Stewart Brodian

Musician, composer, performer, actor, radio + TV host,
artist, celebrity imp
ersonator, film maker + more!


Musician, composer, performer, actor, radio + TV host,
 artist, celebrity impersonato
r, film maker+more!


I wrote a new play: "Tyranny" Thomas Jesfferson reacts to January 6th

Posted by Stewart Brodian on September 13, 2022 at 11:30 AM

 The curtain rises.

 There is a lone figure standing near a table.

 The lone figure is then lighted. - it is Thomas Jefferson


TJ: Tyranny!

 I have been brought back to discuss the question of Tyranny?

 (walks towards the table, picks up paper)

 When I composed this declaration, part of it's purpose was to release ourselves from tyranny!

 We were convinced that we could operate independently from our mother nation and we fought hard for years for our independence.

 Now, the thought of a leader of our nation would himself become a tyrant?

 Unimaginable, unfathomable, unthinkable!

 Laws were written into our constitution that would prevent any possibility of such an occurrence!

  This is one of the reasons for our government having three branches in order to assure that one man would not be totally dominant.

 That's one of the concepts on which this country founded to get away from!

 Congress shall confirm the election results and he tried to stop it?!

 Was he not familiar with his obligation to uphold and defend the constitution?

 Where have wee evolved to where the one person whom the majority have voted to be entrusted to lead our nation would seek to destroy the very foundation upon which it stands?


(offstage voice) I suspended habeus corpus


 TJ (looks stage left) Who is this?


AL (approaches stage right) Whereas in the course of human events, as you have written sir.


TJ Who are you?


AL I am Abraham Lincoln. 16th president of the united states.


TJ You are from my future


AL I am and in my day, some accused me of tyranny.

 Some have accused me of an abuse of power.


TJ Who?


The southern most states of this nation.

 So much were they opposed to some of my policies that they seceded and formed their own nation.


TJ A second split from a mother nation!


AL Yes... a split of four years and war that sent tens of thousands of my citizens into their graves.


TJ How did you mend the nation afterwards?


AL I did not have the chance.

 An assassin prevented me from fulfilling my goal.


TJ That must be disappointing.


AL It is and to see our nation on the verge of another crisis has not only concerned me but frightened me!


 TJ How so?


 AL with more efficient means of communication than in your time, I fear more destruction can be created and more fear that would make this nation implode!


(another offstage voice) Perhaps a unifying cause would settle some disputes between the nations' citizens?


 TJ + AL Who's there?


FDR (Enters from right in wheelchair) I am the 32nd president of these United States, Franklin Delano Roosevelt


TJ Franklin?


FDR Yes. Franklin!


TJ You have the same name as an esteemed colleague of mine.


FDR Yes. It's now a goal of unification


AL: How do you mean unification?


FDR In my day, we had a similar goal and that was to defeat tyranny!


TJ Tyranny from whom?


FDR: The Germans and the Japanese!


TJ The Hessians?


FDR The Germans were at war with the British and they were trying to take over the whole world.


TJ We were helping the British?


AL We blockaded British ships from assisting our rebellious south!


FDR We joined them in defeating tyranny


TJ Time heals all wounds.


AL Yes, indedd!


FDR The idea of a nation's leader attempting to overthrow his own government infuriates me!


TJ We have seen similar things in France.


AL Yes, but in your time that was used to overthrow an oppressive government.


FDR That government whom was trying to be overthrown was most oppressive - the overthrowers were the oppressed.


TJ Oppressors being the overthrowers


AL Unthinkable


FDR Unfathomable


(another voice) Unpalatable


FDR ho speaks?


Obama I am #44 Barack Obama.


TJ A slave?


AL A freed slave!


FDR A soldier.....


 BO A president.


TJ What might your view be in mind of recent events?


BO Non of my color took part in the insurrection.


AL A revolt of your color occurred in 1831.


TJ (to Lincoln) Had my proposal to free his people been ratified, there may have been no need for a revolt.


BO Had there been a revolt during my tenure, the situation would have been handled differently.


FDR What do you mean?


BO The National Guard or State Militia would have been summoned and massive arrests would have been made.


AL Another Gettysburg?


BO I'm sorry to say, a few more shots would have been fired but, the oppressors would have been greatly outnumbered and fighting would have not been long - presumably, the rioters would have conceded to the situation.


FDR Reminiscent of MacAurthur heading the national guard over the Hooverville.


TJ + AL (looks over)


A bad occurrence in front of the white house which I'll explain to you gentlemen, later.


BO Now, the time has come to judge


FDR We judge a man of poor judgement.


AL We judge a man who created another civil disagreement


 TJ We judge a would be tyrant

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Reply Ronald Duquette
9:59 AM on September 20, 2022 
Stewart (do you prefer that, or Stew? or "Hey you!"?) - been thinking about this, and I like to work with a definite framework around the work to start off with, and then you "fill in" the blanks, so to speak.

I like the concept of the four Presidents gradually coming on-stage with an off-stage "announcement." It gets the audience into the "who the heck is that?" mode of mind. But I also think we need to give each of them a little more room to have "heft." Which brings up the question of length of time (roughly) for the whole effort, and where this could be done IF it were to be done (that's something only you can determine).

So, assuming each guy or combination thereof gets 5-10 minutes to be the focus of attention: starting with Jefferson, I would think we should have him list the various forms of tyranny he used in the Declaration - again, sort of making the case all over again. That's the stuff that's NOT focused on in history classes - everyone looks at the "All men are created equal..." bit, and that's as it should be. (Another part, BTW, that gets overlooked is the next statement right after the "All men" - "That to secure these rights, governments are instituted by men." Oh, really? So we have this clown, this former "President," attempting to "disinstitute" the government established by thoughtful men?) The Jeffersonian part is so rich with possibilities for bringing an audience to the essential parts of the discussion, that we should give ol' Tom, miscegenist that he was, the favo(u)r of outlining his argument to us all over again.

And here's what makes the entire discussion about January 6 interesting. The issue at hand is "sedition" - NOT treason. "Treason" is defined as attempting to subvert a government at the behest or benefit of a foreign actor. Now, both you and I probably think that DJT was acting at the behest or to benefit Russia, and I wouldn't disagree with that assessment. But at least at the moment, I'd argue it's sedition - and certainly that was the case for the vast majority of those who assaulted the Capitol Building on January 6th. So how does that apply to the Revolution? Well, in the British view, that's what it was - yes, they (and Patrick Henry) might have called it "treason," but it really wasn't. So, were the Founders seditionists? "Sedition" is the attempt to subvert a government from within. But by definition, the Founders were seeking a return to the colonial and royal and personal charters initially in 1775, and it's only when Sam and John Adams pushed the issue of "independency" that it become a revolt - but I would argue, NOT a sedition.

But, carrying on that thought, you rightly bring Lincoln in - and HE faced a sedition. The Secessionists were seeking the "disinstitution" of the government, and had been for the better part of 87 years, by keeping slavery alive in the U. S. contrary to the increasing distaste for it by an increasing majority of the nation. And when it was becoming clear that the institution of slavery was going to ultimately die a lingering death because it could not expand - the very problem with all "empires," insofar as for them to continue their existence, they MUST expand - they sought to establish their own "institution." It is one of the ironies of history that the Confederacy's Constitution is an almost word-for-word repeat of the U. S. Constitution, save that it enshrines slavery in perpetuity. I don't care what professors elsewhere had and have been arguing for years - it was all about slavery from the pip. The "Cornerstone Speech" of Alexander Stephens in Montgomery, Alabama in 1861 made slavery the issue - not states' rights, not economics, not anything else - just slavery. And so, here's Lincoln, faced with a sedition - and he takes action in such a way as to seem tyrannous. The question is, does he stand to the side and let the institutions of government be destroyed by too-delicate a sensibility about what to do, about being potentially a tyrant? As we say in the Army, "Easier to ask forgiveness than permission." Leadership sometimes brings us to those nexus points, where no matter your turning, the choices are terrible.

But we should let Lincoln have his say - with interjections by Jefferson, for sure, because we don't want to turn this into a classroom lecture on a stage. And the tension between the two of them, slave-owner and man determined (ultimately, if not initially) to destroy slavery, has to make for fascinating theater.

Okay, I'll let that sink in - and don't let me, in my enthusiasm, shove you in any direction you're not comfortable with. But I really think this is something else!

Reply Ronald Duquette
10:04 AM on September 20, 2022 
But now the question remains: do you want to work on it such that it is a much more fleshed-out effort? As it now stands, it would take, what, 20-25 minutes to perform? And this provides you with the opportunity to elaborate somewhat more on the kernel of your thoughts, which is the nature of tyranny, and how our resistance to it (and our definition of it?) depends on the circumstances we face as a nation?

For example, the Jeffersonian argument against tyranny is NOT a radical one; in fact, the Revolution (in my view) was ultimately conservative, in that the 13 Colonies simply wished that England would go back to how they had been "governing" them as benign neglect except in war - so, matters of continental defense and foreign policy. The Lincolnian issue is how, in prosecuting war, leaders sometimes (must) do things they consider necessary, even if in so doing, the effect is withdrawing (temporarily) a right - habeas corpus in his era. FDR's defense against tyranny abroad - which many argued until Pearl Harbor was none of our business - involved us in a "good war" (only, however, once our territory had been attacked - and THAT was acquired by trickery and by imperial expansion in the late 1890s), but which also employed what could be argued to have been tyrannical means - the relocation camps for thousands of Japanese in this country - and that was based on a racial profiling - the Italian-Americans and German-Americans did not face anything like the opprobrium the Nisei did - and that cuts close to home for me, as my father-in-law was half Japanese AND living in the Philippines on Dec. 7, 1941. And for Obama, not unlike Lincoln, there are those who argue that the passage of Obamacare was a tyrannical insertion in the "precious" right of individuals to have to deal with their own medical issues without the "interference" of government - i.e., socialism.

For your play to provoke the thought I think you're aiming it, it needs further elaboration in some "grabbing" way, getting people's attention and forcing them to think beyond the length of their own noses. I think that's what's exciting about your play.

A thought, for what it's worth...