Travels with a Masked Man is a solo theater piece loosely based on interviews I conducted with my father, who was the CIA station chief in Israel during the 6-Day War. A play about deception, the game (espionage) and rough filial love.
Soon after the attack on the twin towers in 2001, I taped and transcribed 20 hours of interviews with my father. The project was the basis for a book, Conversations with a Masked Man, My Father, The CIA, and Me, due out Feb 2 from Arcade Publishing. In 2007 I performed a two-actor version at Firehouse 13 in Providence, RI. Completely revised solo versions went to the Freight Depot (Hubbard Hall), the Theater Project in Brunswick, Maine, and We Players in San Francisco. I brought it back to the Freight Depot a year later, and toured it to the Shakespeare & Company Fringe Festival and small venues in Vermont and New York city last year. Now that the book is coming out, I am in rehearsal with it again, and am scheduling shows and bookstore events.
The play is designed to be followed by a real conversation with the audience afterwards, with tasty things to eat and drink. At these occasions, people have talked a lot about their own experiences, trying to see into some of the more dimly-lit aspects of their parents’ lives–or about their relationships with their grown children. The talk also touches on our dysfunctional foreign policy, a topic which has not lost its relevance, and questions about men: as fathers and sons, who are we as men?–particularly American men–and what do we do with the old WWII tough-guy model of American masculinity?
Doing the play helps me put all this into a form that exists outside my own psyche – and it doesn’t hurt to laugh about it sometimes.