HUNT: A Political Drama about Power, Blackmail and Tragedy in the U.S. Senate
It’s hard to believe that the events in this play actually happened, but they did. I started my research when I worked in the U.S. Senate across the hall from the suite that once belonged to Senator Lester Hunt in the Russell Building. I was fascinated by Congressional history, and especially the culture of the Senate.
As I wrote HUNT, I had no idea that the rise of Donald Trump as a presidential candidate and the horrific massacre in Orlando would make this drama so tragically relevant. These recent events underscore the enduring nature of the themes of the play, including the dangers of political extremism, demagoguery, homophobia, and the manipulation of fear for partisan advantage.
The play explores these themes through the true story of the blackmail of Senator Hunt over homosexual allegations against his son during the Cold War era. It was a time when the world was painted in white and black – the U.S. and democracy versus the Soviet Union and communism – and that fed a fear of subversives of all kinds.
By the early 1950s, Senator Joe McCarthy and his allies in Congress had gained strong popular support by manipulating these fears. People they accused of being communists or homosexuals were portrayed as dangers to our national security and the American way of life. Thousands of McCarthy’s victims lost their jobs, and a unknown number are thought to have committed suicide.
Homosexuals at that time were routinely called “perverts” and “deviates” in official government documents, Congressional reports, and major newspapers. Criminal prosecution of people charged with homosexual acts became widespread. The public shame associated with homosexuality triggered the blackmail of Senator Hunt by some of the most powerful members of the Senate.
Despite this disgraceful episode’s fatal consequences and its warning for us today, few people remember Senator Hunt. It’s time for this story to be heard.
Jean P. Bordewich has spent her life in and around politics, on Capitol Hill as a Senate and House staff member and in New York’s Hudson Valley as a town council member, candidate for Congress and Senate district staffer. HUNT is her second play produced at the DC Capital Fringe Festival. Information: www.huntsenateplay.com
PERFORMANCES AT MEAD THEATRE LAB
916 G Street NW, Washington, DC 20001.
Thursday, July 7, 2016 – 8:45-9:45 PM
Wednesday, July 13, 2016 – 6:45 – 7:45 PM
Saturday, July 16, 2016 – 2:30 – 3:30 PM
Tuesday, July 19, 2016 – 8:45 – 9:45 PM
Friday, July 22, 2016 – 6:45 -7:45 PM
Sunday, July 24, 2016 – 2:15-3:15 PM
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