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WBAI And NPR Playhouse
Original Broadcast Date
Annalee Jefferies, Arthur Miller, Bernie Mantell, Rosemary Foley, Eric Sears, Tim Jerome, Matt Bassford, Joe Frank
Sound Effects, Absurd Monologue, Scripted Actors, Improv Actors, Panel Discussion, 1 hour
Preceded by: A Call In The Night
Followed by: The Death Of Trotsky

"They stood at the water's edge, the waves mounting, then crashing and sweeping up the coastline..."

Arena is the name of a program Joe Frank produced as part of the series WBAI and NPR Playhouse. It was originally broadcast in 1979.


We hear Joe alternately discussing his own writing process and typing at a keyboard. His story describes a romance between an American woman and a bullfighter. The narrative alternates with acted scenes and sound effects. Every scene degenerates into references to bull fighting. The couple swims naked in the sea, encounter a whale. Panel discussion: being terrified of text after reading Black Beauty, writing to purge anxiety, the history of writing. Story: reckless passion in a race car. Panel: reading and the downfall of civilization, the danger of self examination. Joe: the universe as a succession of writers inventing worlds. Story: a scene in a hotel room above a festival, the bull fighter's childhood, a fisherman living far from water and fishing for scrap ("You cannot eat a coat"), reading doesn't compare to bullfighting, scar stories. Story: scene in a church, stained glass featuring the resurrection of a wealthy donor, animals communicate with god. Joe: hammering a nail into your heart with your own brocaded slipper. Panel: man wasn't meant to read, college course reading lists. Joe: Melville's physical struggle when writing. Story: a scene in a cafe, she begs him to stop fighting bulls, a model bull fight using steak knives tied to a chair. A man and woman fight - he wants to watch TV and she wants to read. A television program: the fastest piano player interview. Panel: the consciousness lowering group. Joe: finding a dead whale on the beach, the mess in one's bathroom.

Interesting Facts

This program is also available in the Somewhere Out There series as Arena (remix).



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Tim Jerome, Annalee Jefferies, Paul Mantell, Rosemary Foley, Avery Hart, Matt Basford, Lester Nafzger, Eric Sears, and Joe Frank

External Links

Member stream:

Single show:

WBAI and NPR Playhouse

Across the River | Arena | Call In The Night, A | Death Of Trotsky, The | Decline Of Spengler, The | Eighty Yard Run, The | End, The | Jewish Blues | Lies | Queen Of Puerto Rico, The (show) | Questions | Sales | Summer Notes | Til You're Gone | Tour Of The City, A (part 1) | Tour Of The City, A (part 2) | Rare Early Joe Frank Stories from NPR Playhouse | Warheads