Memorial Concert for Composer Elizabeth Swados—La MaMa ETC—New York—Sun, Feb 14, 2016


(bells tinkling) WOMAN: Welcome to La MaMa,
(static drowns out speech) here together. If you one, cellphones
off, and no photos, please. Thank you so much. It’s good to see you, thank you. (bells ringing) (singing in foreign language) ♪ In this, my green world ♪ ♪ Flowers, birds, our hands ♪ ♪ They hold me, I am love all day ♪ ♪ Song to ♪
♪ I am loved ♪ ♪ Loved in wind across the pond ♪ ♪ Song to ♪
♪ I am loved ♪ ♪ If I have not love ♪ ♪ I have nothing ♪ (singing in foreign language) (mid-tempo piano music) ♪ Ah, ah, ah, ah, ah , ah, ah, ah ♪ ♪ Ah, ah, ah, ah, ah ♪ ♪ Meh, eh, eh, eh, en ♪ ♪ Ah, amen ♪ ♪ Ah, ah, ah, ah, ah, ah, ah, ah ♪ ♪ Ah, ah, ah, ah, ah ♪ ♪ Meh, eh, eh, eh, en ♪ ♪ Ah, amen ♪ ♪ Ah, ah, ah, ah, ah, ah, ah, ah ♪ ♪ Ah, ah, ah, ah, ah ♪ ♪ Meh, eh, eh, eh, en ♪ ♪ Ah, amen ♪ ♪ Ah, ah, ah, ah, ah, ah, ah, ah ♪ ♪ Ah, ah, ah, ah, ah ♪ ♪ Meh, eh, eh, eh, en ♪ ♪ Ah, amen ♪ ♪ Amen, amen ♪ ♪ Amen, amen ♪ ♪ Amen, amen ♪ ♪ Amen, amen ♪ ♪ Amen, amen, amen, amen,
amen, amen, amen, amen ♪ ♪ Amen, amen, amen, amen,
amen, amen, amen, amen ♪ ♪ Amen, amen, amen, amen,
amen, amen, amen, amen ♪ ♪ Amen, amen, amen, amen,
amen, amen, amen, amen ♪ ♪ Amen, amen, amen, amen,
amen, amen, amen, amen ♪ ♪ Amen, amen, amen, amen,
amen, amen, amen, amen ♪ ♪ Amen, amen, amen, amen,
amen, amen, amen, amen ♪ ♪ Amen, amen, amen, amen,
amen, amen, amen, amen ♪ ♪ Arise my beloved, my fair one ♪ ♪ And come ♪ ♪ And come away ♪ ♪ For low the winter is past ♪ ♪ The rain is over and gone ♪ ♪ Ah ♪ (audience applauding) Liz is in the house. (audience laughing) Thank you. Here we all are together to remember and to celebrate our extraordinary friend, Liz Swados. And I welcome all of you here and around the city and apparently around the globe. It’s wonderful to be here at La MaMa where Liz did so much of
her groundbreaking work. And it’s also really fitting
that Roz in her love and wisdom chose Valentine’s Day.
(audience laughing) First of all, Liz had
a dog named Valentine. But Liz, as well all
know, was so full of love for Roz, for her family, for her friends, her musicians, singers, her students, her community, and for what she did as only she could. Her work was fierce and
passionate and fearless. I especially experienced this the one time I got to work with Liz on the animated film of “My Depression.” Which must be the most generous,
honest, charming document ever written about this subject. So vulnerable, so funny in presenting herself at
her lowest and most tender, she invites all of us
to take off our armor. My husband, Jim Simpson, who ran the flea where we were graced by several productions of Liz, which I wish were all still
running, they were so amazing. But he unfortunately
couldn’t be here today, but wanted me to say this. If you looked at Liz you’d
know she was special. She carried herself with
a brave, devil-may-care, counter culture kind of vibe. She was always ready for action. Her size was deceptive,
because this woman was a giant. (audience laughing) She had prodigious musical gifts, a sharp visual sense, a
sophisticated rhythmic sense. Her work always rocked, swung, or wailed. And she had huge appetite
for new artistic challenges. Liz never played it safe. In preparing a score, you’d
hear an early workshop and fall in love with the melodies. Come back weeks later,
they’ve all been replaced (audience laughing)
by new ones. This giant was always on
the edge of her big talents and she liked it that way. Liz was also on the side of the young. The establishment could have itself, Liz aligned herself with young people, their stories, their struggles, resonated powerfully for Liz. She was a one-of-a-kind guru. Loving, tough, demanding, professional, ecstatically talented. You wanted her to notice
you, to praise you, for having half, half the courage that she had. The surprise was that Liz
was already ahead of you. She probably loved you most when you struggled with
her challengin score and when you really hit
she’d figured out long ago that you were capable of it, otherwise you wouldn’t be there. (audience laughing) I’ve never met anyone like Liz. I’ll miss her, I’m deeply grateful that we got to share some time
together with her, thank you. (audience applauding) (sniffling) Liz and Roz are part of my family, and I was lucky to be a part of theirs. I am Becky, I know all of you. (audience laughing) Thank you for being here, and thank you for supporting
Roz and each other. Liz was known more for
her music than her lyrics. She helped others find
songs in their hearts, or matched her perfect score to their… She matched her perfect score to brilliant words of others. If you’re here you know
know what a fantastic friend and listener Liz was. Yet, she was very selective with how she would share her own words. And Liz had a lot to say. I’m going to share now one of her poems that reflects some of her humor and perspective on the every day. But I encourage you to
seek out her poetry, and you will learn more about Liz than you thought you knew. Luddite. I don’t carry a cell phone. If it rings from the
bottom of my Guatemalan bag I’d reach in up ‘tween my wallet, my cards would fall out and I would be in danger of
losing my American Express. (audience laughing) Or worse, my NYU identification card. (audience laughing) They’d keep me out of Tisch. Or my keys would get
tangled around my fingers. I keep them on a long thick ribbon so I don’t lose them. With my fingers entangled
around the ribbon on which my keys are tied, I would be in danger of inadvertently yanking out the books I carry. Isabelle Everhart biographies and essays. Ridiculous, now I have
to squat on the sidewalk. I’d look like a Tibetan
monk taking a shit. (audience laughing) What if there’s a wind? The papers in my purse would fly. I would lose the order
of the political review I’m creating with my students, if I’m allowed into Tisch without my ID. (audience laughing) How can I direct a show
if I don’t know the order? The ink could become blurred, and the research I’ve done on the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire could rip into soggy shreds. And of course the Groucho Marx
finale to this missing scene is that when I finally find the phone, it stops ringing. (audience laughing) Of course if I possessed an iPhone I could see who called me and immediately return
their call, however, I wouldn’t be able to see the number without my glass, which
by now as you’ve imagined, are buried somewhere in my Guatemalan bag, and once I begin to search for them I am subject to repeat
the whole cycle of events I’ve laid out for you. Truthfully, I don’t like
talking on the phone. Anyway, I hate the damp mist
of breath on the receiver and the voice on the other end to whom I can’t give subtle body signals to change the subject. (audience laughing) To shut the fuck up. (audience laughing) Or tongue kiss me. My friends want me to get a cell phone in case of emergencies. There’s always been emergencies, and they’ve waited until I got home. I could be lost or late. Well, there are some payphones left, or my favorite activity, borrowing the cell phone
of a Pakistani cab driver. Life is good. It’s raining and dawn and just a great reason to stay inside. I have an answering machine. I will put it on and screen my calls. All that energy covering an exchange with a friend or a bank. Please my daughter, don’t
insist on buying me an iPhone. I’m a big, busted, nail
biting, lazy, Luddite. (audience laughing) (audience applauding) ♪ Behold ♪ ♪ You are beautiful my love ♪ ♪ Behold ♪ ♪ You are beautiful ♪ ♪ Your eyes are doves ♪ ♪ Behold ♪ ♪ You are beautiful ♪ ♪ My beloved ♪ ♪ Truly lovely ♪ ♪ Truly lovely ♪ ♪ Truly lovely ♪ ♪ Behold ♪ ♪ You are beautiful, my love ♪ ♪ Behold ♪ ♪ You are beautiful ♪ ♪ You’re eyes are doves ♪ ♪ Behold ♪ ♪ You are beautiful ♪ ♪ My beloved ♪ ♪ Truly lovely ♪ ♪ Truly lovely ♪ ♪ Truly ♪ ♪ Lovely ♪ (audience applauding) Well, um, life isn’t fair. And we miss Liz. She’s left so much, but there was so much left to be said. I didn’t know Liz very well. I actually got pitched “My Depression” by my psychiatrist. (audience laughing) I don’t know if that’s an admission, but since you’re all in the dark, you don’t know me, I
don’t know you anyway. (audience laughing) My psychiatrist gave me a
book called “My Depression.” At first I thought that this book was just because we
matched, the book and me. But I saw Liz’s name on it and I said, you know, I thought maybe
she had a part time job at William Morris, I didn’t know. Why Marlene, this book? And she said, “Because I think “you could do something with this.” Anyway, so I took the
book home and I read it. And I shared it with my friend Sarah, I don’t know, Bernstein, I
don’t know if she’s here. Somewhere in the dark. And we thought, what a great documentary. How great this would be animated, how important this would be. But we would have to meet
Liz Swados, and um so, I got back to work and I looked up Liz and Liz was a partner of the great toff lawyer, Roz Lichter. And I thought Roz and Liz, Liz and Roz? But I grew to realize that that was the most beautiful love, and that Roz was the most perfect wife and the dream that we would all have when things go askew. That this wonderful human
being would be by our side. So thank you Roz, for loving Liz so. And for staying so long, and making her always in
those last moments feel that she was loved. That was so important. So now, lightness, okay
so no, I adopted a dog. In the middle of working
on “My Depression” I adopted a dog, my dog had died, I couldn’t stand it, I adopted a dog. He came from Atlanta,
he didn’t have a name. He didn’t have a ethnicity. (audience laughing) But, Liz felt he was Jewish. (audience laughing) And she gave him this dreidl. (audience laughing) And when I pulled it out
of his mouth to come here he didn’t want to give it to me. But this dreidl puts him to bed at night. ♪ Dreidl, dreidl, dreidl ♪ (audience laughing) And it wakes me up sometimes in the middle of the night. ♪ Dreidl, dreidl, dreidl ♪ (audience laughing) I love you Liz, Bogie loves you so much. And we miss you so. Too soon, so much, thank you all, bye bye. (audience applauding) Liz Swados, I’m originally
from Buffalo, New York. What we’re trying to get to is the same kind of state, the same kind of fire, honesty that you hear
in music in any country where the music is a, absolutely, um, complete part of the whole way of life, of the whole way of ritual. (choir chanting in foreign language) (audience applauding) (choir chanting in foreign language) (audience applauding) (dramatic music) (singing in foreign language) (audience applauding) Dear Liz, I could tell so much about you, but I must cut a long story short. I’ll do my best. Remember how we met? Summer of 1972, La MaMa lobby. Ellen, with her magic vibes, or as you called them, beats, made it happen. This is Liz, the red hair girl. Fresh from Bennington College. Dying to work with Andre, the hope of Romania. (audience laughing) Both eager to revolutionize the stage. So you composed magical chants for (mumbles) in ancient Greek and Latin. Then summer of 1974, in a remote village of Bahia, Brazil, together with Priscilla, returning from a voodoo ceremony, looking for inspiration
for the “Trojan Women”, you got the news of your mother’s suicide. But personal tragedy did not stop you. On the contrary, it gave
you strength to create a major opera about the suffering of women and dedicate “A Trojan Exodus” to her. My own mother died during
(mumbles) rehearsals and our destinies got so mingled. Our chemistry was such that
Ellen even mixed our names once. Elizabeth Zerbon and Andre Swados. (audience laughing) Of course you know she loved us both, although you were the golden girl always. I was often the bad boy. While doing many other
productions together, the trilogy became the landmark and the long lasting
achievement in La MaMa history. Being performed all over the world. The last time, in 2014, at the (mumbles) Opera House in Romania, with you being present. And I will not forget
the thrill on your face hearing for the first time
your music divinely sung by these enthusiastic
professional opera singers who adored you. The memorial we recently
held there to honor you was felt deeply. Another sign that your
music reached far and deep in the universal soul, free of borders. You’ve been a renaissance artist, spreading your creativity
in such vibrant directions. You always reminded me of Edith Piaf. Like her, you are the central
character of your songs. The eternal runaway that
never quite found a home, except at La MaMa, and of course with Roz. And like most true artists, you had no more an answer
to saving the world than anybody else. Still, in spite of all odds you kept the candle burning. Remorse, suffering, effort, hope. This was your process of
search, your transcendence. And always with humor, with laughter, the refreshing antidotes to pain. Liz, shall I tell you the truth? Ellen was unique, you were exceptional, or the other way around. I am sure you two have a happy reunion. Dear friends, wherever they are, they watch over us. Our response is delivered
in one word, gratitude. Suggestion, the La MaMa theater should now be named Liz Swados. (audience applauding) (gentle guitar music) ♪ Hey Isadora can you, can you ♪ ♪ Take me back to Paris ♪ ♪ Where we danced all night ♪ ♪ By the Seine ♪ ♪ And I was tight as I could be ♪ ♪ But you took care of me ♪ ♪ My lady of the slip wind ♪ ♪ My lady ♪ ♪ My lady of the falcons ♪ ♪ My lady ♪ ♪ Hey Isadora would you, would you ♪ ♪ Lead me out of Russia ♪ ♪ Because no one knows
how to have a good time ♪ ♪ The bars are all closed down ♪ ♪ And love is a crime ♪ ♪ And no one cares about ♪ ♪ Yusenin not one bit ♪ ♪ Please dance above the ocean ♪ ♪ Please take care of it ♪ ♪ My lady of the coral ♪ ♪ And the silk sea ♪ ♪ My lady, my lady of the white birds ♪ ♪ My lady ♪ ♪ Oh ♪ ♪ Isadora ♪ ♪ You know I’ll always love you ♪ ♪ Not governments ♪ ♪ Nor gods are above you ♪ ♪ Such is my love ♪ ♪ For you ♪ ♪ My lady full of sulks ♪ ♪ And of sighs ♪ ♪ My lady full of laughs ♪ ♪ And goodbyes ♪ ♪ My lady of poems ♪ ♪ And neckerchiefs ♪ ♪ My lady of freedom ♪ ♪ My beautiful ♪ ♪ Lady ♪ (audience applauding) (somber piano music) ♪ For a change shall come ♪ ♪ We will be the makers of ♪ ♪ A new age ♪ ♪ For a change shall come ♪ ♪ For a light shall shine ♪ ♪ We will be the carriers ♪ ♪ Of a new fire ♪ ♪ For a light shall shine ♪ ♪ For a dream shall be ♪ ♪ Made true ♪ ♪ All this pain ♪ ♪ Shall not be in vain ♪ ♪ All these tears ♪ ♪ Shall not fall for naught ♪ ♪ We shall bear the wrath ♪ ♪ This time has wrought ♪ ♪ We shall be ♪ ♪ Ever faithful ♪ ♪ Loving to our ♪ ♪ Mother tongue ♪ ♪ We shall shout ♪ ♪ Beneath the noon day sun ♪ ♪ For a song shall raise ♪ ♪ We shall be the
bringers of the new age ♪ ♪ For the clouds will break ♪ ♪ For a strength shall call ♪ ♪ As the angel falls we will not ♪ ♪ Bear it ♪ ♪ For a strength shall call ♪ ♪ For a dream shall be ♪ ♪ Made true ♪ ♪ All this pain ♪ ♪ Shall not be in vain ♪ ♪ All these tears ♪ ♪ Shall not fall for naught ♪ ♪ We shall bear the wrath ♪ ♪ This time has wrought ♪ ♪ We shall be ♪ ♪ Ever faithful ♪ ♪ Loving to our ♪ ♪ Mother tongue ♪ ♪ We shall shout ♪ ♪ Beneath the noon day sun ♪ (audience applauding) Cousin, sorry. Cousin Lizzie was the youngest of the 10 of us on her mom’s side. We all lived in Buffalo and grew up together. I, of course, had the
privilege of giving her her first nickname. I looked at her and I said, this was when she was a little older and she was a biter, I said, “Hello, Elizabite.” (audience laughing) She did not like that. I would go into her house
and I would say, “Hi, Bite.” The bite would attack me. There was only one way to get her off, and that was of course to tickle her. And we were soon separated
and went on our ways. Now, we always celebrated
the major holidays together, including among them Passover. And of course, as soon
as she was big enough it was great to have her take over saying the four questions. But, there were three older cousins. Myself, her brother Lincoln, and Brian. And Liz became our secret weapon. We would find the afikoman,
bring it to uncle Rocky, uncle Rocky would offer us a dime. We would pull out our secret weapon. She was short, she was cute, she had the most wonderful smile. And we would say, “Lizzie,
ask him for something bigger.” (audience laughing) So she would ask him for something bigger. And of course he would offer her a nickel. (audience laughing) So we said, “Lizzie, a
little bigger than that.” (laughing) And she would go up and
she eventually got up to a quarter. Really a great negotiator,
she was terrific. In our family, if you couldn’t drive you had to ride a bike. And cousin Bruce had this 18 inch y bike driven by a belt, no brakes. He learned to ride on it, then cousin Brian learned to ride on it, then it was my turn to
learn to ride on it. No brakes, had it painted
a nice green and yellow. Liz came over one day, it
was sitting in the garage, she knew we all rode bikes, and I said, “Sure,
Lizzie, you can ride it.” I don’t think her parents ever forgave me for those bruises. But she did learn to ride that bike, and we all rode bikes
to each other’s houses. That’s how we saw each other, often, those days growing up. Gonna skip ahead a little bit. There’s a lot I could probably
say about our childhood. But we did keep in touch with each other and it was very nice one summer when I came back from college and she had graduated from eight grade and she asked me to host her graduation party. It was terrific, she was a great dancer and a terrific hostess. And I said, “Lizzie, you’re
the best dancer there.” She said, “Kenny, you
can’t give me the award, “you gotta give it to my guests.” So I took her cue from that and did what she asked me to. She was learning to play the guitar and I wanted to give her my guitar but one of my other
cousins beat her to it. Much later, when we were
both young professionals, I met her in New York City and she listened to me give an argument before the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals and we discussed the case afterwards. I know R.J.’s listening to me, R.J., I think that was
the appeal of the case where I took in to hear
my closing arguments. Boy if you ever want to get criticized bring teenagers in to listen to you. (audience laughing) And then she took me to, uh, her TV studio, and where a television production of the “Trojan Women” was being performed. And showed me what it was
all about and everything, and this poor actress was having such a hard time with the introduction and in a break I just
commiserated with her a little bit about the difficulty of the script. Later on, we were leaving the studio and Lizzie started to laugh. And she looked at me and she said, “Do you know what you did?” And I said, “No.” And she said, “You know, the
person you commiserated with?” I said, “Yeah, it was
really a toughly written “script to read.” She said, “She wrote that.” (audience laughing). That was the same visit where
she finally put an end to my teasing her about her true birth date. But I won’t get into that. (audience laughing) Hey, I’m sure you all
have had older cousins who’ve done worse to you. On Facebook, one of her colleagues at the Buffalo Seminary posted a poem that was in her yearbook. The students were allowed
to select the poetry. And it reads, I’ve been awarded with many medals. I got a springtime for being
a little girl many years ago. I’ve been chosen for the
honor of being the interpreter of the gold of the morning sun. Ask the wind, for he has seen me grow since the days he carried
me around on his shoulders. Ask the willow tree in my uncle’s backyard, for he has seen me in the
prime of my life before. And the poem is signed J. Daisy. Lizzie, I think you wrote that poem. I know that willow tree. I looked at it almost every day for most of my life in Buffalo. J. Daisy, I think that’s a combination of J. Gatsby and Daisy Buchanan. (audience laughing) And I miss you very much. (audience applauding) Hello. Thank you Chris, Preston, Roz, George, and everyone involved
with organizing this event for letting me say a couple words. My name is John, and I first met Liz through her work when I was 15 in my high school and we did Runaways. And I had just been doing theater for about six months at that point and I remember falling
in love instantaneously. I’m from Washington Heights, and growing up we didn’t really, I’d never considered being an actor or performance was an actual thing, or a possible profession. I struggled to figure
out if I even had a place in the theater, and after doing Runaways I thought I did because
I was playing a character that was very much like me and coming from the place
where I was coming from. And so that sort of blew my mind and I started being involved in theater and was lucky enough to,
about a year and a half later, meet Liz and audition for her for a production that she was
doing in Washington Heights called “Sosua: Dare to Dance Together”. Which was bringing together Dominican kids and Jewish kids to tell this story about Jews escaping Germany
and Dominican Republic, uh, Dominican Republic was
going through a dictatorship and all this trauma, but
that through all this trauma people could come together and find this unity and this love. In the story we did, and also
in the production we did, from there I learned so much about Liz and so much about theater, and so much about myself
just through her ability to see through me and see what I was capable of. And see what all the kids were capable of in that production. We were all coming from all
these different schools, private schools and public schools, and some kids who weren’t
even going to school anymore. And somehow she instilled in us that we were greater than even
what we though was possible. Even when we didn’t know
it or couldn’t show it. At rehearsals she would pick
on us to create something even if we’d never
created anything at all. That’s really where our
relationship started, and then I ended up going to NYU where I continued to work with her and a lot of people in this room, and a lot of people behind me. I can’t help but think
of love and community when I think of Liz because I mean, look at where we are. From many, many years ago she was here, on this very stage doing stuff. And look at where we are now. Everybody coming from all
these different communities to come together. And nothing was greater
than the NYU community that facilitated all of these experiences. And the theater director who introduced me to theater from the beginning was also Liz’s assistant
when he was at NYU. And that I was up her singing
with the great Jones Company which she helped found. I feel very honored to be
a part of that community and this community and the NYU community. And I was asked to read a letter from Mary Schmidt Campbell,
who was the Dean of NYU when I was there. So I’ll read that now. Dear colleagues, I am so sorry for your loss. Liz had a talent for spotting what was golden in her students. The NYU Reality Show was
a perfect example of that. Every year she would
audition and watch intently for that something, that
distinctive glimmer, a glow that beckoned and spoke to her. She saw her work as
burnishing and making visible that golden talent that nestled inside of her gifted actors. She once told me that when she auditioned a large number of talented young people she was looking for a connection
between herself and them. A connection that allowed her to build a creative partnership. On the stage the fruits
of that partnership were abundantly evident. Not only between Liz and her actors, but among the actors themselves and with the audience. Trust was at the heart of
all her collaborations. Her actors trusted her with the truth. They trusted her with
their bold experimentation. They trusted the private process of developing “The Reality Show.” And they trusted the public
staging of the end product. Which is why we in the audience experienced the show as
honest, authentic, and alive. Liz would like to write me every few weeks to keep me apprised
astonishingly full slate of creative projects. Music, theater, dance, spoken word. I don’t know how she manged it all. We’d make a date for breakfast
or lunch about once a month. On one of those occasions,
breakfast at Noho Star, Liz’s kindness was in full display. We were chatting away when I reached up and touched my ear,
realizing that to my horror, I had walked out that morning
with mismatched earrings. (audience laughing) What was for me a fashion disaster, for Liz was probably a style statement. Nonetheless, good sport that she was, she helped me find a
substitute pair of earrings that morning from one of the
Broadway street merchants. Having retired from NYU and
having moved from New York, I already missed her. Roz, you have my condolences and sympathy. Liz was one of a kind. Someone who could lure
the best from all of us. And a necessary presence in
the lives that she touched. Now the world will miss her as well. With sorrow, Mary Schmidt Campbell. Thank you for everything and um, I just want to close with um, as I think about Liz so much these days as we all do, something that my theater
director always told us was um, that when you create sound in the room physics just allows that the waves keep rappelling off the walls. And I constantly think about
how many rooms I walk into that Liz was in, and that for somebody who
created such loud sounds it’s also in her silence that
we find so much strength. And so I urge you to just
sit in silence sometime and see if you can hear her sounds in whichever room you find
yourself in, thank you. (audience applauding) (gentle piano music) ♪ She created a beautiful nest ♪ ♪ Beautifully decorated ♪ ♪ Oh with straw, worms, and trinkets ♪ ♪ And certain lucky people got to live ♪ ♪ Around in it ♪ (singing in foreign language) ♪ She created a beautiful nest ♪ ♪ Beautifully decorated ♪ ♪ With straw, worms, and trinkets ♪ ♪ And certain lucky people got to live ♪ ♪ Around in it ♪ (audience applauding) You may wonder how a Buffalo
Jewish composer/writer got connected to an Irish
Catholic Bostonian nun/educator. (audience laughing) We were both changed and
could not, got stuck, with a date in history. December 2, 1980 was the death of four American church women in El Salvador. Maura Clarke, Ita Ford, Dorothy
Kazel, and Jean Donovan. They were raped and murdered for their crime of being with the poor. Neither one of us could let it go. I began the Maura Clarke-Ita
Ford Women’s Education Center in Bushwick and while I was there someone invited me and
Mary Dowd, the co-director, to go to BAM to see this musical. It was called “Missionaries,” the story of the four
women and Oscar Romero. So for the fifth anniversary of the center I call Liz and say, “Liz, “would you like to put
something on for us? “Maybe I could come over and talk to you.” So she said, “Sure.” And you know how Les Mis
became choral presentation? That’s what Liz did with “Missionaries”. And when put it on then,
and then we put it on a few more times in the city. And it got excellent reviews. She started calling me
one of her producers. (audience laughing) A few years later I went
back to Liz and said, “Liz, could you write
something about the center “for the 10th anniversary?” So she came over and met
with the women at the center and myself and put together a piece called “10 Years of Hope.” There are two songs
there that are important. One, she wrote a song about the
two Marys, me and Mary Dowd, which is fun to have a
song written about oneself. (audience laughing) The second was she sat down, we talked about this room that was very important at the center. Everything, many things happened there. In the midst of the
conversation I said to her, “We had a perfect view
of the city on 9/11.” So she took that and in
the middle of the song she put down, “They saw
the towers from this room.” And that said so much to me about who she was and what we experienced. In 2002, I got a chance
to go to El Salvador. And the first place I went was to where they found
the bodies of the women. And I was standing there,
and it’s a memorial now, and there are bushes all around. And on these bushes were flowers. And I can’t sing, so in
my head I started singing one of the songs from “Missionaries”. And flowers will grow,
and flowers will grow. And that, I believe,
is our legacy from Liz. To make sure flowers grow and they bloom. And we notice all the beauty in this world in the midst oof that
which is not beautiful. So now I’d like to introduce
Missionaries, thank you. (audience applauding) (tender piano music) ♪ There are days, sir ♪ ♪ In which San Salvador arouses ♪ ♪ From its saintly patience and we ♪ ♪ See youthful workers ♪ ♪ Take to the streets ♪ ♪ To chant their anger ♪ ♪ To leave their protests ♪ ♪ Painted in blood on the pavement ♪ ♪ To shout their songs ♪ ♪ Their poems ♪ ♪ Their dreams ♪ ♪ It is then, sir ♪ ♪ That the enemies of ruthless children ♪ ♪ Walk silently shadowed
by the moonlight ♪ ♪ And rap on the doors of angels ♪ ♪ And take them away bound ♪ ♪ To dig a grave ♪ ♪ Where flowers will grow ♪ ♪ Where flowers grow ♪ ♪ Their poems, poems ♪ ♪ Their dreams ♪ ♪ It is then, sir, then, sir ♪ ♪ That the enemies of ruthless children ♪ ♪ Walked silently shadowed
by the moonlight ♪ ♪ And rap on the doors of angels ♪ ♪ And take them away bound ♪ ♪ To dig a grave ♪ ♪ Where flowers will grow ♪ ♪ Where flowers will grow ♪ ♪ Where flowers grow ♪ ♪ Ah ♪ (audience applauding) (somber piano music) ♪ Let me show you ♪ ♪ The most beautiful spot ♪ ♪ Here ♪ ♪ The Izalco volcano ♪ ♪ Is a highlight ♪ ♪ With the very narrow windy road ♪ ♪ And it so beautiful ♪ ♪ When you get to the top ♪ ♪ The flowers, I can’t get enough ♪ ♪ Of their beauty ♪ ♪ I would like to try to get up close ♪ ♪ To catch their magic ♪ ♪ Salvador is such a ♪ ♪ Beautiful country ♪ ♪ Let me show you ♪ ♪ The most beautiful ♪ ♪ Spot here ♪ ♪ The Izalco volcano is a highlight ♪ ♪ With a very narrow windy road ♪ ♪ And it is so beautiful ♪ ♪ When you get to the top ♪ ♪ The flowers, I can’t get enough ♪ ♪ Of their beauty ♪ ♪ I would like to try to get up close ♪ ♪ To catch their magic ♪ ♪ Salvador is such a ♪ ♪ Beautiful country ♪ ♪ Salvador is such a ♪ ♪ Beautiful country ♪ ♪ Salvador is such a ♪ ♪ Beautiful country ♪ (audience applauding) Good afternoon, I’m Judith Ginsberg, Liz’s friend and literary executor. I’m not a writer, a singer,
or a dancer, or an actress, although I wish I were. I’d like to share with you
some of my recollections of Liz and her life. Liz struggled and triumphed
for 64 and 11/12th months. Dying exactly one month
before her 65th birthday. And why she couldn’t live to be a little old red-headed
lady, I don’t know. I was privileged to know her
for almost 25 of those years. I met her when she asked me to support her creation of a
musical performance piece that became “The Hating Pot”, an unforgettable work of theater. Its cast was a talented,
multi-racial and multi-religious group of New York City
high school students. In song and dance they explored hatred, prejudice, and acceptance. “The Hating Pot” toured
schools in New York, Chicago, and L.A. And became a terrific video
that was shown on PBS, with support from Steven Spielberg’s Righteous Persons Foundation, and the Reckson Foundation, among others. My very own high school
in Mamaroneck, New York shows it annually on its diversity day. And so, we became friends
and met very frequently over the years at the City Bakery in the Union Square Market. We shared our secrets. Liz was a tomb as they say, and so am I, so I can’t tell you very much. (audience laughing) We spontaneously gave each other numerous material gifts. Necklaces and bracelets,
yellow nail polish, and a rattle made of
animal nails from Peru. (audience laughing) That was me to Liz. A fabulous brown and
orange scarf, Liz to me. And a giant wooden giraffe that Liz surprised me
with in my office one day, and declared that I needed it. (audience laughing) I attended her shows,
and loved them of course. I wish “The Reality Show” had been around when I was a college freshman. I understood her interest
in outsiders and seekers, missionaries, the nomad, Casper Howser. I was deeply moved by
her dysfunctional family portrayed in “The Four of Us.” Her struggles with depression and her triumph over
it in “My Depression.” I was charmed by “The Myth
Man” and “The Contest”, with Roz’s wonderful
photograph on the cover. Liz and Roz would come to us
for Thanksgiving and Christmas, and became family. Liz’s triumphs include success in the two major aspects
of mature human experience, as Freud would have said,
(speaking in foreign language), in love and in work. In the love category, she had a supremely happy marriage to Roz Lichter. I was honored to attend
their brief, modest, but deeply moving wedding. And who would have though
when we were growing up that same-sex marriage
would ever become legal? The very best of the
many gifts Liz gave me over the years is that of her wife, Roz. But her love was not limited to Roz, and she had plenty to go around. She loved her students,
her many, many friends, and her beautiful dogs, rambunctious Leonardo and
her darling Clementine. And before them, Billy Bob,
Tootsie, and Valentine. Liz triumphed in work too, the (speaking in foreign language) part. She was constantly
creating, reading, thinking, rebelling against the
conventions of her time. She was not into pretty. She was into meaning,
and justice, and love. (audience applauding) (staccato piano music) ♪ The angel said to me ♪ ♪ Why are you ♪ ♪ Laughing ♪ ♪ Laughing ♪ ♪ At me ♪ ♪ Who was that thing ♪ ♪ I did not laugh ♪ ♪ It was a cough ♪ ♪ I was coughing ♪
(audience laughing) ♪ Only hiding a laugh ♪ ♪ I was not laughing ♪ ♪ It was the cold I caught ♪ ♪ Nine minutes after Abraham married me ♪ ♪ When I saw how I was
slender and beautiful ♪ ♪ More and more was
slender and beautiful ♪ ♪ I was also clearing my throat ♪ ♪ I was not laughing ♪ ♪ Something inside me ♪ ♪ Is continually telling me ♪ ♪ Something I do not wish to hear ♪ ♪ A joke, a big joke ♪ ♪ But the joke is just always gonna be ♪ ♪ And I’m not laughing ♪ ♪ You’re the one that sent me ♪ ♪ You’re the one showed
me that the sky is blue ♪ ♪ And the sea churns ♪ ♪ But they just wait, patiently ♪ (music drowns out singing) ♪ The joke’s on me ♪ ♪ The angel said to me ♪ ♪ Why are you laughing ♪ ♪ Laughing down at me ♪ ♪ Who was laughing ♪ ♪ I did not laugh ♪ ♪ It was a cough ♪ ♪ I was coughing ♪ ♪ Only hyenas laugh ♪ ♪ I was not ♪ ♪ Laughing ♪ (audience applauding) Good afternoon, I’m Gary Trudeau, and Liz was my collaborator and friend. After a lifetime of
coloring outside the lines if any child of God should be allowed to break the rules and
attend her own memorial, it should be Liz. (audience laughing) She would certainly make the most of it, darting about in red sneakers, reblocking everything,
(audience laughing) exhorting, cajoling, inspiring, annoying, adding bird calls.
(audience laughing) Knocking each of us out
of our comfort zones and versions of ourself
we didn’t know existed. Then she’d tweak the
lighting, the seating, and most likely the script. Rearranging the words
I’m delivering right now, which she would then set
to music, on the spot, and order me to sing, which I can’t, but Liz would insist I
could so I would somehow, and we’d all be amazed. (audience laughing) Liz was a change agent. No one she ever encountered was untouched. And let us recall just how
many lives that involved. From villagers in Africa to farm workers in the San Joaquin Valley, to a generation of students in New York, to runaway kids from everywhere. And her message to all
of them was mostly this, you are not alone. You are part of a community. The burdens of life can be shared. And if you are open and
generous to those around you, together you are stronger. And together you will find what you can do and combine it with what others can do, and what a beautiful,
joyful noise we shall make. Experience teaches us
their are no charmed lives, but I do think there are lives, a few, that are magical. There are a special few who can reach out and touch the many, creating wonder and delight
and mystery and mayhem all at the same time. For 40 years people emerged
from Liz’s theatricals and novels and poems as if exiting dreams. Shaking their heads and asking themselves how did she do that? Because she was so prolific it’s tempting to believe it was easy. That she lived in a state of flow. But that overlooks her
astonishing work ethic. Liz knew just how much
dissonance is encountered on the way to a resonant piece of art. Yet, no one embraced the
rigors of craft more ardently. And no one faced adversity and loss, of which she had more than her fair share, with more courage and grace. And she had a lot more to give. She worked right up to the end. Brilliance interrupted. How we’ll miss it, Lizzie, and you. (audience applauding) And the second nominee for
best musical, “Runaways”. This original moving and complex work is about children and parents. And the runaway in everyone. And I know really what
this means, believe me. (audience applauding) (somber music) ♪ Every now ♪ ♪ And then ♪ ♪ A person ♪ ♪ Has to ♪ ♪ Get away ♪ ♪ Even from those ♪ ♪ He loves ♪ ♪ How he goes ♪ ♪ Or who he hurts ♪ ♪ Can not matter ♪ ♪ At the time ♪ ♪ He’s leaving ♪ ♪ Oh, I’m sorry ♪ ♪ I think I was inconsiderate ♪ ♪ I made you worry ♪ ♪ Without even thinking about it ♪ ♪ The sun is rising in the smoky sky ♪ ♪ The place is any city you can name ♪ ♪ In a house a door opens ♪ ♪ And closes goodbye ♪ ♪ The atmosphere won’t be the same ♪ ♪ Because ♪
♪ Because ♪ ♪ Baby’s running from mama ♪ ♪ Baby is a runaway ♪ ♪ Tomorrow will be a different world ♪ ♪ Than the way it was today ♪ ♪ A woman gets a job in New York City ♪ ♪ Forgets she was a mother and a wife ♪ ♪ Finds herself a nice apartment ♪ ♪ And makes up for the last 35 years ♪ ♪ Of her life ♪ ♪ Because ♪ ♪ A mama’s got to run from daddy ♪ ♪ A mama’s got to run from child ♪ ♪ Tomorrow will be a different world ♪ ♪ Lonelier and wild ♪ ♪ Ah ha hee hee ♪ ♪ Ah ha hee hee ♪ ♪ Ah ha hee hee ♪ ♪ Ah ha hee hee ♪ ♪ Thousands of cars go
buzzing to and fro ♪ ♪ Airplanes and trains go shooting by ♪ ♪ Everybody goes from A to B ♪ ♪ And nobody does know why ♪ ♪ Because ♪
♪ Because ♪ ♪ The world is full of people running ♪ ♪ The world is made of runaways ♪ ♪ Tomorrow you’ll be a different child ♪ ♪ Than the one you are today ♪ ♪ Parents make up your minds
when you were children ♪ ♪ Parents make up your minds
when you were children ♪ ♪ Set me free and let me
play out in the playground ♪ ♪ Let me be, just a kid
out on the playground ♪ ♪ Let me be, let me play
out on the playground ♪ ♪ Let me be, just a kid
out on the playground ♪ ♪ Let me be young before I get ♪ ♪ Old, let me be a kid ♪ ♪ Just let me be young before I get ♪ ♪ Old, let me be a kid ♪ ♪ Let me be young before I get ♪ ♪ Old, let me be a kid ♪ ♪ Just let me be young before I get ♪ ♪ Old, let me be a kid ♪ (audience applauding) ANNOUNCER: Ladies and gentleman, the original Broadway cast of Runaways. (audience applauding) (mid-tempo jazz music) ♪ Sitting on the roof ♪ ♪ Watching the sun go down ♪ ♪ Hey people and buses and taxis ♪ ♪ You’ll know what I’m thinking ♪ ♪ And worrying about ♪ ♪ But in my own way ♪ ♪ I’ll soon find comfort ♪ ♪ In the lonesome of the road ♪ ♪ I’m on the street ♪ ♪ Lonely, crazy legs run free ♪ ♪ I look out, I’m scared, and I walk up ♪ (music drowns out singing) ♪ But in my own way ♪ ♪ I’ll find my future ♪ ♪ In the lonesome of the road ♪ ♪ Of the road ♪ ♪ Take away the words, the songs ♪ ♪ And all the things I had before ♪ ♪ Take away the cities, pain, ♪ ♪ And all the lies that I’ve endured ♪ ♪ Give me a way to survive ♪ ♪ And I’ll fight for my life ♪ ♪ After all I’m just starting out ♪ ♪ And I’ve still got awhile ♪ ♪ I’ve got my road map ♪ ♪ I’ve got advice from my good friends ♪ ♪ I’ve got my head clear ♪ ♪ But that’s not where
the struggle will end ♪ ♪ And in my own time ♪ ♪ I’ll find my answers ♪ ♪ In the lonesome of the road ♪ ♪ Lonesome of the road ♪ ♪ In the lonesome of the road ♪ ♪ Parents make up your mind
when you are children ♪ ♪ Parents make up your mind
when you are children ♪ ♪ Set me free and let me
play out in the playground ♪ ♪ Let me be, just a kid
out in the playground ♪ ♪ Set me free and let me
play out in the playground ♪ ♪ Let me be, just a kid
out in the playground ♪ ♪ Let me be young before I get ♪ ♪ Old, let me be a kid ♪ ♪ Just let me be young before I get ♪ ♪ Old, let me be a kid ♪ ♪ Just let me be young that’s what I am ♪ ♪ Don’t forget to be
young, that’s what I am ♪ ♪ Don’t forget to be
young, that’s what I am ♪ ♪ Don’t forget to be
young, that’s what I am ♪ ♪ Let me be a kid ♪ (audience applauding) Thank you. A good a time as any. Mic.
Mic? (audience laughing) Mary Eliza, can you check the mic for me? Is it okay, okay. This is as good a time as any to announce that Liz and I were in love with another woman. And she couldn’t be here
today, which is fine, but I would like to read something that she sent. I was not a theater friend
or co-worker of Liz Swados. I first met her through our mutual friend, Marilyn French, the novelist and scholar, and then occasionally I was lucky to have my entire idea of the possible overturned by having dinner with her. I always felt that I
was sitting at the table with a trusted girlfriend,
a whirlwind of ideas who took my imagination past all previous boundaries. A wood sprite who was some timeless and mysterious force of nature and a very practical organizer who was trying to get
her next project done. Since her ideas had no precedent and were somewhere between street theater, opera, a consciousness-raising group, and a homeless shelter, (audience laughing) not to mention books of words and images for children and grown ups, including one that made
depression undepressing. This was never easy. Yet, when her projects happened no one left the theater
or put the book down as the same person they were before. I always left her with
feeling that my sense of color and texture had been heightened as if no one else’s hair
with that shade of red and no one else’s tweeds and
sweaters had the same texture. And no one else’s vibrations were as tuned as the guitar she played. I used to worry that her
high level of energy, she was just on a faster timeline than the rest of us. And I feared she might burn out. I don’t know if that’s what happened. I do know that it is wrong that such energy and talent and kindness and creativity should have left the world, especially when she
was a decade and a half younger than I am, it’s not right. I can only suggest that
each of us who loved her try to take on an echo of what she saw and felt in her and keep it alive at our dinners and in our books, and in our theaters, and in our activism in the world. Then she will be with us
always, now, and forever more. Gloria Steinem.
(audience applauding) It was an unrequited love. (audience laughing) I don’t have many prepared remarks, ’cause I wasn’t sure what I
was gonna say today, obviously. And I thank everybody for mentioning me. I do have a team of
people that work with me at the hospital, it’s Barbara Dopkin, Susan Whitehead, and George
Drantz, and Judith Ginsberg, and Richard Sodowski, who were my team at the hospital in the last few days. But, I do want to talk to you a little bit about our relationship, because people said, “Well,
wasn’t she working all the time” and, “How did you ever
have time for each other?” Well, Liz found her way
to work around my schedule and often the only fight we would have it’d be 8:30 in the morning when she wanted to compose some music and I wanted to watch Morning Joe. So it was only a half hour. And then I left. Second thing that Liz always did was think my birthdays
were the most important thing in her life, as I did of hers. And for my 50th birthday she produced and directed a film about me behind my back. (audience laughing) And it was called “Das Roz.” (audience laughing) It is available. And “Das Roz” had all my
family, all my friends, and since I was named
after Rosalind Russell, there were illegal use of clips of Rosalind Russell in “Her Girl Friday.” (audience laughing) After the film, which was
at the Tribeca Film Center, after the film she had a conga line of live musicians dancing in the street with my family, including my
mother and my grandmother, and my sister, and my
cousins, and many other people dancing down Greenwich
Street to a restaurant where we had a party. For my 52nd birthday,
because she was nervous that I thought I was getting old, she bought me a motorcycle. (audience laughing) So I was tooting around Tribeca and SoHo in a yellow Honda motorcycle. Which wasn’t, frankly, good enough for me, so I asked if she could get me a Vespa, and of course she did. (audience laughing) For my 60th birthday, she
took me on a world tour only of Italy, which to me is the world. And we stayed in the fanciest hotels, and I went, “Really, we’re
gonna be on the Arno, “like really,” and she said, “Yes, do whatever you want,
buy whatever you want, “it is your 60th birthday.” I can’t say what the last
year has been except to say that Liz never gave up, never. And… I think before we knew we had a shot at beating this terrible disease, I want to tell you a little story of when we first got, or
Liz first got the diagnosis and we also thought, at the time, that it had metastasized. This was before we got the good news and then we got the bad news, but the bad news had come very early. And we went to see her psychiatrist. Of which, as anybody knows
us, we had many psychiatrists, many psychologists, many coaches, many people who were on our team. And I was sobbing. And she was looking at me
and looking at her doctor and said, “I’m worried about her.” And it was not only because
she was worried about me, she was also saying that the we would never exist if she died. And that’s what I’ll miss. It’s not that I can’t go on, I will. But the we stopped. And for that I’m deeply ungrateful. I loved her, she knew it, she loved me more than anybody else had ever loved me and she totally got me. And so for that I thank her for giving me an understanding of love. And what I can give to people and what she can give and
gave to me, the we, thank you. (audience applauding) (tender piano music) ♪ Now I beseech ye sisters and brethren ♪ ♪ By the name of the lord ♪ ♪ That ye all speak the same thing ♪ ♪ And there be no divisions among you ♪ ♪ But that ye be perfectly
joined together ♪ ♪ In the same mind and
in the same judgment ♪ ♪ Little children, love one another ♪ ♪ Little children, love one another ♪ ♪ As I have loved you, love one another ♪ ♪ Let your heart not be troubled ♪ ♪ Believe in the lord ♪ ♪ And also believe in each other ♪ ♪ Abide in me ♪ ♪ And I in you ♪ ♪ Can ye abide in each other ♪ ♪ I am the vine and ♪ ♪ You are the branches ♪ ♪ I am the vine and ♪ ♪ You are the branches ♪ ♪ You that abideth in each other ♪ ♪ Bringeth forth much fruit ♪ ♪ I am the vine and ♪ ♪ You are the branches ♪ ♪ You that abideth in each other ♪ ♪ Bringeth forth much fruit ♪ ♪ For without each other
ye can do nothing ♪ ♪ Ye can do nothing ♪ ♪ For without each other
ye can do nothing ♪ ♪ Ye can do nothing ♪ ♪ Let your heart not be troubled ♪ ♪ Believe in the lord ♪ ♪ And also believe in each other ♪ ♪ Abide in me and I in you ♪ ♪ As you have loved me ♪ ♪ I have loved you ♪ ♪ Continue all of you in my love ♪ ♪ Continue all of you in my love ♪ ♪ Let your heart not be troubled ♪ ♪ Believe in the lord ♪ ♪ And also believe in each other ♪ ♪ Abide in me and I in you ♪ ♪ I will pray with the understanding ♪ ♪ I will sing the spirit, I
will sing with the heart ♪ ♪ I will pray ♪
♪ I will sing with the spirit ♪ ♪ I will sing with the heart ♪ ♪ I will sing with spirit,
I will sing with the joy ♪ ♪ Of harmonizing with you ♪ ♪ The joy of love ♪
♪ Love, joy ♪ ♪ Understanding ♪ ♪ Love, joy, understanding ♪ ♪ Love, joy, understanding ♪ ♪ All over the Earth ♪ ♪ In all countries, in all cities ♪ ♪ In all people, in all times ♪ ♪ I open my arms to you and ♪ ♪ Love ♪ ♪ Believe in the lord ♪ ♪ And also believe in each other ♪ ♪ Abide in me ♪ ♪ Abide in me ♪ ♪ And I in you ♪ ♪ Abide in me ♪ ♪ And I in you ♪ ♪ No self doubt ♪ ♪ No self doubt ♪ ♪ Never apologize, never be sorry ♪ ♪ And you can all start
loving each other ♪ ♪ I believed in that somehow, somehow ♪ ♪ Abide in me and I in you ♪ ♪ Moving on ♪ ♪ I had to keep moving on ♪ ♪ No, no, you go do your job ♪ ♪ No, no, you go do your job ♪ ♪ No, no, you go do your job ♪ ♪ No, no, you go do your job ♪ ♪ You’re going to write ♪ ♪ Beautiful music ♪ ♪ Beautiful music ♪ ♪ Amen ♪ (audience applauding) (tender piano music) ♪ For he shall give his angels charge ♪ ♪ Over thee ♪ ♪ For he shall give them charge ♪ ♪ To keep thee in all thy ways ♪ ♪ To keep they in all thy ways ♪ ♪ All thy ways to keep thee ♪ ♪ In all thy ways ♪ ♪ They shall bear thee up in thy hands ♪ ♪ They shall bear in his hands ♪ ♪ In thy hands, bear up in thy hands ♪ ♪ Because he has set his love upon thee ♪ ♪ Because he set his love upon thee ♪ ♪ Upon thee, upon thee ♪ ♪ Upon thee, upon thee ♪ ♪ Upon thee ♪ ♪ He shall give ♪
♪ He shall give ♪ ♪ Angels ♪
♪ He shall give ♪ ♪ Over thee ♪
♪ He shall give ♪ ♪ He shall give ♪
♪ He shall give ♪ ♪ Angels ♪
♪ He shall give ♪ ♪ Over thee ♪
♪ He shall give ♪ ♪ He shall give ♪ ♪ Angels ♪ ♪ Over thee ♪ ♪ He, he, he shall give ♪ ♪ Over thee ♪ ♪ To keep thee in all thy ways ♪ ♪ To keep thee in all thy ways ♪ ♪ All thy ways, keep
they in all thy ways ♪ (audience applauding) (people chattering)