May 22, 2022 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

‘Jane Fonda In The Court Of Public Opinion’ On Stage At The Edgemar Center For The Arts:

Thirty-six years after the Vietnam War ended, the name Jane Fonda still has a polarizing effect on many people who never forgave her for her anti-war activities, including her infamous visit to North Vietnam where she posed for photos with the Viet Cong on an anti-aircraft tank.

In an effort to set the record straight, according to press notes, writer-director Terry Jastrow researched that period and tried to interview people who were directly affected by her activities, including war veterans, most of whom refused to cooperate. Jastrow focuses his script on an obscure meeting that took place in Waterbury, Connecticut on June 18, 1988 in St. Michael’s Episcopal Church between Fonda and hostile war veterans who, along with many Waterbury merchants, were boycotting the filming of her movie “Stanley & Iris,” which co-starred Robert de Niro.

Interwoven throughout the play are archival newsreels depicting events taking place around the war, including the burning of Fonda in effigy. This is followed by a few choppy scenes, in which the actors throw away the lines, so that the play does not take off immediately. It finally finds a pace when Anne Archer, in an emotionally controlled, strong performance as Jane Fonda, enters the room filled with angry vets. She wants to tell her side of the story and to try to convince them to allow her to make the film. The explosive accusations and confrontations begin.

In an effort to try to justify her activist actions, Archer’s Fonda delivers very long speeches explaining her involvement in the context of her life, as well as quoting newspaper reporters such as Walter Cronkite and David Brinkley whom we see on screen, as well as clips of President Richard Nixon planning strategy with Henry Kissinger and chief architect of the war Robert McNamara, who, years later, finally admits in his book that the war was wrong. One of the vets sneers at her, saying “You sure like to quote other people,” to which she replies, “I’m an actress, that’s what I do.” She talks about her father, Henry Fonda, pleading with her to give up her activities, saying she was unable to stop despite death threats against the two of them.

Again, using archival newsreels, Jastrow touches on the Kent State massacre, the historic 1970 anti-war rally in Washington, D.C. in which an estimated 100,000 people participated, and an assortment of other germane events. Fonda tries to support her position by saying that 70 percent of Americans were opposed to the war and tries to defend herself saying, “I wanted to be taken seriously and I did what I did to stop the killing on both sides.” She does admit she was accused of not helping the peace cause but was actually hurting it.

The hostile attitude towards Fonda continues throughout most of the play with each of the vets telling their experiences and how her efforts hurt them. They accuse her of being the reason America lost the war and said if it were an “official” war, she would have been tried for treason. At one point, the irascible Archie, played beautifully by Terrence Beasor, shouts at Fonda saying, “Why would anyone give a sh*t about what an actor has to say?” and later tears up a poster of Fonda as “Barbarella.” Another attempt to insult Fonda was Robert Foster’s angry Tommy showing her a urinal sticker with her likeness captioned “Hanoi Jane.” At that point, she walks out of the room, but does return after she cools off and the action continues. Eventually, there are very interesting transitions in the characters and their attitudes toward each other and towards Jane, in particular. Is forgiveness possible? One particularly poignant scene reveals that, it can be.

The outstanding acting ensemble includes a very sensitive James Giordano as Buzzy, who tries to illustrate the cost of American soldiers, by quietly, but deeply emotionally, describing walking his platoon into a slaughter, and Don Swayze as wheelchair-bound Don, who painfully relives the moment his legs were blown off. A strong Jonathan Kells Phillips, as Larry, shares his haunting experience when he accidentally shot a young girl in the dark. Also in the cast are Ben Shields as Stephen, Mark Gadbois as Anthony, Steve Voldseth as Reverend John, and Chauntae Pink as a television reporter.

Co-directed by Terry Jastrow and Michelle Danner, this material, supported by an effective set design by Chris Stone and light design by Juliet Klanchar, is on a slippery slope. In less skilled hands, it could have been one long lecture as there were lots of statics and anti-war hyperbole in Fonda’s long speeches. Instead, due in large part to the excellent production, it is a compelling, thought-provoking evening of theatre.

Edgemar Center for the Arts

2437 Main Street, Santa Monica

Run: Thursdays-Sundays

Through Dec. 4, 2011

Tickets: 310.392.7327

www.edgemarcenter.org

Follow The Mirror on Twitter: twitter.com/SMMirror

Like The Mirror on Facebook: facebook.com/SMMirror

in News
Related Posts

Los Angeles Metro Sees 15.9 Percent Increase in Median Rent

May 20, 2022

May 20, 2022

Median rent of $2,258, according to recent report By Dolores Quintana The ongoing pandemic has exacerbated the issues of housing...

New Renderings for Frank Gehry Hotel Development in Santa Monica

May 20, 2022

May 20, 2022

Project would include hotel, apartments, retail and a museum By Dolores Quintana Slowly but surely, plans for a  Frank Gehry-designed...

Shared Mobility Plummets in Santa Monica

May 20, 2022

May 20, 2022

Recent report also shows that nearly half of riders make over $100,000 By Sam Catanzaro Shared mobility use in Santa...

Christopher Dishlip Selected as Santa Monica’s New Assistant Director of Public Works

May 20, 2022

May 20, 2022

Public Works Director Rick Valte announced the selection of Christopher Dishlip as Santa Monica’s new Assistant Director of Public Works....

Letter to Editor: Response to Himmelrich’s “We Walk the Talk” Column

May 20, 2022

May 20, 2022

By Beau Marks As a Santa Monica resident, I am dismayed by Sue Himmelrich’s response (“We Walk the Talk,” Santa...

Motional And UberEats Launch Autonomous Deliveries In Santa Monica

May 18, 2022

May 18, 2022

There Are Plans For Expansion Into The Rest Of Los Angeles Motional, a global driverless technology leader, and Uber Technologies...

Winston Pies Opening Third Location In Santa Monica

May 18, 2022

May 18, 2022

The restaurant used to be known as ButterCrust Pies Winston Pies is staying in Santa Monica when opening their third...

Only 10 Vaquita Porpoises Survive, But The Species May Not Be Doomed

May 17, 2022

May 17, 2022

Hope remains for the porpoise species not only survive but thrive with human help. By Stuart Wolpert The vaquita porpoise,...

The American Cinematheque Brings “Bleak Week” To Santa Monica’s Aero Theatre And The Los Feliz Three Theatre

May 17, 2022

May 17, 2022

33 Films From 18 Countries In One Week. By Dolores Quintana Sometimes when things are tough and you’re feeling down,...

Man Who Murdered His Family Members Pleads Guilty To Five Other Killings

May 16, 2022

May 16, 2022

Escobar injured an additional seven other people as well.  By Dolores Quintana A man, Ramon Escobar, has pleaded guilty to...

The price of gasoline in Los Angeles County Has Experienced The Largest Increase Since February

May 16, 2022

May 16, 2022

Gasoline prices in Orange County Have Also Increased By Dolores Quintana Regular self-serve gasoline in the county of Los Angeles...

Santa Monica Travel Summit Of 2022 Returns To Take On Tomorrow

May 16, 2022

May 16, 2022

The Event Was Held At The Jonathan Club On Santa Monica Beach By Staff Writer The 2022 Santa Monica Tourism...

City Council Extends Santa Monica’s Parklet Program: Santa Monica Beat – May 16th, 2022

May 16, 2022

May 16, 2022

Local news and culture in under 5 minutes.* City Council Extends Santa Monica’s Parklet Program * Santa Monica High School Students...

1221 Ocean Avenue Complex Sold For Record Price

May 16, 2022

May 16, 2022

Sold for a record price of $330 million. By Dolores Quintana The Irvine Company has sold 1221 Ocean Avenue to...

Office Construction Is Starting To Rise In Los Angeles

May 15, 2022

May 15, 2022

Property vacancies are still affecting growth.  By Dolores Quintana In March, the Los Angeles Metropolitan area had 3.2 million square...