Andrea Cain has been performing her entire life, even through pursuing degrees in Mathematics and Education from Illinois Wesleyan University. Her minor in Theatre Arts allowed her to explore the world of theater critique, and she has enjoyed freely blogging about her experiences for many years. She can be found dancing, writing, and practicing different dialects with her family in her free time.
Pictured: Ensemble of “1980.” Photo by Joel Masionet.
By Andrea Cain
Within the current political climate, theater and media have taken the time to use both dramatic and comedic ways to discuss important issues. The wonderful satire that is “1980 (Or Why I’m Voting for John Anderson)” has definitely not wasted this time. The intimate look into the lives of campaign volunteers shows us more than just the struggle of fighting for the underdog, but also that times may not have changed as much as we think.
We are presented with a cozy office in 1980 by the adorably awkward Kathleen (Hillary Horvath) on her first day. Brenda (masterfully portrayed by Evelyn Gaynor) is trying to convince Kathleen that she can successfully call voters and convince them to support the independent candidate, John Anderson. We meet the intense Robin Rich (fiercely played by Bryce Gangel), and the professional and ambitious Will Moore (Sheldon Brown).
Through the heat of trying to prove that an independent can be the best choice for president, the characters explore what it really means to get what you want. What I found most compelling was comparing the prejudices black Americans and American women experience when trying to fight for their causes. In this play, we see the intersectionality between the struggles, and how oppressed people are pitted against each other — it made for a very internally focused intermission.
The direction by company member Kaiser Zaki Ahmed clearly shows how important it is to understand all points of view in a volatile political climate. Assumptions based on biased first impressions may lead to unfair treatment, but when we look deeper into a person’s background, we can find a new understanding of their goals.
Jackalope has brought a new gem to the political satire mix. If exciting characters, wit, and thought-provoking prose are what you desire in a theatrical experience, then I recommend this production.
“1980 (Or Why I’m Voting for John Anderson)” runs through Dec 2nd. For more information visit jackalopetheatre.org.