Ethyl

Ethyl Eichelberger (1945-1990)

Who is Ethyl Eichelberger?
A legendary downtown performer, Ethyl Eichelberger’s high octane performances earned him critical acclaim, a loyal audience following, and a mythic reputation. An accomplished musician and classically trained actor, Ethyl wrote, produced, and performed over thirty solo and group performance works that explored the struggles of strong women who survive in history, literature and myth from Klytemnestra to Lucrezia Borgia. Understanding that it is all drag, he also wrote a series of male roles for himself including Leer and Rip Van Winkle. His hilarious plays with rollicking musical numbers featured a rotating cast of downtown luminaries and were staged in venues all over the East Village and toured worldwide. Ethyl acted for The Ridiculous Theatre Company, Trinity Repertory Company, and other regional theater companies, and enjoyed a commercial career on Broadway, in television, and in film. Ethyl was an acrobat, ate fire, rode a unicycle, played the accordion (among other instruments), designed sets, and made wigs and films.

What is The Ethyl Eichelberger Award?
The Ethyl Eichelberger Award is a commissioning award created by Performance Space 122 in 2005 and made possible with the generous support of the Gesso Foundation. The Ethyl Eichelberger Award is given to an artist or group that exemplifies Ethyl’s larger-than-life style and generosity of spirit; who embodies Ethyl’s multi-talented artistic virtuosity, bridging worlds and vitalizing those around them. Recipients include Taylor Mac (2005), Julie Atlas Muz (2006), Justin Bond (2007), Jennifer Miller (2008), Vaginal Davis (2009), John Kelly (2010), and Peggy Shaw (2011).

Why is The Ethyl Eichelberger Award at PS122?
Ethyl premiered and performed much of his work here at PS 122. His spirit and artistic adventurousness are intrinsic components of what came to be viewed as the PS 122 aesthetic. Some claim the space is gently haunted by his spirit. In addition to the award, the dressing room downstairs is named in his honor.

“I do want to leave a legacy. Of whatever, for anyone who’d be interested… One would hate to think that one has passed through this world and left nothing. It’s not even so much leaving something, it’s having done something to better the world. I hope I’ve opened a lot of doors.”
– Ethyl Eichelberger

“Everyone should have the chance to show off.”
– Ethyl Eichelberger

Videos Courtesy of Character Generators and Nelson Sullivan.

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The Complete Plays of Ethyl Eichelberger

Phedre (1972), Nefert-iti (1976), Auntie Belle Emme (1979), Medea (1980), Carlotta, Empress of Mexico (1980),
Minnie the Maid (1981 Villager Award), Shi Liu (1981), Jocasta or Boy Crazy (1982), Catherine was Great (1982), A Virgin and A Queen (1982), Lucrezia Borgia (1982 Obie Award), Marie Antoinette (1983), Lola Montez (1982), Toulouse Women or Moulin Rage (1984), Ruth Ruth (1984), Souled Out or Dr. Mary Faustus (1984), Klytemnestra or The Nightingale of Argos (1985), Mrs. Wiggs in the Cabbage Patch (1985), Hamlette (1985), Medusa (1985), Leer (1985), Fowl Ball (1985), Casanova (1985), Rip Van Winkle (1986), Saint Joan (1987), The Tempest of Chim-Lee (1987), The Lincolns (1988), Ariadne Obnoxious (1988), Herd of Buffalo (1989), Dilbert Dingle Dong, The Doomed or A Nest Full of Ninnies (1989), Das Vedanya Mama (1990).

Click to play “We Are Women Who Survive” MP3 by Ethyl Eichelberger

Ethyl often performed this song as an encore. It was his theme song.

We Are Women Who Survive

Song and lyrics by Ethyl Eichelberger

We are women who survive; our world is hard.
We are women who survive; our world is mean.
We are women who survive; scratch us, we bleed.
We are women who survive, but we will live to fight another day.

The men around us stumble forward.
When they fall we prop them up.
We are there when we are needed to fortify.
And why is that, honey? Why is it?

Cause we are…

We are women who survive; our world is hard.
We are women who survive; our world is mean.
We are women who survive; scratch us, we bleed.
We are women who survive, but we will live to fight another day.

When we enter a dark chamber, we open the window and we say,
“We are looking for light; we are looking for love.”
In the midst of the darkest shadows,
We will strive to find a better way.

We are women who survive; our world is hard.
We are women who survive; our world is mean.
We are women who survive; scratch us, we bleed.
We are women who survive, but we will live to fight,
fight, fight, fight, fight, fight, fight, fight, fight, fight,
fight, fight, fight, fight, fight, fight, fight, fight, fight,
fight, fight, fight, fight, fight, fight, fight, fight, fight,
another day.

  • #TBT: "ICH, KÜRBISGEIST" by @bigdancetheater from Fall 2012 at The Chocolate Factory. See them up… https://t.co/3o9GzXd33d

  • Meg Ryan working in the office today. #ROKE #remnants @ Performance Space 122 https://t.co/O57fNDdOx9

  • ROKE alter. #RAMP @royalosiris @gibneydance @ Gibney Dance https://t.co/qKbvkBIDUD

  • Tomorrow + Sunday: @RoyalOsiris work in progress showings at @GibneyDance at 6pm! #Starbucks http://t.co/fXcQpY82dX

  • RT @papermagazine: ❤️🌈History has been made - what a beautiful way to kick off #Pride2015! 🌈❤️ #LoveWins #SCOTUSmarriage

  • RT @POTUS: Today is a big step in our march toward equality. Gay and lesbian couples now have the right to marry, just like anyone else. #L…

  • RG: @holysebastian TBT to #COIL15 with thousands collectively yawning in #timessquare @tsqarts @… https://t.co/uMeMTgstDC

  • #TBT: "too shy to share" by Davis Freeman in #COIL 2012. #archive of performances made specifically… https://t.co/GC9V5CVZnv

  • ROKE in RAMP - http://t.co/jQQbCQC91E

  • #TBT: @radioh0le's "Whatever Heaven Allows" (2010) in the upstairs theater @ps122. #theater #archive… https://t.co/XlCSGVLhf6

  • Monday #distraction: become mesmerized with thousands of #broadsheets: http://t.co/gZOGbkr63w @AstralStudioNYC #art #nyc

  • .@TheKilroys13 second "The List" calls attention to women & transgender playwrights. See, support, share: http://t.co/7P05J26JHY

  • RT @Culturalist: Celebrate Pride with @broadwaycom by sharing your #top10 LGBTQ characters from Broadway: http://t.co/hOAnOKB2db http://t.c…

  • #TBT: "Sinner" (2006) by UK-based Stan Won't Dance. Featuring Liam Steele and Ben Wright. 📷: Donna… https://t.co/mk9HwN5ZpL

  • While @royalosiris of ROKE posts photos with his #selfiestick, we'll post this sweet pano of their… https://t.co/MxZe7jJbtm

  • .@RoyalOsiris start their #RAMP residency today @GibneyDance! Here's something special: http://t.co/gX77BrvbBC

  • If you're coming to Jillian Peña's #RAMP showings tonight, do note they take place at the downtown @GibneyDance location! #beentheredonethat

  • RAMP 2015 begins Sunday with Jillian Peña - see our interview about her Panopticon here: http://t.co/i2TvYrDEUs

  • #TBT: building tour with filming. 150 1st Ave coming to you soon. @ Performance Space 122 https://t.co/2te1Wg2NkL

  • See highlights of our 2015 Gala Honoring Claire Danes & @JimmyVanBramer hosted by the one and only @Alancumming #wcw http://t.co/VSjZNoFsju

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