Stage West presents Red Hot Patriot: the Kick-Ass Wit of Molly Ivins, opening May 10 at Fort Worth's Stage West.
"Next time I tell you someone from Texas should not be president of the United States, please pay attention."
Prophetic words from the late great Molly Ivins, who would have undoubtedly had a field day with current Texas politics and the race for the Republican presidential nomination. But even though her voice was silenced with her death in 2007, her wit and wisdom lives on in Red Hot Patriot, the Kick-Ass Wit of Molly Ivins, written by Margaret Engel and Allison Engel, which begins its run at Fort Worth’s Stage West on Thursday, May 10.
Ivins is best-known for her pithy and often colorful prose, something which earned her the admiration of many and the rabid enmity of others. Born into an affluent family, she spent most of her undergrad years at Smith College, later earning a Masters from Columbia. Her journalistic career took her from the Houston Chronicle to the Texas Observer, and then on to the staid New York Times, where her signature earthy language got her into hot water. She then returned to Texas, where her formidable wit found an abundance of targets, until her untimely death from cancer in 2007. Red Hot Patriot follows Ivins’ journey, from her early battles with her authoritarian father to the one battle she was unable to win, with generous dollops of her humor and wisdom along the way. It will be a one-of-a-kind evening (or afternoon) of theatre.
Margaret and Allison Engel, both journalists, were great admirers of Ivins. Having heard Ivins compared to Mark Twain on several occasions, they decided that the theatre would be a great way to keep her voice alive, and despite never having written a play, they took a leap. They delved into her writings, and spoke to many of her friends, and were fortunate enough to have Kathleen Turner, also an admirer, agree to come on board. Seven months after the first reading, the play opened, and it has enjoyed great success.
Margaret Engelwas a reporter for the Washington Post, Des Moines Register and Lorain Journal, and was a Nieman fellow at Harvard University. She directs the Alicia Patterson Journalism Foundation and was the managing editor of the Newseum, the museum for news, in Washington, D.C. She co-wrote Food Finds: America’s Best Local Foods and the People Who Produce Them with her twin, Allison, and helped turn the book into a show for Food Network, where it ran for seven years. It appears today on the Travel Channel. She serves on the Theatre Washington/ Helen Hayes Awards board, the Fund for Investigative Journalism and chairs the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism awards board. She and her husband, Bruce Adams, wrote three editions of a travel guide to America’s baseball parks, with the help of their children, Emily and Hugh.
Allison Engelhas been a newspaper reporter for the Des Moines Tribune, San Jose Mercury and Pacific News Service and was a Knight Journalism Fellow at Stanford University. She has also been a political speechwriter and aide for former Iowa governor Tom Vilsack and lieutenant governor Sally Pederson. In Iowa, she was active in the Des Moines Playhouse, serving as president and head of play selection. She has been a food columnist for Saveur, an architecture columnist for Renovation Style, and has written for many other national publications. She recently spent five years as director of communications at USC before becoming the associate director of the Los Angeles Institute for the Humanities at the university. She received an MA in screenwriting from USC in 2009. She is married to Scott Kirkpatrick, and they have two children, Miles and Nora.
To bring this larger than life character to the stage, director Dana Schultes has cast noted Dallas actress Georgia Clinton, most recently seen as Princess Conti in Theatre Three’s La Bete. Ms. Clinton’s Stage West roles have included Blanche in Brighton Beach Memoirs and Broadway Bound, and Mme. Arkadina in The Seagull. Also appearing in the show, as Helper, is Stage West’s Production Box Office Manager and scenic painter, Justin Rhoads, whose credits include Clifford in Deathtrap and Eugene Morris Jerome in Biloxi Blues, both at TCC.