The Tooth of Crime (1973) Photo/Foto: HIDVL
  • Title: The Tooth of Crime
  • Holdings: video (HIDVL)
  • Duration: 01:32:52
  • Language: English
  • Date: 1973
  • Location: The Performing Garage, New York City, in 1973; Film copyrighted in 1974 as part of the Whitney Museum New American Filmmakers Series, in New York City.
  • Type-Format: play, performance
  • Cast: Spalding Gray (Hoss), Timothy Shelton (Crow), Joan MacIntosh (Becky Lou), James Griffiths (Cheyenne), Stephen Borst (Doc/Galactic Max/Keeper), Elizabeth LeCompte (Star/Ref/Keeper).
  • Credits: Richard Schechner, producer, director ; The Wooster Group, Inc., producer ; The Performance Group, producer, adaptation, music ; Ken Kobland, James (Flip) McCarthy, film directors ; Sam Shepard, writer, lyrics ; Franne Lee, costumes ; Jerry Rojo, environment ; Vicki Polon, Robert Thurber, Rhody Streeter, sound ; Robert Dichter, mix ; Radz Radlauer, Doug Bowes, electronic music ; George Griffin, animation ; Frederick Eberstadt, James Clayburgh, photography.

The Tooth of Crime (1973)

This film (1974) documents and to some degree rearranges the scenes of TPG's production (1973). In The Tooth of Crime Shepard draws on popular/mythic figures and motifs of the American imaginary such as the cowboy, the rock star, the girl friend, the disc-jockey, and the drifter-outsider. The language of the play is rhythmic with a richness of alliteration and syncopation that The Performance Group actors further embroidered through their verbophysical techniques to produce harmonies, tensions, and emotional and physical states. The drama embodies the contradictions inherent in a star system that creates "personalities" only to discard them when they are no longer commercially productive. Using their own version of rock music, TPG explores in a complex physical environment a world of gangsters and urban cowboys. The performance presents a myriad of comic book characters that underscore the deceptions and failures of the "American Dream." The subtleties of the characterization, environmental theater mise-en-scene, music, and movement make this production unique. Because the environment makes viewing all of the action from one place impossible, spectators flow with the action from one part of the theater to another. The performance of Spalding Gray as Hoss is perhaps his best work in the "regular" theater.


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