Celebrating John Lennon for 37 Years

Joe is the Executive Producer/Artistic Director of Theatre Within’s Annual John Lennon Tribute, which he has appeared in every year since 1981. To appreciate Joe’s history with the Tribute, it’s helpful to know a little about the early days of his career.

Fresh out of college in 1977, Joe was looking for work in comedy. He played the well-known clubs in New York with marginal success, though never felt quite at home.  A therapist he was seeing at the time suggested that he check out the Theatre Within Workshop, an experimental company on Manhattan’s upper west side.

The Theatre Within Workshop was led by Alec Rubin, a dynamic figure in the Human Potential Movement. Rubin was a primal therapist and director who used therapeutic techniques to help artists access deep feelings and develop material for the stage. Joe joined the Workshop in 1979 and two years later, following the senseless murder of John Lennon in December of 1980, he and Alec created the Annual John Lennon Tribute.

For the next two decades, under Alec’s direction with Joe’s assistance, the Tribute was an informal gathering of storytellers, actors, musicians and dancers. In 2001, Alec retired and Joe took full creative control of the Tribute, re-envisioning it as a charity concert. With Joe as the driving creative force, the Tribute grew from a small neighborhood gathering to a full-scale production with top artists, including Patti Smith, Donovan, Debbie Harry, Jackson Browne, Judy Collins and many others.   

Theatre Within’s Annual John Lennon Tribute is the only ongoing John Lennon tribute concert in North America or Europe officially sanctioned by Yoko Ono. All proceeds benefit Theatre Within’s workshops in creative expression and mindfulness for children, teens and adults whose lives have been impacted by cancer at Gilda’s Club, NYC.

The workshops, which Theatre Within provides at no cost, include The John Lennon Real Love Project, a songwriting and music program, and Imagine Peace, Practice Peace, a meditation program.

For more, please visit TheatreWithin.org and LennonTribute.org.