imc indymedia

Los Angeles Indymedia : Activist News

white themeblack themered themetheme help
About Us Contact Us Calendar Publish RSS
Features
latest news
best of news
syndication
commentary


KILLRADIO

VozMob

ABCF LA

A-Infos Radio

Indymedia On Air

Dope-X-Resistance-LA List

LAAMN List




IMC Network:

Original Cities

www.indymedia.org africa: ambazonia canarias estrecho / madiaq kenya nigeria south africa canada: hamilton london, ontario maritimes montreal ontario ottawa quebec thunder bay vancouver victoria windsor winnipeg east asia: burma jakarta japan korea manila qc europe: abruzzo alacant andorra antwerpen armenia athens austria barcelona belarus belgium belgrade bristol brussels bulgaria calabria croatia cyprus emilia-romagna estrecho / madiaq euskal herria galiza germany grenoble hungary ireland istanbul italy la plana liege liguria lille linksunten lombardia london madrid malta marseille nantes napoli netherlands nice northern england norway oost-vlaanderen paris/Île-de-france patras piemonte poland portugal roma romania russia saint-petersburg scotland sverige switzerland thessaloniki torun toscana toulouse ukraine united kingdom valencia latin america: argentina bolivia chiapas chile chile sur cmi brasil colombia ecuador mexico peru puerto rico qollasuyu rosario santiago tijuana uruguay valparaiso venezuela venezuela oceania: adelaide aotearoa brisbane burma darwin jakarta manila melbourne perth qc sydney south asia: india mumbai united states: arizona arkansas asheville atlanta austin baltimore big muddy binghamton boston buffalo charlottesville chicago cleveland colorado columbus dc hawaii houston hudson mohawk kansas city la madison maine miami michigan milwaukee minneapolis/st. paul new hampshire new jersey new mexico new orleans north carolina north texas nyc oklahoma philadelphia pittsburgh portland richmond rochester rogue valley saint louis san diego san francisco san francisco bay area santa barbara santa cruz, ca sarasota seattle tampa bay tennessee urbana-champaign vermont western mass worcester west asia: armenia beirut israel palestine process: fbi/legal updates mailing lists process & imc docs tech volunteer projects: print radio satellite tv video regions: oceania united states topics: biotech

Surviving Cities

www.indymedia.org africa: canada: quebec east asia: japan europe: athens barcelona belgium bristol brussels cyprus germany grenoble ireland istanbul lille linksunten nantes netherlands norway portugal united kingdom latin america: argentina cmi brasil rosario oceania: aotearoa united states: austin big muddy binghamton boston chicago columbus la michigan nyc portland rochester saint louis san diego san francisco bay area santa cruz, ca tennessee urbana-champaign worcester west asia: palestine process: fbi/legal updates process & imc docs projects: radio satellite tv
printable version - js reader version - view hidden posts - tags and related articles

MOXIE Stages Topical Play “Bleeding Kansas”

by Mark Gabrish Conlan/Zenger's Newsmagazine Tuesday, Oct. 14, 2008 at 12:57 AM
mgconlan@earthlink.net (619) 688-1886 P.O. Box 50134, San Diego, CA 92165

MOXIE, San Diego's women-run feminist theatre, is presenting Kathryn Walat's "Bleeding Kansas," a dramatization of one of the bloodiest political conflicts in American history: the fight in 1855-56 over whether Kansas would become a free or slave state. This dress rehearsal for the Civil War wrenched the country apart and, in MOXIE's hands, becomes powerful, vivid, well-acted drama. "Bleeding Kansas" plays through Sunday, November 2 at Diversionary Theatre, 4545 Park Boulevard in University Heights, San Diego.

MOXIE Stages Topical...
bleeding_kansas.gif, image/gif, 400x613

“Bleeding Kansas”: Another MOXIE Triumph

by MARK GABRISH CONLAN

Copyright © 2008 by Mark Gabrish Conlan for Zenger’s Newsmagazine • All rights reserved

MOXIE Theatre’s new production, Kathryn Walat’s Bleeding Kansas, vividly dramatizes a little-known part of American history: the dress rehearsal for the Civil War that took place in the mid-1850’s in the newly organized territory of Kansas. Senator Stephen A. Douglas (D-Illinois), hungry for the presidency and anxious to come up with a compromise on slavery that would satisfy both the Northern and Southern wings of the Democratic Party, pushed the Kansas-Nebraska Act through Congress in 1854. The bill divided the Nebraska Territory into two halves, Nebraska and Kansas, and said that they would become either free or slave states depending on how their residents voted. It also repealed the Missouri Compromise, passed in 1820, which had restricted slavery’s expansion north of a specified line (36° 30’ latitude) and which many Northerners — including a little-known Illinois railroad lawyer and one-term Congressmember named Abraham Lincoln — believed had settled the question of slavery once and for all.

Douglas justified the Kansas-Nebraska Act on what he called “the Great Principle of Popular Sovereignty.” His opponents ridiculed it as “squatter sovereignty” and predicted that it would lead to both sides in the slavery debate “packing” the new territories with their own partisans and fighting the free vs. slave battle not with ballots, but with knives and guns. They were right. Organized by Missouri Senator David Atchison, gangs of armed Missouri whites — called “border ruffians,” first by their opponents and then by themselves — charged across the border into Kansas to stake out the territory for slavery. White Northern “free-soilers” responded by smuggling out letters describing the carnage being wreaked upon them by Missouri’s invaders, and ultimately they took up arms themselves. Anti-slavery activist John Brown, whose adult sons had already settled in Kansas, became convinced by the attacks on free-soilers there that nonviolent resistance to the slave power was futile and only violence could dislodge the slave power. Brown came to Kansas himself, and he and his family brutally put their principles into action.

Both Atchison and Brown appear as on-stage characters in Bleeding Kansas — the title is how the Kansas massacres were described in newspapers at the time — but the focus is on a handful of fictional characters caught up in the maelstrom. Hannah Rose Allen (Jennifer Eve Thorn) is an abolitionist schoolteacher from New England who comes to Kansas to support the anti-slavery campaign (even though, as a woman, she can’t vote) and teach once the dust settles and schools can open. Kittson “Kitty” Clarke (Jo Anne Glover) is the wife of free-soil farmer George Clarke (David S. Humphrey); grief-stricken by the death of their daughter Flora, they have moved from Indiana to Kansas not to be part of a great political struggle but simply to claim and work a farm. Edwin Redpath (Christopher Buess) is a border ruffian who comes to fight for slavery but also develops a sort of Romeo-and-Juliet attachment to Hannah Rose. Josiah Nichols (Mark Petrich) is a fellow farmer and a neighbor of the Clarkes; he’s a Missourian and therefore pro-slavery but, like the Clarkes on the other side, he isn’t militant about it.

Walat’s script occasionally falls into the didacticism that’s the trap of political playwrights, and it’s hard to believe that anybody in the U.S. outside a college faculty was as literate in the 1850’s as Hannah Rose appears in her letters to her sister Abigail (which she delivers as soliloquies during the play), but for the most part she’s written a tough, moving drama that vividly brings home the anguish of ordinary citizens caught up in someone else’s war. It’s Kansas in the 1850’s but it could be Bosnia, Kosovo or Rwanda in the 1990’s or Iraq today. MOXIE is presenting this as an election-themed play — it closes November 2, two days before the final vote, and is advertised as “one play you MUST see before Election Day!” — but the issues it raises are broader than that: whether anyone is truly “innocent” in a war zone, whether violence is ever an acceptable means to settle a political conflict, and above all the tragedy of people who just want to do their jobs, bring their crops in and raise their families in the middle of people who want to kill them for reasons of “principle.”

MOXIE’s artistic director, Delicia Turner Sonnenberg, directed this production. She grabs hold of Walat’s script and produces a high-tension staging that maintains the necessary intensity throughout. She and George Yé, credited in the program with “combat,” are especially good at the action scenes; when various characters emerge battered and bloodied, you believe it. The leads, Thorn and Glover — two of the women who co-founded MOXIE with Sonnenberg — deliver tough, no-nonsense performances. Thorn, though confronted with the preachiest dialogue in Walat’s play, delivers the proper air of self-assurance as well as the pompousness all too common in real-life ideologues. Glover is even better: playing a woman whose life has already been wrenched apart by the death of her daughter and will soon be tried even more traumatically, she turns in a gripping performance as the anxious, edgy woman overwhelmed by circumstances and determined to fight back.

The men are almost as good. David S. Humphrey (the only Actors’ Equity member in the cast) is tall, handsome (even in the unflattering 19th century costumes) and a bit gawky, and perfectly communicates the good-natured gentleness and ineffectuality of a man who doesn’t know the first thing about farming and, though he’s against slavery, shares the racism of the Southerners and doesn’t want any Black people, slave or free, in the state. (This is historically accurate; when Kansas finally entered the Union as a free state in 1861, the state constitution barred free Blacks from emigrating to the state and all Blacks from voting.) Christopher Buess gives most of his performance with his body language, literally and figuratively swaying back and forth between his pro-slavery convictions and his growing attractions to Hannah Rose. Mark Petrich as Josiah is well cast as yet another ordinary character whose love and gentleness shine through even though he believes (purely intellectually, since he doesn’t own slaves and could never afford to) in the South’s disgusting “peculiar institution.”

Scenic designer Jerry Sonnenberg (the director’s husband) gives us an enviably solid-looking set consisting of a well-constructed log cabin -— though not so well-constructed that we can’t believe it when the characters complain that wind blows through the cracks between the logs — a floor of actual soil and a large painted backdrop representing an expanse of sky. Jennifer Brawn Gittings’ costumes look credible as mid-19th century wear and Amy Chini’s props contain only one obvious anachronism: the modern-day cans the characters use as drinking cups. Jason Connors is credited with composition and sound design; most of the music is the rather scratchy-sounding fiddle playing that famously accompanied Ken Burns’ The Civil War documentary, though the only player credited is cellist Erica Erenyi. Lighting designer Jason Bleber isn’t afraid to make the lights bright when they should be, and he’s good at using spots to isolate the important action on stage.

MOXIE’s mission is to present plays with powerful, non-traditional views of women, and as in their previous productions they’ve achieved that big-time here. The final image (reproduced in the poster) of Thorn and Glover, sleeping on the same pallet, back to front, each with a rifle, is itself a chilling summation not only of the play’s theme but also of how being in the middle of a combat zone has changed their characters. Bleeding Kansas is a gut-wrenching, tear-jerking drama that grabs the emotions. Its story offers plenty of parallels to present-day political and ethical issues (in the intermission many audience members were talking more about the current financial crisis and the upcoming election than they were about the play itself) but it doesn’t hit us over the head with them. Its characters aren’t Brechtian archetypes but believable flesh-and-blood human beings for whom we root and with whom we suffer. Kathryn Walat has delivered a powerful play, and MOXIE has done it full justice in its production. It’s not just a must-see before the election; it would be a must-see any time.

MOXIE Theatre’s production of Kathryn Walat’s Bleeding Kansas runs through Sunday, November 2 at Diversionary Theatre, 4545 Park Boulevard in University Heights. Performances are 8 p.m. Thurs.-Sat. and 2 p.m. Sun. The Thurs., Oct. 16 and Fri., Oct. 17 performances are low-priced “pay what you can” previews. To purchase tickets, or for more information, call (619) 275-0332 or visit www.moxietheatre.com

Report this post as:

Local News

OUR HOUSE Grief Support Center Presents Night for Hope O30 5:38PM

Marshall Tuck’s racist dog whistle O27 5:01AM

Marshall Tuck’s ethnocentrism contradicts Californian values O27 4:32AM

Contra Costa-Hawkins O25 3:48AM

Debunking Some Anti-Prop 10 Propaganda O12 6:56AM

Why Should California Choose De Leon Over Feinstein? O10 9:55PM

Change Links September 2018 posted S02 10:22PM

More Scandals Rock Southern California Nuke Plant San Onofre A30 11:09PM

Site Outage Friday A30 3:49PM

Change Links August 2018 A14 1:56AM

Setback for Developer of SC Farm Land A12 11:09PM

More problems at Shutdown San Onofre Nuke J29 10:40PM

Change Links 2018 July posted J09 8:27PM

More Pix: "Families Belong Together," Pasadena J02 7:16PM

"Families Belong Together" March, Pasadena J02 7:08PM

Short Report on the Families Belong Together Protest in Los Angeles J30 11:26PM

Summer 2018 National Immigrant Solidarity Network News Alert! J11 6:58AM

Watch the Debate: Excluded Candidates for Governor of California M31 5:20AM

Change Links June 2018 posted M28 7:41AM

The Montrose Peace Vigil at 12 Years M22 8:01PM

Unity Archive Project M21 9:42AM

More Local News...

Other/Breaking News

Allo, quelqu'un ? Allo, quelqu'une ? D09 9:16AM

deral Government Officials are not allowed to take leaflets nor pick up items in privste D09 4:15AM

Communist Mouthwash Hides Nature of Nations Suffering in Comm Pyramids Ploys D09 12:01AM

Atlanta: metro Pillage, Poison Gas, Pricks D08 9:13PM

Atlanta Metro Suffers Under Pillage, Shame lso Political Poison Gases D08 8:41PM

Fed Says College Students Have More Debt than Previous Generations D07 3:08PM

Paraphysique de l'insurrection et de l'émeute D07 9:55AM

Corruption of USA government D06 4:14AM

"We live in a time of radical counter-enlightenment" D04 1:45AM

Did Woolsey Fire Cause Radioactive Fallout? D03 10:26PM

G20 Discusses Preventing Financial Crisis and Small Island Economies N30 3:10PM

Driver near Campbell San Jose researches Bus Traffic from Northern Mexico N29 4:04AM

The Death of Small Businesses in Big Cities, Explained N28 3:43PM

Felons Shw Ninjasred Heavy Truck Tyres N28 2:28PM

Paraphysique de la consommation/pollution N28 8:08AM

Paraphysique de l'effet spectateur N26 11:13AM

Condominium, terrorisme du capital N24 8:52AM

Debt and Tax Policies Needed to Prevent Crisis Says Finance Watchdog Group N23 2:40PM

Independent Media Crackdown and Global Social Movements N22 9:45PM

Abécédaire du fascisme restreint et général N22 8:41AM

“Animaniacs in Concert!” Starring Voice Legend Rob Paulsen Heads to Portland, Oregon N20 8:39PM

Socialism in American English N20 12:04PM

Noske, noskisme réactualisé N20 11:29AM

Oprah Please Stop Selling Dead Animal Pieces N20 3:32AM

Down In Smoke SF N20 12:03AM

Lucifers Banker N18 7:38PM

Paraphysique du scientisme N18 9:19AM

USDA Withholds Names Of Turkey Companies Spreading Salmonella N17 7:51PM

More Breaking News...
© 2000-2018 Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Unless otherwise stated by the author, all content is free for non-commercial reuse, reprint, and rebroadcast, on the net and elsewhere. Opinions are those of the contributors and are not necessarily endorsed by the Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Running sf-active v0.9.4 Disclaimer | Privacy