The following interview is part of the ongoing “Meet the Cast and Crew” series for The Actors’ Group. Rebecca Lea McCarthy conducts interviews with cast and crew of upcoming productions.
Aloha Friends of TAG, and welcome to our 20016 – 2017 Season. Every four years during the presidential election cycle, The Actors’ Group likes to mount a production that helps us focus on politics in America. This year we will be presenting Gore Vidal’s The Best Man. To keep with the spirit of the production at the upcoming election, I am asking those participating in the production a different series of questions relating to the play and our current election cycle.
No, I don’t relate to him personally at all. For one, he’s a US Senator and Presidential Candidate and I am a journalist and writer who has-at best-met a couple of US Senators. I have also interviewed a number of local politicians and covered a handful of elections here on Oahu. That’s the closest I have to politics. Finally, Joe is an extremely ambitious, supremely confident and highly focused person. The confidence and focus we both share-the ambition is all his. I m not an ambitious person-not at my age.
The saying I have coined after covering elections as a reporter is “Some things change but the game remains the same.” This election year has been atypical, not typical. I guess if Albert Camus wrote about American politics you would get Trump against Clinton (Laughs). The Best Man is actually a lot calmer and logical- even with the tensions and anxieties felt by the characters throughout-then the two different real campaigns this year. I think the only thing that ties both the 2016 election year to Gore Vidal’s 1960 play is the rise of the unexpected and unforeseen.
As for my platform if I were forced to run, basically I would try to void the TPP and fight against any unilateral, multination trade deal on the order of past deals such as NAFTA, CAFTA etc. I would try to work with the UK on a post-Brexit economy for them. I would try to close as many foreign US bases as possible and bring back as many troops as possible in an effort to save funds. I would try to fight intellectual property, copyright and other types of theft including an emphasis on theft of plans for technology. I would look at expanding manufacturing and looking at expanding basic wages such as the minimum wage for American workers. How’s that? (Laughs)
The major reason I’m doing this play is that I am a huge admirer of Gore Vidal. Vidal was a tough, elegant and brutally direct critic of US policy and the nation. If you look at The Best Man both characters are flawed, there is no real good guy or bad guy. Just two men with two different takes on how to get to be President. Vidal had run for Congress as this play was being mounted on Broadway in 1960; he ran I think for the 24th District in New York and lost. He understood the nature of politics in this country not only as a candidate for office but coming from a political family-his grandfather was a Senator from Oklahoma.
Basically, two. One I am a character actor who is playing a leading role here so I have to get used to that and the other is that this is my first play as an actor in 16 years. So, returning to theater acting is the second.
The only thing I like about Cantwell is that he treats his wife with respect and clearly loves her. I love their relationship in the play. It made me comfortable in playing the part.
My speech when I talk about how I was born to be a politician and run for President-I like that part. Also when Vidal discussed how to obtain power.
That politics is not about good or evil or wrong or right but who timing and ability.
The Best Man is running at TAG September 2 – 25th.
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