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Pentagon Papers focus of Jorgensen performance

by Carol Davidge - January 28, 2008

In a democratic society, should a government be allowed to protect secrets in the name of national security if those secrets are used to cover up politically damaging actions by that government?

This issue will be explored in a production of the historical docudrama, Top Secret: The Battle for the Pentagon Papers, at Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts on Tuesday, Feb. 5 at 8 p.m.

It will be performed by LA Theatre Works, a leading radio theater company, and stars Hollywood actors John Vickery, Gregory Harrison, Shannon Cochran, and John Heard.

This live on-stage radio show depicts The Washington Post’s decision to publish the Pentagon Papers, a top secret study documenting U.S. involvement in Vietnam.

It provides a behind-the-scenes look at one of the most important cases on freedom of the press ever to go before the Supreme Court, examining the government’s relationship to the media, the citizenry’s right to information, and the First Amendment, against the canvas of the Vietnam War and the secretive Nixon White House.

“The Pentagon Papers case helped to legitimate the media’s assaults against government secrecy at a time when officials were hiding behind blanket claims of national security to disguise their own deception,” says David Yalof, associate professor of political science.

“Even today, the modern media’s efforts to hold federal government officials accountable by publishing information against the government’s wishes owes a great deal to that landmark First Amendment decision.”

Top Secret was written by the late Leroy Aarons and Geoffrey Cowan, a professor at the University of Southern California. The production is a hybrid of traditional and radio theatre, with a minimal set, costumes, and lights.

The actors carry scripts, speak into microphones, and play multiple roles. As in radio theatre, a foley artist creates the sound effects, such as pouring drinks and opening doors.

For tickets and information, call 860-486-4226 or go to www.jorgensen.edu.

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