"Jackie TwoSticks, the real me." -John O'Brien, 2011, Chico, CA. 95926.
Richard Nixon is given the chance
to become President of the American Sector of Hell. But before he can
win the prize, Nixon must not merely audition for the Devil but revisit
the most painful hell-spots in his own heart: his failures in love.
Based on forty years of research and thought about the
life and character of Richard M. Nixon, not once in this play will the
reader find the words “Tricky Dick,” even if he did deserve that label.
Indeed, his dirty tricks could fill a book. Come to think of it….
my thinking, the average American would be as likely to join a Manson
family as commit the numerous crimes done by Nixon or under his watch.
Old Nick, the Devil’s assistant in the play, elucidates many of these
crimes against humanity, of a scale (I would hope) unimaginable to us
average folk. What we can grasp, what even a little child can
instinctively get, are the smaller crimes against the human heart: the
acts of cruelty and the impact of fear and lies.
attempts to follow the human scent into those hidden, wounded places of
the Nixonian heart and offer the healing of the Cosmic Orgone. Perhaps
when we truly understand that hatred and fear are no less powerful a
bond as love, perhaps then….
Nixon’s long opening monologue is
concatenated from numerous Nixon speeches. Many of the lines of dialogue
spoken by Nixon (and Pat Nixon and Ola Florence Welch, Nixon’s first
love) are verbatim quotes from various sources.
plot thickens, so to speak, in Swelling. Co-winner of the “In a
Surreal Vein” new works contest, the then-artistic director called the
play “...the best new play they'd ever gotten.” For certain people who
would easily get and appreciate The Annunciation, Swelling may be more
of a challenge, the “surrealism” label being perhaps the shakiest bridge
over the river. But take heart: the surreality of Swelling is perhaps
another term for “poetry,” a language to take us from here, the
“normal,” to someplace on the other side.
In RENO we do not come
to the other side but watch the bridge disappear, plunging us into the
dark, roiling waters of Dreamtime. The author, again, offers a
guarantee: you will go down laughing. And in fear. And when you rise
again to the surface you may well experience delight and peace.
Who could have foreseen Mary's refusal
because her plans did not include being Mom to Messiah?
Will gimpy Bob escape the brothel and the threat of the giant teddy bear (Ursus theodorus
Will The Woman, at last, reveal the mystery of her name and so consummate the
fever-dream marriage of Tennessee Williams and Kabuki Theater?
What, Gentle Reader, will your investment of money (lol)
and time (precious) yield when you read these three wee plays? The
Author GUARANTEES: a) a reaping of heaps of health-beneficial Laugh Out
Loud amusement; b) your personal, genuine Key to the Door, and c) the Author's personal assurance that the door, unscrewed at long last from its hinges, will serve much better than any raft of the Medusa in floating you into the Forms of the Mysteries.
The Annunciation and Swelling are New Play Contest Winners (both
instances at the Blue Room Theater in Chico, CA:. receiving full
production in 2009 & 1998, respectively). RENO has been staged in
1974, 1975 and twice in 1983.
The three plays together present, in several senses, an
increasingly complex realm of experience. Mary, in The Annunciation, is a simple young woman, caught up in a simple
conflict (or more accurately: a profound conflict told simply).
The human race is dying off. A plague is
destroying intelligence, language skills and memory, slowly turning
victims into vegetables. Maryann, housed in a relocation Center, is
painfully aware of her condition. Determined to escape, she is certain
that she will find someone who has the right idea about the good
medicine. If it is there then she will find it. Only one problem, though: the plague has taken away her ability to tie her shoe laces.
Characters (in order of appearance):
THE PRIVATE: part of the Patriot Corp; she follows orders, usually; (will also play "Sybele"); any age.
HOOKER: part of the Army of the Federation of Western States; his face
is covered by a surgical mask. The actor will also play "Paul," an older
MARTIN: old enough to have lost his wife and young child to
the Plague. He has found refuge in politics (running for President of
Camp Ron) and language (belongs to the "True Wording" cult: those who
that speaking in rhyme
will stop the world
from dying in time.
MARYANN: about Marty's age. Smart enough to be aware of her increasing stupidity and the need for a remedy.
TOAD: older than Maryann; her brother or so he claims; aggressive, vicious and cunning: perfect for running for President.
PAUL: an older man, a Nobel Prize winner but appears to be the most damaged person, until his appearance at play's end.
SYBELE: Paul's wife, an old, quiet woman
SETTING: Act 1, Scene 1: Captain Hooker's office at headquarters, The
President Ronald Reagan Civilian Relocation Center, Grand Junction,
Act 1, Scene 2 and Act 2 take place in Marty and Maryann's living quarters at Camp Ron.
November, Year Six of the Plague. [A genetic experiment gone awry, the
disease has caused, and continues to cause, irreversible destruction of
intelligence and memory. While some victims display the gait and tone of
lobotomy patients all display distinct and tell-tale language
Act 1, Sc 1. Around four in the afternoon.
Act 1, Sc 2. The same day, around two p.m.
Act 2. The same day, around 3:30 p.m.