An old man arrives at the precipice of death through
his memories of horror at the hands of Joe McCarthy.

February 20 to March 16, 2024
Theatre Row, Theatre Two, 410 W 42nd Street
Presented by New Light Theater Project
Wed-Sat at 7:00 PM, Sun at 3:00 PM (20 performances)
Tickets $45-$35
Buy tickets:, (212) 714-2442
Running time: 100 minutes, no intermission.
Critics invited on or after February 22. Opens February 23.
Author's agent: Susan Gurman at Gurman Agency LLC

NEW YORK, February 25 -- "This is not a time of peace" by Deb Margolin is a play about unrest. A story of love between a father and his daughter, it moves in concentric circles of turbulence: within a country, within a marriage, and within the mind of a woman who struggles to save her father from memories of his country’s betrayal in the Red Scare of the '50s while committing a sexual betrayal of her own. New Light Theater Project will present the play's world premiere run Off-Broadway from February 20 to March 16 at Theatre Two of Theatre Row, 410 W 42nd Street, directed by Jerry Heymann.

Alina, the play’s protagonist and only female character, is grief-stricken to find her father, Hillel, consumed by memories of losing his livelihood after he was accused of Communist affiliations during the McCarthy era. In his terror, Hillel has stopped eating and drinking. Alina struggles to relieve his sorrow by sorting the facts from the elderly man’s distorted memories. Her anger at the country’s betrayal of her father is put in a moral context by her own betrayal of her husband and daughter: she is embroiled in a passionate and brutal affair with a man whose vanity she likens to the madmen of history. As temporal boundaries collapse, Alina confronts Joe McCarthy directly and violently. A coalescence of all forces enables Alina to recognize her own humanity in the worst and most ordinary aspects of history.

The play challenges its audience to grapple with questions such as: "What part of each of us is capable of committing the crimes of any one of us?" and "Do the forces that hold a union together serve also to destroy it?" The play also wonders why we hunger for authoritarianism, for the comfort of the strongman, and asks the audience to hear the striking similarities in the language despots use in the rise to power.

The play also invokes issues of inherited trauma and how the myriad reverberations of McCarthyism in today's political culture can reopen old wounds. The character of Hillel is loosely based on the playwright’s own father, an accomplished metallurgical engineer who lost his security clearance, and thereby his grants for scientific research, in the red-baiting of Joe McCarthy's House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC). Speaking through Alina, playwright Deb Margolin writes: "I grew up with these stories, with his stories. His trauma is epigenetic, it’s mine now."

The many echoes of McCarthyism in today's political culture lend this play a disquieting immediacy and relevance. The "big lie," so long identified as a tool of McCarthy, has been ruthlessly employed by Donald Trump in claims of election stealing and in "birther" campaigns against Barak Obama and Nikki Haley. Trump's increasingly incendiary rhetoric, as when he pledges to “root out the communists, Marxists, fascists, and the radical-left thugs that live like vermin within the confines of our country,” is similarly deja-vu, as is his horrifying vindictiveness ("I am your revenge"). Trump's early lawyer and consiglieri was Roy Cohen, who had been McCarthy's chief counsel during the Army-McCarthy hearings in 1954. Margolin's title for the play, "This is not a time of peace," is in fact a refrain from McCarthy's speeches.

Charlotte Cohn plays Alina. Roger Hendricks Simon plays Hillel. Simon Feil plays Alina's husband and Ken King plays her lover. Frank Licato plays Adolf Berle, the public servant extraordinaire and original member of Franklin D. Roosevelt's "brain trust" who defended Margolin's father (and therefore, Hillel in the play). Steven Rattazzi plays Joseph McCarthy. Richard Hollis plays a Russian metallurgist who appeals for Hillel's support, putting him at risk in the paranoia of the 1950s Red Scare

Scenic Design is by Jessica Parks. Costume Design is by Julia Squier. Lighting Design is by Paul Hudson. Sound Design is by Jennie Gorn. Casting is by Robin Carus. Intimacy Direction is by Leighton Samuels. Dramaturgy is by Ginny Mayer.

Deb Margolin (author) is a playwright, actor, and founding member of Split Britches Theater Company. She is the author of numerous plays, including "Imagining Madoff" (nominee, Helen Hayes / Charles Macarthur Award for Outstanding New Play), "Turquoise," "That Old Perplexity" and "Bringing the Fishermen Home," and eleven solo performance plays which she has toured throughout the US. These include "8 STOPS," a comedy concerning the grief of endless compassion, which takes a long, humorous, tender look at motherhood, the suburbs, the fear of death, and the inheritability of ideas. She has been a resident artist at Tulane, Hampshire College, NYU, USC, Washington and Lee Univ., Marlboro College, Swarthmore, and many other universities. She has received an OBIE award for Sustained Excellence of Performance, the Helen Merrill Distinguished Playwright Award, the Kesselring Playwriting Prize, NEA grant, NJSCA Fellow, Edwin Booth Award, Tanne Foundation Award, Adams/Reisch Foundation Distinguished Career award, and the Richard H. Broadhead Prize for teaching excellence at Yale University, where she is Professor in the Practice in the undergraduate Theater and Performance Studies Program. Her publications include a book of (mostly) solo plays entitled "Of All The Nerve: Deb Margolin SOLO," the four-part drama "Time Is the Mercy of Eternity" (Samuel French) and "Three Seconds in the Key" (Playscripts). She is a proud alumna of New Dramatists, a member of the TENT Theater Company, and lives in New Jersey (which she denies). This is her most personal recent play.

Jerry Heymann (Director) is an award-winning director. He staged New Light Theatre Project's sold-out productions of Margolin's "Imagining Madoff," including its initial run at 59E59 Theatres and its Off-Broadway extension on Theatre Row. Selected other credits include "Call Me Charlie" with Danny DeVito (La MaMa), "My Daddy’s Serious American Gift "(Tiffany Theatre, LA), "A Country For Old Men" (American Stage), "Three" (EST) and "Demeter’s Lost Daughter" (St. Clement’s Theatre). He earned a PhD and MFA from Carnegie-Mellon and is a member of SDC.

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Critics are invited on or after February 22. Opens February 23.