ARIZONA JUSTICE Exposes Corruption In AZ, Water Rights, Money Laundering & Murder
"Arizona Justice," written and performed by Katherine Brann Fredricks, is a Michael Moore/Spalding Gray style documentary exposé of corruption in Arizona, involving Senator Barry Goldwater, land fraud, water rights, the mob, money laundering and murder between the 1960's and the early 2000's. Theater for the New City's Dream Up Festival will present the play's world premiere August 26 to September 5. Adam Chisnall directs.Fredricks, a documentary film maker and theatrical lyricist/librettist, is the daughter of ranchers in Arizona. Her home town, Prescott Arizona, doubled in population when it was named the best place in America to retire in 1994. Fredricks wondered where the water for all that development was going to come from and wrote letters to the editor. That led to public speaking, an invitation to run for the State House of Representatives on a water conservation platform -- and death threats. As she investigated Arizona's long ugly history of organized crime and land fraud, including the 1976 car bombing of Pulitzer-prize nominated crime reporter Don Bolles, she realized her activism had put a target on her back. In the course of her electoral campaign, her land line was tapped, important documents were swiped and she was stalked in the woods. The play recounts Fredricks' efforts to protect Arizona's water supply and ensure sustainability in real estate development there. She opposed a bill proposed by State Senator Carol Springer, a professional realtor, that would allow depletion of water levels while exponentially increasing land values. She lost her bid for State House of Representatives as well as her fight with State Senator Springer. Finding her documentary career tanking along with her other fortunes, she moved away to New York where, after 9/11, she was shocked to discover the Phoenix Memo, an FBI document warning of Saudi terrorists in Arizona flight schools. She wondered, "What the heck were terrorists doing in Arizona? How did they even find the place?" She wrote several members of Congress begging for investigations, but found nothing "to bring to court," so she "stopped pounding [her] head against the wall." That is, until 2017, when a Broadway producer encouraged her to write a solo show on her investigative efforts. The result was this play. Fredricks expected the play to document local officials with a conflict of interest. What she found was intentional, systematic and well-funded corruption. Don Bolles had traced it to Arizona becoming a sunny refuge for mobsters including Moe Dalitz, the Godfather of Las Vegas who ran half a dozen Vegas Casinos and made money for the mafia by skimming gambling money, and Joe Bonanno and "Horseface" Licavoli, heads of New York and Detroit crime families. "Arizona Justice" is a compelling account, told like a fireside chat, in which Fredricks offers us an intricate web of bribery, blackmail and murder, including the names of dozens of players. She had been raised to revere Senator Goldwater, nicknamed "Mr. Arizona." So she never dreamed he could be connected to organized crime until 2017, when she discovered 40 year old research by Investigative Reporters and Editors (of which reporter Don Bolles had been a founding member) that revealed Senator Goldwater's brother Bob had multi-million dollar financial links to organized crime figures. After finishing the first draft of the play, she engaged in a second round of research, in which she read the 9/11 Commission Report and all the footnotes relating to Arizona. From this she learned that ten percent of the 9/11 hijackers were in the state between December 2000 and March 2001 and that the FBI anti-terrorism team was reassigned to other work for that whole period of time. Now she writes, "I was shocked by what I discovered. I did not start out with an agenda. I uncovered the facts and noted the coincidences. Piles of them." "Great secrets hide in unexpected places," she writes. She wonders: was Kenneth Williams, author of the Phoenix Memo, pulled off the case because his investigations threatened mob money laundering in Arizona? Senator Barry Goldwater, Fredricks reminds us, was Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee during Iran Contra and he decreased the number of Congressional Committees overseeing the CIA from eight to two. Although she has not found a "smoking gun," she remains shaken by coincidences that might link failures of intelligence before 9/11 to Arizona's long, bloody history of land fraud and organized crime. The play is illustrated with multimedia projections. Katherine Brann Fredricks has written, produced and directed two feature documentaries, "The Price of the Pines" (co-produced with Canada's Banff Center for the Arts) and "The Yavapai Story" (which aired on national cable TV, won a Bronze Apple at the National Educational Video & Film Festival and screened at New York's Museum of Modern Art.) She is also a playwright who has had four musicals in the Planet Connections Theatre Festivity in the last five years. Of these, two won awards for Outstanding Music & Lyrics. Together, the four shows won or were nominated for 26 other awards. She adapted "Occasion for Sin" (2017) from the writings of St. Teresa of Avila in collaboration with Grammy Award winning composer Oriente Lopez. "Nix" (20165) was adapted from "Hamlet" with composer Massimo Malavasi. "Black Hole Wedding" (2015) was adapted from the Ramayana with composer Paul Nelson. "Walden" (2013) was adapted from Thoreau with composer Bert Draesel. A fifth musical, "Divine Chaos," composed by Lily Swan and Joe McCanna, has been produced in regional theaters. She is a member of The Dramatists Guild. ( https://katherine-b-fredricks.squarespace.com) Adam Chisnall won Best Director at the 2017 Planet Connections Theatre Festivity Awards. He is a director, actor and emcee. He recently directed "Dead Brains" and "Umbilical" at The Clemente Center. Other directing credits include "Sodd and Gomm" (Venus/Adonis Theatre Festival), "Mrs. Lee's Yellow Cat" (Gallery Players), "The Progressives" (The Network), "Happy Hamster Birthday" (LeelaNYC Theatre Festival), "War Is A Picnic" (Thespian Productions), "Pop Goes the Weasel" (Strawberry One Act) and "Murder Needs Company" (The Gallery Players). He was Assistant Director of "Clover" by Erik When at La MaMa and "The Vanity," a musical melodrama inspired by "The Portrait of Dorian Gray,"on Theatre Row. Chisnall directed "Emerson at Big Mart" for Planet Connections, winning Best Director of a Short Play/One Act or Solo Show. He is a line producer for the New Works Series with The New York Theatre Barm and creator of The One Act Comedy Fest.