Freelance writing. Out of the urban clutter of the East and now situated on the Pittwater.
Published October 28th 2013
Australian Theatre does LBJ, just after JFK
The Tapp Gallery Theatre is just a block away from the nightclub district of Darlinghurst. The Bakehouse production of Love Field was on in an interesting quiet building with a very small comfortable theatre space that seated 50.
Love Field - A Flight of Fantasy by Ron Elisha with Ben Wood and Lizzie Schabesta. By Tessa Tran, Breathing Light Photography
Love Field - A Flight of Fantasy is an exploration of what might have been said on that plane between Lyndon Johnston and Jackie Kennedy after the fateful events of the day in Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963.
I was surprised to find out that the writer is a Melbourne playwright and GP. I was impressed with the plays he has already written and the depth of his empathy and desire to communicate on quite contentious human issues.
This play by Ron Elisha is directed by American, Michael Dean. It is intimate and confronting. Australia does United States politics in a way that really does capture your imagination and intrigue you.
My first thought when I saw Ben Wood, playing Lyndon Johnston was that he didn't quite fit the character. He is an Australian in a very American backdrop. No, I thought this cant work. The words poured forth and the long haired petite Lizzie Schebesta was not the Jackie I expected to see. Yet a few lines later, the body language and mood intensified and the conversation oddly becoming enthralling. I began to believe this could be such a conversation.
In the writer's notes, Ron Elisha discusses the the male psyche and states that "JFK embodied the male psyche", more than any other single human being. He discusses the violence and sexuality of the male psyche as well as stating that the "best litmus test of any society is the way it treats its women."
Lizzie Schebesta in Love Fields. By Tessa Tran, Breathing Light Photography
Add this thought when you look at Jackie Kennedy in the discourse with the man about to be the President, after her husband has just been shot. Her distress and shock would still be present. Look at the role of women to political leaders to be romanced, to be bedded, to be won over, to be attacked or rejected depending the context.
Jackie Kennedy was played beautifully by Lizzie Schebesta. Ben Wood did not appear to me to be Lyndon Johnston to begin with. Yet I later saw something of the American political creature in Ben's dialogue and persona, but I didn't see a lot that I saw as endearing.
Lizzie Schebesta as Jackie Kennedy and Ben Wood as LBJ. By Tessa Tran, Breathing Light Photography
I understood the use of emotional rhetoric on so many different levels - and that it was more than just two characters playing a role. I saw something that permeates our political landscape in a manner that, to me is insidious, manipulative and planned. Spin doctored maybe?
I want to see this play again. I want to think it through. I didn't want to when I first realised the topic of the play. I couldn't understand why anyone would want to do JFK again.
Ben Wood as Lydon B Johnston and Lizzie Schabesta being Jackie Kennedy. By Tessa Tran, Breathing Light Photography
Lyndon Johnston had been John F Kennedy's running mate. He went on to lead the USA through the Vietnam era for the 5 years following JFK's death. A leadership without great mythology; enacting legislation relating to the "Great Society" domestic programs and escalating American involvement in the Vietnam War. The domestic law and order debate being cited as opening the door to the election of Richard Nixon in 1968.