No WashPost Liberal Labels As Kathleen Turner Play Honors Molly Ivins

May 2nd, 2012 8:02 AM

First came the play honoring liberal Texas Gov. Ann Richards. Now comes the play honoring leftist Texas columnist Molly Ivins, played by....Kathleen Turner? She’ll be getting her frump on. But The Washington Post couldn’t put an L word on either of these ladies.

“Kathleen Turner will star in Arena Stage’s production of ‘Red Hot Patriot: The Kick-Ass Wit of Molly Ivins,’ by Margaret and Allison Engel,” the Post’s Jessica Goldstein announced. It’s “patriotic” to “kick ass” against conservatives, apparently.

“Ivins, who died in 2007 at the age of 62, was a newspaper columnist, humorist and author who filled her columns with Texas slang and spur-sharp observations about culture and politics.” The jabs were adored by liberals who lapped up her attacks on George “Shrub” Bush. 

Turner hinted at her own (and Molly’s) liberalism:

“I think we have a lot in common,” Turner said in a phone conversation. “Good lord, if I were to try to do Sarah Palin, I think that would be a bit of a problem.”

....She has been a fan of Ivins “for as long as I’ve been aware of her,” she said. “Molly had such a great sense about politics and about citizenship, about our rights and our responsibilities as citizens, that I don’t think have been heard much lately given the state of politics in our country right now.”

“Molly Ivins is a political news icon,” said Molly Smith, artistic director of Arena Stage. “She had a wildness about her. . . . She skewered everybody. She was one of the funniest people in the news, and she always hit the truth button.”

Ahem, no, she did not “skewer everybody.” She was an “icon” to leftists, and not the masses. But these people want her to be seen as a female Mark Twain. The play will please liberals right up to the week before Election Day:

The first reading of the one-woman show was held at Arena three years ago; since then it has been produced in Philadelphia and Los Angeles. “Red Hot Patriot” will be in the Kogod Cradle from Aug. 23 through Oct. 28 — just in time for election season.

Margaret and Allison Engel are twins who managed to write together while living on opposite sides of the country: Margaret, a former Washington Post reporter, is based in Maryland; Allison lives in California. This is their first play.

Both twins were reporters (Allison for the San Jose Mercury News). Margaret Engel presently has a day job running the Alicia Patterson Journalism Foundation. The New York Times was much more candid about how this liberal hootenanny came together:

How it all came together goes something like this. Jim Autry, a board member of the liberal advocacy group People for the American Way, is a friend of Allison. She told him about the show and said that Ms. Turner would be perfect for the part. “She was our very first, top of the list, dream casting choice,” Margaret said.

Ms. Turner is a fellow board member, it turned out, so Mr. Autry handed her a copy of the script. She was an easy sell. “Molly was the keynote speaker at a couple of big People for the American Way events, so I got to meet her then,” Ms. Turner recalled after the rehearsal.

She had even socialized with Ivins, thanks to another coincidence: Ivins’s friend Ann Richards, a former governor of Texas, spent a few years in New York and lived in the same building as Ms. Turner. “There were times we’d meet in the lobby, and she’d have Molly along, and they’d go, ‘Now you just come with us,’ ” Ms. Turner said. “You just didn’t say no.”

Ms. Turner’s appreciation for Ivins has grown, she said, since working on “Patriot.” “One of the things I love, that I’m growing to really love about her, is a huge sense of compassion,” Ms. Turner said. “I don’t know if my heart’s that big. I mean maybe, one day, but she was a real true-blue believer in people.”