Thursday, October 16, 2008
On the Way to O'Neill's: JFK in Ireland
Here's an update to the following item that I posted March 1. On the Way to O'Neill's: JFK in Ireland, by Ann G. Bauer and David Beckett, will have a New York reading at 7 p.m. Nov 1 at the Roy Arias Studios and Theatres, 300 W. 43rd St., Suite 506. For more information visit onthewaytooneills.com or call (818) 640-5881. The reading is part of a series of political, social and global works called We ARE the People. For more on the series, go to firstname.lastname@example.org or call (212) 957-8358.
Actor David Beckett called me this morning to tell me about a new alternate history play, "On The Way To O'Neill's: JFK In Ireland," on which he has collaborated. He’s looking for directors (and theatre companies) interested in producing projects that are timely and challenging. This prize-winning play was featured in New York last spring on Ten Grand Productions' "Cold Cuts Reading Series". This followed a successful reading at the Actor's Co-op in Hollywood.
The play begins in late fall 1999, in a cottage in Wexford, Ireland. An 82-year-old JFK wakes from a nap and a nightmare in which he relives John Jr.s tragic plane crash. (Kennedy survived Dallas, although gravely injured. Mrs. Kennedy did not.)
Mrs. Byrnes, his housekeeper, has left him a cassette tape given to her by a woman in the market. The voice sounds like that of an Irish Jackie. It is a reporter named Gemma OLeary. Kennedy calls her to politely refuse any interview request and discovers himself agreeing to answer questions sent in by school children. As the questions become more probing, he invites her to come over for lunch on the following Tuesday to continue.
As Act II opens Gemma arrives for lunch. The school children's’ questions at first touch on Kennedy family history, relationships, scandals, etc. But soon personal issues for both President and reporter are laid bare. Unexpected revelations are made on each side. The mutual self-disclosure results in a growing closeness between Gemma and JFK. This prompts him to finally reveal his real reason for coming to Ireland. Gemma’s response then confronts him with a life-changing decision.
The script won the 2006 World Cultures Grant from San Diego City College.
Some of the praise for this work:
Father Andrew Greeley: "Fascinating play!... I hope it gets performed on Broadway where it belongs!"
Jason Hewitt, managing director of NYC's Ten Grand Productions, called the script: "Stirring and provocative -- keeps the audience in the throes of mystery and rekindles a national spirit that's been missing for a while."
If you would like to find out more about the play or see David’s profile, they can be found at: http://onthewaytooneills.com and http://davidbeckett.com.
(The photo here is of JFK at 86; The New York Times commissioned a forensic artist to create this image of how an older JFK would have appeared. David and his collaborators used it to have a Hollywood makeup artist create makeup designed for the elderly JFK charcter.)