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The Trial of the Cantonsville Nine Judith Martin-straw | Mon, Jun 22 2009 07:48 PM

The Trial of the Cantonsville Nine is a thought provoking and inspired production by the Actors Gang at the Ivy substation in Culver City. Run to this production and decide for yourself if the cause for change should be focused on civil disobedience, peaceful demonstrations, or writing to your congressional representative.

The Cantonsville Nine, led by Father Daniel Berrigan, Father Phillip Berrigan and seven Catholic activists, believed civil disobedience was a way to implement change immediately and each one was willing to go to prison for their beliefs.

The story takes place on May 17, 1968 with the napalm burning of 378 1-A draft files in Cantonsville, Maryland in protest of the escalating War in Vietnam, the Governor Spiro Agnew and Richard Nixon's election campaign. With the press alerted the stage was set for the Cantonsville Nine to tell their story in a court of law, be convicted, and then to go to prison. In press footage of the event, Father Berrigan was quoted as saying saying "We are all part of this." as all nine strike their matches and throw them onto the draft files.

Performed in free verse and based on actual trial transcripts, this production asks the question "Can nine Christians, invoking the actions of their beliefs and on the side of God, stop the U.S. Government from committing atrocities all around the world for the sake of business interests?" The play takes us through the trial. The answers come not in the final conclusions of the play but how we as individuals respond to changing what we think is wrong and make it a right.

The play was written by Daniel Berrigan, one of the Cantonsville Nine, and wonderfully directed by John Kellam. It's inspired and rotating ensemble playing multiple roles includes Andrew E. Wheeler, Corey G. Lovett, Paige Lindsey White, Ethan Kogan, Patti Tippo and Adele Robbins as the sympathetic judge. Cameron Dye is fantastic as David Darst and Scott Harris turns in a terrific performance as Father Phillip Berrigan.

I walked out thinking, if God is on their side, why isn't the government? You may have other thoughts. Go see it.

Performances are February 14 - March 21, Thursday through Saturday at 8:00pm, Sundays at 2pm.

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