Kenneth Bernard, Convention-Shattering Playwright, Dies at 90


“Sad to say the play is never more eloquent than a cage full of monkeys,” he wrote, “and never more satisfying than when it has ended.”

When “The Moke Eater” was staged in Atlanta in 1977, Helen C. Smith, reviewing for The Atlanta Constitution, was baffled. “I didn’t like the play, don’t pretend to understand much of it,” she wrote.

But these critics who bought what Dr. Bernard was after really helpful his work to adventurous theatergoers, as Rob Baker of The Daily News did for “The Sixty Minute Queer Show” when it was staged at La MaMa Experimental Theater Club in Manhattan in 1977 beneath Mr. Vaccaro’s course.

“It is a pastiche of short skits parodying virtually every play presented at La MaMa in the past 10 years, including several of Vaccaro’s own.” he wrote. “The spoofs are outrageous but never mean, for Vaccaro’s style is to move and to provoke as he destroys, to leave us haunted after the hysteria.”

Kenneth Otis Bernard was born on May 7, 1930, in Brooklyn to Otis Bernard and Mary Travaglini. His father was a businessman and author of Christian-themed books. His mom, an independent-minded lady, invested in lychee groves in Florida.

When his mother and father divorced shortly after he was born, with the Depression in full drive, his mom moved to Florida for a time, leaving him within the care of the American Female Guardian Society and Home for the Friendless. Later he was taken in by kin in Framingham, Mass., earlier than rejoining his mom in New York when he was about 12.

Dr. Bernard earned a bachelor’s diploma in English at the City College of New York and, after serving within the Army from 1953 to 1955, did postgraduate work at Columbia University, the place he earned a Ph.D. in English literature.



Source link Nytimes.com

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