Murray Mednick’s THE COYOTE CYCLE — The Documentary Film

THE COYOTE CYCLE: A Documentary Film
World Premiere – Sunday, July 30 at 4:00 p.m. (PDT)

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The first public viewing of a documentary film about Murray Mednick’s THE COYOTE CYCLE will take place on-line as a fundraiser to complete all the loose ends needed to launch this film into full distribution. Admission, however, is not contingent on your ability to pay. A donation at any monetary level will give you a virtual seat.

Padua Hills was a crucial turning point in my life as a poet. In point of fact, I am probably the only American poet to have a poem about a major underground theater festival as the subject of a poem in her or his first full-length book of poetry. To a large extent, much of the writing I have done since my first attendance at Padua Hills in 1979 has involved a dialogue with its theatrical poetics. While this film focuses on a cycle of plays that deserve to be set alongside other canonical cycles, the first assessment should be about establishing the context of Mednick’s encounters with indigenous myth as it once again permeates the domain it emerged out of. This is not done in a theatrical vacuum. If one is not aware of the other plays done at Padua, the Coyote Cycle loses some of its impact. Among the most memorable productions that accompanied the annual installments of THE COYOTE CYCLE, I would in particular cite the following:

Martin Epstein – “The Man Who Killed the Buddha”
John O’Keefe – Don’t You Ever Cal Me Anything But Mother
Maria Irene Fornes – Fefu and Her Friends
Maria Irene Fornes – Mud
Martin Epstein – Mysteries of the Bridal Night
Leon Martelll – Hoss Drawin
Leon Martell and Elizabeth Ruscio – El Dorado 1961
Walter Hadler – Alive
Connie Managhan – Guys in Black Leather Jackets Stepping into Phone Booths
Susan La Tempa – Sunset Beach
John Steppling – Neck
Kathleen Cramer and O-Lan Jones: The Man Whose Brother Was Eaten by Wolves

Although THE COYOTE CYCLE as a published script is available in a stand-alone volume, I would argue that an ideal reference volume would be to have entire script by Mednick interspersed in a volume with the scripts from the above plays. Only then could you begin to understand the significance and meaning of Padua Hills as a cultural project. There were other playwrights who contributed work to the Festival, too, such as Michael Monroe.

Finally, I would note that Murray Mednick is also a poet, and I included him in POETRY LOVES POETRY, my anthology of Los Angeles poets that I published in 1985. Other poets included Paul Vangelisti, James Krusoe, Bob Flanagan, Dennis Cooper, Amy Gerstler, Suzanne Lummis, Lewis MacAdams, Brooks Roddan, Jack Grapes, Bob Peters, Charles Harper Webb, Ron Koertge, Charles Bukowski, Laurel Ann Bogen, John Doe, Doren Robbins, Wanda Coleman, Exene Cervenka, Kate Braverman, David E. James, Jed Rasula, Bob Crosson, Max Benavidez, Paul Trachtenberg, and David Trinidad. This, too, is one context within which THE COYOTE CYCLE should be absorbed.

Here is the official announcement from Padua Hills about the documentary film on THE COYOTE CYCLE.

“This feature-length film provides an in depth look at the seminal theater production (1978-1985) by Padua’s founder, the playwright and director Murray Mednick.

“Created by Guy Zimmerman and Bradford L. Cooper, The Coyote Cycle features a narration by Ed Harris, interviews and performances by the original cast of the plays—Darrell Larson, Norbert Weisser, Priscilla Cohen and Christine Avila—along with interviews with Peter Stathis and A. Martinez.

“Murray Menick and his cast delve into the formal investigations that fueled this groundbreaking theater project, as well as Murray’s relationship with prominent indigenous activists such as Leonard Crow Dog, who embraced the project as a way to draw attention to the Hopi prophecy of environmental destruction and collapse. Prophetic and profound, the film brings us back in time to draw inspiration from a more hopeful cultural moment–come join us in celebrating the positive energies of revolution and renewal!”–2#/

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