Some events are so much larger than life that one can really only apprehend them on a grand scale, as part of the sweep of history and not occurrences that turned the lives of actual individuals upside down.
Arguably, the assassination of Harvey Milk has become such an event. Over the years iconized in documentary, opera, major motion picture, one begins to understand how the murder of his co-victim, San Francisco Mayor George Moscone, became relegated to almost an after-thought.
But if Moscone lives on in the public's consciousness as merely a subset of the Milk story, he plays a much bigger part in the mindset of Jonathan Moscone. He's the Artistic Director of California Shakespeare Theater who shares a last name with the former mayor because he happens to be his son.
Moscone delves into the effect of his father's death on the 14-year-old boy that he was and the man that he became in Ghost Light, which he conceived with Berkeley Rep's Tony Taccone, who also wrote the script. Directed by Moscone, the play is now on stage at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival through November 5.
Theater critic Karen D'Souza writes this about Ghost Light in her Mercury News review:
Moscone found himself caught between the fault lines of myth and history when his father, San Francisco Mayor George Moscone, was gunned down by Dan White in a bloody rampage that shook the Bay Area in 1978. He was just 14. Now, Moscone and his old friend Tony Taccone revisit that memory in a compelling exploration of how tragedy sculpts destiny...
"Ghost Light" shimmers with the force of repressed truths. Part of OSF's insanely ambitious cycle of history plays, "American Revolutions," this piece fuses the intimate and the epic with riveting results. While the play still feels unfinished, particularly in its second half, there's a candor to the memoir that hits home.
Last week, KQED's Cy Musiker interviewed Moscone about the play, his family, and the emotions he has had to cope with around his father's death. Parts of the conversation are below; an edited transcript follows each audio clip: