February 22, 2020
Oliver Trager is a writer, performer, visual artist, educator and Dig Infinity! playwright/performer, Oliver has staged numerous Lord Buckley events over the past twenty years on both coasts. Dig Infinity! earned Outstanding Production & Outstanding Actor awards at the 2014 Planet Connections Theatre Festivity and was staged before full houses and glowing reviews at the 2015 FringeNYC International Festival. He is also the author of three books: Dig Infinity! The Life & Art of Lord Buckley, The American Book of the Dead: The Definitive Grateful Dead Encyclopedia and Keys to the Rain: The Definitive Bob Dylan Encyclopedia.
Oliver has enjoyed a long association with renowned Canadian film documentarian Ron Mann on projects that included Tales of the Rat Fink (a quirky celebration of the equally quirky custom car designer Ed “Big Daddy” Roth), Know Your Mushrooms (a socio-cultural-ecological excursion into the world of fungi), In Wake of the Flood (a Margaret Atwood travelogue), and Altman (a chronicle of the maverick film director’s life and legacy).
His Royal Highness Lord Richard Buckley (1906-1960) was the hippest flipster, the coolest cat and a truly original performer. A combination jazz comedian, cosmic storyteller, earthy philosopher and gospel rapper, he was known for his unusual cadence combining African-American argot, beatnik slang and the King’s English while drawing on sources ranging from the Bible, Shakespeare soliloquies, the Classics, myth, legend, history and modern whimsy and transforming them into one-of-a-kind hip-talk flights of verbal fancy. His jazzy patois and worldview anticipated psychedelia and Hip-Hop by decades. “Jonah & The Whale,” “The Hip Gahn,” “Scrooge,” “Hipsters, Flipsters & Finger-Poppin’ Daddies,” & “The Nazz” are just a few of his hallmark monologues that the stuff of bohemian fable.
Dig Infinity! transpires in a surreal radio station where, on a midnight after his death, Lord Buckley spins out his life story while demonstrating his signature material. As Buckley holds forth, a dialogue with the audience is interspersed with flashbacks to various points in Lord Buckley’s life, the conversation shifts into a discussion about the importance of truth and art, a topic which includes a trip to the Dark Lands and a cameo by God as it becomes increasingly apparent that Lord Buckley is bargaining for his very soul.
Lord Buckley’s life and art remain so resonantly timely and why each new generation seems to rediscover and revere his legacy are the ways in which they confront and comment on controversial components of contemporary American life: politics, religion, language, art, sex, drugs, and, perhaps most saliently, race. Yet despite being a secret subterranean hero to the likes of Bob Dylan, Robin Williams, the Beatles, Jack Kerouac, Grateful Dead, Bill T. Jones, Ken Kesey, Joni Mitchell, Tom Waits, Julie Taymor, George Carlin, Jimmy Buffett, Joan Baez and scores of others, Buckley’s achievement remains neglected.
Lady Laurie Lord Buckley of the Lord Buckley estate is giving her permission for the specific usage of His Lordship’s material for a one time non-exclusive stage performance of Oliver Trager’s Dig Infinity! of the Apocalypso Theatre Collective Hudson Underground, Hudson, N.Y., February 22, 2020.