When Studs Terkel copped out on us on Halloween a year ago at age 96, he took from us a hard-left passion for social justice, a bawdy sense of humor and a raspy voice for the working class we’ll never replace. But he left behind an amazing body of work we’ll be digging into for inspiration and entertainment for decades to come. On Monday, December 7th at Georgetown University, Theodore Bikel, David Strathairn, Kathleen Chalfant and a cast of well-known actors from New York, Chicago and Washington, DC, will remind us of Studs’ genius with a concert-style reading (that means singing and story-telling and Terkel-type jokes) of Will the Circle Be Unbroken: Reflections on Death, Rebirth and Hunger for a Faith, an adaptation of his book of interviews on death and dying which he published in 2001.
Studs Terkel’s Wikipedia page says he was an author, historian, radio personality and an actor. They left out blacklisted television star, outrageous curmudgeon, relentless raconteur, open-heart surgery survivor, lawyer, union organizer, sports nut, Obamaphile and generally obnoxious professional Chicagoan. The son of penniless Russian immigrants, he got his start in broadcasting in the 1930s with the Works Progress Administration’s Federal Writer’s project. His radio program, The Studs Terkel Program, ran for forty-five years on WFMT in Chicago. His 18 books, most of them oral histories taken from interviews he conducted, documented the ravages of the Great Depression, the horror of World War II, and the often savage world confronted by workers and their families. Somehow, he always siphoned off a mug of hope from the cesspool of capitalism he confronted every day with anger and wit. For Will the Circle be Unbroken, he followed his lifelong pattern of interviewing regular folks — parents, medics, patients, teachers and clergy — as well as biggies like Kurt Vonnegut, Uta Hagen, Doc Watson and himself.
Will the Circle Be Unbroken was adapted, with Stud’s help, by Derek Goldman, the Artistic Director of the Performing Arts Center at Georgetown, which is producing the concert reading in collaboration with Arena Stage. Goldman and Joseph Megel directing.
For more information, a full cast lineup, and ticket purchases, visit http://performingarts.georgetown.edu/boxoffice/#Terkel