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Political Satire MacBird! Flies to D.C., 9/8-10/7


The American Century Theater in Arlington, VA will bring Barbara Garson's controversial '60s satire MacBird! back to the Washington, D.C. area from September 8th through October 7th.
"It was February 1967, before 'Saturday Night Live' and 'The Daily Show,' before The National Lampoon and The Onion.  Gentle satire like Vaughn Meader's portrayal of the Kennedy's was considered cutting edge; Bob Hope was still getting laughs talking about politicians' golf games.  Something was in the air and Garson saw it coming: a generation reeling from JFK's assassination with lingering doubts about a cover-up, an increasingly politically energized population, and a hunger for rougher forms of humor," state press notes.
"The Viet Nam war and all the tumult of the '60's was the catalyst for MacBird! Lyndon Baines Johnson's landslide victory in 1964, propelled by the grand social agenda of the Great Society, had turned sour as the body count had risen. American college campuses were irrupting, pro and anti demonstrations being organized, and the public debate over Viet Nam getting louder, angrier, and more violent. Johnson himself was considered by too many a perfect subject for political theater…the drawl and the outsized features.
Johnson took the full brunt of satirist Garson's murderous satire. With Stacy Keach in the starring role, MacBird! opened Off-Broadway to a chorus of boos from the establishment. Questioning a President's integrity and humanity in the midst of a war?  Implying that all parties and participants in the American political process are corrupt or corrupted?

MacBird! is a double satire, as Garson deftly mocked Shakespeare and his interpreters while transforming the tragedy of the Scottish king into a bitterly comic tale of treachery and ambition in LBJ's Washington. MacBird! may strike the ear and eye differently today, its comedic tone, which seemed so harsh in 1967, may now be in tune with the riffs of Charles Black and Chris Rock.
Most of the Garson's targets are firmly embedded in the nation's historical memories: Ladybird Johnson, here styled as Lady MacBeth, the 'Ken O'Dunc' brothers, John, Robert and Teddy, Earl Warren and Adlai Stevenson. And looming above them all, MacBird himself; the profane, conflicted, tragically flawed Lyndon Baines Johnson."
Directed by Ellen Dempsey (It Had to Be You), the play will star TACT stalwart Joe Cronin (Mister Roberts, Moby Dick Rehearsed, The Seven Year Itch and others) as "MacBird," with Charlotte Akin as "Lady MacBird."  Akin, who will make her first appearance with the company, has previously performed with the Keegan, Scena and Fountainhead Theaters.
The large supporting cast includes: J.J. Area, Colby Codding, Joshua Drew, Brian Crane, Suzanne Edgar, Theo Hadjimichael, Steve McWilliams, Anne Nottage, Alex Perez, Robert Rector, Theodore M. Snead, Maura Stadem, Dwane Starlin and Jay Tilley.  Rhonda Hill will produce MacBird.
The creative team will include Tom Kennedy, set designer Ayun Fedorcha, lighting designer Matt Otto, sound designer, Jennifer Tardiff, and costume designer and props manager Eleanor Gomberg.

The American Century Theater is a 501© (3) professional nonprofit theater company dedicated to producing great, important, and neglected 20th Century American plays and playwrights. TACT is funded in part by the Arlington County Cultural Affairs Division of the Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Services, the Virginia Commission for the Arts and numerous foundations and many generous donors.

MacBird! runs September 8-October 7, 2006. Performances are Wednesday-Saturday evenings at 8 PM and 2:30 matinees on September 10, 17, 24, 30 and October 7. Performances are at Theater II, Gunston Arts Center, 2700 S. Lang Street, Arlington, VA 22206. Visit: or call 703-553-8782. Tickets are $23-29.

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