April 19, 2018 – Richard Hughes, Other Writers’ & Poets’ Birthdays
Today is Thursday, April 19, 2018. On this date in 1972, the musical, “Don’t Bother Me, I Can’t Cope,” opened on Broadway. Also on this date, in 1943, the Warsaw ghetto uprising began. And today is the birthday of writer Richard Hughes. Our poem for today is by Jesse E. Sampter. It’s titled, “Shalom.” Have an inspired day.
“Don’t Bother Me, I Can’t Cope” Opens
On this date in 1972, “Don’t Bother Me, I Can’t Cope,” (affiliate link) debuted on Broadway. The musical opened at the Playhouse Theatre.
“Don’t Bother Me, I Can’t Cope” ran at the Playhouse for two months before moving to the Edison Theatre. The production called the Edison home from June 13, 1972, until its final performance on Oct. 27, 1974.
Created by Micki Grant, “Don’t Bother Me, I Can’t Cope” became the first Broadway play directed by an African American woman.
The musical showcases the African American experience. It praises black achievement while also including less enjoyable aspects of urban life. The show’s music mixes gospel, funk, calypso, jazz, soul, and soft rock.
In his review of “Don’t Bother Me, I Can’t Cope” for The New York Times, Clive Barnes wrote, “Miss Grant has produced what is almost the black equivalent of a flamenco show and it seems to be a mixture of a block party and a revival meeting.”
And Time magazine critic T. E. Kalem wrote, “This is the kind of show at which you want to blow kisses.”
“Don’t Bother Me, I Can’t Cope” received four Tony nominations in 1973, including Best Musical and Best Original Score.
The production ran for 1,065 performances.
Richard Hughes (affiliate link) was born on this date in Weybridge, England, in 1900. He’s best known as the author of the novel, “A High Wind in Jamaica.”
The book published in the U.S. as “The Innocent Voyage” in 1929. But later that year Hughes changed its title to, “A High Wind in Jamaica.”
The novel, set in the 19th century, tells the story of five siblings raised on a plantation in Jamaica. After a hurricane destroys their home, the children’s parents send them on a ship back to England.
But pirates capture the ship and the children. What could be a disastrous turn for the kids, ends up being the ruin of the pirates.
The book is number 71 on the Modern Library’s list of 100 Best Novels.
A radio adaptation of the book aired on NBC Radio in 1950. And Anthony Quinn and James Coburn starred in a film version of the book, also titled “A High Wind in Jamaica.” The movie came out in 1965.
Other books published by Hughes include “In Hazard,” “Gipsy-Night, and Other Poems,” and “The Spider’s Palace.”
Warsaw Ghetto Uprising Begins
Today in 1943, 750 Jews rose up against German troops in the Warsaw ghetto.
Ghettos sprang up in European cities under Nazi control during World War II. Germans forced Jews into confined areas within urban centers. With over 400,000 people at its peak, the Warsaw ghetto was the most populous.
Resistance groups started forming in the Warsaw ghetto in 1941. The following summer, in 1942, 300,000 people were deported from the ghetto to the Treblinka extermination camp in eastern Poland.
Word reached the ghetto of the executions of the deported. And then a group of young people formed a resistance organization called the Z.O.B. The initials stood for the Polish name of the Jewish Fighting Organization.
The Z.O.B. first attacked German troops in January 1943. The fighters use a small cadre of weapons to force German soldiers to retreat from the ghetto.
Inspired by their actions in January, on April 19, 1943, the Z.O.B. mounted a full-scale uprising. They held the Nazis off for a month before, on May 16, the Germans crushed the rebellion.
The Nazis razed the ghetto, including the Great Synagogue of Warsaw. More than 56,000 Jews were captured. Of those, about 7,000 were shot and the rest deported to Nazi death camps for extermination.
The 2002 film, “The Pianist,” depicted the uprising. It starred Adrian Brody as a talented musician who tries to survive in the Warsaw ghetto.
The picture won three Oscars, including a Best Actor award for Brody.
I saw a picture of a street,
A Jewish street in Palestine,
Where Jewish families like to meet
On Yom-tov, when the day is fine.
The little houses were their own,
The sun, I knew, was shining clear
Because I saw their shadows thrown,
And what they said I tried to hear.
My heart with longing almost broke
Because I heard them: they were home,
And Hebrew was the tongue they spoke,
And one I heard. He said, “Shalom!”
– Jesse E. Sampter (1883-1938), Public Domain