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Buffalo’s Manny Fried’s New Play —Opening Night Spells a Great Run

We interviewed Emanuel “Manny” Fried tonight after the opening of his terrific new show—“Boilermakers and Martinis.” That’s Manny Fried’s latest play that opened on Friday night in Buffalo, his first play he’s written in a decade. It stars himself at now age 94 at the Market Arcade’s leased theater area coming to be better and better known in Buffalo art circles as Road Less Traveled Productions.
The play is invigorating with such continuous emotions and evocations of Buffalo Labor Unions and conflicting High (local business) Society history. It is an exceptional piece if drama and truth told by the man who lived and still lives its time’s memories’ and their driven compunction to analyze their verity as a non-returnable series of choices in life.
Manny Fried lives and still pays for his hard choices. That is the play he wrote and acts—but really lives–in. And it is a play about his loves, and all their dues. He lives out on stage every emotional vibrancy of remembrance. It is a non-stop, course-run of life and energy– ultimately Manny Fried style.
The show plays through September 30th, here in Buffalo. This is Buffalo history in the making, based on Buffalo history having been made—by Manny Fried. You’ll learn about his FBI hassles and attacks, and his Labor Union leadership that rendered him the Most Dangerous Man in Buffalo.
What I took from the play was this bent: In those times there was Nothing to Fear but Fair itself. And Manny spoke for Fair, not Fear.
You’ll learn how he was a hero loved by people and feared by structured and stiff societal institutions. And you’ll see him unfold a history of understanding and forgiveness and a wish that time could tell those who didn’t live to see the time of healing can now possibly, from above, through this remarkable play.
We had the pleasure to talk after the Opening Show, and here’s our chat:
Bill Zimmermann: Manny, you’ve got 12 years to go to catch up to George Abbott’s record, a playwright who was still producing at age 106.
Manny Fried: Oh I don’t know if I can make that record, but wait—we’re living longer, and my dad went to 97, my mom till 100—both fully fit till their last day.
BZ: Well you already beat Abbott’s record, as far as acting, and must say quite vigorously. You punch out such emotion! How– how do you do it?? You have the same energy as when we saw you 30 years ago.
MF: That’s the only way. Give!
BZ: And as you say in the play: “Don’t let the bastards wear you down.”
MF: Right!
BZ: What was that play I saw you in– 30 years ago—I think it was at the Studio Arena—backyard porches, a couple old guys barking about their different cases of returning sons from war?
MF: Another theater.You didn’t see that at the Studio 30 years ago—they still banned me then till my career caught up to heal from the red-communist blacklist.
BZ: Well you’re sure fit now, as always—a former college football player, labor leader, novelist, playwright—and you’re now acting in your brother’s partnership theater project.
MF: Yes, Gerry—he died from a stroke before we could show this to him. His daughter’s here for the opening, though, and she’s seen tonight he went the same way as my wife. She’ll remark as such. Should startle her a bit.
BZ: What’s the walking unit for that you use—they call that a Zimmer in Europe.
MF: Oh I needed a cane and probably more, and needed this for awhile—but I’m fine and I’m getting rid of it, –back to the cane. (He stands apart from the unit) See? (He’s fine).
BZ: How’s the show wearing on you—it’s deeply personal—the first play you’ve written in ten years and remarkably near and dear to your whole life’s story. Very emotive indeed.
MF: I’m seeing a therapist just for good measure. It’s because the show is so close to me, it seems to require the aid of one. It seems directly linked, needed.
BZ: Manny, surely that’s a smart mental exercise, not just therapy—it’s smart—you’re refining the show nightly in this run.
MF: That’s right. Every night’s show is new, based on the outline, but the script goes where I feel and fit in other bright notes.
BZ: I notice you beam us—the audience—up with bright notes every forty seconds or so. You give a non-stop series of goose bumps, you do.
MF: That’s right, and that’s good—the history, the family, the times, the feelings all generate a flow. It punches out repeatedly.
BZ: I was surprised to hear your wife Rhoda and you stuck it out. She lived till 71, but you still seem to live with her now, especially through this play, and there were such times. I love the title—the two different drinks say it all.
MF: Well that’s the essence—the two worlds. Labor union bar boilermakers, and blue blood society martini cocktails. I lived in both worlds. That’s what the play is about.
BZ: What’s remarkable—when you recall sitting at her bedside talking, and this is a one man show, you speak her recollected words and you beam such evocated spirit of the way she said her words.
MF: ….Yes.
BZ: Manny—what I mean is, the way you speak her words you take us back decades to the very dust and era in and of the room—the feeling of the times—the way such words would be said then.
MF: ….Yes.
BZ: It’s amazing. —Have you thought about filming this show?
MF: It’s been considered for a documentary. Filming is being considered.
BZ: Well, Manny—here’s my vote—Manny Fried, the Movie. With Richard Dreyfuss. He’d be excellent to do the movie.
MF: That’s a neat thought.
BZ: Well, yeah, think about it—he could play all three generations—45, 65, 95.
MF: 94.
BZ: Yes. Sorry.
MF: But he could. (And someone listening, then chimed in: “Or if not, maybe Billy Crystal?”)
BZ: Someone should get Richard Dreyfuss up here to see you in this play. It’s—you’re—remarkable, Manny. Best of everything for the show –and beyond. You are truly a Buffalo gem.
See this show. Bring friends. It’s so comfortable a setting–an intimate small theater. You’ll feel his eyes match to yours and remember the tales of times old. You will visit there on a magic carpet ride into Manny’s time and memories. You will feel history come alive, because he still is; — He’s Buffalo’s Manny Fried.
For tickets go to www.roadlesstraveledproductions.org or call 716-629-3069

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