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Spalding Gray's body found

2004-03-09 17:28:19.378421+00 by Dan Lyke 1 comments

Actor and storyteller Spalding Gray confirmed dead. If you never had the pleasure of seeing one of his monologues in person, rent Swimming to Cambodia[Wiki] or find some of the old Gang of Seven[Wiki] CDs that had his work on them.

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#Comment Re: made: 2004-03-10 15:56:00.12202+00 by: petronius

My wife and I caught a Gray performance on TV once, and became fascinated. We saw him perform "Monster in the Box" and "Gray's Anatomy" here in Chicago, and "A Personal History of the American Theater" and "Interviewing the Audience" in St. Louis. His was an interesting theatrical experiment: complete personal transparency as a theatrical tactic. Of course, when transparency is a theatrical technique doesn't it just become a new artifice? I think he pushed this line of exploration as far as he could, just like Andy Kaufman tried to push his ideas to the point where the audience wanted to punch him in the nose.

However, out of all this sometimes came wonder. In "Interviewing the Audience" he would take people more or less at random from the audience and begin by asking them how they arrived at the theater that night. His questions were quiet, but relentess as he pushed the people to open up more about their lives. In St. Louis he chose a lady who was a stewardess manager for TWA. She was nice and cheerful, but seemed to live a completely trite life. Nothing terribly interesting happened from week to week, and she smiled as she spoke about puttering around the house, doing chores. The college audience began to smirk at this rube, but Gray continued to push. Then she mentioned with complete lack of drama that two years before she had been diagnosed with a degenerative nerve ailment that killed 8 out of 10 victims, but had beaten it. And in light of her close call, even doing the dishes became a symbol of God's grace.

The audience sat silent and stunned by this unexpected revelation, and Spaulding let the silence reverberate around the theater for a solid minute. Then he smiled, warmly thanked the lady, and went on to the next person. It was at once utterly true to life, and completely theatrical. I place it alongside seeing Gielgud on stage in London and the opening scene of "The Lion King" as one of the most moving experiences I have ever had in a theater. Find rest, Spaulding.