McCarthy Era's Damage Brought Onstage in Silicon Valley

California premiere of "FINKS" is presented by TheatreWorks Silicon Valley at the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts, June 6-July 1, 2018. (Kevin Berne)

Everyone knows about the chaos wrought by the McCarthy era—and that it was an especially damaging period for a lot of artists, screenwriters, and actors. This month, TheatreWorks Silicon Valley presents a play that tells the story of one of these blacklisted actors.

FINKS is about the House un-American Activities Committee, and specifically how it undermined so-called subversion in the arts. It’s based on the true story of the actor Jack Gilford, who was named, blacklisted, and along with his wife, couldn’t get good work for years.

Gilford was named, in fact, by Jerome Robbins, the choreographer. So you had artists turning on each other, hence the play’s title, FINKS. And just like Angels in America, currently playing at Berkeley Rep, this play re-creates the atmosphere of the Red Scare and gives context to the ratting out that went on.

FINKS is at the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts in Mountain View, running June 6–July 1. Details here.

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