The following is the original English version of the joint press release sent out by the Arsenal Institute and the Hebbel-am-ufer theater to the German-language press after Ronald Tavel's death:
It is with deep sadness and great regret that we write to inform you of the death of American playwright, screenwriter, novelist, and essayist Ronald Tavel. We were notified Wednesday afternoon that Tavel died on his return to Bangkok from Berlin.
Ronald Tavel is perhaps best known as the screenwriter for numerous Andy Warhol films in 1965-6, including The Life of Juanita Castro, Kitchen, Vinyl, and Horse. In 1965 he worked with director John Vaccaro and artist Jack Smith to present two Warhol screenplays on stage. This collaboration lead to the formation of the seminal theater movement known as the “Theatre of the Ridiculous.” Tavel has written over 40 plays, including Gorilla Queen (translated into German) and the Obie award-winning, Boy on the Straight-Back Chair (1969). He also published one novel Street of Stairs (in German: Stufen, 1969). He shared a deep love and fascination for the 1940s Hollywood diva Maria Montez with his longtime friend and collaborator Jack Smith. Tavel was in Berlin from March 18-23, 2009 attending a planning weekend for LIVE FILM! (jack smith), an international festival honoring the work of Jack Smith hosted by Arsenal Institute for Film and Video Art and Hebbel-am-Ufer Theater (HAU) and scheduled to take place from October 28-Nov 1, 2009. Along with almost fifty artists and scholars from Europe and the USA, Tavel participated in screenings and discussions inspired by Smith’s films, which were restored by Jerry Tartaglia for the Plaster Foundation and placed at the Arsenal film archive. Tavel was planning on writing a new play as an homage to Smith that was scheduled to premiere in the festival in the Fall. The curators of LIVE FILM! (jack smith), Susanne Sachsse, Marc Siegel and Stefanie Schulte Strathaus, and the Arsenal and HAU are shocked and saddened by this horrible news. Ronald Tavel is survived by his brother, Harvey, and scores of friends worldwide.