PHALARIS'S BULL: SOLVING THE RIDDLE OF THE GREAT BIG WORLD to Premiere Off-Broadway This Winter
Harvard-educated, molecular biologist, visual artist and provocative underground philosopher, Steven Friedman has the answers to life's big questions. This one-of-a kind theatrical event -- neither play nor lecture -- staged to reflect Friedman's prismatic and eclectic vision of the world, uses personal narrative, poetry, art and science to tell the story of a contemporary philosopher's quest to fulfill Einstein's ambition "to solve the riddle of the great, big world."
In a spell -binding and often divisive performance, Friedman offers a solution to the world's pain -- a philosophy based on Kierkegaard's story in which an ancient torture device, Phalaris's Bull, turned the terrible sounds of pain into music. To create is to enter Phalaris's bull, and our pain becomes beauty.
Corley, a former actor, recording star and Studio 54 doorman in its heyday, and now producer of film and television, fatefully encountered Friedman at an art gallery opening in Los Angeles two years ago. Steven spoke of his philosophy and solving man's great riddle of how to deal with life's pain and sorrow and converting it to beauty beyond what is seemingly possible. Afterwards, Corley was not only enthralled but also hooked. Combining his producing skills and knowledge of the off-Broadway theater scene from his performance days, Corley single-mindedly assembled a team to mount one of the most unique evenings of theater to hit New York.
"The way I look at and how I embrace and interpret life shifted forever after hearing Steven speak," says producer Al Corley. "I have never encountered anyone quite like him before (or since) and have never seen or heard anything like what he offers in his tour-de-force performance. This show and Mr. Friedman's message and gift of mind has the potential to infinitely alter how you choose to exist in this life and how to embrace the very beauty that it has to offer... and all under 90 minutes. I'd like to believe and certainly hope that's a chance people will be willing to take and I look forward to witnessing how New York audiences respond."
The design team features Scenic Design by Caleb Wertenbaker (Love Birds at La Mama), Lighting Design by Jimmy Lawlor (Grand Hotel at NYU), Sound Design by Ryan Rumery (Fool for Love, Between Riverside and Crazy), Projection Design by Driscoll Otto (Your Blues Ain't Sweet Like Mine). The general manager is Jumpstart Entertainment (Rock of Ages -- www.letsjumpstart.com).
Tickets to SOLVING THE RIDDLE are $69.00 and available via Telecharge.com (212-239-6200). The performance schedule is Tuesday - Friday at 8pm, Saturday at 2pm & 8pm and Sunday at 3pm & 7pm. There are no matinee performances on Saturday December 12 and Sunday December 13. There are no performances on Thursday, December 17; Friday, December 25 and Thursday, December 31. Performances have been added on Monday, December 21 & 28 at 8pm. For more about the show, go to www.SolvingTheRiddlePlay.com.
STEVEN FRIEDMAN (Author & Performer) - Generally considered by his teachers to be the most gifted student they had ever taught, Steven Friedman excelled in academics from an early age. At 12 an accidental encounter with the mathematician and philosopher Alfred North Whitehead's Science and the Modern World led to a focus on philosophy. After high school, he enrolled in Harvard, majoring in philosophy, and graduated cum laude in General Studies-the highest honor attainable because he chose not to write a senior thesis in philosophy. Regarding Friedman, Roderick Firth, a philosophy professor at Harvard, wrote that "in more than 20 years of teaching at Harvard . . . Friedman has shown as much talent for philosophy as the best undergraduates I have ever taught." After graduation, Friedman was accepted into the PhD program in molecular biology at UCLA, under a grant from the National Cancer Institute. Dr. Paul Boyer, the head of UCLA's Molecular Biology Institute and a subsequent Nobel Laureate in Chemistry, called Friedman into his office because, as Boyer noted at the time, his "application was the most remarkable I have ever read." Friedman subsequently entered UCLA's School of Medicine, but took a leave of absence early in his third year. During the time away he wrote the play, A Passion of the Mind, dealing with his marriage (of seven months) and divorce; a first book of poetry, Distempered Lyrics; and began drawing and painting, primarily in pastels. His first one-man show (pastels) was at Redwood Bank in Beverly Hills, CA. This was soon followed by a one-man show at The Red Room in West Hollywood, CA. Soon after his mother suffered a near-fatal brain aneurysm, Friedman produced his first work in philosophy, Considerations on the Nature of Things (1986). Over the next decade Friedman wrote another half-dozen works of philosophy (Philosophical Aphorisms (1987), Meaning and Time (1988), A Manifesto: Meaning and Time (1988), Disquisitional Simulacra (1989), Issues of Objects (1992), Externalities (1994)) and produced increasingly abstract art in a variety of media, including glass, acrylic on acrylic, and sculptural waterworks. He constructed his first website, Normalism.org, in 1999, devoted to philosophy, art, and scientific applications, including molecular biology and theoretical physics. Soon after, Robert Berman Gallery began representing his art. Ten days after approaching the gallery, he was given a one-man show of his acrylic-under-acrylic poles (December, 1999). In the following decade, Friedman's art was shown in a number of venues, including San Francisco's International Art Expositions, Cal Poly Pomona's Kellogg Gallery, Manhattan Beach Creative Arts Center, and Robert Berman Gallery. His art entered major private collections around the world and was characterized by San Francisco's Museum of Modern Art as constituting "a new mode of visual representation." In 2001, after skytyping three aphorisms over Central Park, NYC, Friedman was the celebrity interview of the inaugural issue of Recoil Magazine, in an article entitled, "Steven Friedman: His Philosophy Could End World Suffering." In 2009 Friedman began writing concentrated works of philosophy designed for environmental publication. The beachbook, T Lite Book by the Sea, in 5000 tea-lights adjacent to Santa Monica pier, was mounted in May, 2009. In July, 2010, the skybook, Proving God in Worlds from Even to Odd, was skytypped over Huntington Beach, CA. Among Friedman's output are 200 works of philosophy; six works of lyric poetry (Distempered Lyrics (1980), Estella et al (2005) Round Round (2009) A Short Selection of Poems: Early, Middle, and Late (2010) Olimpian Colloquy (2012), Two Stars (2015)); two films, Skybook (2010) and Torture (2012); and the philosophical narrative poem, The Books of Joshua (2008). His intellectual and creative endeavors have been supported by art sales, patronage, and private teaching. Since medical school he has tutored hundreds of subjects from middle school through graduate and professional schools, helping students at universities around the world through programs in law, medicine, dentistry, endodontics, business, the humanities, mathematics, and all the social and physical sciences.
DAVID SCHWEIZER (Director) - David Schweizer emerged from Yale Drama School to make his New York debut at the age of twenty-four at Lincoln Center opening the brand new Mitzi Newhouse Theater with his radical version of Shakespeare's Troilus and Cressida for producer Joseph Papp. And, some decades later, he returned to Lincoln Center with his acclaimed staging of Richard Rodney Bennett's opera The Mines of Sulpher for the New York City Opera. Over the years in between he has directed a vastly eclectic mix of theatrically innovative work in a wide range of styles and venues. Early career highlights include world premieres by such playwrights as Sam Shepard, Michael Weller, Albert Innaurato, Maria Irene Fornes, Len Jenkin, Ronald Tavel, Austin Pendleton, and many others in New York City. More recent work off-Broadway/ Charles Mee's Wintertime at Second Stage, William Hamilton's White Chocolate at Century Playhouse, Mark Campbell's Songs from an Unmade Bed at the New York Theater Workshop and his critically-acclaimed collaborations with composer/performer Rinde Eckert, And God Created Great Whales (OBIE Award) and Horizon (Lucille Lortel Award). His extensive work in both new and "old" opera theater includes Benjamin Britten's Albert Herring (Gotham Opera) Stephen Hartke's The Greater Good (Glimmerglass Festival) several notable Verdi productions- Macbetto at Boston Lyric Opera and Giovanna D'Arco at Chicago Opera Theater. His production of Victor Ullmann's The Emperor of Atlantis in Boston was a ten best of the year NY Times pick. His many works for the innovative Long Beach Opera include Thomas Ades Powder Her Face, Michael Nymann's The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, Antonio Vivaldi's Montezuma and many others. He has directed extensively at most prominent regional and international theaters including Arena Stage, Trinity Rep, Yale Rep, The Mark Taper Forum, Geffen Playhouse (LA) Children's Theater Company (Minneapolis), Magic Theater, and Center Stage (Baltimore) where his new production of Tony Kushner and Jeanine Tesori's Caroline or Change and Melanie Marnich's These Shining Lives (world premiere) are notable among his many shows there, including a revival of Next to Normal last season. His numerous international residences include Warsaw, Krakow, Lisbon, Hamburg, London (his own adaptation of Plato's Symposium at the ICA) Stockholm (a tour of his collaboration with Theatre X, Foucalt's A History of Sexuality) and Toga Village, Japan. Schweizer's work with performance and solo artists features Ann Magnuson (You Could be Home Now, Rave Mom in New York and LA) Sandra Tsing Loh (Aliens in America, Sugar Plum Fairy LA and touring) John Fleck, Carmelita Tropicana, Mark Wolf and most recently Marga Gomez (POUND, Los Big Names, and Love Birds in NYC and San Francisco) and Mike Albo whose off-Broadway hit The Junket ran at the Lynn Redgrave Theater. Last season he directed the world premiere of Beth Henley's LAUGH and of Jeremy Howard Beck and Stephanie Fleischmann's opera THE LONG WALK. And his newest collaboration with Rinde Eckert, a musical version of Shakespeare's PERICLES will open later this season.
AL CORLEY (Producer) - To some extent, in producing Steven Friedman's Phalaris's Bull: Solving the Riddle of the Great Big World, Al Corley has come full circle or at the very least he has never been able to rid himself of his love for the theatre. Al made the decision to leave college and Missouri and move to New York City instead of LA, in 1977 to study acting. His first job was as a waiter at Sardi's Restaurant and his last before he started making a living as an actor was as a doorman at Studio 54 in 1978. In New York, he studied with Lee Strasberg and Kim Stanley and soon after started working Off Broadway. He worked at the newly formed Playwrights Horizons, Manhattan Theatre Club, The Phoenix Theater as well as other Off Broadway venues. He then starred In Leonard Melfi's Taxi Tales on Broadway, where he proudly received his Equity card. Al started to get parts in film and television. He was cast in Women at Westpoint with Linda Purl, The Womens' Room with Colleen Dewhurst and And Baby Makes Six with again, Colleen Dewhurst, Warren Oats and a young Timothy Hutton. Al still credits Colleen Dewhurst as being not only a friend but also one of his true mentors in his early career. In 1981he was cast as Steven Carrington in "Dynasty" which changed his life. Al left "Dynasty" after three years to move back to New York City where he fell in love with Carly Simon, opened the restaurant Memphis and recorded three albums of his own material and toured all over Europe. He had gold and platinum selling records throughout Europe including France and Germany. After returning from Europe, Al was cast in two summer stock plays in Hyde Park, NY or as he called it "Super stock" directed by Timothy Mayer. He did Bertolt Brecht's A Man's A Man, with Bill Murray and Stockard Channing and Mae West's Sex, starring with Margot Kidder. After the season ended he was cast in the East Hampton production of Stephan Hanan's Rainbow's Return. Al decided to get behind the scenes and started a production company with partner Bart Rosenblatt in NYC to produce Off Broadway plays and film projects. He produced Servy n Bernice 4Ever written by Seth Zvi Rosenfeld, directed by Terry Kinney and starring Ron Eldard, Lisa Gay Hamilton, Cynthia Nixon and Eric King. He also produced Nathaniel Kahn's Owl's Breath with Nick Chinlund and Illeana Douglas and at the Circle In the Square's PIP production directed by Joe Mantello with Stanley Tucci. Al's only regret was not meeting Marlon Brando on the set of Don Juan DeMarco. Al was cast in the movie and while on the set was too nervous to go up to Brando and introduce himself. In the past few years Al has focused on films and has produced under the banner of Code Entertainment, some eighteen pictures, including Palmetto, Drowning Mona, You Kill Me, Edmund, Noel, Kill the Irishman, and The Forger with Academy Award winning directors, designers and talent including Ben Kingsley, Woody Harrelson, Christopher Plummer, Penelope Cruz, Robin Williams, John Travolta, Danny DeVito, Bette Midler, Jamie Lee Curtis, Casey Affleck, Alan Arkin, Christopher Walken, Paul Walker, Chazz Palminteri, Susan Sarandon and many others. He truly feels blessed to have worked with these enormous talents and artists. And although he is genuinely thrilled and blessed to be back in NYC, his greatest accomplishment has been to raise his three children; Sophie, Ruby and Clyde and watch them grow into amazing people. He now resides in Los Angeles with the love of his life, Seane Corn.