A must read for theater enthusiasts, academics and emerging performance artists!,August 29, 2014
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”.
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
Photo: Bernie Boston/RIT Archive Collections. Rochester Institute of Technology
On October 21, 1967 – Bernie Boston’s photo of the brave, peace-loving teenager in a turtleneck sweater putting flowers into the gun barrels of military police went far beyond being a runner up for the Pulitzer Prize. This iconic moment became the origin of “Flower Power,” the most popular anti-war catchphrase of the 1960s. Mr. Boston told Alice Ashe of Curio magazine 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,’ says Boston, ‘and it took me years to find out who he was . . . his name was Harris.'”
“Harris” was George Harris III, at 18 years of age, whose life’s work was an example of Flower Power and free expression. George went on to rename himself “Hibiscus” and created powerful new forms of theater and political expression around the world. He passed away from AIDS in 1982 at the age of 32. His life story is recounted in ‘Caravan to Oz: a family reinvents itself off-off-Broadway,’ a memoir written by his family. www.caravantooz.com
Hibiscus, aka George Harris III, made a scrapbook/script for every show. He would collect things from thrift stores, book stores, music stores and jewels TONS of jewels!!! This one was on exhibition out west in 2011 and is now a book by curators Elissa Auther and Adam Lerner. Click the scrapbook link to see the pages and click on the book link to purchase the book.
West of Center: Art and the Counterculture in America, 1965 – 1977