In Memory of Phil Danzig

January 20, 2005, Montréal

    In October, 2004 Phil Danzig died. Here is a link to the page his son Nachum organized for him: http://koheles.com/piv

   I first met Phil Danzig in Nicaragua in 1987. Was Phil a Sandalista? He wanted his mural to support the Sandinistas and to challenge the murderous Reaganites. Phil was there, painting a mural in Rivas, with Whiting Tennis. We went together with the group from Boston, Arts for a New Nicaragua. Claudia Kaiser Lenoir was part of the group, she had worked with the Dragon in NYC  in ’83, she was a friend of Norman Briski. We were in Nicaragua for a month, at the end Phil saw the Dragon Dance Theatre piece, “Death and the General” at the Hospital in Masaya.

  On our way to Nicaragua we stopped in Mexico city for a night and Phil and I made it to see the Diego Rivera retrospective that was being exhibited at the Bellas Artes, later we went together to see the show called Twenty Centuries of Mexican Art at the metropolitan in New York. Phil owned the picture shown on this page, The Eagle Warrior, which was one of my pastels based on an image of Diego Rivera’s.

The Eagle Warrior, 1992

  Phil came up to the Halloween show in Vermont, Oct, ’87, “Innanna in the Underworld”, the first version. He came to take  pictures, and he continued to take pictures for the theatre till the Movie summer, ’99. During that entire period he was the Dragon’s primary photographer and he was the creative force behind all that documentation.

  Phil acted in “Suicide for Dinosaurs”, at Bread and Puppet, in the summer of ‘89 he played Abbey Hoffmann, along side his nephew Adrian.

  Phil took pictures of two of the Oaxaca projects, ’94, and 98. He took hundreds of pictures, portraits and images of the stages and dramatic pictures and documentary pictures, in color and in B&W. 

   Phil, was very proud of his mosaic work on the seats at the tomb of Ulysses S Grant, in New York.  He   took pictures of Dragon Dance’s US murals, in Vermont. Then we used those images and his mosaic experience to propose a mural together, out in New Jersey, we wanted to make a mural using images from “The Great Train Robbery”, Edison’s movie, at the train station.

   At the summer theatre camps, Phil often expressed his knowledge about architecture, he called himself a “forensic architect”, in his concern for everyone’s safety and regularly lectured me; on the conditions of the staircases and how things were in his uncle’s summer camp, where he went when he was a kid.

  Sophie says he was looking for a family and the theatre provided a warm circle of creative people that he could be part of for many years. He was very important to our process, his humor lightened many a serious moment, and his affection for the members of the company was always felt. Certainly he treated us as family, helping in every way with every project, Phil shuttled us to the airport, fed us on our way in and out, gave us little stacks of twenties before and after every event, accompanied us again and again, brought his friends, took us to visit his synagogue.

   I always asked him to retell the story about climbing out onto the ledge at the Department of Education in Newark, his office was on the eighth floor and he always made it seem reasonable that he should be standing out on that ledge. He was out there talking to the window washer and then the window washer raised his scaffolding to the twelfth floor and Phil was standing there on the ledge, eight floors above down town Newark. His boss sent him a memo saying, you are forbidden to climb out the window.
   

  Today, Phil’s images are the mainstay of the theatre’s archive, we use them continuously, you will see Phil’s images through out this web page. In that way he continues to be a member of the theatre company even though he has stepped out of the office.

Sam Kerson

Art Director

 Dragon Dance Theatre
Back to In Memory...
Back to Sam Kerson's home page