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Home > Research on Anarchism > Music and Anarchism: A Black and Red Directory of Musical Genres > Off-Broadway > "Assassins". Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, Book by John (...)

"Assassins". Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, Book by John Weidman.

Tuesday 16 December 2003

Based on an idea by Charles Gilbert, Jr. Playwrite Horizons, Inc., New York City produced ASSASSINS off-Broadway in 1990

"Assassins is about how society interprets the American Dream, marginalizes outsiders and rewrites and sanitizes its collective history".

Synopsis

Produced July 20-22 & 28-29, 2000
Norris Cultural Arts Center
St. Charles, IL
Jennifer Plotzke (Emma Goldman)

A shooting gallery at a carnival. The assassins enter one by one and are encouraged by the Proprietor to solve their personal problems by picking up a gun.

The Balladeer is introduced, who throughout the show sings of the history and drifts through the assassinations as almost a professional witness to Amercian tragedy. He observes John Wilkes Booth in the hours following the shooting of Lincoln.

In Febrary 1993, in Miami, Florida, an assassination attempt is made on President Roosevelt by Giuseppe Zangara. The scene alternates between bystanders speaking into radiomicropones and the would-be assassin Zangara in the electric chair moments before his execution. The statements said are based on fact.

John Dossett as Leon Czolgosz in the cast originally planned for November but was cancelled after September 11

McKinley assassin Leon Czolgosz contemplates the meaning and power of a reacently acquired weapon. He is joined by assassins Booth, Guiteau and Sara Jane Moore. They eventually leave him leaving Czolgosz to determine the course of action. The Balladeer tells the story of the assassination of President McKinley during a reception at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo in 1901. Czolgosz wrapped a handkerchief around his gun so that he would appear to have injured his hand and stood quietly in line until he was face to face with the President.

John Hinckley and Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme sing a duet refering to each of their own obsessions (Jodie Foster and Charles Manson).

Charles Guiteau (assassinator of President Garfield) stands at the foot of the gallows. He recites a poem, I Am Going to the Lordy which he composed that morning. The Balladeer describes the trial and subsequent execution as Guiteau, an irrepressible optimist, cakewalks up and down the gallow’s steps.

All of the assassins join together as a group with a common purpose.

Lee Harvey Oswald, a stock boy in the sixth floor storeroom of the Texas School Book Depository, is interrupted as he prepares to commit suicide on November 22, 1963.

In front of the famous photograph of Jack Ruby shooting Oswald, everyone returns by way of summary and conclusion.