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Zinn Takes on Terrorism

Return to stage: Premiere of Daughter of Venus at Boston Playwrights’ Theatre


In the slide show above, Howard Zinn talks about his play Daughter of Venus. Download a transcript of the audio here.

Hamlet’s line “The play’s the thing” is often quoted, but the marrying line of the couplet, “wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the king,” usually vanishes. Hamlet was trying to trap his father’s killer, and theater large and small always tries to goad an audienceinspiration, agitation, contemplation, anything so long as there’s movement out there. All year, examples of that emerged in and around BU; this week, we revisit some of those “things.”

Howard Zinn credits the bombing missions he flew as an Air Force bombardier in World War II as part of what shaped his opposition to war and inspired much of his writing — including the play Daughter of Venus, performed through February 8 at BU’s Boston Playwrights’ Theatre.

Zinn, a historian, a playwright, a social activist, and a BU professor emeritus of political science, wrote Daughter of Venus during the Cold War as a commentary on the arms race between the United States and the Soviet Union. When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1989, Zinn put the play aside, thinking it was no longer relevant.

“But when George Bush declared the war on terrorism, I thought, ‘Idiocy is not over,’” says Zinn. “Terrorism has replaced Communism as the excuse for maintaining an enormous nuclear arsenal and intervening militarily in other countries in the world. So I adapted the play from a Cold War situation to a threat of terrorism situation.”

The play’s cast and crew included several Boston University alumni, students, and staff, among them director Wesley Savick (GRS’09) and actress Paula Langton (GRS’03), a College of Fine Arts associate professor.

Robin Berghaus can be reached at berghaus@bu.edu.

This story originally ran January 29, 2009.

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