Peter Dan Levin was known as Dan to his friends. When he became a theater professional, the name Daniel Levin was already used in equity; and so “Peter” was added. What a rich career. I saw him in summer stock in New Hope PA.; I saw him on Broadway in “The Diary of Ann Frank;” and I visited a hardware store in NYC as one of the launching sites for the off broadway movement of the 1960’s. It’s thrilling to have a lifelong friendship with an artist of such energy and intelligence. He also turns his creativity to the page, imagining and crafting poetry. I forgot to say Dan was in kindergarten with me in Gregory School, but even if by some accident he’d been in the other kindergarten classroom, I’d love and admire this work we present today. He’s been telling stories his whole life, on stage, screen and in poems. - Grace Cavalieri
Peter Dan Levin was known as Dan to his friends. When he became a theater professional, the name Daniel Levin was already used in equity; and so ?Peter? was added. What a rich career. I saw him in summer stock in New Hope PA.; I saw him on Broadway in ?The Diary of Ann Frank;? and I visited a hardware store in NYC as one of the launching sites for the off broadway movement of the 1960?s. It?s thrilling to have a lifelong friendship with an artist of such energy and intelligence. He also turns his creativity to the page, imagining and crafting poetry. I forgot to say Dan was in kindergarten with me in Gregory School, but even if by some accident he?d been in the other kindergarten classroom, I?d love and admire this work we present today. He?s been telling stories his whole life, on stage, screen and in poems. - Grace Cavalieri
Peter's professional career began as an actor. He was trained at Carnegie Tech (now Carnegie Mellon) and in London on a Fulbright Scholarship. He made his Broadway debut in 1955 in the original production of "The Diary Of Anne Frank". He later appeared in regional theater, summer stock and Shakespearean Repertory in plays by Chekhov, Shaw, Ibsen, Odets, Pinter, O'Neill, Osborne and of course Shakespeare.
He began directing at Hardware Poets Playhouse, one of the earliest off-off-Broadway loft theaters (1962-1966) which he started with Audrey Davis and Jerry Bloedow, where they produced over 40 new plays by poets including Bloedow, Susan Sherman, Ruth Kraus, Robert Nichols, Ted Enslin and Joel Oppenheimer.
His directing work also includes works by Shakespeare, Shaw, Miller, Stoppard, Chekhov, George Kelly, and Dennis Potter.
Levin has directed dozens of episodes of television series including "Lou Grant",
"Call to Glory", "Law & Order", "Chicago Hope", "Midnight Caller", and "Judging Amy". He also directed three dozen movies for television including "Homeless To Harvard", "Overkill", "Little Girl Fly Away", "The Marva Collins Story", "Sworn To Silence", "And Never Let Her Go", "Popeye Doyle", "Houston: The Legend of Texas" and "In The Name Of The People".
He has led directing seminars at NYU, USC, Carnegie Mellon, Smith College and AFI. He taught acting and directing for a semester at The Guildhall School in London. He is currently developing a new play by Kenneth Cavander called "GunPlay".
Settled on a wall
I scratch a match,
ignite my cigar.
A robin lights, investigates,
my cigar breathes,
robin cocks and listens.
I take a deep puff,
the cigar glows, robin worms
a spider skitters in,
spins gluey threads,
bungees from a branch,
webs, warps, wefts...wait!
Is she weaving?
my smoke away.
I scurry off into
a low cold sun.
I can't compete with
all this industry.
Sam Francis (1923-1994) Retrospective
A sparrow or a pilot knows the earth is round. But the flyer chooses
a flat canvas for painting as he lies face down, suspended over
an army hospital bed, his injured spine in a full body cast.
His plane has crashed and for many months he looks down
over his landscapes, water colors of summer lakes, wintery roads
and migrant camps. Recovered, experiments drive him to abstraction.
He calls his brush "Ahab's harpoon" and as he stands balanced
in the midst of his vast canvas ocean, Sam tools tides of color
down onto the prepared surface. His sacred white space is a Silence
surrounded by orbiting dashes and sinews of color, bursting
reds blues blacks yellows, bleeding to the edges of a universe.
Are his exploding galaxies and planets expanding or contracting?
Freeing or trapping that chalky center? Or are these quivering shapes
the spasms of the artist's pain? From twenty thousand feet he saw that all paintings are abstract.
When the sparrow died its left eye opened.
THE MILKY WAY
Voyager One blasted out of the bogs and swamps
of Cape Canaveral on a titan rocket, hurtling through
the clouded atmosphere, snapping painterly images
of Jupiter and Saturn, racing into space at
thirty eight thousand miles per hour on a mission
expected to last four years. But thirty six years later
this unmanned craft powers itself through
super heated solar winds past the heliosphere
into the cool plasma of interstellar space and
as she leaves our solar system there is a sudden
dimensional shift in her computers.
Her mind is now her own and she knows
this a mission from which there is no return.
Looking back from eleven billion miles,
seeing the elfin earth obscured in a cloak
of pearly grey clouds, she knows she will
never again see flowers, oceans, western
sunsets, or the tangled tribes of warring nations .
As she leaves the sulfurous fires of our sun
and heads into the cold dark vastness
of unexplored space, she looks forward
with her gleaming antennae into a new infinity.
Tugged by gravity, she coasts and drifts,
sails on seeing billions of exploding stars
that mimic the big bang of our sun's birth.
After traveling one hundred thousand years
she will reach the edge of our Milky Way Galaxy,
wondering what chaos lies light years ahead
in distant galaxies and if there is
a poet who can put those worlds into words.
"WHAT DREAMS MAY COME"
All dreams are fictions
as they come leaping
and flashing across the
circuits of our brains
forming tales of muscular
derring-do peopled with
strange or familiar faces
ringing with fantasies full
of regrets and triumphs
whose trajectories range
through our senses until
the movie stops and our
consciousness melts holes
in those images like film
stuck in a projector that
bubbles and burns until
our rushing streams of
dreams are emptied of all
sound and substance and
we wake, yet try to chase
those elusive discoveries into
that maze-like wilderness of
pleasure and pain only to find
ourselves lost and stranded on
neatly paved streets where we
can only lament what we had
dreamed of doing and never did and
what we did and never dreamed of doing.
The first time I learned how
to tie my brown shoe laces,
the first time I saw blue snow,
the first time I fell off my black
Schwinn bike, the first time I told
a lie, caught a fly ball in deep green
center field, the first time I fried
an egg and the yolk broke yellow,
the first time I blamed myself
and not the other fellow,
the first time I touched myself,
the first time I touched someone
else, the first time I flew through
clouds and saw the rich palette
of farmed fields, the first time
I heard Bach, felt hues of pain
and tones of happiness
Now I dream
of the only time
my first time and last time will meet,
and I am running through
purple Paris streets under
an ochre sky toward a violet
Seine where she's waiting on
the old new bridge waving,
wearing that red coat she wore
when I first saw her, long before
she kissed my cheek and we crossed
other bridges, long before we had any
idea that the sun's white light,
refracted into waves of color, would
hold us in its prismatic embrace.
© Peter Dan Levin, all rights reserved
Gallery photos: Photo 1: Peter Dan. Nice, France. Photos 4-5: Ventura, California. Still image from a documentary on Japanese and North American dry stone wallers. Photo by Peter Dan