New Hampshire is widely known as a center of presidential politics. But it also has world- class theater. It only makes sense that the two would be joined and the man to do it would be perhaps New Hampshire’s most famous playwright.
Political Suicide is a collection of four new plays written by Ernest Thompson, Academy Award-winning writer of On Golden Pond, that will be performed 16 times over a two-month span beginning the weekend prior to the New Hampshire primary. Thompson not only wrote the plays but will direct and star in them.
“One of Ernest’s favorite topics is politics,” said Morgan Murphy, a producer for Whitebridge Farm Productions, of which Thompson is CEO. “These are all comedies that make a statement but they don’t come down on either side of the political spectrum.
“Ernest has the ability to use dramady to make you laugh while simultaneously being thought-provoking and heartfelt,” Murphy said.
The first short script is Potato Head for President, which examines what voters look for in a candidate.
“People vote on what someone looks like or who has the best sound bite,” Murphy said. “This play ... asks when did we lose caring about what a president stands for?”
The second play is Occupy New Lexington, which Murphy said takes a look at the Occupy movement. In this short, a young man in small-town New Hampshire wants to join the movement and so he starts his own but unfortunately no one shows up to hear his impassioned plea for the 99 percent. No one except the local police chief, according to production notes.
“This takes an honest look at the 99 percent and what the Occupy movement means,” Murphy said.
In Welfare Thee Well, Katrina Belair is penniless after her rich husband dies and leaves her nothing. Suddenly, for the first time in her life, she has to go on welfare. Murphy said this play examines what happens when you lose everything. He said many people in the country are going through difficult times and are being forced to swallow their pride.
The final play is Rewrite, which finds a U.S. Senator returning to his small hometown and wrestling with his career choices with the passionate and lovely local editor whom he knew at the beginning of his career. This play looks at the different ways we change over the years both personally and politically.
Besides the scripts there will be several new songs written by Thompson and composer Joseph Deleault. One song, “This Isn’t Your Party,” will be sung by Samantha Farrell, who has opened for the Dave Matthews Band. Another, “Someone to Care,” will be performed by Christine Ohlman of Saturday Night Live fame.
Murphy said open auditions were held for the show, which will feature Pat Langille, Austine Howard, Meredith Imbimbo and Evan Clinton, in addition to Thompson.
“Ernest believes New Hampshire is the starting place for politics and that politics is about improving the place we live in,” Murphy said. “If there is any underlining message from this show it is: go out and vote.”
“I’m excited and think this is an important play,” Murphy said. “I’m just happy he didn’t ask us to perform in Dixville Notch.”