Molly Ivins the late and famous Texan journalist and pundit, will walk the boards at Main Street Theater this week, channeled through actress Sara Gaston in Red Hot Patriot: The Kick-Ass Wit of Molly Ivins.
This isn't a Meryl-Streep-plays-Margaret-Thatcher treatment, handing out one-liners along the way, Gaston says.
"We weren't stuck on the mannerisms. We were really there to capture her spirit," Gaston says.
Gaston says she watched interviews and read about Ivins to get ready for the part, but it's really the writers - twins and journalists Margaret and Allison Engel - who have made Ivins' voice come alive in the production that lasts about 70 minutes.
Ivins, who died in 2007 after a battle with breast cancer, was known as someone who attacked fools wherever she might find them. This was usually in the Texas Legislature.
Describing her character, Gaston says: "First of all, she's just a freedom fighter. She is someone who was sort of a champion of people not strong enough to fight for themselves."
Allowing that Ivins tilted to the liberal side of the political divide, Gaston says the appeal of the one-act play is that the Texas columnist would not make excuses for those of either party.
"At the end of the day she knew there were plenty of politicians who were corrupt on the left as well as the right," Gaston says.
At the same time, she had a luxury that most people don't, Gaston says. "What's brilliant about playing her is that she didn't have any problem about calling those people out. Middle class Americans are really concerned about being diplomatic and she just didn't care. It's the sort of thing you wish you could say to someone and you don't because you were raised in the South."
Although there is a lot of humor along the way, there are also very serious parts to the play. "A lot is her witticism woven together with explaining some biographical details of her life, the path of her journalism career. It's not just her being funny for an hour. It's where some of the anger and angst came from."
Asked if there's anyone alive today she could compare Ivins to, Gason thought for a while and responded" "Maybe Steven Colbert. She used humor to drive the sword in."
Performances of Red Hot Patriot: The Kick-Ass Wit of Molly Ivins. will run June 14 through July 1 at the Main Street Theater Chelsea Market location, 4617 Montrose Blvd., on Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays -at 7 p.m. For information, call 713-524-6706 or go to the theater's website.
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