Ace Trumps, casino developer, and Mayor JB connive to turn The Oakland Fox into a casino. A coalition of local activists has other ideas.
..you should run, not walk down to the Glenview and buy yourself a ticket. Heck, buy a block of tickets and…bring the neighborhood. It’s a little bit like Saturday Night Live meets Rogers and Hart. Perhaps the real star of the show, though, is the music.
–Gary Turchin, The Montclarion
Never say never. Anything can happen and usually does in Oakland…a political satire on city hall [that] cuts pretty close to the real bones…
–Peggy Stinnett, The Oakland Tribune
|JB||Mayor of Oakland, Ca|
|ACE TRUMPS||Head of Trumps All (Casino Developer)|
|BARRY BERI||City Manager|
|JACK AZ||The Mayor’s Special Advisor|
|PENELOPE QUIGENBOTHEM||Head of Friends of the Oakland Fox (preservation group)|
|ALLEGRA MODERATO||Director of Quercus Chorus, member of FOOF|
|NANCY TENACITY||City Council Member for Downtown|
|GUADALUPE GUZMAN||Nancy’s Assistant|
|BAILEY KEYES||Owner of BAILEY’S BOOKS, Head of Downtown Merchants’ Association|
|SAM SAN MIGUEL||WEB site designer|
|CITIZENS||City Hall Staff, Reporters, Lake Merritt Visitors, etc. As few as 3.|
All scenes are shown with maximum use of lighting and video/slide effects and minimum use of set pieces and furniture
The Mayor’s Office
Bailey’s Books, an African-American bookstore across the street from the FOX Theatre
A hallway in City Hall
A private dining room in the Lakeview Club
The African American Museum front steps
The shore of Lake Merritt
City Council Chambers
Both our Oakland productions used slides of Oakland on a white curtain between scenes, to help entertain the audience while we made quick changes. (We also liked showing some of the beautiful places in Oakland, which has such an undeserved reputation as “all ghetto all the time.”) We would be happy to provide a DVD of those slides along with the rest of the materials, but if a company preferred not to use them, that would be fine, too.
Set in present-day Oakland, CASINO! purports to show Ace Trumps, casino developer,
and Mayor JB conniving to turn the Oakland FOX art deco theatre into an Indian casino.
A group of citizens, including Penelope Higgenbothem, preservationist, and Allegro
Moderato, children’s choir director, join City Council Member Nancy Tenacity in trying to stop it. Working for Nancy is the beautiful young Lupe Guzman, who proceeds to fall in love with a young fellow, Sam San Miguel, who is working for the gambling concern, and who falls madly back. Another important character is Jack Az, the City Hall letch whom everyone loves to hate.
Although the show was written in the early 2000s, the issue of gambling and its effects on America and on native tribes is far from out of date. I tried to present these issues in a light way, but I definitely wanted the audiences to think about them later. To me, gambling is like alcohol or marijuana: it can be a harmless relaxation, but you have to be aware of what you are doing and what your particular body, brain, and bank account can handle. It is also the kind of business that attracts unscrupulous investors and organized crime, so bringing it in thinking it is going to be the answer to your city’s financial woes is fabulously naïve—but done time and again. When I wrote this our mayor was talking about bringing a casino into Oakland, which is how I got the idea.
I’m not one of those playwrights who will write anything in any way that sells. All my plays have issues underneath. I think that is what playwrights are supposed to do. My exemplar was George Bernard Shaw, who allows his characters to opine on serious issues, but laces humor unrelentingly through his work. Also, by the way, he created a number of strong female characters, some so strong they were scandalous in his day.