CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- One of the first events out of the box at the 2012 FestivALL Charleston is a staged reading of an intriguing play by acclaimed West Virginia novelist Denise Giardina, devoted to the friendship between Robert C. Byrd and Ted Kennedy.
They weren't always the close friends they became later in life as two of the most powerful members of the U.S. Senate.
Giardina describes her new two-act play, "Robert and Ted," as a "bromance," as it tracks the way the two men initially clashed over civil-rights legislation, then learned to work together and finally to respect and like each another.
A host of prominent area actors will do a staged reading of the play at the Clay Center's Walker Theater, in a FestivALL event directed by Debbie Haught, starting 7:30 p.m. June 14. Tickets cost $10. Advance tickets are available at the Clay Center box office, by calling 304-561-3570, at Taylor Books or www.theclaycenter.org.
Jeff Haught will play Byrd; Joe Miller is Ted Kennedy; Frieda Forsley is a character called the Obituary Writer; Tim Mace will play four different presidents; Stuart Frazier plays one of Byrd's aides and Barack Obama; and Molly Carter is Mary Jo Kopechne.
Gary Brown plays a variety of right-wing characters including a Rush Limbaugh-type talk-show host; and Jason Dunbar is playing Bill Clinton, as well as Sen. Frank Church and Tom Bennett, a Morgantown man who was a conscientious objector and received the Medal of Honor posthumously after serving as a medic instead of a combat soldier in the Vietnam War, where he died.
Giardina said audience members are welcome to stay after the reading ends to give her feedback. The play will eventually be premiered by a professional theater company.