Mad Man

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In 1943, the American poet Ezra Pound (1885-1972) was indicted for treason after ranting and raving on a fascist-backed radio program in Italy where he was living at the time with a wife and a mistress. He did this twice a week, got paid for his services, and the speeches were broadcast in America on short-wave radio. His diatribes were generally anti-FDR and anti-Semitic and the FBI and the Department of Justice moved quickly towards the indictment.

Two years later, at the end of World War II, the 60-year-old Pound was captured and brought back to the United States to stand trial. But before the trial proper could begin, his sanity came into question, possibly as a defense ploy. Treason is a crime punishable by death so the stakes couldn't have been higher. The presiding judge, who denied Pound's request to represent himself, ordered Pound remanded to a mental hospital for observation and a few months later impaneled a jury to assess his sanity.

This is where the play begins, on February 13, 1946, inside a federal courtroom in Washington, DC. With the burden of proof on the defense, and Pound brooding silently in the background, Prosecutor and Defense Attorney examine and cross-examine, in one grueling 90-minute session, three psychiatrists, two from the government and one hired by the defense.

The Defense Attorney tries to show that Pound's mind has come unhinged due to a lengthy period of solitary confinement shortly after his arrest. The Prosecutor is convinced he is faking it in order to avoid the death penalty. The final witness, the head of the mental hospital where Pound is being held, seems to have ulterior motives.

It is an ignominious chapter in the annals of post-war history, and it's as relevant today as it was 67 years ago. Only the fashions have changed.

- Jed Bolipata, Writer/Producer/Director



Ezra Pound's mug shot

Ezra Pound at 28

Ezra Pound at 82

LINKS

  • "EZRA POUND SPEAKING": SCRIPTS FOR THE RADIO PROGRAMS (1941-1943)
  • EZRA POUND'S FBI FILE
  • "THE TRIAL OF EZRA POUND" by Julien Cornell, Pound's defense attorney (1966)
  • "THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA V. EZRA POUND" by Robert Wernick (Smithsonian Magazine, 1995)

    OTHER PLAYS WITH EZRA POUND

  • "INCOMMUNICADO" by Tom Dulack
    New York Times (March 3, 1989)
    New York Times (March 28, 1995)
  • "THE TRIALS OF EZRA POUND" by Timothy Findley
    Stratford, Ontario (July 19, 2001)
  • "TREASON" by Sallie Bingham
    New York Times (June 19, 2006)
  • "POUND" by William Roetzheim
    New Theater Corps (June 11, 2009)

    EZRA POUND IN THE NEWS

  • EIGHT AMERICANS INDICTED AS AIDING THE AXIS
    New York Times (July 27, 1943)
  • EZRA POUND, WANTED FOR TREASON, SEIZED BY AMERICAN FORCES NEAR GENOA
    New York Times (May 6, 1945)
  • POUND'S MIND 'UNSOUND'
    New York Times (February 14, 1946)
  • AN ARTIST CONFINED
    Life Magazine (February 6, 1956: Page 30)
  • EZRA POUND MAY ESCAPE TRIAL
    New York Times (April 2, 1958)
  • COURT DROPS CHARGE AGAINST EZRA POUND
    New York Times (April 19, 1958)
  • POETS CARRY DAY FOR EZRA POUND
    New York Times (April 20, 1958)
  • RESEARCHERS DISPUTE EZRA POUND'S INSANITY
    New York Times (October 31, 1981)
  • CATHEDRAL BARS EZRA POUND FROM POETS' CORNER
    New York Times (October 23, 1999)
  • EZRA POUND'S DAUGHTER TAKES ON FASCIST GROUP
    Los Angeles Times (December 30, 2011)
  • EZRA POUND, JEW HATER
    New York Daily News (January 19, 2012)


  • Ezra Pound interviewed by filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasolini (1967)


    Ezra Pound on Italian radio (1942)

    Ezra Pound: For The Record


    Ezra Pound in prison in Pisa (1945)

    PBS Documentary


    Ezra Pound reads "Canto XLV"

    Ezra Pound reads "Cantico Del Sole"


    Editor-in-Chief of THE MOVIE TIMES (1999-present) and former publisher of MOVIE GUIDE (1993-1994), Jed Bolipata has been involved in the arts in one form or another since early childhood. As a child prodigy on the piano, he made his debut with the Manila Symphony Orchestra at the age of 13, was accepted to the Juilliard School at the age of 17, and made his New York debut at Carnegie Recital Hall at the age of 21. His book of photographs entitled NEW YORK UNDERGROUND was unveiled at Berlin's Wallywoods Gallery in 2007. MAD MAN is his first full-length play.


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