I am excited that last weekend marked the world premiere of Votes, the musical that I directed, at the Castillo Theatre! This dynamic and timely production features two characters based on Bill and Hillary Clinton, who sing, dance and question the underlying assumptions of the political game itself. I want to share with you an excerpt from the Author’s Note, by the playwright, Jacqueline Salit.
Votes is a play-within-a-play, though not in the classical sense where the characters in a play put on a play, as in Shakespeare’s Hamlet or A Midsummer Night’s Dream. It is literally an original play, deposited inside a new play, written and set 17 years later.
In 1999, Castillo’s then-artistic director, Fred Newman, wrote and directed a musical, The Last Temptation of William Jefferson, a three-character piece based on the trials (literal and figurative) of a First Couple in the White House. William and Melanie Jefferson’s journey from the turbulent 1960’s to the pinnacle of power had blurred and corrupted their political vision and the personal pact, which enabled their rise.
For years, I thought the play was a small gem, with profound and comedic themes, which deserved another showing, particularly in light of the current electoral upheavals in which “Clintonism,” remade several times over to suit the times, was still such a force. Since Newman always felt that you should never leave anything lying around (he didn’t mean dirty socks or dishes, but creative and political products of one kind or another) I picked up his play last summer. I decided to recreate it, to repurpose it, to revisit the Jeffersons circa 2016 and to try to discover what had happened to them and to our country in the 17 years since these two had captured the White House, only to be held captive by it. I met some intriguing new characters along the way.
This play is, ultimately, about the price people must pay to be in the political game. I dedicate it to my very dear friend and compatriot, Lenora Fulani, a courageous woman who ran for President in 1988, not to win, but to change the rules of the game.
March 19, 2016
Due to popular demand, the show has been extended until May 22nd! You can purchase tickets to Votes here.