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americanrepertorytheater.org 2011/2012 SEASON


WOODY SEZ


MAY 5 - 26, 2012


Musical hero Woody Guthrie is brought to life in a joyous, toe- tapping, and heartfelt theatrical portrait that uses Woody’s words and songs to transport the audience through his fascinating, beautiful, and sometimes tragic life.


Words and music by Woody Guthrie Devised by David M. Lutken with Nick Corley


HIS GUITAR KILLS FASCISTS THE LEGACY OF WOODY GUTHRIE BY JENNA CLARK EMBREY


It was several years before Arlo Guthrie was able to play the Gibson guitar his father had given him for his seventh birthday. When young Arlo had grown big enough for the instrument, the elder Guthrie took his son into the backyard to teach him the lyrics to his song, “This Land Is Your Land.” By that point in the late 1950s, Woody Guthrie was in decline, with his brain slowly wasting away from Huntington’s Disease, the neurodegenerative disorder that had claimed his mother’s life. Guthrie knew the fate that awaited him and did not want the complete lyrics to his song to be forgotten. Many Americans can sing the chorus of “This Land Is Your Land”:


This land is your land, this land is my land From California, to the New York Island From the redwood forest, to the Gulf Stream waters This land was made for you and me.


But few people know the final verse of a song that Guthrie composed during the Great Depression:


In the squares of the city—In the shadow of the steeple Near the relief office—I see my people And some are grumblin’ and some are wonderin’ If this land’s still made for you and me.


Written in response to the blind patriotism of Irving Berlin’s “God Bless America,” Guthrie’s best-known tune is most often known in a bowdlerized form, played alongside the Berlin song Guthrie was reacting against. Like Guthrie’s political activism, the history of “This Land Is Your Land” has been forgotten, replaced with the rose-colored memory of an American icon.


Guthrie began his life, and his musical journey, in Okemah, continued on next page >


17


Wild Swans


FUTURITY


Woody Sez


WOODY GUTHRIE, 1943. WORLD TELEGRAM. PHOTO: AL AUMULLER


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