Friday, May 22, 2009

Janet Langhart Cohen: Her take on Emmett Till & Anne Frank


Janet Langhart Cohen's new one act play, "Anne & Emmett," debuts at the Holocaust Museum here on June 10 (private opening night), and then at George Washington University (public)'s Morton Auditorium (click Ticketmaster) on June 12.

First of all, if you haven't a clue who Janet, Anne or Emmett are, you're probably either (1) Dick Cheney or Joe the Plumber, or (2) a fool. Sorry, you can collapse both into one. And apologies to Dick, because he knows exactly who Janet is, as Janet's hubby is Former US Secretary of Defense under Slick Willie, William Cohen. Dick's rabid right has long fatwa'd Bill Cohen, former senator from Maine, as one of the moderate Republicans the GOP can do without--despite the rapport Cheney tried to curry with Cohen over Middle East policy during the Clinton-W. transition 200-2001. Now think of the conversations around wingnut land back when Bill married sistagurl Janet? Oh, and the buzzing about the redneck elisted personnel and holy roller white officers was, according to my pals within the Pentagon on out in the field, quite piquant when Cohen would take Janet on DoD trips to see the troops. Come back to me in the comments for feedback and facts on that stuff...
So back to the play. It's author Janet is retired award winning journalist (I mean in the old school Jane Pauley, Linda Ellerbee, Gwen ifill sense, not Fox News/CNN bubble-head and cleavage sense circa 2009; she still writes for HuffPo etc. occasionally). She's a former national and local on- air news reporter for...Indianapolis beauty queen (okay a friend of mine once said the finest yella/redbone women are from the Midwest, not the East Coast or even New Orleans LOL). Note my "black don't crack" post of a few days ago; Janet looks better than 75% of the thirty-something Fairfax Co. soccermoms I've met, and Janet has not lived some charmed, coddled life. BTW she's penned plays and other long form visual pieces before (short docs, etc.) before.
Her "Anne & Emmett" envisions a conversation between two teenagers who's deaths are allegory for so much that' wrong with our human tribalism. Oh, don't get it twisted: the forces which ripped the flesh of both of these tender kids live and thrive today. It's not "evil" or "hate." It's much more complex, insidious. That's the terrifying notion. And apparently this ain't no bleeding heart colloquium or contrived bitch session using these kids as mouthpieces. It's their characters, idiosyncracies and all, awkaward teens, reflecting frankly on the thing that made them smile and the despair at not being allowed to reach things to which they aspired. Yep, two regular kids. Anne, hiding then found, gassed and burned in the death camp. Emmett, tortured, tied to a truck transmission, sunk in a creek. Perpetrators feeling utterly justified, indeed lauded (and it's still a funky state of affairs in Emmett's America) for their acts at the time. The word which comes to mind for both is always: innocence.
FYI, a great starter book on Emmett's life & death, and in the Civil Rights context, is my boy Prof. Christopher Benson's effort with Emmett's late mother, Mamie Till Mobley titled Death of Innocence (Random House) click here for amazon.com. There's a legion of stuff on Anne, of course.
I'm looking forward to this play. Be nice if the douchebags who fight over the air or the Net would set aside their poison, and join with folk calmly to watch and enjoy, too. In the words of Davey Crockett, musing on the coming oblivion at the Alamo: "Amazing what a little harmony'll do."

49 comments:

Anonymous said...

Any tour info beyond DC area?

nabilaJ said...

I suppose people think she's a "stuffed blouse?" (like Barack) (smile)

givepeace05401 said...

You wrote:
"It's author Janet is retired award winning journalist (I mean in the old school Jane Pauley, Linda Ellerbee, Gwen ifill sense, not Fox News/CNN bubble-head and cleavage sense circa 2009; she still writes for HuffPo etc. occasionally)."

To funny. While I remember how intelligent and beautiful she was, I don't remember what show she was on. I was sorry she retired for boardcasting, but I am happy for her continued success.

Chicama Vineyard said...

Why have no "major" playwrights thought of this concept before? I am not denigrating Mrs. Langhart-Cohen, but this would have been fertile ground to plough. This is not a melodramatic concept but rather a necessary one.

craig said...

BET, The Boston Globe, some TV stations in Chicago and CBS where her past jobs, I think.

Anonymous said...

Sounds good. Did you see Bill Cohen on The Daily Show last week? He's someone Obama should use more often.

Anonymous said...

Had to come back to this after today's shooting at the Holocaust Memorial Museum, where the play was to premiere. Your words could not be more true, Chris, and considering today's tragedy, prophetic. I'm seeing a surge in enrollment in my fall Hate Crimes class. As Bill Cohen said on CNN just a few minutes ago, it all starts with the word. Write on!

Chris Benson

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