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, an excerpt of which was published in the 2006 American Letters and Commentary, but from the beginning I tried out bits of it as theater material for small audiences here and there. 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 this fall, and toured it to small venues in Vermont and New York city early last year.
My father died in May last year. Before he died, he asked me to publish the book and left me with new questions and different perspectives regarding our our life-long conversation. I am now engaged in re-writing the book, and hope to distribute copies of it when I get the show up and running again.
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.