Philly Spotlight: Hillary and Clinton - Philadelphia Theater Company Commentary

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Changing Your Story #StagetoPagePTC
Essay inspired by Lucas Hnath's play

Currently running at Philadelphia Theater Company
May 27 through June 26 at the Suzanne Roberts Theatre

By Tinsel & Tine Editor, Le Anne Lindsay

Tinsel & Tine Subscribers were once again treated to comp tickets to live theater at Philadelphia Theater Company. Last month we got to see Sex with Strangers (click for T&T post) and currently, the closing show of their 2015/2016 season "Hillary and Clinton", a very timely piece considering all eyes are on the 2016 Presidential Election.

PTC Cast, Crew Opening Night 6.1.16
Play Synopsis: 
In this humorous political fantasy, Hnath asks us to imagine an alternate universe, very much like our own, where a woman named Hillary (Alice M. Gatling) is trying to become president of a country called the United States of America. It’s the eve of the 2008 New Hampshire primary. Hillary’s numbers are trailing and her campaign has officially run out of money, but she’s not ready to give up—not yet. Transcending what we know about the Hillary Clinton of our reality, this play becomes a story about gender, power, marriage and possibilities.

There's a scene in the play where Hillary's husband Bill (John Procaccino) explains that to win an election you have to tell a story about who the public thinks or wants you to be. He tries to convince her to be a mother figure to the country, that her story should be about being nurturing. Hillary wants her story to be about being capable, strong, admired for her leadership abilities. However, she admits that the running story that the public never sees past is Hillary as someone so power hungry and addicted to politics that she's willing to stay with a man who has humiliated her with other women time and again, putting up with it because despite everything, they're stronger as a power couple than they would be apart.

Of course, perception stories don't just apply to those in the public eye, we all have at least 3 stories- The one in our head; The one others perceive you as; And the one you'd like to shape to perfection.  Think about yours...

Getting back to a political figure for a moment, I recently saw the documentary Weiner (Sundance Select - Meet the Artist Directors Elyse Steinberg and Josh Kriegman ), which follows disgraced Congressman Anthony Weiner's run for Mayor of New York in 2013.  The story in his head is that of someone perhaps a little quirky but with enough passion and fire to fight for the common man. That story was taking on public perception, until the story of "Carlos Danger" came to light and then his perceived story became Anthony Weiner, a man with poor judgement and even less impulse control.  The story he wanted to shape into perfection was that of devoted husband to a brilliant wife, who looks up to him with admiration (Real life Hillary Clinton's Advisor, Huma Abedin).  A loving father, and a man who could take New York back from Wall Street and give more power to the people. At this point, particularly after this documentary, he'll never come close to making that story stick.

What about me?  The story in my head is that of someone constantly disappointed in my failure to have created a more fabulous life. By now I should be financially, if not secure, at least not always living so precariously. I should have experienced at least one big, love of my life romance. And travel! It pains me that I haven't used my passport in over a decade; I should be halfway through my travel bucket list. Were all this to be true, I'd be able to shape a perception of a sophisticated widow or divorcee, who's well-traveled with complete freedom to blog for recreation. No longer trying to make it work around some dull day job, often vexed that there's little to no money in this venture.

However, thankfully, the feedback story that I receive from others is that I'm generally held in good standing and found easy to be around. Also, that the time I get to spend at the movies and attending events is enviable.

And truthfully, I am very lucky. No matter which of the three
Le Anne Lindsay stories told or perceived, it's all pretty lighthearted and devoid of tragedy and remorse. Hnath's play begins and ends with the concept of an infinite number of other Universes with realities mirroring our own, sometimes with slight differences or possibly vast differences - Think Bizarro Superman or the TV series Fringe - Therefore, I'm sure there's at least one LeAnne who has spent a month on the Amalfi Coast racing a red speed boat by day and enjoying wine bars with spectacularly panoramic views by night.

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A version of this post is also published to PTC's website as part of their Stage to Page series:

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About This Blog

is about discovering what I find pleasing in screening & eating - in case you missed it, the name is a play on Tinseltown using the Tines of a Fork.

Feel free to send me info on a film or new restaurant you'd like me to highlight.

Will there ever be a cap on movie prices?

Will we one day pay $20 a pop?

Why don't we pay on a scale?

A crap movie like everything Adam Sandler has ever done should cost about $4.50.
Big action movies like"Lord of the Rings", "Iron Man," "Transformers" are worth $10.
Woody Allen movie or something like "Silver Linings Playbook" $6-$7.
A chick flick or light comedy $5.75 and most Indie Films $5.25.

You could even do it by seasons - all summer block busters from May to August - $10
Sept - November 15th $3.50 - $4
Back to $10 for Thanksgiving and Christmas etc...

Or you can do it by A Actors ($9 - $10), B Actors ($6 - $7) TV actors on the big screen ($3.50 - $4)

Surely I'm not the first person to realize this makes sense. Has it been voted on in the Motion Picture Industry and then vetoed? If so, why?
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