UNSCRIPTED ‌ Knives Out 

Political theatre gets literal this fall

If you're looking for entertainment options this autumn, here's hoping you like politics, 'cause that's what's on the menu. With both the U.S. Senate and House up for grabs this November 7 — and, with them, our 43rd president's legacy — Fall 2006 is shaping up to be a no-holds-barred, eye-gouging, sucker-punching political blitzkrieg. Election season serves up the ultimate American spectator sport, marrying the urgency of reality television with the bloodlust of gladiatorial combat. Here at the edge of Red State America, the spectacle promises to live up to its visceral, vivisectional potential as liberals both moderate and manic emerge from the funk of the past two years, smelling blood in The Decider's abysmal approval ratings and clamoring to take advantage of right-wing malaise.

You won't even have to turn on CNN or FOX News to catch it. Next month, the Charleston County Democratic Party will host a live political satire I first reported on last spring, when The Post and Courier announced that New York composer, conductor, and lyricist Joshua Rosenblum would be its replacement for Blair Tindall as the paper's overview critic for Spoleto 2006. In its lengthy description of Rosenblum's artistic background, the paper somehow neglected to mention that Rosenblum is also the creator, producer, and musical talent behind the current Off-Broadway hit Bush is Bad: The Musical Cure for the Blue State Blues, a satiric Tom Leher-style savaging of the Bush administration.

It looks like the P&C will have another chance to pretend not to know anything about Rosenblum's night job when local Dems bring his all-new Bush is Bad: Impeachment Edition to Charleston Music Hall for a fundraiser on Oct. 3 at 7 p.m. Packing houses at the Triad Theater in Manhattan's Upper West Side for a year now, the updated Bush is Bad features three actors, with Rosenblum on accompaniment, in a revue of wry musical sendups of The Decider and his cronies, including "Wake Me When It's 2009," "Torture Has Been Very Good To Me," "Good Conservative Values," and "New Hope for the Fabulously Wealthy."

"The show's not meant to be taken seriously. It's all tongue-in-cheek," says Marie-Louise Ramsdale, a Democratic Party activist and local organizer for the show. "I mean, clearly Bush is bad. Very, very bad. But people have been satirizing the president since Washington's time. So there's a long history of this kind of thing."

Diving even further down the satirical rabbit hole, another local group — anonymous, and hoping to stay that way — takes the gloves off completely this November with a show whose attention-getting title is I'M GONNA KILL THE PRESIDENT: A Federal Offense. The guerilla play — another whip-smart satire of the administration — was first produced in New York during the Republican National Convention there in 2004. Those wishing to attend the performance called a phone number and were given a meeting destination. On arrival, they were led to another unannounced location, where the high-impact, low-tech performance took place.

Charleston organizers expect to follow a similarly clandestine protocol. Open auditions (announced only by flyer) were held last Sunday and Monday in Washington Park downtown. Neither the show's title nor its content are technically illegal (an offense requires a non-comedic threat to the president), but even so, the few previous productions, in New York and L.A., were bedeviled by local law enforcement. Charleston organizers expect theirs to be no different. Performances of I'M GONNA KILL THE PRESIDENT will take place at an undisclosed downtown location Nov. 2-4 and 9-11 "around 10:30 p.m.," and the play's pseudononymous author, "Hieronymous Bang," may even make a masked appearance in Chucktown for the show's run, the first ever in a Red State.

Obviously, there's more than one way to get out the vote.


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