Howard Zinn Turns Playwright: 'I Just Wanted To Do It.'

Howard Zinn Turns Playwright: 'I Just Wanted To Do It.'

by
Craig Brown

Today's Boston Globe reports:

For Howard Zinn, Play is Much More Fun

by
Megan Tench

Years after serving as a bombardier in the US Army, after earning
his Ph.D. at Columbia University, teaching at Boston University, and
writing the best-selling book "A People's History of the United
States," Howard Zinn decided he wanted to write a family drama.

The play, called "Daughter of Venus," runs at the C. Walsh Theatre
through tomorrow and then at the Boston Playwrights' Theatre Friday
through Feb. 8.

Historian Howard Zinn set a family drama against the backdrop of an arms race in his play ''Daughter of Venus.'' ''I've always been interested in theater,'' he says. What motivated this dedicated historian, political scientist, social
critic, and activist to become a playwright? "I just wanted to do it,"
says Zinn, now 86.

"I've always been interested in theater," explains Zinn by phone
from Los Angeles, where he is working on the documentary "The People
Speak," based on his "People's History" book and featuring such stars
as Matt Damon, Josh Brolin, Viggo Mortensen, Danny Glover, and Marisa
Tomei.

"My wife did some acting, my daughter did some acting, and my son,
Jeff Zinn, is the artistic director at Wellfleet Harbor Actors
Theater," Zinn says. "I was too involved in history and politics to do
anything about it until the end of the Vietnam War. That's when I wrote
a play about Emma Goldman."

That was in 1976; "Emma" was about the early life of the famed
anarchist who was jailed and later exiled from the United States
because of her political activism. The 1977 production was the longest
running show in Boston that year.

"I wrote 'Daughter of Venus' in the '80s," Zinn says. "Writing a
play is more fun than writing a history book. And when somebody decides
to produce it, it's wonderful. You are taken out of the cold world of
the academy and you're in a world of movies and plays where you are
hugged by everybody - the director, the cast, they all hug you. Have
you ever been hugged by a registrar?"

This is the world Zinn prefers to be in, he says.

Presented by Suffolk University and Boston Playwrights' Theatre,
"Daughter of Venus" tells the story of a family in pain against the
backdrop of an arms race between the United States and the Soviet
Union. Paolo (played by Ken Cheeseman), a biophysicist, is coping with
the attempted suicide of his wife, Lucy (Paula Langton), and the return
of his estranged daughter, Aramintha (Angie Jepson), while he grapples
with an ethical crisis over taking part in a government-funded
biochemical-weapons program.

"I wanted to have a family drama and conflict between parents and
children, father and daughter," Zinn says. "That idea intrigues me -
the idea of a political and emotional standoff between father and
daughter, and how does a human being relate to what's going on in the
world? I wanted to put this issue of the arms race into a drama."

Information: 866-811-4111, www.bostonplaywrights.org

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