Frederick Feirstein: Psychoanalyst, Poet, Playwright

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Biographical Note

Frederick Feirstein is a playwright with a dozen New York productions. His first play SIMON AND THE SHOESHINE BOY was first produced at the Chelsea Theater Center. His second play THE FAMILY CIRCLE, was first produced at the Provincetown Playhouse (New York), and subsequently published in the Modern Classics Series in London (Davis-Poynter/Harper Collins). He has written the book and lyrics for three musical dramas: THE CHILDREN ’ S REVOLT, (which he directed starring Willem Dafoe), MASQUERADE which won an Audrey Wood Playwriting Award, and HEROISM (music by William Harper) first staged at the Raw Space (New York) by Chicago’s ARTCO in 2001.

He also writes film and television. He wrote TWO FOR ONE and STREET MUSIC for David Da Silva films (FAME), G.I. DIARY for CBS, SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE with Philip Magdaleny, and daytime with Doris Frankel and Doug Marland.
Frederick Feirstein has had eight books of poetry published. His first, SURVIVORS, was selected as one of the two Outstanding Books of the year by the American Library Association. His second MANHATTAN CARNIVAL: A DRAMATIC MONOLOGUE was a Pulitzer Prize finalist and performed on stage in New York, Cambridge, and Los Angeles. His fourth and sixth books, FAMILY HISTORY, and ENDING THE TWENTIETH CENTURY won the QUARTERLY REVIEW OF LITERATURE ’ S international prizes. His fifth, CITY LIFE, was a Pulitzer nominee. His seventh NEW AND SELECTED POEMS, was published in 1998. His eighth FALLOUT was published in 2009.

Among his literary awards are a Guggenheim Fellowship in Poetry, the Poetry Society of America’s John Masefield Award, England’s Arvon Prize for Poetry, and the Rockefeller Foundation’s OADR Award For Playwriting.
He was co-founder of the Expansive Poetry movement and originated the Barnes & Noble reading series.
His biography is in the Dictionary of Literary Biography and his autobiography In the Contemporary Authors Autobiography Series.





A Musical Drama

Book & Lyrics by Frederick Feirstein

Music by William Harper



HEROISM is a love story between Willie and Wanda, two young musicians during the uprising in the Warsaw Ghetto. It's set in a courageous time when in the face of destruction people performed more folk concerts, musicals, comedies and poetry readings in than in any other time in the city's history. Willie is Jewish and Wanda who insists in staying with Willie in the Ghetto is Catholic. Through the development of this musical drama, Willie has to learn to pick up a gun instead of a guitar and fight in his father's abandoned factory in the Wild Ghetto.


These songs are selections from twenty in the show. "Tango" is the opening in which Willie and Wanda's families celebrate Willie's father's new factory. "Willie's Dream" is predictive of the destruction to come. "Some Birds" is a duet in which Willie tells Wanda to leave, and Wanda insists on staying and leaving her father who has become brutal and is about to betray Willie's father. "The Forest" is where Willie has taken a distraught Wanda and comforts her with a song he's composed. In "She's Gone" Wanda sings a song about the loss of her mother. "The Overcoat" is a rousing comedic song (the lyrics are only in the script) about Willie's brother bringing food and wine to his besieged family to feast on. In "The Wild Ghetto," a guilt-ridden Willie has come to fight. It is a duet between the leader of the men and women fighters who are armed, as Willie will be by the song's ending. "Willie's Prayer" is Willie's solo where he comes home for a day to find his family gone. In "Tomorrow" the leader rouses the fighters who have slept together to fight in their last battle. It is the most beautiful song in the show, an ensemble piece in which all praise life.



Music From Heroism


Tango (Instrumental)



Willie's Dream



Some Birds



The Overcoat (Instrumental)






Willie's Prayer



The Wild Ghetto






The Forest


Licensed Psychoanalyst, LP, NCPsyA