Tina Packer has long held a fascination with American politics. When not in makeup and costume, it’s one of her many passions. Born in England, she loves her adopted country. So much in fact that she instituted the annual reading of the Declaration of Independence at Shakespeare & Company’s annual July 4 celebration. For many in the Berkshires, it is both a tradition and the sort of patriotic event that honors what is best about America. If Packer did not have a career in the theatre, she could have easily pursued one in politics.
I became aware several years ago that Packer and her company have been openly searching for plays that have more of a contemporary political feel, much as the plays of Shakespeare illuminated the politics of his times. With Red Hot Patriot: The Kick-Ass Wit of Molly Ivins, the past finally meets the present. Now the life and writings of liberal Texas political columnist Molly Ivins are not as widely known as say, Mark Twain, but with this play, her place in history is being firmly established.
“The poor man who is currently our president has reached such a point of befuddlement that he thinks stem cell research is the same as taking human lives, but that 40,000 dead Iraqi civilians are progress toward democracy,” from a July 2006 column urging commentator Bill Moyers to run for president.