"TRUMBO" REMINDS US OF AN EARLIER TIME WHEN THE U.S. FELT THREATENED  FROM WITHIN 
David Alexander Johnston is Dalton Trumbo at IT.

Bring your best pair of ears to Invisible Theater's COVID conscious production of the defiant “Trumbo: Red, White and Blacklisted,” drawn by Christopher Trumbo from the literary library of letters written by his father, the Hollywood blacklisted writer Dalton Trumbo (“Exodus,” “Spartacus,” “The Sandpiper,” “Roman Holiday” and several other equally successful films).

Before e-mail, texting, Twitter, etc. overwhelmed personal messaging, the centuries-old tradition of letter writing was considered an art form. Dalton Trumbo was a master.

Performing with a typewriter on his desk, David Alexander Johnston in the title role adds a powerful stage presence to go along with the presentation of this epistolary literature.

During the period of the play – from the 1930s into the 1970s (Trumbo died from a heart attack in 1976) – he wrote strongly opinionated letters to everyone from the teachers at his daughter's grade school to Washington's vaunted members of Congress who sent him to prison for contempt of Congress.

Trumbo thought every word he put to paper was important. He gave each one his complete attention. Now at Invisible Theater we enjoy the full effect of his thoughtfulness.

Susan Claassen is directing this 75-minute performance, with its cast of Johnston and Damian Garcia playing the proud son Christopher who wrote the play (and a role for himself) as narrator recalling the summation of his father's life many years later.

As actors, both men observe social distancing on stage and do not wear masks. There is also a wide separation from the stage to the seats for the socially distanced and masked audience.

Garcia sits on his own desk to directly address the audience, while Johnston far away at his desk on the opposite end of the stage ruminates, ponders and at times reads directly from letters he has written.

This does bring a kind of built-in static stiffness to the theatricality, but there is always a stirring magic in the words, which both men bring out in their performances.

Of course the whole point is to compare in our own minds the fear and divisiveness of the late 1940s alongside the fear and divisiveness emanating from our nation's capitol today. Fear can drive people to commit terrible acts not really in their nature, but those acts are committed, all the same.

As a member of the Hollywood Ten, Trumbo was convicted for refusing to answer questions about his ties to communism. Trumbo simply didn't believe what he thought was anybody's business. As a matter of democratic principle he was defending his right to think whatever he wanted.

Johnston's performance is convincing. We believe him, feel the wrongness of those Cold War pressures. Even as we see how today's divisiveness is also about politically opposed ideas that are competing for followers.

“Trumbo: Red, White and Blacklisted” is performed in strict accordance with all local COVID regulations. Reservations are required, masks are required and there is no intermission.

All tickets are $40. Performances are Oct. 21-Nov. 1, Wednesdays-Fridays, at 7:30 p.m., Sundays at 3 p.m. Also Saturday, Oct.24, at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, Oct. 31, at 3 p.m. For full details, visit www.invisibletheatre.com or call the IT box office, 520-882-9721.













"DISGRACED" DRAMATIZES HOW MUSLIM LIFE CHANGED IN AMERICA AFTER 9/11
New York actor Amir Darvish plays Amir Kapoor in "Disgraced" online this weekend.

An exceptional cast and script brought together by Tucson director and actor Mark Klugheit is coming up soon in a virtual online production. The multi-cultural and 2013 Pulitzer Prize winning “Disgraced” by Ayad Akhtar will screen twice in live performances over the coming weekend.

"I wanted to cast the best Tucson actors available. But a couple of the roles are very specific, and I also wanted the best actors I could get,” said Klugheit in a zoom interview. “Jory is African-American and Amir is of Middle Eastern descent.”

After contacting Tucsonans he knew that had New York theater connections, and nationally advertising his virtual auditions, Klugheit cast two actors based in New York, Amir Darvish and Ray Elizabeth, also Jelayna Rose from Los Angeles to play Jory and from Tucson, Steve McKee and Cole Potwardowski (who, oddly enough, recently moved to New York).

All the rehearsals were done remotely. No one came to Tucson.

"I had 20 who auditioned from other cities, seven were from here,” said Klugheit, who is directing “Disgraced” while co-producing in collaboration with Arizona Rose Theatre.

"Amir, who plays the role of Amir Kapoor, was in an earlier New York production of 'Disgraced'. He and Ray both live on the city's west side and have amazing chemistry together,” said Klugheit.

In the play, Amir Kapoor is a very upscale New York lawyer who works on Wall Street enjoying a monied lifestyle and rejecting the Muslim religion in which he was raised.

Amir is married to Emily (Ray Elizabeth) an equally successful American artist who finds her creative inspiration in the iconic imagery of Middle Eastern cultures.

"In the very beginning I just knew I wanted to do a serious play with a multi-cultural message,” Klugheit explained. "Then I read the script of this play.

"The issues in 'Disgraced' are too complex to be expressed in a simple sentence, but I would say the play is about what it means to be a Muslim man living in America after 9/11,” the director said.

As for the production values of this online effort, Klugheit believes working with Arizona Rose Theatre makes it possible to have a more advanced online experience than the usual zoom technology.

"The play runs about 85 minutes with no intermission and takes place in one apartment, but not all in one day. The number of windows on the screen will vary but have a similar background, all the actors are fully costumed, with some props that get passed between the windows.

"I only want to do live theater, so we aren't taping it to stream later. 'Disgraced' will be shown twice, each is a live performance,” Klugheit continued.

Performances are at 5 p.m. ( 8 p.m. EDT) Saturday, Oct. 24, and again at 2 p.m. (5 p.m. EDT) Sunday, Oct. 25. Tickets are free but an online reservation is necessary. Donations can be made directly to Arizona Rose Theatre. Get everything set up by visiting arizonarosetheatre.com