An ideally timed race to the finish line, Gore Vidal’s political drama connects to the concerns and curiosities that Americans have for the 2020 election. In this story, two frontrunners spar for their party’s nomination. Set during the National convention, the delegates must weigh the merits between two candidates with widely opposing values. When a self-made,
Mark Belnick plays former Secretary of State William Russell, one of the candidates running for president. No stranger to political intrigue, Belnick served as Deputy Chief Counsel to the US Senate Iran/Contra Investigation before embarking on a successful professional acting career that has earned him numerous stage and film credits over the past decades. He talked to us about why this story fits so well in the Los Angeles entertainment scene at this moment.
HR: What intrigued you most about this play?
Belnick: The uncanny timeliness and relevance. I think that Gore Vidal was
one of America’s greatest political thinkers, commentators
HR: What’s the story beneath the surface?
Belnick: Beneath the surface, Vidal’s play is a deadly accurate look at the underbelly of American politics. Social media plays a role now that’s similar to 1960, when television first started becoming significant for the presidential election. It’s like a powerful narcotic that attracts users/voters far more than any reasoned consideration of the issues. As Vidal portrays it, with the power of television, personalities triumph over policies, gossip over issues, and the camera-ready candidate over the thoughtful leader. Vidal accurately predicted, back in 1960, where we were headed — and where we in fact have found ourselves today. The result is a drama that places a mirror on our politics and on us. I think that’s what makes it engaging theatre.
HR: Will audiences be more likely to relate to this if they come from one side of the aisle or the other, or is it presented in a bi-partisan way?
Belnick: Vidal did not write this piece to favor any particular political viewpoint. His aim was to depict how our political system works,how ugly it can get and how far our presidential elections have veered from focusing on real issues as opposed to slander and mudslinging.
Vidal himself watched, with great concern, the very first series of televised presidential debates accompanied by massive TV advertising. Voting for “images” is a dangerous thing. As candidate Russell says in the play, “Image is a word from advertising, where you don’t sell the product but the image of the product, and sometimes that image is a fake.” The infection strikes at every political party and viewpoint. The only “bias” an audience will find in Vidal’s play is for truth, and issue-oriented politics. Without those elements, democracy gets reduced to a race for television ratings.
When: Opening at 8pm
Directed by Gary Lee Reed, additional cast members are Zack Carter* Martha Hackett,* Paul Morris III,* John Ruby, Aubrey Saverino,* Edwin Scheibner, Michael William Thompson, Ian Patrick Williams,* Rachel Winfree
*Denotes AEA Member
Where: The Lounge Theatre, 6201 Santa Monica Blvd.,?Los Angeles, CA 90038
Tickets: $30. Reservations: (323) 960-5770 or online https://www.onstage411.com/sons
Ample street parking.