As long as I have lived in New York City, I have made a yearly pilgrimage to St. Mark's Church, ascending the stairs to Richard Foreman's Ontological-Hysterical Theatre. I make my way across the dense jungle of folding chairs and spectators, and eagerly await for the sheepish, exhausted-looking Foreman to sit in his wooden throne among the audience and hunch over his soundboard to begin the performance. Every year, I am treated to Foreman's chaotic worlds, ones that reflect the dissonance and violence of the psyche, but remain incredibly lyrical as well. Alarms, demonic voices, and woodblocks ring in my ears, and the ever-present lights pointed at the audience force me to squint to see the grave tableau of bodies onstage.
There was a different sort of anticipation this year, however. Foreman's newest piece, The Gods Are Pounding My Head! (AKA Lumberjack Messiah), may also be his last. Two weeks ago, Foreman told The Village Voice, "I've always claimed that I have a love-hate relationship to the theater. And it's reached a point where I think this is the last sort of play like this that I'll be doing." It appears as though, after 37 years, Foreman is packing up the soundboard.
Needless to say, this will color anyone's impression of The Gods Are Pounding My Head!, and appropriately so. In addition to the stock themes of sex, death, and artistic drive, among others, Foreman has given us two of his most stirring characters to date in the form of two lumberjacks (brilliantly played by Jay Smith and T. Ryder Smith), who struggle with the forging of their own identities and legacy in the face of a world that encourages "pancake people"