November 3, 2016: EXCLUSIVE: Long Island vs. MS-13 Gang. Bill Clinton: The First “First Gentleman?” Tectonic Theater Turns 25!

Tonight, Long Island’s gang violence epidemic continues to rage on in Brentwood as another name is added to the growing list of casualties. The skeletal remains of 18-year-old Jose Pena-Hernandez, a known gang member, were recently discovered in the woods behind the abandoned Pilgrim State Psychiatric Center. Many are beginning to worry that there are still more bodies to be found, and authorities remain on high alert as they investigate each murder and their possible connections to the notorious MS-13 gang. Tonight, in an exclusive MetroFocus interview, Suffolk County Police Commissioner Tim Sini gives us an update on the investigations.

Then, with Election Day just around the corner, it’s impossible to ignore the fact that our nation could be just days away from witnessing the ascension of our first female president. After 227 years of presidents and first ladies in the White House, many are bemused by the fact that if Hillary Clinton wins the election, that would make Bill a former president and… the nation’s first first gentleman? This thought has not escaped Gerald Weaver, an acclaimed author, political analyst, and former chief of staff in the U.S. House of Representatives. For his second novel, The First First Gentleman, Weaver wraps a love story and a thriller into one, all while providing honest and insightful commentary on the nation’s political system. Tonight, he joins us to discuss the book and the current state of politics.

Finally, Shakespeare may have said all the world’s a stage, but one theater group in particular has been using the stage to change the world since 1991. The Tectonic Theater Project has initiated dialogues on social and political issues with ground-breaking experimental plays such as The Laramie Project. As part of Tectonic’s 25th anniversary, the theater is putting on a benefit show featuring plays of the past and present. This star-studded event will be hosted by Academy Award-winning actress, Jane Fonda, and is sure to be a night to remember in the theater. Tonight, a founder of this illustrious theater, Moises Kaufman, and Emmy award-winning actor Michael Emerson, will give us a preview of the benefit and a look back at Tectonic’s ground-breaking work.

TRANSCRIPT

> TONIGHT ON 'METROFOCUS' --

AT LEAST FIVE GANG RELATED MURDERS OF LOCAL YOUTH AS EXTREME VIOLENCE GRIPS BRENTWOOD.

BUT AUTHORITIES ARE FIGHTING BACK.

A LOOK AT THE TURF WAR TAKING HOLD OF THEIR STREETS.

> IF HILLARY CLINTON BECOMES THE FIRST WOMAN PRESIDENT, THEN AMERICA WILL ALSO HAVE ITS FIRST FIRST GENTLEMAN.

WE'LL PONDER THE POSSIBILITIES OF WHAT THAT MEANS FOR US, AND BILL.

> PLUS, IN MANHATTAN, YOU CAN DO OR BE ANYTHING.

FOR THE TECTONIC THEATER PROJECT, THEIR EXPERIMENTAL THEATER HAS BEEN GROUND BREAKING AND AN AGENT FOR SOCIAL CHANGE FOR 25 YEARS.

WE'RE TAKING YOU BACKSTAGE.

ALL THAT AND MORE AHEAD AS 'METROFOCUS' STARTS RIGHT NOW.

♪ ♪

> THIS IS 'METROFOCUS,' WITH RAFAEL PI ROMAN, JACK FORD, AND JENNA FLANAGAN.

FUNDING FOR THIS PROGRAM WAS PROVIDED BY --

GOOD EVENING.

AND WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS.'

I'M JENNA FLANAGAN.

TONIGHT, WE BRING YOU THE LATEST DEVELOPMENTS IN A DISTURBING STORY WE'VE BEEN FOLLOWING CLOSELY.

THE GANG VIOLENCE EPIDEMIC IN BRENTWOOD, LONG ISLAND.

YOU MAY REMEMBER THAT WE VISITED THAT COMMUNITY EARLIER THIS MONTH AFTER THE BODIES OF FOUR HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS WERE FOUND JUST WEEKS APART.

AND NOW, A FIFTH TEENAGER HAS BEEN ADDED TO THE GROWING LIST OF HOMICIDES.

THE REMAINS OF 18-YEAR-OLD JOSE PENA-HERNANDEZ WERE DISCOVERED IN THE WOODS BEHIND AN ABANDONED PSYCHIATRIC HOSPITAL.

TONIGHT, THE INVESTIGATIONS INTO ALL FIVE DEATHS CONTINUE, WITH OFFICIALS CONFIRMING TO THE SHOW THAT THEY BELIEVE ALL OF THE KILLINGS ARE TIED TO THE NOTORIOUS MS-13 GANG.

WITH EVERYONE ON HIGH ALERT, 'METROFOCUS' PRODUCER WILL JONES CAUGHT UP WITH THE SUFFOLK COUNTY POLICE COMMISSIONER.

THANK YOU FOR TAKING THE TIME TO SPEAK WITH US.

WHEN WE MET A FEW WEEKS AGO, YOU SAID YOUR BIGGEST AIM WAS TO BRING THESE GANG MEMBERS TO JUSTICE.

NOW YOUR DEPARTMENT HAS MOVED TO ARREST DOZENS OF MS-13 GANG MEMBERS.

TALK TO ME ABOUT THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THIS BREAKTHROUGH.

SURE.

SO THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT TO DISMANTLE MS-13 IN THE AREA OF BRENTWOOD AND THROUGHOUT SUFFOLK COUNTY.

SO WE HAVE A MULTIPRONGED APPROACH WE'VE BEEN EMPLOYING.

WE'VE BEEN DEVELOPING INTELLIGENCE THROUGH OUR CRIMINAL INTELLIGENCE SECTION AT HEADQUARTERS, CREATING SUBJECT LISTS, IDENTIFYING KNOWN GANG MEMBERS AND TARGETING THOSE GANG MEMBERS.

WE'VE MADE APPROXIMATELY 42 ARRESTS OF KNOWN MS-13 GANG MEMBERS, WORKING WITH FEDERAL LAW ENFORCEMENT PARTNERS, INCLUDING THE FBI AND U.S.

ATTORNEY'S OFFICE TO SELECT INDIVIDUALS FOR RICO PROSECUTION.

SINCE THE INITIATION OF THIS STRATEGY, WE'VE ARRESTED FIVE KNOWN VIOLENT MS-13 GANG MEMBERS WHO ARE CHARGED WITH FEDERAL RICO CHARGES.

THIS WILL BE INTEGRAL IN DISMANTLING THE GANG AND SOLVING THE MURDERS.

ON THE RICO SIDE, WHEN A GANG MEMBER IS CHARGED, THEY ARE EITHER GOING TO GO TO JAIL FOR A LONG TIME, IF NOT THEIR ENTIRE LIFE, OR THEY'RE GOING TO COOPERATE WITH LAW ENFORCEMENT AND PROVIDE VITAL INFORMATION SO THAT WE CAN ARREST MORE GANG MEMBERS AND SOLVE THESE CRIMES.

YOU MENTIONED MORE THAN 40 PEOPLE ARRESTED.

WHO ARE THESE INDIVIDUALS AND WHAT CRIMES ARE THEY SUSPECTED OF COMMITTING?

THESE ARE INDIVIDUALS WE HAVE IDENTIFIED AS KNOWN MS-13 GANG MEMBERS.

WITH RESPECT TO THE FIVE, THEY ARE CHARGED UNDER THE RICO FEDERAL STATUTE.

CHARGES RAIN FROM TRESPASS TO WEAPONS POSSESSION TO ASSAULT TO DRUG POSSESSION.

THEY'RE ALL OVER THE MAP.

AND THE AGES ALSO RANGE, BUT I WILL SAY THAT ONE OF THE SHOCKING THINGS THAT WE'RE FINDING IS THAT THE -- THESE GANG MEMBERS ARE PARTICULARLY YOUNG.

YOU MENTIONED THE UNSOLVED MURDERS.

WHEN WE LOOK AT THE FIVE TEENAGERS WHO WERE KILLED AND THE DOZENS OF INDIVIDUALS YOU'VE ARRESTED, DO YOU BELIEVE THERE ARE PEOPLE THERE THAT MAY HAVE PLAYED A ROLE IN THESE KILLINGS OR IN THE VERY LEAST, HAVE SIGNIFICANT INFORMATION THAT COULD LEAD YOU TO THE KILLERS?

I CAN'T SAY SPECIFICALLY.

BUT WHAT I'LL SAY IS A COUPLE THINGS.

ONE, WE'RE OUT THERE PUTTING PRESSURE ON FOLKS, SHAKING THE TREES, AND WE'RE GETTING EXCELLENT INTELLIGENCE.

THAT'S WHY WE'VE BEEN ABLE TO UNCOVER PAST CRIMES.

WE NEED TO SOLVE THOSE MURDERS FOR A VARIETY OF REASON.

WE NEED TO BRING CLOSURE TO THE LOVED ONES OF THE VICTIMS AND PROMOTE POLICE LEGITIMACY.

NO BETTER WAY TO DO THAT THAN INVOLVING OPEN CASES.

WHAT'S YOUR MESSAGE TO THE GANG MEMBERS IN BRENTWOOD STILL ON THE LOOSE?

WE WILL NOT STOP UNTIL ALL OF YOU ARE IN JAIL.

WE'RE GOING TO KEEP THE PRESSURE ON.

WE'RE GOING TO SOLVE THESE CRIMES.

AND WE'RE GOING TO DISMANTLE THIS GANG.

IF YOU HAVE INFORMATION, AND YOU'RE ARRESTED, GUESS WHAT?

THERE ARE OTHER PEOPLE TALKING.

SO YOU MIGHT AS WELL GET AHEAD OF IT AND PROVIDE INFORMATION TO HELP YOURSELF, BECAUSE WE'RE GOING TO STOP AT NOTHING.

THE COMMISSIONER AND I HAD THAT CONVERSATION EARLIER.

HE CONFIRMED TO US HIS PRIORITY IS SHIFTING TOWARDS PREVENTION, TARGETING VULNERABLE YOUTH AND ENSURING THEY DON'T FALL INTO THE HANDS OF THE GANGS.

IN LOS ANGELES, ALEX SANCHEZ JOINS US BY SKYPE.

HE'S A FORMER GANG MEMBER WHO SPENT TIME BEHIND BARS BEFORE BEING DEPORTED TO EL SALVADOR.

THAT WOULD PROVE TO BE A TURNING POINT TO HIM.

HE WOULD LATER RETURN TO LOS ANGELES WHERE HE FOUNDED AN ORGANIZATION TO PREVENT YOUTH FROM FALLING INTO THE HANDS OF THESE CRIMINAL ORGANIZATIONS.

THANKS SO MUCH FOR TAKING THE TIME TO JOIN US TODAY.

I WANT TO GET BACK TO THAT INTERVIEW WE HAD WITH THE COMMISSIONER.

HE'S NEW ON THE JOB, CLEARLY HE'S COMMITTED TO ERADICATING THIS GANG VIOLENCE.

BUT GIVEN THAT THIS CRIMINAL ELEMENT HAVE PLAYED SUCH A VIOLENT ROLE IN THE COMMUNITY FOR A NUMBER OF YEARS NOW, IT BEGS THE QUESTION WHY HAS IT TAKEN THE DEATHS OF FIVE TEENAGERS TO BRING ABOUT THIS KIND OF ACTION?

AND I GUESS MY QUESTION FOR YOU IS, COULD MORE HAVE BEEN DONE EARLIER?

MOST DEFINITELY.

I THINK IT'S IMPORTANT TO SOLVE SOME OF THESE MURDERS.

I THINK THAT BY HAVING ALL THESE GANG MEMBERS START COOPERATING, THEY'RE FINDING SOME OF THE SKELETAL REMAINS IN DIFFERENT AREAS.

BUT I BELIEVE THAT'S THE REACTIVE APPROACH.

THE SUPPRESSION APPROACH IN REGARDS TO A SYMPTOM IN THE COMMUNITY THAT'S BEEN THERE FOR A LONG, LONG TIME.

YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT SOCIOECONOMIC ISSUES THAT HAVE LED MANY YOUNGSTERS TO COMMIT SUICIDE BY JOINING GANGS.

SO WHAT CAN WE DO IN REGARDS TO BEING PROACTIVE TRYING TO REDUCE YOUTH FROM JOINING GANGS?

I THINK THAT'S SOMETHING THAT COULD HAVE TAKEN AN APPROACH EARLY ON TO AVOID SOME OF THESE CONSEQUENCES THAT WE FIND OURSELVES IN, IN BRENTWOOD.

I WANT TO FOCUS ON THAT PREVENTION.

I WAS IN BRENTWOOD A FEW WEEKS AGO SPEAKING WITH THE POLICE AND SCHOOL OFFICIALS, SPEAKING WITH LOCAL POLITICIANS.

THEIR FOCUS IS INTERVENTION, MAKING SURE THAT THESE YOUNG MEN DON'T FALL INTO THE HANDS OF THE GANGS.

THAT'S SOMETHING YOU DO AS A PROFESSION.

WHAT'S THE SECRET, WHAT'S THE KEY TO MAKING SURE THAT THESE KIDS STAY SAFE?

YOU'VE GOT TO LOOK AT THE VARIABLES.

YOU HAVE TO UNDERSTAND THAT CERTAIN COMMUNITIES ARE LACKING IN RESOURCES IN REGARDS TO HOUSING AND IN REGARDS TO EMPLOYMENT, IN REGARDS TO POVERTY.

AND THOSE ARE FACTORS THAT YOU HAVE TO REALLY LOOK INTO REGARDLESS OF WHAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN IN THOSE COMMUNITIES.

YOU NEED TO INVEST IN THOSE COMMUNITIES, THOSE COMMUNITY THAT ARE IN NEED AND THOSE SCHOOLS THAT ARE INADEQUATE AND DON'T OFFER ADEQUATE EDUCATION FOR THESE YOUNGSTERS.

THOSE ARE THINGS THAT PEOPLE NEED TO BRING ATTENTION TO.

THOSE ARE THE AREAS WHERE YOUTH ARE BEING MISLED.

THEY'RE LOOKING FOR A WAY TO RELEASE THEIR ANGER, THEIR FRUSTRATION, AND SOMETIMES THOSE GANGS EXIST IN THOSE AREAS, THE DRUGS AND OTHER SOCIAL ILLS IN THOSE COMMUNITIES FESTER IN THOSE ENVIRONMENTS.

YOU SPEAK FROM PAST EXPERIENCE, ALEX.

YOU FELL INTO THE HANDS OF GANGS AT A YOUNG AGE.

WHAT WAS THE POOR FACTOR FOR YOU?

IN 1979, I FLED THE VIOLENCE FROM SOUTH AMERICA.

WE MET OUR PARENTS HERE, AND IT WAS -- IT WAS ONLY A HONEYMOON STAGE, AND THEN REALITY HITS THAT WE DID NOT KNOW THESE PEOPLE.

IT WAS DIFFICULT TO REINTEGRATE INTO THIS NEW ENVIRONMENT, THE BULLYING, THE FACT THAT YOU DIDN'T KNOW THE LANGUAGE, REALLY HIT ME IN A WAY I DIDN'T HAVE NOWHERE TO GO.

AND I DIDN'T HAVE A PLACE TO TALK TO, I DIDN'T HAVE ANY MENTORS, I DIDN'T HAVE NO ATTENTION BY ANYONE THAT TOOK ANY ATTENTION TO WHAT WAS HAPPENING IN MY LIFE AND IN OTHER PEOPLE LIKE ME DURING THAT TIME IN WHICH WE ENDED UP HAVING TO DEVELOP OUR OWN MECHANISM OF SURVIVAL IN THE STREETS, IN THE COMMUNITY.

AND IT HAPPENED TO BE A PARTICULAR GANG I WAS INVOLVED WITH THAT I FELT WAS GOING TO GIVE ME THE PROTECTION I NEEDED.

THE VEHICLE THAT BECAME THE GANG FOR ME TO RELEASE THAT ANGER THAT I HAD.

I GET THE SENSE FROM YOUR STORY AND ALSO IN BRENTWOOD THAT THESE GANGS IN ESSENCE PROVIDE A SENSE OF STABILITY, A SENSE OF WORTH TO THESE YOUNG MEN.

EXACTLY.

IT PROVIDES AN OPPORTUNITY FOR MANY OF THESE YOUNG KIDS TO, IN SOME WAYS, COMMIT SUICIDE.

THEY STOP FIGHTING FOR WHAT OTHER PEOPLE ARE TELLING THEM THAT THEY NEED TO BE DOING, AND THEY GIVE INTO IT, AND IT'S A VICIOUS CYCLE OF VIOLENCE, WHICH THEY HAVE MECHANISMS THAT THEY USE TO TAKE THEIR ANGER OUT ON EACH OTHER.

THEY'RE BASICALLY FIGHTING THEMSELVES.

AND IT LEADS TO A LIFE OF CRIME AND A LIFE OF INCARCERATION AND, YOU KNOW, SENDING THESE KIDS TO PRISON IS BASICALLY THEIR RITES OF PASSAGE IN THE GANG.

SO WE NEED TO CONSIDER ALL THOSE THINGS.

PEOPLE NEED TO BE EDUCATED ABOUT THE ISSUE.

SECONDLY, THERE NEEDS TO BE PROGRAMS TO ADDRESS PARTICULAR PROBLEMS IN CERTAIN COMMUNITIES.

ONE SHOE WON'T FIT ALL.

WE'RE NOT TALKING ABOUT THROWING THE KEY AWAY ON SOME OF THESE PEOPLE.

SOME OF THEM CAN CHANGE.

SOME ARE PARENTS.

SOME ARE CHILDREN.

SOME OF THEM HAVE PEOPLE THAT LOVE THEM.

BUT THEY'RE STUCK IN A SITUATION WHERE IT'S LIKE AN ADDICTION.

SO MUCH MORE TO TALK ABOUT.

IN THE MEANTIME, IT'S BEEN BRILLIANT TO HAVE YOU ON TONIGHT.

ALEX SANCHEZ, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US TODAY.

TO SEE MORE OF THIS REPORT, INCLUDING AN EXTENDED PIECE ON ONE OF THE FIVE TEENAGERS MURDERED, GO TO METROFOCUS.ORG.

> PONDER THIS.

WITH THE GENERAL ELECTION RIGHT AROUND THE CORNER, THE NATION MAY JUST WITNESS THE ASCENSION OF THE UNITED STATES' VERY FIRST FEMALE PRESIDENT.

WITH THE FIRST FEMALE PRESIDENT, THE FIRST FIRST GENTLEMAN IS ALSO A DISTINCT POSSIBILITY.

THAT HAS NOT ESCAPED THE IMAGINATION OF GERALD WEAVER, WHO HAS PENNED HIS SECOND NOVEL WITH THAT VERY SAME TITLE, 'THE FIRST FIRST GENTLEMAN' IS A NOVEL, A LOVE STORY AND A THRILLER ALL THE WHILE PROVIDING HONEST AND INSIGHTFUL COMMENTARY ON THE NATION'S POLITICAL SYSTEM.

I'M PLEASED TO HAVE JOINING US NOW TO DISCUSS ALL OF THIS AND THE CURRENT STATE OF POLITICS, GERALD WEAVER.

NICE TO HAVE YOU HERE.

THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME.

PEOPLE WILL SEE THIS TITLE AND THINK HE MUST HAVE WRITTEN THIS ABOUT TWO MONTHS AGO.

THE REALITY IS, HOW LONG DID YOU START ON?

I STARTED THIS THREE YEARS AGO.

I ALWAYS LOVE TO ASK AUTHORS, WHERE DID THE IDEA COME FROM?

IT CAME FROM TWO PLACES.

ONE OF THE THINGS I SAW COMING WAS THAT THE AMERICAN VOTERS WERE HUNGRY FOR ANY CANDIDATE WHO WAS GOING TO PUNCTURE THE POLITICAL ORTHODOX.

VOTERS HAVE SEEN CANDIDATES SPEAK CANNED SPEECHES AND FOLLOW THE POLLS.

THEY WERE JUST WAITING FOR SOMEBODY TO BREAK OUT OF THE MOLD.

IN A WAY, OBAMA BY HIS IDENTITY BROKE OUT.

AND THE SECOND THING I SEE COMING, AND I WANTED TO SORT OF HURRY ALONG, I THINK THERE'S GOING TO BE A CHANGE IN GENDER ROLES AT SOME POINT.

MAYBE NOT IN MY LIFETIME, BUT SOON.

I WANT PEOPLE TO UNDERSTAND, THIS IS A NOVEL.

IT IS BOTH A THRILLER AND A LOVE STORY.

IT'S SORT OF AN INTERESTING COMBINATION.

SO LET ME ASK YOU TO TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT THE MAIN CHARACTERS, ENOUGH TO TEASE THE VIEWERS THAT THEY WANT TO DO THIS.

YOU START OFF WITH MELINDA SHERMAN.

WHO IS MELINDA SHERMAN?

MELINDA SHERMAN IS A SORT OF PSYCHOLOGICALLY AND PHYSICALLY WOUNDED WAR HERO WHO GROWS UP IN A DIFFICULT FAMILY.

SHE'S GOT ISSUES TO OVERCOME, AND SHE NEVER HAS AN IDEA OF RUNNING FOR CONGRESS.

SHE GOES AND SERVES IN THE NAVY AND SHE'S A PILOT.

SHE FIGHTS IN THE IRAQ WAR, AND SHE'S KIND OF LOST, ACTUALLY.

AND THEN SHE MEETS GARTH TELLER, HE'S THE MALE, CONSIDER MY OLDER, A DIVORCED FATHER.

ONE OF THE REASONS I WANTED TO CAST THIS RELATIONSHIP LIKE THAT IS HE DOES VERY LITTLE ELSE BESIDES SUPPORT AND NURTURE HER.

BUT HE'S STILL A MANLY MAN.

SO THIS IS THE FIRST FIRST GENTLEMAN AND HE HELPS TO REMAKE THE ROLE.

HE'S STILL A MAN, ABLE TO PLAY A SECONDARY ROLE.

AND SHE LIKES HIM BECAUSE HE NURTURES HER TO THE POINT OF BEING A TREMENDOUSLY SUCCESSFUL POLITICIAN.

AS WE SAY, NOT JUST A POLITICAL NOVEL OR SORT OF A LOVE STORY HERE, BUT WHAT'S GOING ON HERE THAT IS GOING TO THRILL THE READERS?

WELL, IT'S -- THERE ARE DARK FORCES AT WORK WHO OBVIOUSLY DON'T WANT TO SEE HER BECOME PRESIDENT.

SOME OF THEM ARE CONSERVATIVE, SOME OF THEM ARE MISOGYNISTIC AND SOME OF THEM JUST DON'T LIKE HER.

SO THERE'S ELEMENTS FROM BOTH THEIR PASTS, AS WELL.

WHICH IS SORT OF DEKENZIEISM.

BUT YOU SORT OF KNOW WHAT THE OUTCOME IS GOING TO BE, BUT HOPEFULLY YOU CARE ENOUGH ABOUT THE CHARACTERS THAT YOU PAY ATTENTION.

WHEN YOU WERE WRITING THESE CHARACTERS, DID ANY ELEMENTS OF ANY OF THE OTHER POLITICAL FIGURES THAT ARE OUT THERE NOW, DID ANY OF THEM MAKE THEIR WAY INTO THESE CHARACTERS?

WELL, CERTAINLY.

LIKE I SAID, OBAMA WAS A GAME CHANGER BY VIRTUE OF HIS IDENTITY.

BUT I THOUGHT OF RAND PAUL AND SOME OTHER CHARACTERS WHO HAVE BEEN ON THE FRINGES BUT NEVER WERE PICKED UP.

AND I FIGURED THAT SOMEBODY WHO JUST STARTED SEEING DIFFERENT THINGS WOULD BE POPULAR.

DIDN'T REALLY HAVE ANYBODY PARTICULAR IN MIND.

BUT THE GREAT HUMORIST CALVIN ONCE SAID, IF YOU START TO WRITE SATIRE IN THIS DAY AND AGE, WHAT HAPPENS IS REALITY WILL EXCEED THE SATIRE BY THE TIME THE BOOK IS OFF THE PRESSES.

IT'S SORT OF HAPPENED.

MY CANDIDATE SAYS A LOT OF UNORTHODOX THINGS THAT HAVE BEEN ECHOED BY TRUMP AND SANDERS.

LET'S TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT -- YOU WERE AT ONE POINT IN TIME THE YOUNGEST CHIEF OF STAFF IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES.

YOU WORKED AS A POLITICAL ANALYST, A LOBBYIST.

RIGHT.

YOU'VE SEEN ALL ASPECTS OF THIS.

AND AS A WRITER HERE, HOW WOULD YOU -- IF YOU WERE GOING TO PEN IN A COUPLE OF SENTENCES THIS CAMPAIGN, WHAT SORT OF CAPTIONS DO YOU THINK YOU WOULD LOOK FOR?

THE REALITY TELEVISION HAS COLLIDED WITH NEWS TELEVISION.

AND THE 24/7 NEWS CYCLE.

AND I THINK IT'S CHANGED WHAT WE CONSIDER NEWS ORIENTED POLITICS DRAMATICALLY.

A LOT OF PEOPLE ARE, YOU KNOW, WAITING TO SEE WHAT HAPPENS NEXT.

I THINK TRUMP GETS AWAY WITH A LOT, BECAUSE IT'S ALWAYS A NEW CRAZY THING THAT COMES UP.

LET ME ASK YOU SOMETHING.

YOU MENTIONED DONALD TRUMP AND WE'VE HAD PEOPLE COME ON TO TALK ABOUT HIM.

THEY'VE CRITICIZED HIM.

WE'VE HAD PEOPLE COME ON WHO SUPPORT HIM.

BUT WE TALKED ABOUT THIS ONE TIME BEFORE.

YOU WORKED WITH BILL CLINTON AND HIS CAMPAIGN IN THE STATE OF PENNSYLVANIA WHEN HE WAS RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT.

RIGHT.

AND PEOPLE MAY WELL REMEMBER, SOME MIGHT NOT, THAT ESSENTIALLY HE WAS KIND OF FORCED OUT OF THE CAMPAIGN BECAUSE OF ALLEGATIONS THAT HE HAD PLAGIARIZED PART OF A SPEECH.

WHEN YOU LOOK AT THE ACCUSATIONS BEING DELIVERED AT BOTH OF OUR CANDIDATES NOW, DONALD TRUMP AND HILLARY CLINTON, IT ALMOST SEEMS QUAINT THAT SOMEBODY WOULD BE FORCED OFF THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL BECAUSE THEY ALLEGEDLY PLAGIARIZED A COUPLE OF LINES FROM A SPEECH THAT A EUROPEAN LEADER HAD GIVEN ONCE BEFORE.

HOW DO YOU SEE THAT?

I THINK ALL BETS ARE OFF.

IT'S CLEAR YOU CAN GET AWAY WITH A LOT MORE, LARGELY BECAUSE I THINK PEOPLE ARE IMMUNIZED BY WATCHING KIM KARDASHIAN OR HONEY BOO BOO OR WHOEVER.

AND IN THE 24/7 NEWS CYCLE WHERE THE NEXT THING COMES UP, THEY DON'T STOP AND THINK ABOUT ONE PARTICULAR PLAGIARISM CHARGE OR SOMETHING THAT WOULD NORMALLY KILL A CANDIDATE.

SO WHEN WE WRITE A BOOK LIKE THIS, WE HAVE TO WRITE A CHARACTER CAUTIOUSLY, AND SO NOW IT'S -- IT ALMOST REQUIRES A LOT MORE IMAGINATION TO WRITE THE BOOK.

BUT TO CATCH UP TO REALITY.

A DIFFERENT TIME, AS YOU SAID.

THE BOOK IS CALLED 'THE FIRST FIRST GENTLEMAN.'

GERALD WEAVER, IT'S A FUN READ, AS YOU SAID, THRILLER, LOVE STORY.

A LOOK AT INSIDE POLITICS.

GOOD TO HAVE YOU ON.

THANK YOU.

BE WELL.

ALL RIGHT.

> SHAKESPEARE MAY HAVE SAID ALL THE WORLD'S A STAGE, BUT ONE THEATER GROUP IN PARTICULAR HAS USED THAT STAGE TO CHANGE THE WORLD.

SINCE 1991, THE TECTONIC THEATER PROJECT HAS INITIATED DIALOGUES ON SOCIAL AND POLITICAL ISSUES WITH THEIR PLAYS.

PERHAPS NONE MORE SO THAN THE LARAMIE PROJECT ABOUT THE DEATH OF MATTHEW SHEPHERD AT THE HANDS OF HOMOPHOBES.

A NEW PLAY WILL BE HOSTED BY JANE FONDO ON NOVEMBER 7.

JOINING US WITH A PREVIEW IS ONE OF THE FOUNDERS, AND EMMY AWARD WINNING ACTOR MICHAEL EMERSON, WHO YOU WILL RECOGNIZE FOR HIS ROLES IN 'PERSONAL INTEREST' AND HE'LL PERFORM AT THE BENEFIT.

THANK YOU FOR BEING HERE WITH US.

THANKS.

HOW DID THIS THEATER IDEA GET STARTED?

I THINK A LOT OF THEATER COMPANIES, WE STARTED WITH A GREAT DEAL OF DISCONTENT ABOUT WHAT WAS HAPPENING IN THE THEATRICAL SCENE.

FOR US, WE WERE SEEING A LOT OF KITCHEN SINK REALISM.

WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY THAT?

THE JOKE WAS, IF IT DIDN'T HAVE A SOFA, IT WOULDN'T MAKE IT ON AN AMERICAN STAGE.

ALTHOUGH, THOSE FORMS ARE VERY VALID, FILM AND TELEVISION ARE BETTER SUITED FOR THAT KIND OF WORK.

SO WE WERE INTERESTED IN WHAT COULD HAPPEN ON A STAGE, WHAT KIND OF CONVERSATIONS COULD WE HAVE FROM THE PLATFORM OF WHAT IS THEATRICAL.

ONE OF THE THINGS SAY SU THE IDEA THAT YOU WANT TO CREATE AN ARTISTIC DIALOGUE WITH THE AUDIENCE.

WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY THAT?

WHEN ONE GOES TO SEE A PLAY, WHAT THE AUDIENCE EXPERIENCES HOPEFULLY IS EMPATHY.

YOU EMPATHIZE WITH A CHARACTER ON STAGE OR THE IDEAS ON THE STAGE.

THAT CREATES A DIALOGUE, BECAUSE ALL OF A SUDDEN, YOU HAVE TO THINK ABOUT WHAT WOULD I DO IN THAT SITUATION?

AND I THINK THAT IT IS A VERY, VERY PRIMAL WAY OF COMMUNICATING.

THERE WAS THIS PROFESSOR OF HARVARD WHO SAID THAT EMPATHY IS A FORM OF HUMAN INTELLIGENCE, AND THEEUATER IS A PLACE WHERE WE CAN REALLY GET TO ARCTIC IT WILL OUR EMPATHY.

ONE OF THE EARLY WORKS, YOUR FIRST PLAY I BELIEVE WRITTEN, AND YOU HAD THE STARRING ROLE IN IT WAS GROSS INDECENCY, THE THREE TRIALS OF OSCAR WILD.

THIS IS ONE OF YOUR EARLY STARTS.

IT REALLY IS MY NEW YORK STAGE DEBUT.

IT WAS AN INTERESTING PROCESS, AND ONE THE LIKES OF WHICH I HAD NEVER SEEN BEFORE.

WHEN I GOT INVOLVED WITH GROSS INDECENCY, IT WAS A STACK OF PAPERS, ALL DOCUMENTARY TEXT.

NOTHING WAS MADE UP.

THERE WAS NO WRITTEN DIALOGUE.

IT WAS NEWSPAPER ARTICLES AND TRANSCRIPTS FROM THE TRIALS AND POETRY AND ESSAYS AND REVIEWS OF THE DAY.

AND ALL OF THOSE THINGS.

AND I WAS PUZZLED AT HOW THAT COULD BE COBBLED TOGETHER INTO WHAT I WOULD CALL A PLAY.

BUT THAT'S JUST WHAT WE DID.

AND IT WAS KIND OF AMAZING.

I REALLY DO FEEL LIKE WHEN GOOD PLAYS ARE BOOKING WITH AUDIENCES, THE PLACE WHERE IT TAKES PLACE ISN'T, YOU KNOW, VENICE OR A PRISON CELL.

IT IS KIND OF A LANDSCAPE OF A SHARED MIND.

IT'S A VERBAL THING.

I LOVE HOW THE THEATER DEPENDS ON LANGUAGE.

LET'S TALK ABOUT THE LARAMIE PROJECT.

THAT WAS GROUND BREAKING FOR A LOT OF REASONS.

HOW DID THAT COME ABOUT?

WE HEARD THAT MATTHEW SHEPHERD HAD BEEN KIDNAPPED AND BEATING AND THOUGHT HE WOULD DRY.

AT THAT TIME, THERE WERE ABOUT 1,000 ANTI-GAY CRIMES A YEAR IN AMERICA.

AND YET FOR SOME REASON THIS ONE RESONATED.

IT WAS A COMBINATION OF THINGS.

HE WAS TIED TO THAT FENCE, SO IT BECAME A SORT OF CRUCIFIXION.

SO I THOUGHT, CAN WE AS A THEATER COMPANY GO TO LARAMIE, TALK TO THE PEOPLE OF THE TOWN, AND WRITE A PLAY ABOUT WHAT HAPPENED AND HOW THEY WERE RESPONDING?

AND BECAUSE OF THE WORK THAT WE HAD DONE IN 'GROSS INDECENCY,' A LOT OF THE TRIAL TRANSCRIPTS PROVED HELPFUL.

SO I THOUGHT IF WE INTERVIEW THE PEOPLE OF THE TOWN, WE MIGHT BE ABLE TO GATHER TRANSCRIPTS THAT IN A CERTAIN WAY RECORD THE WAY THAT PEOPLE IN CONTEMPORARY AMERICA ARE FEELING ABOUT THAT.

THE DAY-TO-DAY TRANSCRIPTS --

AND BECAUSE OF THE SUCCESS OF GROSS INDECENCY, IT WAS THE FIRST TIME WE HAD MONEY IN THE BANK.

SO WE COULD TAKE TEN ACTORS AND GO TO LARAMIE AND DO THE WORK WHEN MATTHEW SHEPHERD WAS MURDERED.

THAT'S A FABULOUS IRONY.

BENEFIT, THE EVENT, WHAT IS THAT GOING TO BE ABOUT?

THERE'S SOMETHING AMUSING HAVING A GUY WITH JANE FONDA AND NEIL PATRICK HARRISON.

WHAT IS LOVELY, WHAT I'M PROUD OF IS WE STARTED THE COMPANY WITH THAT IDEA.

THE IDEA WAS CAN THEATER PLAY A ROLE ON THE NATIONAL DIALOGUE?

AND THE FACT THAT THESE PEOPLE HAVE CHOSEN TO JOIN US FOR OUR GALA AND THAT WORK HAS HAD THAT IMPACT WHERE MILLIONS HAVE SEEN IT, NOT ONLY AROUND THE UNITED STATES BUT AROUND THE WORLD, IT'S VERY COMFORTING.

25 YEARS IS A MOMENT TO STOP AND LOOK BACK AND SAY THIS IS WHERE WE'VE BEEN AND WHERE ARE WE GOING NEXT?

THANK YOU BOTH.

IT'S BEEN A PLEASURE TO TALK TO YOU.

THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

AND FOR ALL OF YOU FANS OF THE TECTONIC THEATER PROJECT AND NEW YORK THEATER, THERE ARE STILL TICKETS AVAILABLE AT THE TECTONIC.

THE BENEFIT IS NOVEMBER 7.

GO TO OUR WEBSITE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT HOW YOU CAN ATTEND AT METROFOCUS.ORG.

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Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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