Traitors

by  Don Nigro

Full Length Play, Dark Comedy  /  4m

NOTICE: Please be advised, this title is being made available now in manuscript form prior to its publication.

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  • Cast Size

    Cast Size

    4m
  • Duration

    Duration

    120 minutes (2 hours)
  • Accolades

    Accolades

    Not Applicable
  • Audience

    Target Audience

    • Adult
    • Teen (Age 14 - 18)

Additional Info

In the late 1940s, when Richard Nixon and the House Un-American Activities Committee were scouring the land for Communists and Soviet Agents, a senior editor at Time magazine named Whitaker Chambers testified that Alger Hiss, a prominent member of the State Department and a person instrumental in the founding of the United Nations, had been for years a paid agent of the Soviet Union. What followed was the most notorious and baffling espionage and treason controversy in American history, culminating in Hiss being convicted of perjury and sent to prison, while Chambers went on to write a bestselling autobiography and become the darling of the American right. Hiss was convicted on manufactured evidence in an atmosphere of hysteria nurtured by Nixon, for his own political advantage, and FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, who was determined to get the Democrats out of the White House. But what really went on between Alger Hiss and Whitaker Chambers in the 1930s remains a mystery. Chambers was a drifter, a compulsive liar, and an admitted Soviet Agent and traitor who had repented and become a champion of free enterprise. He was a pudgy, scruffy little man whose lifelong paranoia and eccentric behavior were legendary at Time. Hiss was a tall, smooth, well educated Eastern liberal establishment figure who had clerked at the Supreme Court for Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes and went to his grave insisting upon his innocence. In this highly theatrical play, as protean and surreal as a dream, Nigro investigates the dark spider web of inter-relationships between Hiss and Chambers, Chambers and Nixon, Hiss and Nixon, and Nixon and J. Edgar Hoover, and fashions a powerful, funny and disorienting nightmare in which truth is hidden behind Chambers' compulsive fantasizing and submerged erotic compulsions, Hiss's inexplicable and self-destructive reserve, Nixon's bottomless ambition and rabid hatred, and Hoover's cynical Machiavellian orchestrations, complete with ball gown. This is the case that gripped and obsessed America for years and became the origin of the current deep divide between left and right in America, and to this day it still brings to the surface passionate and often irrational feelings on left and right alike. There is a direct line of descent between the Hiss case, Watergate, the Reagan Revolution, and the Bush era, and Nigro traces this darkly ironic horror story with humor and more than a trace of madness. It's a hall of mirrors in which we can see reflected the grotesque political masks we still wear.
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Considerations

Performing Groups

  • College Theatre / Student
  • Community Theatre
  • Professional Theatre
  • Shoestring Budget
  • Blackbox / Second Stage /Fringe Groups

Cautions

  • Caution Mild Adult Mild Adult Themes

License details

  • Minimum Fee: $75 per performance

Production

Details

  • Time Period: 1950s, 1940s / WWII, 1930s
  • Duration: 120 minutes (2 hours)
  • Additional Features: Not Applicable
  • Features / Contains: Period Costumes

Music

  • Musical Style: N/A (Not a musical)

Casting

4m
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Cast Attributes

  • All Male
  • Ensemble cast

Resources

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Authors

Don Nigro

Don Nigro is among the most frequently published and widely produced playwrights in the world and has continued to build a deeply interrelated and diverse body of dramatic literature, employing a wide variety of dramatic conventions and styles of presentation. He has written monologues and epics, spare realistic dramas ...

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