THE ORIGINALIST by Carol Kaufman Segal
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was an Associate of the United States Supreme court for thirty years. Appointed to the Court by Republican President Ronald Reagan in 1986, he was obviously appointed as a conservative force on the Supreme Court. I wonder if anyone knew how strong and stubborn he would hold to his ideas as an originalist throughout those years.
Playwright John Strand’s play about Scalia, entitled The Originalist, playing at the Pasadena Playhouse, is a fictionalized story that pits him against a young liberal woman who, despite their differences, they end up as friends.
The play opens with Scalia, (masterly performed by Edward Gero) with operatic music in the background and he talks about how much he loves opera music. Then we find him on stage where he is holding forth a talk to a law school class and being interrupted repeatedly by a young woman in the audience as she challenges some of his remarks.
The next scene opens in Judge Scalia’s chambers where the same young woman arrives introducing herself as Cat (Jade Wheeler) while letting him know that she is a highly qualified Harvard Law School graduate looking for a job as his law clerk. Knowing that Cat is a liberal, it seems surprising that he hires her for the job, but he does, thereby setting up the fictional tale between an exceptionally strong conservative Judge of the United States Supreme Court and a young equally liberal law clerk.
Then the battle ensues. Judge Scalia believes that anything before the court should hold fast to the Constitution despite the fact that it was ratified over two centuries ago (philosophy of originalism). Most people feel that the Court should allow for changes as society changes. Otherwise, we would be held to some very repugnant laws that, fortunately have been changed, such as racial and gender equality. According to Judge Scalia’s interpretation, any laws that do not adhere strictly to the original intent by the founders, would be proclaimed unconstitutional.
Scalia s a pure conservative and while he debates his side with Cat, she has answers for him through her legal research. But as time passes, Cat does not see him as a man without feeling, and before long, they become friends
Though admittedly, this could never happen, Playwright Strand, in his note to the audience, gives his reason for writing this play. To quote him, he wrote. “What happened to the political middle? How did compromise become a dirty word in American politics? Civil discourse has been replaced by a verbal foodfight. Why?”
Directed by Molly Smith, the pay is extremely well presented. I felt something significant and pleasing by the playing of opera music between each of the scenes. Edward Gero is the perfect actor to play Judge Scalia. His resemblance of the man s amazing. Jade Wheeler is delightful as Cat. Also included in the cast is Brett Mack who plays a small role, but helps to bond the Judge and Cat.
The Originalist is playing at the Pasadena Playhouse, 39 S. El Molina, in Pasadena, Ave., Pasadena, CA. Performances are Tuesdays through Fridays at 8 PM, Saturdays at 4 PM & 8 PM, Sundays at 2 PM, through May 7th, with one Sunday evening performance at 7 PM on April 30.