Playwright Beau Willimon explores the dark side of political campaigns in his play Farragut North, currently being produced at the Contemporary American Theater Festival (CATF) at Shepherd University. He uses the Iowa Caucus as the setting to show audiences what really goes on behind the scenes, with the main character, the young Stephen Bellamy, forced to choose between loyalty and success. Though the characters and events in Willimon's play are fictional, they are based in real political figures.
Jay Carson is one of many real life Stephen Bellamys working in the fast paced arena of American politics. Carson will be discussing the truth behind the play and give his spin on the campaign world at CATF's "In the Room" lecture series on Saturday, August 1 at 4:30 pm. "One of our goals is to give the audience the opportunity to go behind the scenes and learn where the ideas for these plays originate," said Ed Herendeen, CATF Founder and Producing Director. "We encourage our patrons to go a step further and enhance their theater experience by participating in these lectures, which show how thin the line can be between fiction and reality." Jay Carson and playwright Willimon are long-time friends who have worked on political campaigns together, Including Howard Dean's presidential bid in 2004.
Carson was born in Macon, Georgia and studied a Columbia University in New York City. He has more than a decade of senior experience in government and politics. After working on Senator Charles Schumer's successful upset Senate campaign in 1998 and Bill Bradley's presidential campaign in 2000, Jay served as the Deputy Communications Director in the Senate Democratic Leader's office for Tom Daschle. While with Daschle, he was a key member of the Senator's senior staff and worked closely with the legislative and policy teams in the Leader's office. He also helped lead successful campaign recount efforts in 2000 and 2002 for Senators Cantwell (Washington) and Landrieu (Louisiana). Carson left the Leadership Office in 2004 to become the Press Secretary for Governor Howard Dean's barrier-breaking presidential campaign. In 2005, he was named the Communications Director of the Clinton Foundation, President Clinton's international charitable organization based in New York City. While at the foundation, he helped shape programs such as the Clinton Global Initiative and traveled the world with the former President working on AIDS treatment, climate change, rural development, and tsunami and Hurricane Katrina recovery. Most recently, Carson served as Senator Hilary Rodham Clinton's traveling press secretary during her 2008 presidential campaign.
Carson's lecture will be held in Reynolds Hall at Shepherd University - 109 North King Street in Shepherdstown, on Saturday, August 1 at 4:30 pm. This lecture is presented free of charge by the West Virginia Humanities Council and the Arts & Humanities Alliance of Jefferson County (AHA!).
The Contemporary American Theater Festival prides itself on producing and developing New American theater. Since 1991, CATF has produced 68 new plays, including 25 world premieres. The 2009 Season will run through August 2 and tickets are still available for most shows. For more information, please visit www.catf.org or call 304-876-3473 or 800-999-CATF (2283).
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