Ellen & Barry Levine
Leah & Neil MacNeil
at Hotel Shattuck Plaza
BAY AREA PREMIERE
STARTS August 30
- In The News
- Program Notes
What happens when the people you revere aren’t who you think they are? Recent law school graduate Emma Joseph proudly carries the torch of her family’s Marxist tradition by running a nonprofit organization dedicated to the memory of her blacklisted grandfather. But when a newly published book reveals shocking truths about the man, the entire family is forced to confront questions of honesty and allegiance they thought long ago resolved. Winner of the New York Time’s Outstanding Playwright Award for this play, Amy Herzog’s play 4000 Miles was a recent hit at A.C.T.
Runtime: Approximatey 2 hours with one ten-minute intermission.
San Francisco Chronicle
Bay Area News Group
East Bay Express
EDGE San Francisco
The Daily Californian
Jewish News Weekly
ADRIAN ANCHONDO - Miguel, Emma’s boyfriend
JESSICA BATES* - Emma, Ben’s younger daughter
PETER KYBART* - Morty, a donor to Emma’s fund
SARAH MITCHELL - Jess, Ben’s oldest daughter
ELLEN RATNER* - Vera, Joe’s second wife
ROLF SAXON* - Ben Joseph, Joe’s middle child
VICTOR TALMADGE* - Leo, Joe’s oldest
PAMELA GAYE WALKER* - Mel, Ben’s partner
JOY CARLIN** - Director
AMY HERZOG - Playwright
J.B. WILSON+ - Set Designer
WESLEY APFEL* - Stage Manager
MIA BAXTER - Properties
CALLIE FLOOR+ - Costume Designer
CHRIS HOUSTON - Sound Designer
KURT LANDISMAN+ - Lighting Designer
A Conversation with Amy Herzog
By Josh Costello, Literary Manager
JC: There are parallels between the family in After the Revolution and some of your own relatives. What was it like to grow up in such a politically-minded family?
AH: My immediate family was not radical, though my dad was the son of the person Vera is based on—he had a very radical upbringing, but my upbringing was much more just Northeast liberal kind of intellectual. I wasn’t quite as close to it as the characters in my plays, but I have all these grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins much more steeped in the political Left. I’d say my experience of that was very unquestioned pride when I was young; I really liked it, I thought it was cool. Before I had the powers to really analyze it I just had a generic sort of feeling of pride about it, and as I’ve gotten older I have a different kind of pride, which is a more examined kind of look at what members of my family fought for and what they stood for and what they stood up against in the face of a lot of difficult pressure. It wasn’t until I was probably a teenager that I really became aware that my upbringing was really unusual, and that to most people Communism was in fact a dirty word—that was really surprising to me when I figured it out.
JC: The play hinges on different understandings of what it meant to be a Communist in the United States in the middle of the 20th century. What do you think people today should remember about that situation?
AH: I think people should remember that the Communist movement was an extremely hopeful and positive force in most ways in the US in the 30s and 40s, and that the people who were persecuted in the 50s under McCarthyism were generally unjustly treated and it was a really ugly chapter in American history. And that we shouldn’t let that be clouded by our understanding of Communism as people living in the 21st century who know about the horrors of Stalin—those are two different things.
JC: Can you share any insights about your writing process? Do you have a regular routine? What gets you excited as a writer?
AH: I don’t have a regular routine. I write when I have a deadline or when I’m just really excited to be writing something. When I’m really troubled by something and when I can’t quite work my way through it just by thinking about it: that’s probably when it seems like time to write a play and that’s another way of working my way through it. I’m excited by the questions that really don’t seem to have answers. The things we take with us from our parents or our peer groups and the things that we discard, you know what we can live with and what we can’t.
Glossary for After the Revolution
A radio journalist and former Black Panther who was arrested in 1981 for the murder of a policeman in Philadelphia. His original death sentence, following a trial that has been described as unfairly biased, was commuted to life in prison in 2012 after numerous appeals.
Mumia’s lead defense attorney, author of Race for Justice: Mumia Abu Jamal’s Fight Against the Death Penalty. Julius and Ethel Rosenberg G US citizens executed in 1953 after being tried for passing secrets to the Soviet Union, including information about the atomic bomb.
US Senator from Wisconsin, 1947- 1957, known for his persecution of supposed Communists within the US Government. Inspiration for the term McCarthyism, the practice of making unsubstantiated accusations of treason for political purposes.
Being denied employment due to membership in a particular group or because of particular political beliefs. The Hollywood blacklist, for example, denied employment to screenwriters and other industry professionals who had been accused of having Communist sympathies or who refused to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee.
The Office of Strategic Services, a United States intelligence agency during World War II. Forerunner of the CIA. “Joe Joseph” worked for the OSS during World War II.
A political, social, and economic theory holding that the Capitalist system will be replaced by a stateless and classless society where all political and economic power will be held in common by all workers. The Leninist theory – which led to the creation of the USSR – posited a transitional phase where a revolutionary “vanguard party” would establish a socialist state holding all power for the benefit of the working class.
American Communist Party
A political party established in 1919, with over 70,000 US members by the late 1930s; fought for trade unions and for civil and democratic rights.
A US/British intelligence project, made public in 1995, that intercepted and decoded Soviet missives during and after World War II. The decryptions, made possible because a one-time code book was re-used, revealed information about Soviet espionage efforts within the United States – including evidence implicating Julius Rosenberg.
Norwegian politician; first Secretary General of the United Nations (1946-1952). “Joe Joseph” was appointed as Special Assistant to Trygve Lie in 1949.