Linfield theatre presents ‘Execution of Justice’

Execution of JusticeThe Linfield College theatre will present Emily Mann’s docudrama “Execution of Justice,” taking audience members to a divided San Francisco in the 1970s as the city transitions from conservative to a more liberal social and political climate.

The production will be performed May 5-7 and 12-14 at 7:30 p.m., and May 8 at 2 p.m. in the Marshall Theatre in Ford Hall at Linfield. Post-show discussions will be held May 6 and May 12 in the theatre.

“Execution of Justice” focuses on the trial of Dan White, who shot and killed George Moscone, the mayor of San Francisco, and Harvey Milk, the first openly-gay elected city supervisor of San Francisco, in 1978. White, a fellow supervisor who resigned his position on the board of supervisors but then attempted to get reappointed, was tried for first-degree murder on two counts in 1979.

The play will use court transcripts, video footage and interviews to present what happened at the trial and afterwards, leading to the “White Night” riots. It puts the American justice system on trial for what has now become known as the infamous “Twinkie” defense. More recently, the Academy Award-winning film “Milk,” starring Sean Penn, sparked new interest in the figure of Harvey Milk and what his election to office meant to the gay and lesbian movement.

“It raises questions about the criminal defense system,” said Janet Gupton, associate professor of theatre arts who will direct the play. “The play will introduce many of our students and community to a part of history that they may not know about.”

The production will incorporate multimedia and require most of the 20 actors involved to play multiple roles.

“The Department of Theatre and Communication Arts received a grant from the E. L. Wiegand Foundation that allowed us to purchase the necessary projectors powerful enough to do this play,” said Gupton. “It requires multimedia because actual newscasts and photographs from the period are used.

“Playing multiple characters also allows the actors to stretch themselves and, in some cases, play two characters with very different viewpoints of what happened,” she added.

In addition to the production, there will be two post-show discussions for the play. The first, “San Francisco 1979: An Identity Crisis?” will be held Friday, May 6. A second discussion, “Theatre and Politics: A Theatrical Indictment of the Trial of Dan White,” will be held Thursday, May 12, featuring Nick Buccola, assistant professor of political science. Both discussions will be held in the theatre and are free and open to the public.

Tickets are $9 for full price; $7 for seniors (62+) and Linfield faculty and staff; and $5 for students; with a $2 discount on all tickets on opening night. On Mother’s Day, May 8, tickets are just $5 for all moms. Seating is reserved. Tickets are available on the web at, by phone or at the Marshall Theatre Box Office. Located in the lobby of Ford Hall, the box office is open Tuesday through Friday from 3 to 5 p.m., and until 7:30 p.m. on performance days. The box office will also be open May 7 and 14 from 3 to 7:30 p.m., and from noon to 2 p.m. on May 8. The box office is closed on Mondays.

The Marshall Theatre is fully accessible. Contact the box office if you require information on accessible seating. Assisted listening devices are available at each performance. For more information, call 503-883-2292.