The Kennedys: An American Tragedy

The Kennedys: An American Tragedy

Label: Plays | Author: Stanford Erickson
Jan 17, 2013

kennedyThe Kennedys: An American Tragedy began as a poem I wrote about John F. Kennedy the day he was shot and died.  Slowly I began to understand that the Kennedys were more than just a politically effective family, they represented an archetype or embodiment of what many considered the fulfillment of the American Dream….and the poem grew to include most of the family.

After the poem was written, I began to understand that the Kennedys fit almost perfectly the representative family for a nation that Aristotle requires in his Poetics for a play to be considered a tragedy. In Oedipus Rex, Oedipus ends up killing his father; in The Kennedys: An American Tragedy, JosephKennedy’s ambitions end up in the death of his sons.  Freud might have called that a reverse Oedipus complex.

In 2009,  Rik Deskin, director and producer of The Electric Theatre Company in Seattle,  had his company do a reading of The Kennedys: An American Tragedy  before a live audience.  It was well received by the audience and the actors.

This three-act play depicts the “public” Kennedys—a fictional account of images of the Kennedys in the public’s mind, often nurtured and promulgated by the Kennedys themselves.

I first began writing the play the late 1980s, given encouragement by famed theatrical  producer and director Joseph Papp. After several rewrites, Mr. Papp informed me that Senator Edward Kennedy told him he did not want any play—even a fictional one concerning the family—to be produced on Broadway. I kept rewriting. Finished rewriting in 2011.

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