• Howard Zinn Play Fest Kicks Off With Emma

10/24/2008

As the Boston area Zinn Fest begins in celebration of Howard Zinn’s writing for the stage, Suffolk University’s Theatre Department presents Emma, Zinn’s play about turn-of-the-20th-century activist and anarchist Emma Goldman, “one of the first American heroes,” according to Marilyn Plotkins, director of the play and chair of Suffolk University’s Theatre department.

“She spoke for women’s rights, for free speech, for free love. And she was a brilliant writer,” says Plotkins. “It is not surprising that she became an icon in the 60s. Whenever a culture is experiencing the repressive forces of establishment, someone fighting those forces becomes popular.”

Emma will be performed Tuesday, Oct. 28 at 4 p.m. in the C. Walsh Theatre at Suffolk University and will be followed by a discussion with Howard Zinn moderated by Professor Judy Dushku of the Government Department. The play features Caitlin Langstaff as Emma; Tom Connolly as Mr. Levine and Henry Clay Frick; Jim Kaufman as Vogel and Mr. Sachs; Robert Brustein as Johann Most and President William McKinley; Wesley Savick as Alexander Berkman—Sasha; music by Andy Gaus, and a cast of students from the Suffolk University Theatre Department.

“The play has remarkable resonance for today,” says Plotkins, who choreographed the Boston premier of the play in 1977. “So many lines feel like they come right out of speeches that could have been written yesterday. The audience is in for a real treat.”

Zinn, a long-time Boston University professor and activist, is a Distinguished Visiting Scholar at Suffolk University during 2008-2009. He is author of numerous books, including A People’s History of the United States: 1492 to the Present (2006), A Power Governments Cannot Suppress (2007), and You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train: A Personal History of Our Times (2002).

“For the people who know Zinn, it will be an extraordinary thrill to be in the room with him and ask him about what is going on in the world today and the way the play connects to the current political environment,” says Plotkins. “For people who don’t know Zinn, it is a remarkable opportunity to be exposed to a national treasure. He will inspire generations of new students to think critically about the world and take an active part in making the world a better place.”

Zinn Fest involves Suffolk University, the Boston Playwrights' Theatre and Central Square Theatre. Events at Suffolk include the plays Emma (Oct. 28), Shouting Theatre in a Crowded Fire (Nov.  20-22), and Daughter of Venus (Jan. 22-24). These performances will be in the C. Walsh Theatre, 55 Temple St., Boston. Seating is first come, first served; arrive early to get a seat.

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