Aging courtroom warrior William Kunstler strides through a crowd of protesters to defend his record of radical lawyering, confronting a not entirely supportive law student named Kerry assigned to introduce him. As Kunstler tells his tale, she challenges his recent choices and behavior, building to an impassioned confrontation between the two of them. The audience is cast as the student audience he is addressing in 1995. The warts -and-all intermissionless show is a rousing affirmation of the adventure of political engagement. Kunstler family and colleagues and clients have embraced the play enthusiastically.
Jeffrey Sweet’s drama revisits the legacy of the Sixties, civil rights, controversial advocacy, challenging the system, legal ethics. Kunstler was so famous that he played himself on Law and Order. Kunstler was one of the early defenders of one of the Central Park Five, recently back in the news because of Trump and the Ken Burns documentary.
Director Meagen Fay knew Kunstler well enough to call him "Uncle Bill." Her uncle, William Cunningham, was a priest and a lawyer and collaborated with Kunstler on important cases. Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin sometimes crashed in the Fay house during the Chicago 8 trial and Meagen sometimes has breakfast with them. Her participation in the project is a coincidence. She was asked to direct because of her talent, not because her connection to Kunstler was known.
Jeff McCarthy played Officer Lockstock in the original Broadway cast of Urinetown. It's a pretty safe bet that Lockstock and Kunstler would have been on opposing sides. McCarthy has made a considerable reputation for versatility, playing the Beast in Broadway's Beauty and the Beast, starring in the original production of Side Show, and frequently taking over as Billy Flynn on Broadway in Chicago. He played the transsexual Lola in the Public Theater's musical, Southern Comfort.
Yale University Press has released Jeffrey Sweet's new book, What Playwrights Talk About When They Talk About Writing, a collection of craft conversations between Sweet and dramatists including Edward Albee, Lynn Nottage, David Hare, Jules Feiffer, Christopher Durang, Marsha Norman, Donald Margulies, Lanford Wilson, and Robert Schenkkan.