Monday, July 14, 2008
The Very White House
Saturday night I went to the Kirk Douglas Theater in Culver City to see the excellent new play by Tanya Barfield, "Of Equal Measure."
Set between 1914 and 1917, this show is centered on "Miss Jade Kingston," an African-American secretary in the Woodrow Wilson White House who witnesses the Wilson Administration's efforts to covertly segregate the federal government.
In addition to race relations, this play deals with the right of women to vote and America's entry into World War I.
Heavy topics all, but Barfield manages to write a political play entertaining enough to keep the audience interested.
Michael T. Weiss plays a particularly odious character -- Edward Christianson, an assistant to the President who puts the moves on his African-American secretary while at the same time strong-arming segregationist policies into place.
I have to admit to not knowing much about President Wilson. It was interesting to see how he was portrayed as an intellectual torn between his campaign promises and political reality (a Democrat, in 1912 Wilson defeated Republican incumbent William Howard Taft, ex-president Theodore Roosevelt running on the Progressive ticket and labor leader Eugene V. Debs running as a Socialist).
It's also fascinating to think about the timeline of women getting the right to vote. I'm thinking my Great Grandmother, Eva Dover, -- who I knew -- probably came of age right about the time women were allowed to vote. Sure wish I could talk to her about that.