Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Remembering off-Broadway theater legend Jeff Weiss

Jeff Weiss, an actor, playwright and "doyen of downtown performance" who received multiple Obie Awards, died on Sept. 18 at an assisted living facility near his childhood home of Allentown, Pa. He was 82. 

Longtime residents recall performances at Good Medicine & Company, the storefront theater that Weiss and his partner Carlos Ricardo Martinez operated from their 10th Street apartment

Said one EVG reader in an email: "None of us who were privileged to see him perform in the tiny theater he created on East 10th Street will ever forget those nights. Nor will anyone who saw the various incarnations of 'And That's How The Rent Gets Paid,' which he performed at La MaMa, forget the brush with the genius that was Jeff."

"Jeff was one of the greatest figures in the history of American theater," Charles Richter, retired director of theater at Muhlenberg College and co-founder of Muhlenberg Summer Music Theatre, told the Lehigh Valley Press. "He never sold out. He always had enormous integrity. He was always asking profound life questions in shocking and hilariously funny ways." 

Here's more about Weiss via a feature obituary at Artforum
Forgoing formal acting training — he reportedly quit Stella Adler's class after a single session, finding it to be an "offensive lesson in group therapy" — Weiss's made his onstage debut at La MaMa Experimental Theater Club in 1964 in Robert Sealy's "Waiting Boy."

In the ensuing years, Weiss would regularly perform at the storied venue, garnering attention for his eccentric and unnerving performances in productions such as Louis Mofsie's "Three Mask Dances" (1966); Jean Reavey's "Window" (1966); H.M. Koutoukas's "When Clowns Play Hamlet" (1967); and Julie Bovasso's "Gloria and Esperanza" (1969), among others.

His last performance came at La MaMa in May 2017. 

1 comment:

hywel dda said...

That's sad news. Back in the day, the hubby & I grabbed every chance we got to see Jeff perform. He was truly a genius. One night at the 10th St. storefront we were the entire audience & Jeff & Ricardo worked us into their performance. Even in his small role on Broadway in Stoppard's "The Invention of Love" he commanded the stage. I still feel very lucky to have been able to see him perform.