Letters to the President
Written by M.S. Garvey
Directed by Beata Pilch
Opened November 2004
“There’s a buttload of politically inspiring offerings on local stages right now, but Michael Garvey’s late-night solo show is something different, neither a hardhitting satire nor a historic gripe fest. Instead, in just under an hour, he poignantly raises a question familiar to many Americans since the 2000 election debacle-do we belong in this country anymore?-by reading a series of letters he’s sent to Bush over the past few years. Not interested in easy polemics, Garvey is sincerely perplexed-and often witty-in his ruminations. “What is it about American interests abroad that make us lose interest in the lives of those abroad?” he asks in one letter. No answer arrives from Dubya, but Garvey’s show creates a welcoming place for the confused and downhearted citizen.”
-Kerry Reid, The Chicago Reader
|For the first 34 or so years of his life, M.S. Garvey’s life reflected his roots as a son of the Chicago suburbs at the end of the 20th Century: work, family, beer and football, rock and roll and girls. He played football at the University of Wyoming, rugby all over the world, and came back home to work for a time at the mercantile exchange. Work at the Mercantile Exchange in Chicago eventually drove him into the off-loop theatre scene, and he found a home at Trap door Theatre for a few years before heading west to give it a go as an actor in Los Angeles.In the years leading up to the 2000 Presidential election, M.S. had begun to question much of what he had always taken for granted: What is an individual? What is community? What is country? What is government?
How do these relate? How should they?
More importantly, who gets to decide?
Then came the election. And Florida. And 9/11. And Iraq. And so on.
And then came the letters to the president. A steady stream of correspondence from one man to the White House for almost 3 years, unanswered save for the autographed headshot of our president M.S. received on the first day of major operations in Iraq.
In 2002 out of frustration Michael began writing Mr. Bush and turned the letters into an ongoing, ever changing performance. M.S. Garvey’s Letters to the President has been performed here in Chicago at the Abbie Hoffman fest and at Trap Door Theatre with the help of some dada clowns from WNEP. With Trap Door and director Beata Pilch, “letters” toured Romania twice and was most recently performed at the Unknown Theater in Hollywood and the Electric Lodge in Venice, California with an unbelievable band called the Hootenany All-Stars..