September 25, 2008

May ‘The Best Man’ Win

By Margot Abbott

ROLE PLAYER'S ENSEMBLE will present "The Best Man," Gore Vidal's 1960 drama about a presidential election. The play, which begins the Danville group's 25th season opens Oct. 10 and ends right before Election Day.

You can't get more topical than that.

"In a political season, Vidal's 'The Best Man' is the best of political theater and a salutary reminder of the limits to political campaigning," said Sue Trigg, who directed the play. "It's amazing how contemporary the play's themes and situations seem, even after nearly 50 years."

The action takes place during a deadlocked presidential nominating convention. Two candidates need the endorsement of an influential former president and will play any dirty trick to get it.

Trigg, who is also Role Players' artistic director, uses multi- media to help create the look and feel of a 1960s convention.

"We forget with today's made-for-television, pre-packaged conventions that there actually was suspense and drama to these events in the '60s," she said. "The outcome wasn't settled before the convention started."

Vidal, who ran unsuccessfully for Congress and the Senate, wrote: "My family helped start this country and we've been in political life since the 1690s."

A friend of Vidal's family, John Kennedy, saw "The Best Man" and commented: "In a campaign, we don't have all that much time to talk about the meaning of it all."

Richard Aiello and Jim Janisch play the two candidates; Dean Creighton is the former president. Filling out the cast are Janice Fuller, Beth Chastain, Daniel Brown, Doug Guyon and Tom Leone. All of the actors have decades of performing experience in the Bay Area.

Role Players Ensemble Theatre presents "The Best Man" from Oct. 10 through Nov. 1. Performances are at 8 p.m. on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays; and Sundays at 2 p.m. at the Village Theatre, 233 Front St., Danville.

Tickets are $22 to $25, $15 for students with ID. You can purchase them by calling 925-820-1278, visit the Danville Community Center at 420 Front St., or on the Web site

What an interesting comment from JFK. Made me think of the Robert Redford film, "The Candidate." In that, Redford is a Kennedy-esque candidate from Southern California, who gets thrust into the limelight and wins the nomination. It is one of those great 1970s films that has a gritty realistic tone, but the best moment is Redford's face when he hears he has won.

It's a definite "Oh, balderdash," or, "What do I do now?" moment. Check it out!

THE NEXT CENTURY HOUSE poetry reading will be held Oct. 5. Pleasanton Poet Laureate Martha Meltzer will host nature poet Sandra Stillwell and Pleasanton naturalist Eric Nicholas.

Stillwell finds inspiration in nature as well as in the culture of her ancestors, the Karuk people of Northern California. She has worked for the California Department of Parks and Recreation for 26 years and has experienced the natural world every day.

Nicholas, a writer and a naturalist, will talk about the relation between nature and art.

As always, an open mic segment follows the scheduled program. Poets of all ages and levels are invited to read or recite a favorite or original poem of 40 lines or less.

The Poet Laureate program is part of City of Pleasanton Civic Arts and the readings at Century House, 2401 Santa Rita Road, take place every other month on a Sunday.

Admission is $5. The reading will last from 2 to about 4 p.m. For details, visit

Reach Margot Abbott at [email protected]

Originally published by Margot Abbott, VALLEY TIMES.

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