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Bob Paisley in Bill Clinton Hercules Bob Paisley in Bill Clinton Hercules. Photo by Anna Woolman

Bill Clinton Hercules – the play about the Big Dog
Rachel Mariner on the genesis of her play in which Bubba gives his own fantasy TED talk

When Bill Clinton Hercules opened in Edinburgh in 2014 a friend of mine gave me a small carved figure looking up at a thin wire balloon inscribed with the word 'hope'. I'm almost embarrassed that I keep it on the windowsill above my kitchen sink.

Because in these dark and turbulent times, 'hope' and its virtuous relation 'justice' are dorky words. I might as well have a kitten poster with 'hang in there, baby!'

I threw around the word 'justice' a lot at Occupy London in 2011 and I got a lot of flack for it: vicious lancing tweets telling me it didn't even mean anything. Justice: an empty set of a word. Hope: a delusion of a word.

Don't you believe it for a second, dear reader. The trolls and my impeccable taste be damned! Words like hope and justice have exactly as much power as we give them. Now is the time to make them real.

Bill Clinton Hercules is based on a Sophocles play, retold by Seamus Heaney as The Cure at Troy:
History says don't hope on this side of the grave
But then once in a lifetime
The longed for tidal wave of justice can rise up
And hope and history rhyme.

What if, in Clinton's words, we could share the future without fighting over it?

What would that even look like? Through the Cure at Troy, Bill Clinton Hercules tells the life story of an extraordinary man, driven by these dorky words. A man who longs for that tidal wave of justice. A man who believes that further shores are reachable from here.

The American presidential election is unfolding as a possibly dangerous disaster. The health of the planet is in peril, people can't live in the zones of endless war we have created, the debt machine saps our energy, consumerism saps our souls. Humanitarian crises are invisible. Even in democracies, oppression of protest has made it all but impossible. And worse - our activists-- our card-carrying members of the hope and justice club, are now classified as terrorists and subject to police surveillance. Twelve years for Chilcot. Twenty six years for Hillsborough. Class barriers retrenched. Class war inflamed. Habeas Corpus suspended. Somehow – perhaps during Strictly or X Factor -the rule of law has eroded, and the power of the people has been taken away.

I have two kids and I live in Cambridge. It's a great place for kids. But I wonder what the hell everyone is doing making sure their children have this idyllic childhood when meanwhile, the very world that those children must one day inhabit is falling down around our ears. Congratulations on the perfect gooseberry fool! Shame about the jury trials.

Every revolution must be first imagined. And who better than the comeback kid, the big dog, the Odysseus of politics. It's the perfect time to start scouting for that tidal wave of justice. It's the perfect time to hope.

Rachel's play, Bill Clinton Hercules, starring Bob Paisley and directed by Guy Masterson, is playing at the Park Theatre, Finsbury Park, from 17 May to 11 June. Book tickets here:

Rachel Mariner is an American expat playwright living in Cambridge, UK. Her plays have been produced and developed in Edinburgh, Belfast, Chicago, London, Washington and Kansas City. A reading of her play Wedding at Cana is available on Soundcloud via OneWheaton. She is currently working on a true courtroom drama with Jason Kuller called Kerching and a play about the birth of the Magna Carta called Treason. She has two children, a guitar-playing husband and a thirst for justice.

Click here to read about Rachel's experiences as an American expatriate in Britain.

Bob Paisley in Bill Clinton Hercules


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