Pedro Pietri's The Masses are Asses

Thursday, May 13, 2021 at 10:00pm
WESU Middletown 88.1FM

Thursday, May 20, 2021 at 10:00pm
WESU Middletown 88.1FM

Each program will be available to stream from WESU's show archives for two weeks following the broadcast.

The Masses are Asses
(1974) by Pedro Pietri is an absurdist satire that exposes issues of social class, parodies the notion of the American Dream, and plays with political parody. The play takes place in either a fancy restaurant in Paris or a tenement building bathroom in the South Bronx. The plot revolves around two characters who vamp, mimic, and instigate each other and their values.

This show in particular broadens conversations about oppression, racism, and injustice. It examines how we are able to use absurdism and over-exaggeration to depict the realities we are confronted with every day.

The reality of the show is heightened through its use of sound, highlighted by the medium of a radio play. Since it is a radio production, this eliminates audience members’ need for visuals, relying solely on sound. There is a nuance that comes with creating a dynamic between characters using only their voices, and sound design has posed a wonderful adventure and added narrative texture in this project.

Pedro Pietri is renowned for his poetry and playwriting, and was a founding member of the iconic Nuyorican Poets Cafe. He was born in Puerto Rico in 1944. Shortly after, his family moved to Harlem, where he attended public schools in New York City, and then was drafted to serve in the Vietnam War in 1966. Besides The Masses Are Asses, his publications include Illusions of a Revolving Door Plays, Traffic Violations, Lost in the Museum of Natural History, and Invisible Poetry. He was a proud resident of New York City up until his passing in 2004.

This production contains mature or sensitive content including physical assault, emotional abuse, sexual violence, and loud noises, and may not be suitable or advisable for all audiences.

CAST AND CREW

Visiting Instructor of Theater Miranda Haymon '16: Director
Thea LaCrosse '21 - Stage Manager
Annabella Machnizh '22 - Assistant Director
Sarah Shapiro '23 - Dramaturg
Guest Artist Noel Nichols - Sound Designer
Guest Artist Daniela Hart - Sound Associate
Guest Artist Bailey Trierweiler - Sound Associate
Chapin Montague '21 - Assistant Sound Designer
Samuel Driver '21 - Gentleman
Maria Noto '21 - Lady

Miranda Haymon's residency at Wesleyan University is co-sponsored by the Theater Department, the Allbritton Center for the Study of Public Life, the Center for the Humanities, the African American Studies Department and the Center for African American Studies, and the Center for the Arts.

RELATED EVENTS

A Conversation with Theater Artist Miranda Haymon ’16
Thursday, March 18, 2021 at 8pm
FREE! RSVP required for access to virtual event.

“Haymon is interested in inclusive, multi-voiced theatre that sparks dialogue.”
American Theatre

For this talk, Miranda Haymon ’16 and Sam Morreale ’19 will discuss astrology, Berlin, artistic process, and Haymon’s upcoming radio play version of Pedro Pietri’s The Masses Are Asses (1974), which will be aired on WESU Middletown 88.1FM this spring. Topics will include Blackness, queerness, Brechtian analysis, and more. As theatrical practitioners and performance scholars themselves, Haymon and Morreale will explore theater's relationship to liveness, how the impacts of the pandemic affect artmaking, and Haymon's dreams for their work moving forward. Haymon is the inaugural Breaking New Ground Theater Artist in Residence during the 2020–2021 academic year, a new residency co-hosted by the Theater Department and the Center for the Arts which brings early career BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) theater artists to campus.

Lunchtime Career Talk with Miranda Haymon '16
Tuesday, April 6, 2021 at Noon
FREE! For Wesleyan students, faculty, and staff. RSVP required for access to virtual event.

Visiting Instructor of Theater Miranda Haymon '16 will discuss their career post-Wesleyan as a freelance artist working in theater, television, film, and commercials, and how COVID-19 has shaped and changed that journey.

Photo of Miranda Haymon by Naomi Saito '16.