It’s official. Gingrich has finally stepped out and Mitt Romney has essentially secured the nomination for Republican Presidential Party Candidate. I don’t know if they capitalize it that way in their literature for the convention or press releases and such… but it certainly makes it seem appropriately “big.”
I have been waiting for this moment for what feels like a very long time now. Not because I’m particularly invested in the outcome (though I have to say this year’s primary process has been fascinating in what, for me, has been a jaw-dropping, head-shaking, stunned sort of way). But that’s a digression.
The reason I’m so excited it’s finally settled is that it opens up insanely creative and exciting doors for Festival producers! We’ve got an official nominee, and everyone in the Festival lineup yet to mount their show is about to embark on a production featuring presidential politics and personalities across the ages… in an election year. Dude.
Maybe it’s the history nerd in me, but I find that sort of awesome and – to be quite frank – titillating.
Next week I’ll be sharing a bit of background on the way Sean Daniels approached staging the show during the 2008 Presidential Campaign (again, do they capitalize such things… surely they do)—along with some exciting ideas he has for mounting the show this year at Geva Theatre Center.
As a teaser, however, I’ll share with you the script for the play I wrote in supporting his vision. Mind you, I never got to see this play performed, but I heard from the actors and production staff it rocked.
Watch out, Mitt. Plays for Presidents is surely coming for you in some form or another!
JOHN MCCAIN hangs up the coat and then stands center stage. A low spot center stage may be necessary to see MCCAIN clearly. WATER BEARERS 1 and 2 stand on either side of him, each with a translucent cup and pitcher of water. WATER BEARERS 3 and 4 sit down right and down left, each with a flashlight and cup of water (in a translucent cup). They are shining the flashlight through their cups of water to create a water effect on MCCAIN and WATER BEARERS 1 and 2.
[The water effect for this play should create a sense that MCCAIN is rising and sinking in water. This is created in the following way: The cup of water is held in front of the actor, while he or she shines a light through the water in the cup to create a sort of handmade “water gobo.” The effect of sinking and rising is created by slowly moving the flashlight in a half circle so that it moves all the way from the bottom of the cup (shining up to create a reflection on MCCAIN’S face and head) to the top of the cup (shining down at an angle to create a reflection on MCCAIN’S feet or the floor directly in front of him).]
At the start of the play, Are You Experienced? by Jimi Hendrix plays, beginning very softly and slowly increasing in volume. (The volume should never become so loud as to drown out the actors; however, they should have to increase their volume to remain heard… we should get a sense they are fighting to stay louder.)
WATER BEARERS 1 and 2 are taking turns pouring water into their cups and handing them to MCCAIN, who drinks the water and hands the cup back. WATER BEARERS 3 and 4 begin the water effect. A movement from the top of the glass (low water) to the bottom of the glass (high water) should take approximately two lines of dialogue, though it does get faster as the play goes on. Basically, when he’s “down” the water is up, and when he’s “up,” the water is down.
WATER BEARER 3: John S. McCain, III was born on August 29, 1936 to John Sidney McCain, Jr. and Roberta McCain at a naval air station in the Panama Canal Zone.
WATER BEARER 4: His father was a four-star admiral, as was his grandfather. McCain followed in their footsteps by attending the Naval Academy at Annapolis.
WATER BEARER 3: There, he drank, gambled, caroused, and lived the life of a playboy, earning a reputation as a cocky, brazen, and impetuous young man.
WATER BEARER 4: In 1958, he graduated… fifth from the bottom of his class.
WATER BEARER 3: In 1960, he graduated from flight school and volunteered for combat duty.
WATER BEARER 4: McCain flew low-altitude bombing missions in attack planes taking off from an air craft carrier called the USS Forestal.
WATER BEARER 3: Think Top Gun… on steroids.
WATER BEARER 4: In 1967, McCain’s Skyhawk was mistakenly hit by a missile on board the carrier.
WATER BEARER 3: McCain escaped the plane safely, but the resulting explosion and fires killed 134 people.
WATER BEARER 4: He continued to gamble, drink, and behave with bravado and confidence.
WATER BEARER 3: Three months later, on McCain’s 23rd mission, a Russian missile blew the right wing off his bomber.
WATER BEARER 4: McCain’s plane plummeted toward the ground, nose-first and spinning.
It is at this point the music should be at the loudest level it will ever reach.
WATER BEARERS 1 and 2 stop serving McCain water, fill their glasses again, and wait. DIRECT QUOTE LIGHT ON:
MCCAIN: I pulled the ejection handle, and was knocked unconscious by the force of the ejection—the air speed was about 500 knots.
DIRECT QUOTE LIGHT OFF. Music off.
WATER BEARERS 1 and 2 now begin to take turns throwing cups of water in McCain’s face as they speak. MCCAIN does not move. WATER BEARERS 3 and 4 continue the water effect.
WATER BEARER 1: McCain gained consciousness just before he hit Western Lake… and began to sink.
DIRECT QUOTE LIGHT ON:
MCCAIN: I didn’t realize it at the moment, but I had broken my right leg around the knee, my right arm in three places, and my left arm.
DIRECT QUOTE LIGHT OFF.
WATER BEARER 2: McCain sank to the lake’s bottom and pushed himself back up for air. He sank again and pushed back up again. The third time down, he managed to pull his inflation vest cord with his teeth.
WATER BEARER 1: When he reached the surface of the water, he was captured by North Vietnamese soldiers, who stripped him, beat him, and stabbed his shoulder with a bayonet.
WATER BEARER 2: He was taken to Hoa Loa prison in 1969, where he refused offers of early release and followed all codes of military conduct during capture.
On the following lines, WATER BEARERS 1 and 2 stop throwing water and move to sit CR and CL. They fill their cups with water, and use flashlights to create the same water effect WATER BEARERS 3 and 4 are engaged in.
WATER BEARER 1: He was freed in 1973 and returned to the Navy. Despite his attempts, his injuries were too extensive to return to active flying duty.
WATER BEARER 2: Undaunted, McCain transitioned into a position as a Navy liaison and later won a seat in the House of Reps… twice.
WATER BEARER 3: Reagan took office, and McCain became a member of the
DIRECT QUOTE LIGHT ON:
WATER BEARER 3: new Right, an elite group of young Republicans counted as trusted allies.
DIRECT QUOTE LIGHT OFF.
WATER BEARER 4: Until he underwent 2 years of scrutiny and public ridicule as a member of the Keating Five.
WATER BEARER 1: McCain fought his way back and won a Senate seat three times, and ran for president in 2000.
WATER BEARER 2: He upset all expectations in New Hampshire, defining himself as a straight-talking maverick able to appeal to independents and swing voters.
WATER BEARER 3: Until W. started playing dirty… and buried him.
WATER BEARER 4: McCain entered the 2008 presidential race on April 24, 2007.
WATER BEARER 1: Conventional wisdom said he could only fail.
WATER BEARER 2: But he took New Hampshire and smashed the competition.
WATER BEARER 3: Then got lost in the adulatory news cycle focused on a man 25 years younger.
WATER BEARER 4: With a political resume 20 years shorter.
WATER BEARER 1: Meanwhile, the country—
WATER BEARER 2 (joining 1): —waits—
WATER BEARER 3 (joining 1 and 2): —to see if he will sink—
WATER BEARER 4 (joining 1, 2, and 3): —or swim.