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Flash News, 4-1: Protas Settles
Cedes Graham Ballet Ownership to Company

By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2002 The Dance Insider

NEW YORK, April 1 -- In a stunning development announced early this morning, April 1, Ron Protas, the principal heir named in Martha Graham's will, announced that he would relinquish his legal claims to Graham's ballets "for the good of dance, and because Martha told me to do so." The last stumbling block to the unexpected concession, dance insiders say, was removed when the Martha Graham Dance Company agreed to let Protas stage a previously undiscovered revision of Graham's 1958 classic, "Clytemnestra," with the heretofore unknown title, "Faster, Clytemnestra! Kill! Kill!"

Graham personally taught Protas the lesser-known version, Protas said, in the privacy of her home while no one else was looking. "Martha felt that the world was not ready for this more daring version," the former Graham company artistic director confided. "It is like lichen festering on the rocks in the embattled garden of my soul," Protas quoted Graham as telling him. Protas/Graham continued, "Only when the lichen has fallen off will the world will be ready for my 'Faster, Clytemnestra! Kill! Kill!'"

In the initial 1958 version, Graham re-told Aeshylus's "Oresteia," concerning the treacherous queen who with the collusion of her lover Aegisthus plots and executes the murder of her husband, Agememnon, on his return from the Trojan wars. The king is in turn avenged by his and Clytemnestra's children, Orestes and Elektra.

In the pared down "Faster, Clytemnestra! Kill! Kill!" Graham had planned to play all the female roles, while Protas himself would take all the male parts except for Agememnon, a part Graham reserved for Paul Taylor, according to Protas/Graham. "Martha personally trained me for the roles," confided Protas. "In the privacy of her home, while no one else was looking."

Taylor, contacted early this morning, April 1, said that he would be glad to take part in "Faster, Clytemnestra! Kill! Kill!" "as long as all that is required of me is that I sit in a chair for twenty minutes without moving." Beamed Protas, "This was Martha's plan for Paul anyway."

For the crucial role of Clytemnestra, Protas said he would like to see the popular Graham impersonator Richard Move in the role. Move, contacted early this morning, April 1, in Afghanistan, where he was preparing to entertain the troops with "Martha @ the Caves," politely declined the invitation, stating, "This alleged 'undiscovered' 'Faster Clytemnestra! Kill! Kill!' will make a mockery of everything Martha/I stands for. One would have to be a fool to believe it even exists."

Graham's original "Clytemnestra" premiered at the Adelphi Theater in New York, April 1, 1958, the anniversary of which, among other factors, explained Protas's making the announcement today, April 1, also known in the United States as April Fool's Day. ;)

(For RS. Happy birthday, and keep on laughing.)

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