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Notes toward a play



The way things work…

Which is to say, the way I wished things worked.

01) Anson Tennant required a paper trail, a plausible sequence of events that could have preceded his entry in the public library competition. And among those events, there ought to have been the establishment of an office, the professional setting that presented the young architect to the world, i.e., his potential clients.

02) Enter Edith and Franz Wasserman, emigrés from Austria, who opened a hardware store. By 1912 they was able to afford their own building at James and Broad streets—twenty-five feet of store front with suites of offices above. Sioux City architects Joachim & Perlmutter had botched the job, however, which opened a door for young Anson to save the day. So he bartered his service: a redesign of the offices and conversion of one suite into the Wasserman apartment got him a long-term lease on space that would become his office–studio.

03) Creating a space for work and living allowed Anson to present a professional image to potential clients. Why not place a stained glass window in its dutch entry door, the window designed and crafted by our friend Dan Salyards. “Als ik kan” is says; “The best I can” in Flemish and the mantra of the Arts & Crafts movement.

04) Still looking for a design student who will want to create the period interior of Anson’s office, influenced by Stickley, William Morris and Native American artifacts from a southwestern vacation the family had taken that spring. Still looking; still hoping.

05) Edith Wasserman’s younger brother Reinhold Kölb, a psychotherapist from Vienna, came for a visit in the mid-1920s. He intended to stay for a few weeks but decided to remain and open a private psychiatric clinic [an opportunity for me to try my hand at a European Modernist architectural vocabulary, and to enrich the story with a character vaguely drawn from Dr Bob].

06) Dr Kölb reflected Jung more than Freud, but his practice required techniques that might set him father apart. How about alternate therapies based in art or theater?

07a) Art therapy let me use a collection of remarkable paintings bought on eBay.

07b) Drama therapy introduced me to Jacob Levy Moreno, a real historical character who just happened to invent the idea of drama therapy. In fact, his widow continues to promote it in New York City today.

08) Kölb’s spin on drama therapy employed aspects of Japanese Noh theater and the use of puppets. His patients would write plays drawn from their own ailments and then act them out with puppets to an audience of other patients. Eventually Kölb’s productions went public, performed in The Commons on Saturday afternoons in a puppet theater designed especially for them.

09) One of Dr specially designed ‘s last productions in the summer of 1944 was seen by James Edward Tierney, then twelve years old, who would found the Prairie Playhouse many years later.

10a) Tierney would eventually write a play based on the legend of Reinhold Kölb. Who can I find to write that play and perform it during the next Agincourt exhibit?

10b) And who can design the theater in which that play might be performed? I’d like to think Molly Yergens is that designer.


See what I mean?

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