 Liberty Street in Newburgh New York. Good food, Good Music and Great Company!!!  We are honored to be on their wall in the restaurant with our “Hibiscus and the Screaming Violets” poster designed by the legendary comic book artist Dave Simons.

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Caravan to Oz Is Now Available At The Drama Book Shop

Caravan to Oz Is Now Available At The Drama Book Shop

drama book shopOur show-biz family memoir, Caravan to Oz: A family reinvents itself off-off-Broadway is now offered at The Drama Book Shop in NYC:  

The DRAMA BOOK SHOP, Inc.
250 West 40th Street – between 7th & 8th Avenue
Tel: 212 944-0595

STORE HOURS (GMT-5)
Monday—Saturday: 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Thursdays until 8:00 p.m.
Sundays noon until 6:00

Caravan to Oz is narrated by family members and guests including Oscar-winning actor/director Tim Robbins, theater producers Ellen Stewart, Crystal Field and Ritsaert ten Cate, playwrights Robert Patrick and Robert Heide, filmmakers Scott Morris and Mike Figgis, and educator John Bernhardt. It’s not easy raising six kids in the arts. But the outlier Harrises answer every challenge on their personal yellow brick road with courage and commitment. Their pioneering journey offers something to anyone who is driven by a dream.

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Brothers Against The War Machine

Brothers Against The War Machine

by Walter Michael Harris

In the fall of 1967, with the war in Vietnam raging, a large scale antiwar demonstration was organized at the Pentagon. Many photojournalists were on hand, including Bernie Boston, who took a photo of my brother, George Harris III, age 18, inserting flowers into the rifle barrels of National Guard soldiers in a tense confrontation.

Bernie Boston told Curio Magazine interviewer Alice Ashe in 2005:

“I saw the troops march down into the sea of people, and I was ready for it. One soldier lost his rifle. Another lost his helmet. The rest had their guns pointed out into the crowd, when all of a sudden a young hippie stepped out in front of the action with a bunch of flowers in his left hand. With his right hand he began placing the flowers into the barrels of the soldiers’ guns. He came out of nowhere, and it took me years to find out who he was . . . his name was Harris.”

Boston’s iconic image of my brother George, answering guns with flowers, remains a metaphor for the message of the 1960s youth counterculture movement – that love can overcome political tyranny, unite the human family, break the war machine, and bring peace to the world.

Three months later, at age 16, I was cast in the rock musical HAIR as it was preparing to open on Broadway. HAIR has a reputation as a “hippie musical” but, in fact, it was (and is) a powerful anti-war statement. The show was an overnight sensation, broadcasting the hopes and dreams of the youth counterculture, and an earnest plea to end the war.

Boys from my New York City neighborhood were drafted, went to Vietnam and returned injured, or never came back. Inspired by my brother meeting guns with flowers, I poured my whole self into making my performance in HAIR a deeply personal statement against the Vietnam War. I believe the show’s many first-run productions around the world played a part in ending the war. In modern HAIR productions my brother’s courageous act of protest is reenacted.

Our full story is in the new memoir, Caravan to Oz: a family reinvents itself off-off-Broadway.

To order the book, CLICK HERE.

Photo credits for this blog:

“Flower Power” – Bernie Boston/RIT Archive Collections/Rochester Institute of Technology

HAIR Logo – courtesy Michael Butler

Flower_Power002a_dochair logo

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The Harris Sisters – Had an all-access pass to the greatest music scene on earth!

The Harris Sisters – Had an all-access pass to the greatest music scene on earth!

the harris sisters rock and roll

By Jayne Anne Harris, Eloise Harris and Mary Lou Harris

Photo by Dan Jansen

(L-R Jayne Anne Harris, Eloise Harris and Mary Lou Harris)

 Off-Off Broadway theater was our first home. For two decades, The Harris Sisters (Jayne Anne, Eloise and Mary Lou) and the rest of our family performed in original drama and musicals at New York City’s La Mama ETC., Caffe Cino, Joseph Papp’s New York Shakespeare Festival Public Theater, Theater for the New City, Judson Poets Theater and more. They travelled across Europe with their brother Hibiscus and his Angels of Light Theater troupe. 
Inspired by the beat of the New York punk and rock scene of the late 1970’s, The Harris Sisters and Trouble (our band), led by brother Fred, included bassist Ray Ploutz, guitarists Bill Davis and Josh Callow and drummers Mike Pedulla and Mike Kimmel, played at CBGB, SNAFU, Great Gildersleeves, The Mudd Club, RT Firefly, Peppermint Lounge and other rock venues of the day.

At the height of the disco era, The Harris Sisters were unable to resist our charismatic brother Hibiscus’ charms in wooing us to form the bejeweled rock and roll group, Hibiscus and the Screaming Violets. We embarked on a new tour of New York City disco clubs such as Studio 54, Xenon, The Ice Palace, Bonds, Danceteria and The Red Parrot. We performed on the same circuit with Madonna, The Weather Girls, Blondie, Nona Hendryx, Grace Jones, Michael Musto and The Must, Billy Idol and Cyndi Lauper. It seemed that we had an all access pass to the greatest musical scene on earth…. Stay tuned for more blogs from The Harris Family…
Read The Harris Sisters’ full story in their new memoir, Caravan to Oz: a family reinvents itself off-off Broadway

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What people are saying about Caravan to Oz – Timothy Bellavia

What people are saying about Caravan to Oz – Timothy Bellavia
bookcover2A must read for theater enthusiasts, academics and emerging performance artists!,August 29, 2014
By Timothy Bellavia
This review is from: Caravan to Oz: A family reinvents itself off-off-Broadway (Paperback)
Caravan to Oz is a chronicle of one of the most unique families of the off off Broadway stage and screen. The saga begins with Ann and George Harris, Sr. (Superman, 1978), where life and art converged in a small D.I.Y. garage theater in Florida. Just like the old Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney films Anne and George Sr. took themselves and their six “babes in arms” to acclaim to stages throughout New York City and Europe. The cast of this family memoir ranges from La Mama’s Ellen Stewart to Oscar winning actor / director Tim Robbins.
The candid pictures and narrations from the Harris siblings is a “how to survive guide” for any hopeful thespian or artist in this new depression era. The memoir answers every question, challenge, and tells it like it is … behind every TV, IMDB film credit or theater credit there is the day job or in the case of The Screaming Violets: Jayne, Eloise, and Mary Lou – a night job at the coat check at Studio 54.
Besides the nail-biting, high risk-taking for the sake of art making there is tragedy ranging from losing Hibiscus to HIV/ AIDS causes (the renowned performance artist and founder of the psychedelic theater troupe The Cockettes) to 9/11 and its effect on the Harris family and their own survival and need for further reinvention.
Caravan to Oz shares the highs and the “do or die” of the artist’s way (… and then some). What is refreshing is that book is full of living and not replete with backstabbing or name dropping of most memoirs. The names that are dropped however throughout the picture packed pages just happen to have graced the lives of Anne, George, Sr. Hibiscus, Walter-Michael, Frederic, Jayne, Eloise, and Mary Lou Harris. A must read for theater enthusiasts, academics or emerging D.I.Y. performers.
Timothy Bellavia is an Educator, Author,  and Owner/Founder at “We Are All The Same Inside”.
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Caravan To Oz on Social Media

Caravan To Oz on Social Media

bookcover2

 

Response to our memoir, “Caravan to Oz,” has been great so far – lots of activity on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, three great reviews on Amazon and two newspaper features. 

Because we believe our story offers value for anyone struggling to balance life and career, we hope to reach people beyond our personal circles.  You can help by clicking on the links below and sharing these links with your friends on social media. Thanks!

Caravan to Oz on Facebook

Caravan to Oz on Pinterest

Caravan to Oz on Twitter

Caravan to Oz Website

 

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50th Anniversary of The Harris Family coming to NYC and off off Broadway

50th Anniversary of The Harris Family coming to NYC and off off Broadway

harris family

 

George Harris II scouted out New York City in 1963 and found an apartment (no easy feat with six kids!) with the assistance of Ellen Stewart founder of off off Broadway’s La Mama ETC. The apartment was at 319 East 9th Street in the East Village and La Mama had the basement space. George Harris II and Jayne Anne Harris followed in August of 1964 and November 1 1964 is the day the rest of the Harris family arrived in New York City. Read more in the book “Caravan To Oz” . #caravantooz Available on Amazon:

Amazon – Caravan to Oz

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