Historic, but not famous

Charles Ludlam, founder Ridiculous Theatrical Company

Charles Ludlam (1943 – 1987) was an actor, director, and playwright born on Long Island NY. He started his theater career while still in high school, performing with friends and in school plays. He received a degree in dramatic literature from Hofstra University in 1964.

Ludlam joined John Vaccaro’s Play-House of the Ridiculous, and after a falling out, founded his own Ridiculous Theatrical Company in 1967. His first plays were rudimentary exercises, but they eventually moved into structure plays by Lorca, Shakespeare and Wagner. Some plays he wrote were based on popular culture and were humorous plays with dark or serious undertones. His goal was to be absurd or ridiculous while making a social point.

He won six Obie Awards over the course of his career, as well as working with New York University, Connecticut College, Yale University and Carnegie Mellon. Ludlam often appeared in his plays, and was noted for his female roles.

Ludlam was diagnosed with AIDS in March 1987. He died one month later of pneumonia. The block in front of Sheridan Square in Greenwich Village is named in his honor.

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Historic, but not famous

Holly Beye, reporter, writer, civil rights advocate

Holly Beye (1922 – 2011) was a graduate of Swarthmore College and moved to New York City and became a reporter at PM, the left wing newspaper started by Marshall Field, although her intent was to write fiction, poetry and drama.

In 1946, she married David Ruff and they lived at 120 Charles Street in Greenwich Village, which became the title of her published journal of the life of a struggling artist in the 40’s, published in 2006. She eventually moved to San Francisco and then Woodstock in upstate New York. In Woodstock, she began to write more dramatic work. Her plays appeared at the Woodstock Playhouse “Afternoon of the Spawn” 1961, La Galleria at Cafe La Mama in NYC “Clean” 1995, the Vandam Theatre in NYC “It’s All Yours” 1963 and the Playhouse in San Francisco “The White Angel” 1965.

At the same time she created a satire performing improv ensemble, initially called “Holly’s Comets”. The group enjoyed local and regional success and even went on tour a couple of times. It proved an outlet for a number of retired people to expression to their lives. Ms. Beye worked tirelessly in the sixties for the Civil Rights movements, helping to organize protest and pickets in Kingston and throughout the Woodstock area.

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