A Tour Of The City (Part 1)

You're in a commercial jet, circling above a city.

A Tour Of The City (Part 1)[1]
WBAI And NPR Playhouse
Original Broadcast Date
Alan Hunter, Marilyn Casky, Barbara Sohmers, Arthur Miller, Richard Bauer, Tim Jerome, Mark Hammer, Joseph Palmieri, Larry Block, Sharon Dennis-Wyeth, Joe Frank
Scripted Actors, Sound Effects, 55 minutes
Preceded by: Questions
Followed by: A Tour Of The City (Part 2)

A Tour Of The City (Part 1) is a program Joe Frank produced as part of the series WBAI And NPR Playhouse. It was originally broadcast in 1984.

This program was broadcast in two parts, the first is 60 minutes long. The second part is 30 minutes.


Joe (using second person) tells about landing in a plane, looking down on the city. Pilots land the plane safely despite engine failure. Joe compares how the city looks on the ground with how it looked from the air.

2:50: Guy with German-ish accent (Brother Theodore) talks about suicide. 'Each of us has contemplated suicide…'

4:20: Joe describes walking along Vladeck (sp?) avenue. A guy (Larry Block?) begs change; a woman invites his attention; squatters live in vacant lots; chickens and goats graze.

6:20: A fellow with a German-ish accent (Tim Jerome) remembers winter in Erfürt. A woman broke her leg skiing.

7:20: A woman recalls dinner, seeing an acrobat with no arms and legs in San Nemo; she was engaged to John.

8:10: A man remembers the summer they (apparently he and a woman) went to the sea.

9:00: Joe tells about the star worshippers, their equipment, their gowns, dancing to drums.

9:20: Voltgen, founder of the Electricist religion (Arthur Miller?), one of the many sects that have sprung up in the city, talks to Alex, a novice; he explains Electricism, ruminates on darkness and light.

12:00: Joe tells of Voltgen ushering Alex into a worship service. Voltgen leads a service, which features a large filament, culminates with electrical arcs.

14:40: Alex arrives home; his wife Eva (Barbara Sohmers) greets him. They have a drink.

17:30: Someone (Tim Jerome) tells about Glemp (sp?) who had a camera, took pictures of everything. At the end of the season he took his film to the lab, which destroyed them, leaving only memories.

18:30: Joe tells of the rain falling on everyone in the streets.

19:00: Eva tells what she did during the day to Alex. He bathes her. (Accompanied by "Peace Piece" (Bill Evans)).

20:20: Joe tells of a fellow walking on a mountain path, who sees a speck rising above the desert. It turns into a giant wave that forms the shape of giant white horses, then a giant man.

21:50: Having prepared Eva's bath, Alex puts her in the water. (She can't walk.) She wonders why they haven't made love in months, wonders if he still wants her.

24:40: The first fellow with a German-ish accent (Brother Theodore) recalls the soldier who attacked the enemy armed with only a can opener, suggests he may have been suicidal, not heroic.

25:30: Alex recalls returning to the same hotel by the sea years later.

26:20: Joe tells of a helicopter flying overhead, a man in a phone booth.

27:10: Joe describes images of the city at night, the tree-folk, the people of the law (who recite laws that sound like parody Leviticus).

28:40: Joe tells of 'wrestling' matches, the first between a caveman with a tree and a baron who weighs 2,695 stone (about 20 tons), the second between a giant beetle and an Irish washerwoman.

32:20: Joe tells of a convoy of army trucks outside; a presidential address follows.

34:10: Eva tells Alex he talked in his sleep last night. She wants him to tell her how he feels, he's gone so much.

35:10: Joe describes the picaresque, cites classical examples, wonders where modern heroes travel.

36:00: Alex tells of walking through the city, wondering where he's going. Voltgen responds, tells him he has to give up on love.

38:40: Voltgen gives Alex a hooded gown, leads Alex into the temple, leads a service, accompanied by choral chanting, inducts Alex into Electricism.

42:00: Olga (Marilyn Casky), Alex's other wife, talks about Alex spending time at Voltgen's temple, says he'll leave it as he's left all the other sects he's joined.

43:00: A fellow leaves an ominous message on their phone. Olga's scared, Alex says it's nothing. They argue.

45:00: The president tells of driving a few days ago, saw 2 children making earthcakes near their hut, recalls a song from his childhood, hums it for us.

46:20: 'Sometimes I sign out a chopper...' The president looks at girls sunbathing on the roof.

47:10: Eva hears the helicopter, asks Alex what it's doing; it's looking into their window.

49:30: The president calls on citizens to report strangers to the authorities.

50:10: Alex tells of physicians treating some woman.

51:20: The president talks about burying oneself up to the neck to stay warm during the winter.

Legacy Synopsis

Second person monologue: You arrive in a plane which nearly crashes. Cab driver talks about suicide methods. Scenes from a street. The principals are introduced in monologue. Voltgen gives an electrocism lecture to a novice. Electrocism ceremony. A man bathes his disabled wife. Seeing a speck in the desert that becomes a wall of water and a giant drawn by horses. Religious orders and commandments. Bizarre boxing matches: a knight and a caveman, a housewife and a giant bug. The president addresses the public via loud speakers. The mans wife confronts him. Hero mythology. Discussion with Voltgen about love. Electrocism initiation. Man argues with his wife, gets a threatening phone call, is watched by a helicopter. President hums a childhood song over loudspeakers. Sounds of an explosion. A man talks about watching people from a helicopter. President asks people to spy on their neighbors.


Shared material

Additional credits

The original broadcast credits state: "Directed by Arthur Miller, and mixed by Jim Anderson. The performers were Alan Hunter, Marilyn Casky, Barbara Sohmers, Arthur Miller, Brother Theodore, Mark Hammer, Joseph Palmieri, Clark Gordon, Larry Block, Sharon Dennis-Wyeth, Richard Bauer, and Tim Jerome."


  • The later program Nightride happens in the same 'world'; Alex is the same person; the mood is the same. The material is new.
  • The text from this program was published in the form of a play.

In the NPR Playhouse version an announcer includes Sharon Dennis-Wyeth in the cast; joefrank.com's summary doesn't. I e-mailed her at her website. She replied, 'Was in something of his that I recorded.'