Blogger Grapevine: Commission of a New Play by James Still!

"Canal Kaleidoscope" photo by Carl Van Rooy

WordPress alerts me when someone has linked to my blog.  This weekend I learned that a blogger named Esther linked last week to my 2008 conversation with playwright James Still.

Esther’s post expresses delight with several of the theatre grants recently awarded by the National Endowment for the Arts.  One of them is a grant for $30,000 to the Indiana Repertory Theatre “to support the commission and development of April 4, 1968 by playwright-in-residence James Still.  The play will be based on Senator Robert Kennedy’s six-minute speech in Indianapolis on the night of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination.”

Yay, James!  Yay, IRT!  Yay, NEA!  Hurray for new plays!

(And thanks, Esther and WordPress!)

Hope Baugh – www.indytheatrehabit.com

By the way, I chose the photo above, called “Canal Kaleidoscope” and taken by Carl Van Rooy, because I think that Kennedy made that speech somewhere along the canal or on Indiana Avenue.  (And now I don’t want to go look it up to confirm because I like this photo either way.)  

That speech has fascinated me ever since Time magazine’s Joe Klein mentioned it in a keynote address to librarians at one of our national conferences.  He said (if I remember correctly) that Caucasian Kennedy was speaking to a mostly African-American audience when he got the news of King’s death from an aide.   Joe told us that Kennedy simply shared the tragic news with the crowd and shared their grief honestly, which probably prevented riots, something that could never happen with today’s cell phones and spin doctors.   In any case, I will be interested to see how James Still brings it to life again in a play.

5 thoughts on “Blogger Grapevine: Commission of a New Play by James Still!”

  1. Hope, Kennedy made his speech at what is now King Park Just north of 16th Street along College Avenue. There is a memorial to mark the site. Kenndey’s presence at the park and speech that night are widely created for forestalling the violence that erupted in other cities the night Rev. King was killed.

  2. Thanks very much, Therese, for reading and for leaving this comment. I appreciate the information, and I will look for the memorial!

  3. Hope,
    I was excited to see that RFK’s legacy will live on through another playwright. Will be eager to see the final outcome of this project. My wife and I enjoyed The Heaven’s Are Hung In Black at IRT
    very much. It was a well crafted piece of work.
    I am not sure if James is aware of this or not but a play by the name of RFK Remembered was produced at The Indiana Historical Society in October of 2004 and then again at Marian College in Nov/Dec 2007. It was a multimedia piece and was received very well. I know all this for a fact since I too was inspired by that speech years ago. It so inspired me that I researched, compiled,produced, and acted as RFK in the production. I am very blessed in that I am an Irish Catholic as well and bear a slight resemblance to the late Senator. My facts can be checked by contacting Mark Szbody with the IHS and Kris Steege with the Marian University Theatre Department.
    An additional sidenote to mention is the fact that another actor by the name of Jack Holmes performed in the show simply called RFK at The Culture Project in New York City. That show was produced October 2005 and apparently was well recieved as well. I was not fortunate enough to be in attendance though.
    With James Still producing another play it reinforces a favorite quote of mine that RFK used, which is that “No martyr’s cause is ever stilled by his assassin’s bullet”. RFK’s legacy of peace, hope and understanding will live on ! Kevin Caraher

  4. Hope,
    Thanks for your reply on one of my favorite subjects and that is RFK. I actually did some door to door campaigning for him here in Indianapolis in 1968 when I was 15 years old. RFK had inspired me that much at an early age.
    I am always looking for places to restage my RFK Remembered show. I forgot to mention that I staged it for a select group of history students at Scecina High School a couple of years ago and they really appreciated it. Lots of good questions afterwards.
    Indy’s Irish Fest has been my sponsor throughout all the productions and I could not have pulled it off without their financial backing.
    Like I said, I am always looking for new venues to restage RFK Remembered so if anyone out there would be open to that you can reach me at kevincaraher@hotmail.com
    There is a possibility that I might restage the show at Marian University again. Will let you know so maybe you can do a blog on it Hope !
    Peace, Kevin

Leave a Reply