So here’s how it started…..American Theatre Journal

This Month in Theatre History

‘2nd Greatest Show on Earth’ launches a season, while Mack the Knife has trouble gaining traction.

80 YEARS AGO (1933)

Bertolt Brecht.
Bertolt Brecht.

Composer Kurt Weill and playwright Bertolt Brecht unveil The Threepenny Opera at the Empire Theatre on Broadway. The play closes after only 12 performances. The show’s opening number, “Mack the Knife,” will eventually become one of the top hits of the century, and will be recorded and performed by famous voices such as Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong.

60 YEARS AGO (1953)
Talk Radio and subUrbia playwright Eric Bogosian is born in Woburn, Mass.  After graduating from Oberlin College in Ohio, Bogosian will move to New York City, going on to write for the stage and for the screen.

40 YEARS AGO (1973)
With young audiences in mind, artist Zaro Weil and fifth grade teacher Lynn Rubright create Metro Theater Circus in St. Louis. They launch their season with 2nd Greatest Show on Earth, and go on to become a touring company. The company will adopt a new name in the ’90s, Metro Theater Company.

20 YEARS AGO (1993)
The Zuni Collective, rooted at the popular San Francisco Zuni Café, transforms into Z Space, which will become known as one of the nation’s leading laboratories for new work development. David Dower starts Z Space in an effort to support Bay Area theatre artists. The company will go on to produce works from disciplines including theatre, dance, visual art, music and performance art.

Asleep in the treehouse with visions of……

wild boars…twinkle lights…laugh-out-loud things…chocolate anything…roller skating…singing in a rock band…The Band…dancing salsa for too-many-to-count sweaty hours…cooking/eating Indian… hip-hopping at the infamous Wildwood Starlight Ballroom…Spot and Clem wild and crazy in the snow…Hamlet from last summer in London… Mitsuko Uchida in person…sunsets where I live…mohitos anywhere…a bouquet of pens near a fireplace…winning the queen Esther contest in a gorgeous white dress…playing dazzling Telemann on my pitifully neglected silver flute…reading french novels without a dictionary… ‘The Swerve’ and ‘The Invention of Nature’ …jiving to New Yeller (with Bill and Launa) in Brooklyn…hanging out with supremo Lisa…wine with Sally and Robert… transendent kitchen moments with Jane …diving into books with Judith…turning left getting on a plane… Shakespeare in Stratford…fantastical vegan restaurants…being invited by Gertrude Bell to dinner…directing my book with all bells and whistles at the National…far-away travels…staying home…knowing ALL the lyrics to old Broadway musicals as well as Pete Seeger, Hair, Arlo Guthrie, Frankie Valli, Carmen, Hamilton and more…changing governments…a pristine planet…discovering new films at Andre’s….getting it spot-on the first time writing …seeing Jo’s illustrations…holding Firecrackers at  long last……………

If THEY (royal they) can get engaged, why not us?


 ‘Cos I really love love love you. Especially those wrinkly doleful eyes. Not to mention that fabulous looonnnng trunk. But really it’s your giant feet I dig the most. Pretty please. Just say yes. I know we’re worlds apart. But what the heck. It doesn’t matter. We are talking about LUV.


So sorry little snail. I mean you’re super cute and all and I do admire your flat-footedness and that spirally adorable shell. But the sad truth is we are awfully different. I mean, I must be a million times bigger than you. Look, fact is, I am just too busy. Farrrrr too much going on.


Like what?


OK. It’s a big secret, but I’ll let you in. I am going on a book tour this spring.  Soooo excited. You see, it’s pretty exclusive.


Hey! Can I come?


Sorry, little friend. It’s only for animals who are in FIRECRACKERS. You know, that book that Zaro wrote and that Jo painted the pictures for.


But, Elephant! Whoa. Hang on a minute. I am in that book, too. In fact, there are quite a few poems where I am the featured player. And Zaro asked me if I could go on the tour, as well. So we could both go!!!!! And we could get engaged. And we could be happy forever after. What do you say?


Well, Snail. That all sounds kind of cool. And heck, size doesn’t matter. In fact, nothing matters when you are in love. (blushes) I love you, little snail.


Awwwwwwww ( blushes, too) And I love you.

Hey Clem, any idea where we’re going?


Hey Clem, any idea where we’re going?


Not a clue. All I’ve heard is something about a publicity tour for Firecrackers.


Cool. I’ve memorised my lines. I know  those doggie poems by heart now. How ’bout you?


Yeh. I’m good. I’ve got my barks all lined up. I hear we’re going to visit some kids in schools and do our ‘Let’s Run Away’ rap. I am soooo ready.


Meeee too. Let’s get this train rolling!




A Thank You Post

ZaZaKids Books is grateful to a few extraordinary individuals who have put their hearts into this fledgling company.

Jo Riddell, the  illustrator for Firecrackers, is the same person (Jo Burroughs) who created the wonderful illustrations for ‘Mud, Moon and Me’, over 25 years ago. We  count our lucky stars that she agreed to do this book. Jo’s work is an inspiration. She has endowed every page with passion,  meaning, and beauty.

Roy Johnson has been a fantastic voice of publishing know-how; gently nurturing and guiding ZaZaKids like the experienced  pro that he is.

Louise Millar is a design genie who not only created magnificent covers for our first two books,  but who managed to conjure up seriously elegant and imaginative pages.

Judith Elliot (pen name; Our Wonderful Mrs. Picky and long time dear friend) has dedicated much of her time brilliantly editing the book, giving it form, and ensuring that the Firecrackers text is absolutely ship-shape.

Martin West, CEO of Troika Books, has generously taken ZaZaKids Books under his wings, making sure that the company has a good chance of having it’s voice heard.

Lisa Dempsey of in Brooklyn is a close friend and inspiration. She has created a beautiful website for ZaZaKids and is always on hand to help with…well… anything.

Jane Wayne, poet extraordinaire from St Louise, has looked over these many of these pieces for years: always with her keen poets eye and always offering subtle, kind, and spot-on critiques.


Author with Her Owners


Here is  author ZW with her two trusty and adorable ( most of the time)  owners. Spot and Clementine take good care of ZW and her partner GJ. Sometimes though, the pups get a mischievous flea who bites them hard and off they go running a mile a minute like crazy beasts into the wild blue yonder. They make poor ZW and GJ hike for hours through spiky forests and prickly undergrowth to find them again. But when they do, all is forgiven and Spot and Clem make amends by covering them both with a million slurpy kisses before getting them each a nice cup of tea and a few treats. Well why not? They deserve it.

By the way, Spot is the handsome real Spot Guevara pooch who appears in ZaZaKids next book which the wonderful Katy Riddell will be illustrating. Stay tuned.



“Whoa…Hey there! Slow down, dude. Have you heard?

“Heard what?”

“Firecrackers are coming!”

“Firecrackers? What’s that?”

“It’s when the sky  pops open with a million crazy colours which come tumbling helter skelter down to earth.”

“Tumbling down? That’s  terrible. Awful. Move aside, brother.  I’m hoppin’ out of here. I don’t want any crazy colours landing between my sleek long ears.”

“No. That’s a poetic interpretation. Firecrackers is  a delicious poetry book all about us! The sky doesn’t really pop open. It just seems that way. That’s poetry.”

“Poetry? Poetry? Is the poetry about just us hares? I hope the badgers aren’t in it.”

“Everyone is included! All the animals.”

“Dude, not sure if I like that…. the badgers definitely do not deserve  poetry…or the crickets….not to mention the…”

“Stop complaining. You’ll love it.”

“OK. if you say so….but I’m not convinced.”

“Promise. It’s gonna be great.  Come on. Let’s go get this Firecrackers book before the ridiculous  mice nibble it all up.”

“Hey! But can you read?”

“Are you kidding? Of course. Anyway, even if I can’t, I bet it tastes good. After all, it’s a ZaZaKids Book. And I heard they are always good for a fantastic munch.”