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Naked Darrow

nytheatre.com q&a preview by Gary Anderson
May 8, 2013

What is your job on this show?
Playwright/Actor .

What is your show about?
A provocative look at our most hated and revered attorney Clarence Darrow as his great mind slips away revealing a portrait of Darrow the man and based on the most intimate details of his private life.

What type of theater do you like most to work on?
Social Justice theatre is where I am happiest. I can see I am engaging, enraging, provoking my audiences to think. My goal as a playwright and actor is not to have my audiences to 'sit back and relax' Hell they can do that somewhere else! I want them to lean forward and engage with the life and lives that are if front of them - NOW!

Why do you do theater (as opposed to film, or TV, or something not in the entertainment field)?
Let's be frank here - In Wausau WI, where I live, I have no access to film or TV and any medium that can reach larger audiences. But I can write, direct, produce and act in theatre with themes of common humanity that says that we are all entitled to stand under the same sun without having to hide who we are.

Why did you want to write/direct/produce/act in/work on this show?
I have been journeying as playwright and actor towards this particular version of Clarence Darrow for 16 years. This version of Darrow's life will resonate with a multitude of families and individuals whose lives have been and still are being touched by dementia/Alz. That coupled with portraying the truth about this giant figure in our history who was haunted and scarred from the conditions of life, some of which were his own doing. In other words, he did, what I and perhaps you the reader, are trying to do - succeed in spite of myself and learn along the way how to help others. Albert Pine once said - What we do for ourselves dies with us. What we do for others and the world remains and is immortal.

Which “S” word best describes your show: SMOOTH, SEXY, SMART, SURPRISING?
SUPRISING - Most of us have this comfortable version of Darrow from the Scopes Monkey Trial - which is his most famous one - and the movie/play Inherit the Wind. Make room for this all too human man - raw, naked (meaning vulnerable) a gutter fighter, a rough and sexual attorney complete with his depressions, bouts of alcoholism, jury tampering charges, disabling fear of death, and mistresses. This Darrow has never, never been seen on a stage. Yet my audiences, as this work was developed, feel more connected to him through his struggles than the iconic hero he has become.

Who are your heroes?
Besides the obvious answer, I will have to say countless ordinary people I meet who have overcome great obstacles to move forward with their grace and dignity intact. When they share their stories with me - I feel honored and inspired. In ways both small and considered I sometimes incorporate their strength, their scars into my other historical characters - such as Whistler, John Adams - to bring them alive and oh so very human.