WORLD PREMIÈRE: Assembly Theatre, Edinburgh Festival, August 2014
US Premiere: The Met, Kansas City, May 2015
Adelaide Festival: March 2016
The Rep, Little Rock, Arkansas, March 25-28, 2016
LONDON PREMIÈRE: PARK THEATRE, LONDON MAY 17 - JUNE 11 2016
We have a dedicated website for this production:
Theatre Tours International presents
BILL CLINTON HERCULES
Written by Rachel Mariner with Guy Masterson
Directed by Guy Masterson
Performed by Bob Paisley
The first ever solo play about Bill Clinton!
With the world ravaged by war, drowning refugees, mass migration, jobless, homeless, hopeless, with inequality and injustice at its worst for a century, the status quo is not good enough. The 42nd President wants to cut loose, shoot from the hip and waken the world in his own fantasy TED talk. His own epic life has led to this moment... but will he be silenced by his spouse's political ambitions? Will he be Hillary's foot-soldier? What will the Big Dog do?
"Smart, funny, moving and exceptionally current, it is fantastically written with a most Bill-thentic performance from Bob Paisley!" (Broadway Baby)
"This is the one-time Slick Willy as born-again radical, a wannabe hero who only ever wanted to be one of the good guys." (The Herald)
PARK THEATRE - LONDON - 17-05/16 - 11/06/16
STAGE REVIEW - 18/05/16
Bill Clinton Hercules sees the former US president drop by to deliver a speech about his life, influences, his battle against dark forces within his party and government, his campaign to get his wife Hillary elected as his country's first woman president and, of course, Monica.
The real Bill Clinton charges up to $750,000 for a single public speaking engagement. The Park Theatre, I'm guessing, gets charismatic US actor Bob Paisley for considerably less, but he is just as engaging.
'It's great to be in Finsbury Park,' he says. 'One of Mr Trump's no-go areas!' (Playwright Rachel Mariner and/ or Masterson adding a few up-to-the-minute ad-libs).
The title comes from The Cure at Troy by Irish poet, Seamus Heaney, which became a bit of a Bible for the charming country boy from Hope, Arkansas, who found himself in charge of the world's most powerful nation (though I'm baffled why a Roman god, Hercules, is mentioned in a story about Greek gods - but what do I know?).
Paisley nails Clinton's attractive accent and easy going charm. He prowls around his sparse set, occasionally sitting in its leather armchair, frequently buttoning and un-buttoning his jacket, shaking hands with audience members in the front row and talking.
Boy, can he talk. I'm full of admiration for an actor who can deliver a 75-minute monologue that is packed with wordier dialogue than West Wing or Spacey's House of Cards!
You might have to have a bit of knowledge of American politics as 'Clinton' frequently throws out first names of governors, senators and White House power-brokers. He talks about his mediation successes, how he turned from 'bearded hippy Bill' who preached peace as an Oxford Rhodes Scholar to Commander-in-Chief Bill who bombed the hell out of Belgrade.
It's all fascinating, revelatory and authentic, delivered with a style and largesse that is both entertaining and informative. You feel like you're being given the inside track on the machinations of government and his personal life - but all the time having to remember that Mariner's work is 'inspired by' and 'factional,' a bastardised tale that expertly blends fact with fiction.
Riveting stuff! (Anne Cox - Stage Review - 18/05/16)
GAY STAR NEWS
Stars Bob Paisley as the former President and it is a spectacular performance - a warm and affectionate impersonation rather than a biting caricature.
I love US politics, so there was a lot about this production that I found fascinating. In many respects it felt so authentic that it could have been a verbatim reenactment of a Bill Clinton speech - it didn't seem to be obviously satirical, and there weren't enough gags for it to be comedy. An almost educational piece of theatre. (Gareth Johnson - Gay Star News 20/05/16)
BRITISH THEATRE GUIDE - 20/05/16
Rachel Mariner's bio-play takes the form of a lecture by former US President Bill Clinton. Bob Paisley presents him as an urbane and laid-back speaker who has come a long way from his Hicksville beginnings in Hope, Arkansas, but clearly hasn't forgotten them.
It was first seen on the Edinburgh Fringe two years ago, but is brought bang up to date with local and contemporary political references from Brexit to wife Hillary's campaign for Democratic presidential nomination.
There is intimate revelation both personal and political from his bearded hippy days at the LSE, speaking out for peace in 1969, to his failure to realise where Alan Greenspan would take the US economy.
We hear how he brought sophisticated (and then Republican) Hillary to Britain and made his marriage proposed in the Lake District before she could be put off by meeting his plain-speaking mother (who kept a bust of Elvis Presley in her kitchen) and get his snow-bound version of the Monica Lewinsky scandal, as well as his struggles during the Kosovo conflict to stick to his ideals of diplomacy before succumbing to the 'cold and cruel stalemate' of war, his inability to control Leon Panetta and the belligerent CIA whom he says see democracy as 'just window dressing.'
Clinton shares ideas hopes, regrets and inspirations. He informs us that he regularly rereads Seamus Heaney's dramatic poem The Cure at Troy, a retelling of the Philoctetes story, the hero with the magic bow and a suppurating snakebite left behind on Lemnos.
From that he takes the open and honest Neoptolemus as his model, though wondering too whether he might also settle disputes as an incoming deus ex machina like Hercules, and as illustration he reads out several chunks of that play. He talks about his heroes: JFK, whose hand he shook when a teenager, Martin Luther King, Yitzhak Rabin and most of all Nelson Mandela. We get soundbites from all of them.
While on the one hand this is a lecture, the former 42nd President reminiscing, apparently relaxed and informal, it is also at the same time a campaign speech from the handshakes with the audience, its mixture of frankness and exhortation.
As it draws to the end of its 80 minutes, with him acknowledging Obama's achievements but declaring Hillary would have done more, this element becomes more obvious and this charm offensive begins to become a little too long -but that probably mirrors exactly what this would be like in real life. (Howard Loxton - British Theatre Guide 20/05/16)
LONDONIST - 21/05/16
How do you fight injustice when everybody around you is doing their best to ignore it? Why do our leaders often make such terrible mistakes? Is it possible to gain a position of power and still retain your integrity?
These, and many other crucial questions focusing on the morality of leadership, are explored in two excellent one man shows currently playing as a double bill at Park Theatre.
Both directed by Guy Masterson, Absolution by Owen O'Neil is a tale of one man trying to take on paedophiles within the Irish Catholic church singlehanded. Bill Clinton Hercules by Rachel Mariner gives us a private audience with the disgraced American president on the eve of his wife's latest presidential bid.
These portraits of two men from vastly different backgrounds are nevertheless connected through the common theme of power, and the million dollar question of if and how it can be used for the greater good.
At first glance in Absolution, Owen O'Neill's character seems a cold-hearted murderer who describes in chilling and exacting detail how he has killed several known paedophiles. The overwhelming physical force and determination needed to kill someone in cold blood is highlighted by the fact that he mimes out the killings as he describes them.
As his story continues however, it is disturbingly easy to sympathise with his aims as he delves into the story of the horrible acts committed by his victims. O'Neill is a very good storyteller, keeping us gripped with a fast-paced narrative which keeps us guessing until the very last moment.
Bob Paisley is marginally less watchable as Bill Clinton and the longer, second play drags after a while. Nevertheless the idea is good. Bill Clinton, fervently backing his wife's latest presidential campaign, gives us a potted history of his time in office and his thoughts on how the world has changed since he stepped down. Just like in reality, he never lets the politician's veneer slip from his slick speech and, as only Clinton could, his sentences are laced with saccharine sentiment, crooked smiles and drawling southern accent.
There is the inevitable reference to Monica Lewinsky and at times the narrative slips into ground that has been covered one too many times before. It is made more interesting, however, by the premise that Clinton is taking us through the story of his own presidential career through the lens of his favourite figures from the Greek myths - seeing himself as a modern day Odysseus.
The brute physicality of Absolution and the carefully constructed spin of Clinton's speeches give the audience much food for thought. Does Nathan's cause excuse his actions? What truth is there in Clinton's slippery sentences? Two striking examples of the politics of morality. (Lettie McKie - Londonist - 20/05/16)
The Upcoming 18/05/16
This fantasy Ted Talk, which Bill Clinton argues rivals Tony Blair's biographical play on at the West End, Doctor Faustus, is a treat to watch. It sparks politics, humour and satire, mixing personal history with a wider political past. The 42nd president's performance is thought-provoking and utterly current. Politics is the art of performance, but this vision of the Man from Hope's monologue is more than just another political speech, it is a chance to see beneath the veneer of the political persona. Bob Paisley enters the room with the poise and charisma of Clinton. He perfects his mannerisms, even his tone of voice, and is more than a caricature.
The performance's strength lies in its subtlety. The only props are a leather armchair and a battered copy of Seamus Heaney's The Cure of Troy. Lighting is effective, especially the use of a greyish blue spotlight that fades on as Clinton looks back to the failures of his past. The interweaving of soundbites from the political speeches of Kennedy and Obama effectively demonstrates history's capacity to repeat itself.
The production is perfectly suited to the small and intimate setting of Park Theatre. Whilst it would not work in a larger arena, in this space it speaks to the audience on an individual level from an individual's perspective. The writer, Rachel Mariner, succeeds in mingling myth with current affairs that vary from the refugee crisis to banker's bonuses. Clinton presents himself as a modern Hercules and Odysseus, preaching the benefits of a larger perspective on life and confessing his failures.
With its references to the Odyssey, it becomes an ode to the oral storytelling of the past. Clinton reflects on Martin Luther King's ability to create a reality with the force of his words - nothing could sum up this play better. At only an hour and 20 minutes in length, it is both impactful and compact. Theatre encourages us to think about what is happening in the world rather than telling us how to think. It is not meant to be a news report but a dialogue between the performance and the audience's interpretations: this is active theatre at its best. As Clinton waves to the audience, shaking the hands of members of the front row, it feels as if the real man is in the room. (Georgie Cowan-Turner - The Upcoming - 18/05/16)
ADELAIDE FRINGE 2016
FringeReview.com- Adelaide 03/03/16
Perhaps in the current political state of the world and election campaign happening in America this show was particularly compelling. Bob Paisley plays Bill Clinton and welcomes us with "Let my mind light up your mind" - he starts with an excerpt from The Cure at Troy, his favourite poem. In this poem Odysseus, Neoptolemus and Philoctetes battle their pride and weaknesses, in the same way Clinton did. He describes how he encapsulated each of these characters and the one glorious moment he felt like Hercules, dealing the hand of justice and truth.
Presented as a TED talk, Clinton starts at the beginning - his childhood in Hope, Arkansas idolising John F Kennedy and Martin Luther King. He describes meeting Hillary Clinton at Yale and travelling with her to England. The profound part of the presentation was the insights into his thoughts and reflection on his time as President. He tells the audience about the other political leaders he met during his time and his relationships with them, the time spent with members of his staff eating pizza and playing cards, snowball fights with Chelsea and... Monica Lewinski. He briefly touches on their relationship and the events that led to the scandal, but this brevity is enough for this presentation.
The audience hangs onto his every word as he admits his mistakes, reveals his dream for a better world, his hope that he did the best that he could under the circumstances. Bob Paisley gave an uncanny impression of the infamous ex-President. He stayed true to character throughout the show; it was like watching Clinton himself charm the audience with his Arkansas brogue, suave manner and intimate details about himself.
Bill Clinton Hercules was a phenomenal piece of theatre and exceeded all expectations. (Prerna Ashok - Fringereview.com - 03/03/16)
RipitUp.com.au - 02/03/16
An impressive monologue describing and defining Bill Clinton's legacy, Bill Clinton Hercules will transport you back in time to Arkansas and Washington, help you focus on the troubles of the present in Syria and the United States, and let you conjure a brighter future for us all.
Clever in conception and honest and artful in its delivery, Bob Paisley will have you believing Bill Clinton is in the building.
With a leather chair and a play as his only props, Bill Clinton summons Hercules in this intimate TED-like talk. You are witness to a lecture bold in vision and relevant for modern times. For the avid political geek, the fans of the former president, or for anyone who wants to learn about his presidency, this is the show for you. Even apolitical sceptics will find nuggets of truth and comedy to savour in this motivating performance.
Channeling the true story of Bill Clinton and elaborating on his experiences to form a coherent and enthralling story of how Bill was the way he was, who influenced him and why, and the challenges he's faced. More importantly still, is how his experiences lead him to be all the characters of a Greek mythological play The Cure At Troy, and in particular, why we need Hercules.
From how he met Hillary and the challenges she has faced approaching the democratic candidacy, through to the Lewinsky saga. JFK, Israel, Madiba, and Iraq; everyone and everything important gets a mention. With hope and peace the defining themes, how can we share our future? (Tyson Kinnane - RipItUp Adelaide 02/03/16)
Clothesline.com.au - 03/03/16
An excellent solo performance about the life of Bill Clinton. Based on a play by Rachel Mariner and directed by Guy Masterson, Clinton is played by Bob Paisley and he looks and sounds uncannily like him.
Starting from his small town origins in Hope, Arkansas it tracks the rags to riches story of a poor boy who made it right to the top. Along the way we learn that he met and shook the hand of JFK as a small boy and was, for a time, a bearded hippy speaking out against the Vietnam War. Clinton's favourite book was apparently a play called The Cure At Troy and the outline and moral of this story is entertainingly told. The political lessons learned in this tale were to become a benchmark for how Clinton wanted to live his public life.
However the realities of the presidency challenged the views of a man fired with idealism about what was best for the American people. What Bill Clinton Hercules does really well is show how the beliefs and principles of the individual are challenged by the realities of office, and can lead to making decisions that one thought they were never capable of. It's an instructive lesson that shows that people in power are ultimately just human like the rest of us with their own hopes, dreams, and vulnerabilities. Detail of the behind the scenes squabbling at the Camp David peace accords were a humorous case in point.
We learn that among Clinton's heroes were JFK, Martin Luther King, Mandela and Yitzhak Rabin; details are shared about his relationships with Rabin and Mandela. We can only assume that as the playwright was Clinton's lawyer in the Lewinsky impeachment proceedings that much of these personal minutiae are true.
It was evident from early on that this production could only end with a big speech and it indeed came. Paisley's performance is commanding and a great insight into the mind of a man who was once the most powerful man in the world. Paisley is charming and eloquent, the writing is conversational and instructive. And it really does feel like you're learning about world events, world leaders, and America's recent past from Clinton himself. (Michael Coghlan - Clothesline AU - 03/03/16)
Canberra Critics Circle - 04/03/16
Hillary Clinton has just swept to victory in the Big Tuesday Primaries when I visit Adelaide's Bakehouse Theatre to see Bob Paisley's performance of Bill Clinton Hercules, under the direction of Fringe veteran, Guy Masterson. It takes Herculean courage to take on the role of the 42nd President of the United States. In Bob Paisley, Clinton is lucky enough to have a doppelganger take on the gargantuan task of bringing Hillary Rodda-Clinton's husband to life upon the intimate black box stage in Bill Clinton-Hercules.
With only a leather armchair and a small side table as a set, Paisley fills the stage with the sight and sound of a man who remains vivid in the minds and hearts of people who follow his every move on Hillary's campaign trail. The luring voice, the carefully brushed silver hair and the stylishly cut suit with the bold red tie mark a man of authority, with a voice of assurance and private passion in a confused and uncertain world. Paisley is all this and more. Charisma emanates with every smile. He lures his audience in, spinning his charm by describing the late poet Seamus Heaney's, Cure at Troy, a verse adaptation of Sophocles' Philoctetes. Clinton describes the characters of Odysseus the warrior, Neo, the negotiator and Philoctetes the archer with the magic bow and arrow, a gift from the God Hercules that can recapture Troy with the aid of the god Hercules. It would appear that Paisley has drawn a long bow to imbue Clinton with the qualities of Sophocles' Greek heroes. But there are those who would argue that during his presidency, Clinton achieved legendary status, except perhaps for one slight indiscretion that became his Achilles Heel.
Using the legend as a leitmotif, Paisley's carefully researched monologue weaves myth and fact into a fascinating and illuminating account of Clinton's life. We learn of his birth in the ironically named Hope in Arkansas, of the death of his father three months before Clinton was born; of his Hippie conscientious objector days, his meeting with Hillary and his eventual ascendancy to the presidency after a childhood of struggle. We learn of his hero worship of John F Kennedy whom he met on the lawns of the White House when a young man, of Dr. Martin Luther King and Israel's Yitzhak Rabin, all victims of the assassin's bullet. Clinton's dry humour echoes in the warning not to become one of his heroes.
I am seduced by the chronicle of his life, interwoven with the account of real events and the recorded use of the actual speeches of his heroes, and the friendship with Mandela, which fortunately avoided the fate of his other heroes. One senses that this colossus of politics strode the world stage with confidence, charm and passionate determination in the belief that he could bring hope and salvation to the world. Vanity? Perhaps. Divine inspiration.? Possibly. What a piece of work is this man who for a time brought some peace to the Middle East. And now? Well, perhaps it is time for another Clinton to mend the wounds and bring an end to our Trojan Wars.
The namedropping rings through the years. Familiar names of Madeline Albright,the feisty Secretary of State Newt Gingrich, Speaker of the Congress, Keith Starr, the inquisitor, Monica Lewinsky, the Femme Fatale intern, Alan Greenspan, the Reserve Bank Governor and the most villainous of them all, his former Chief of Staff, the conniving ruler of Washington's real House of Cards, Leon Panetta.
It is here that Paisley's Clinton voices his fearful foreboding and with evangelical zeal cries for the strength of Hercules to destroy Greenspan's dreadful legacy where CEOs now receive 400 times the wage of an ordinary American, and where the former Head of the CIA, Panetta, threatens individual freedom.
Evangelism floods Bill Clinton's veins. Zeal turns to impassioned anger and President turned Prophet of the People exhorts his people to take up the cause, to rid the world of greedy corporations, of manipulating politicians and powerful banking interests. "You can be Hercules!" "Will you be Hercules?" It was an astounding impersonation of Bill Clinton, in gesture, voice and character, an Herculean President, whose story, told by an actor of Paisley's power and conviction could hold an audience in the palm of the hand. His audience should have risen to their feet in unison to do their hero's bidding. (Peter Wilkins - Canberra Theatre Review 04/03/16)
NORTHERN IRELAND TOUR - EASTER 2015
THE EXAMINER.com - Derry Playhouse 09/04/15 (Sean Hillen)
No better time to see Bob Paisley's wonderful stage depiction of the charismatic former US president in the one-man production, Bill Clinton Hercules, than this week, as Hillary officially tosses her hat in the campaign ring.
So if you happen to be in Northern Ireland, pop along to either The Courtyard Theatre in the northeast coastal town of Newtownabbey this Wednesday, the Metropolitan Arts Centre (MAC) Theatre in central Belfast on either Thursday or Friday or the Island Arts Centre in Lisburn on Saturday, and enjoy an excellent show.
An experienced, multi-talented actor, director and theatre manager, Paisley, who co-founded the Metropolitan Ensemble Theatre in Kansas City, played the two-term Democratic president to a tee at this weekend's performance at The Playhouse in downtown Derry, northern Ireland. In fact, at one point as he spoke of encouraging his wife to launch a third political party, Paisley's physical and vocal resemblance to the former White House president was so exact, I found myself bemused that the real Clinton may have actually done so.
To create such a transformation of someone's rational thinking processes through manipulation of the senses in this way is indeed a hallmark of gilded acting.
Directed by Olivier winner Guy Masterson with Theatre Tours International Ltd., an old friend of Paisley's who also co-wrote the play with Harvard-trained lawyer-cum-playwright, Rachel Mariner, who was on Clinton's defence team during the Paula Jones scandal, the 85-minute, single-act production spans Clinton's childhood in Arkansas to his eight years as exclusive resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. It also encompasses Hillary's failed campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination seven years ago, the Occupy Wall Street protests, Syria and the continuing partisan fumbling of politicians inside the Washington Beltway now.
As multiple tomes have been written about the Clinton White House years, the writer-performer-director triumvirate of artists deserve strong praise for managing to include most of the highlights of that period in such a short timeframe and in a highly-captivating manner peppered with humour, poignancy and a wealth of political insight.
Dressed in a smart, dark suit and vivid red tie, an American flag lapel pin firmly in place, Paisley stepped on to the bare stage with aplomb, his eyes beaming that confident, suggestive smile so reflective of Clinton's charismatic persona. From the former president's early days in his hometown of Hope growing up mainly under the strict, watchful eye of his grandmother, Edith Cassidy, to his precise chess-moves in the international diplomatic arena during delicate negotiations that delivered peace to war-torn regions such as Northern Ireland, former Yugoslavia and the Middle East, Paisley barely faltered in his presentation, the only occasion being when someone three rows back let a mobile phone ring loudly, then didn't have the wherewithal to turn it off.
Through the ensuing monologues and concise dialogues Paisley manages to impersonate many people, from former Israel leader Yitzhak Rabin to Nelson Mandela, George H.W. Bush and Clinton's former chief of staff, Leon Panetta - the audience learned intriguing things:
- A younger Hillary was an intellectual Republican whose newspaper of choice was 'The Wall Street Journal';
- Bill attended a high school in a State that had one of the lowest literacy and parental income rates in the USA;
- Bill wooed Hillary by bringing her to the Lake District in England, a place she had not been to before, and won her under a sunset sky before an open, roaring fire;
- The soon-to-be Arkansas Governor memorized Martin Luther King's @I Have A Dream@ speech, impressed by 'the ability of words to create realities,' after having won a trip to Washington as a high-school student to meet President JF Kennedy;
- As a 'bearded hippy' in England after gaining a Rhodes Scholarship to study at Oxford, he gave an anti-war speech.
While the play contains many facts about the Clinton presidential years and the issues he faced albeit some filtered through the lens of poetic license - the whole is made more interesting through the interplay of poignancy with humor and the personal nature of the telling.
For example, in speaking about the sensitive Middle East peace negotiations with former Israel Prime Minister Rabin and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization, Paisley talks about how they spent four days on the distribution of airport parking places.
About the president's ensuing close personal relationship with Rabin and his later assassination, Paisley says sadly, 'hero worship guarantees an assassin's bullet' and peace 'can be a dim light in a world of darkness.'
In the midst of complex political manoeuvrings both at home and abroad, including Clinton's mammoth budget battle with Republican Newt Gingrich and the ensuing federal shutdown, the not-so-insignificant issue of Monica Lewinsky is not overlooked. While holding eleventh-hour talks in the White House with his long-time political foe, the president is informed that, as all federal workers are temporarily furloughed, there is no decent food to offer his guest except tomatoes stuffed with tuna. In the show, Clinton's search in the corridors of power for a 'Pepperoni Passion' pizza' leads to much more than he bargained for - in the form of a particularly lively unpaid intern.
Last but not least, why the play's title: Bill Clinton Hercules? That's linked to a book the president values more than most, one Paisley refers to often in the show - Seamus Heaney's £The Cure At Troy£.
But better the former president tells you all about that than I, in his own idiosyncratic way. (Sean Hillen - TheExaminer.com 09/04/15)
BROADWAY BABY 20/08/14 - POWERFUL & THOUGHT PROVOKING
"Bill Clinton was one of America's glowing presidents, a shining democrat in the fashion of Jimmy Carter and even America's beloved JFK. But after the scandal with Monica Lewinsky, Clinton's lasting legacy has been cemented by that one infamous quote, "I did not have sexual relations with that woman". However, there was much more to President Clinton than the stain he left on his intern's dress. Bill Clinton Hercules is a fascinating one man show that is at once a personal ode to Bill Clinton and an indictment of modern politics filtered through a curious classical intrigue.
According to 'Bubba' himself, every year the former president reads Seamus Heaney's The Cure at Troy, an adaptation of the Ancient Greek play Philoctetes in which the deified Hercules appears to convince the Greeks to make peace with each other to achieve victory through unity. This is the democratic notion that the play's Clinton believes in and it is this Hercules to whom the character relates and wishes to personify. "I am Hercules" says Paisley's Bill Clinton as he talks about global conflicts and America's role in them. His ultimate desire is for peace, even if it must be sought through conflict.
There's much more to this play than simple hero worship. It's a personal examination of Bill Clinton and of the changing nature of politics from the latter years of the 20th century to the present day. Bob Paisley's performance is very strong; he appropriately exudes sentiment, regret, wisdom and pride during every moment of Rachel Mariner's brilliant script, and his Clinton impersonation is spot on. Mariner has done her homework and the play is very intelligent and very well informed, gleaning much of its personal content from Clinton's autobiography. When the play jumps from Clinton's personal life to American politics of the past, present and future, the observations made are razor sharp and the criticisms piercing.
Smart, funny, moving and exceptionally current, itis fantastically written with a most Bill-thentic performance from Paisley and assured direction from Guy Masterson. Bill Clinton Hercules is a swan song to the former President and an intelligent meditation on the decay of modern politics. It's a powerful and thought-provoking play that should not be missed." (Dave House - BroadwayBaby - 20/08/14)
DARROW.ORG 12/08/14 - A FASCINATING CHARACTER STUDY
Bill Clinton Hercules is a fascinating character study of former U.S President Bill Clinton played by Bob Paisley. A one man show possessed of immense insight, research and talent.
Paisley plays a strangely forthcoming Bill Clinton, taking the audience through a half-internal dialogue, half talk-show reflection of his life. Right from the start, Paisley dawns a superb Clinton persona, right down to the easy swagger and Alabama drawl. Remove the stage and have him sit in the audience and it's not difficult to imagine the Clinton backslap and practised repertoire. Paisley plays the easy, relaxed charm of Clinton with panache and disconcerting ease which, in combination with a script that has him explaining his purpose with a messianic zeal, is a man of destiny who brings peace.
According to the real Clinton, every year he re-reads Seamus Heaney's The Cure at Troy, an adaptation of the Ancient Greek play Philoctetes. Little effort is made to conceal that Paisley's Clinton thinks himself a Hercules, on this Earth to bring peace through unity. 'I am Hercules', says Clinton as he talks here about global conflicts. Indeed, writing Paisley's Clinton immediately brings to mind his role in the Northern Ireland peace process.
The results then are mixed. In the public memory of Clinton he was a softly spoken but passionate advocate of his position. The accent has been parodied a thousand times as much Nixon's flabby cheeks.
There's a hint of the Nixon confessional; a need to be understood and to justify. In Clinton's case there's a faux tragedy in that he's stuck between his own creations: the defence of hawkish American policies and the envy of his wife's (undeclared) presidential ambition to transform the world like he tried to.
Ultimately, this is facsimile but never a vaudeville Bill Clinton. If the chicanery and duplicity of a man who is otherwise widely regarded as above board, but for the odd personal faux pas, is something that you think is worth exploring, this is for you. The analysis that lingers after the performance is why audiences should flock to it. The questions raised about its context are as much strengths as weaknesses, guaranteeing that audiences reflect and re-evaluate who Bill Clinton really is. (Alastair Stewart - Darrow.org - 12/08/14)
THE HERALD 22/08/14 - SELF-DEPRECATING POETRY AND DEADLY ONE-LINERS
"You don't want to be hero-worshipped by me," says the former President of the United States at one point in Racheal Mariner's solo play cum TED talk. "It guarantees you an assassins bullet."
Bill Clinton is talking about pressing the flesh with JFK and hanging on every inspirational word of Martin Luther King before both men were gunned down out of history.;
He doesn't make such an observation with sombreness, but, as played by Bob Paisley, with a positive spring in his step.
This sets the general tone for an insightful portrait of the jazz-loving hippy whose flight into the establishment was only inevitable if you pay heed to the classical yarns of Odysseus and Hercules which he treats more as a lifestyle choice than literature.
Kosovo, the Arab Spring, Lewinskygate and his later playing second sax to Hillary are all in the mix in the sort of speech Tony Blair would kill for.
Despite its factual root, Mariner's script lifts things beyond dull political biography to a sort of self-deprecating poetry, replete with deadly one-liners delivered by Paisley with aplomb in Guy Masterson's production.
Speaking out in support of the Occupy movement, this is the one-time Slick Willy as born-again radical, a wannabe hero who only ever wanted to be one of the good guys." (Neil Cooper - The Herald - 22/08/14)
THE SCOTSMAN - 22/08/14 - HIGHLY RECOMENDED!
"Being president of the United States doesn't quite lend itself to delusions of grandeur, given that grandeur pretty much comes with the job description, but Bill Clinton as represented by Bob Paisley in Guy Masterson's production comes close, in that he compares his story to the myths of ancient Greece.
His manner is warm and conversationally statesmanlike as he recounts his life and career, taking in his early days as the adopted stepson of an abusive stepfather and his earliest times with Hillary. He proposed to her in England, he recalls, and she was "hot, not Playboy hot but smart," all "unplucked eyebrows and burning political ambition"
This Clinton is exactly as we might imagine him to be, and that includes certain unreconstructed flaws. While this isn't quite hagiography, it does approach his character with a certain sympathy for his political position. He agonises over the Lewinsky affair, but it's represented more as the character failing of a great man than a truly unpleasant episode.
More nuanced is the continuing theme that boys without fathers grasp for heroes, as Clinton rejoices in the memory of those who stirred his political consciousness: Kennedy, King, Mandela, this latter hero the "wiliest politician ever" as he brings his foes together to bolster his own power.
As Clinton brings home that side of his own persona - he is "the Odysseus of politics, eventually I am gonna win" - Paisley and Masterson make him matey and mighty in one breath." (David Pollock - The Scotsman - 22/08/14)
FRINGEREVIEW.COM - 14/08/14 - HIGHLY RECOMENDED!
"Meet Bill Clinton as he loosens the shackles, shoots first and asks questions later in what is billed as a part historical, part fantasy TED talk.
Bill Clinton is at his most insouciant as the audience files in. His relaxed greeting makes each person feel they are the most important on the planet at that particular moment in time. No wonder Clinton man made it to the top, becoming leader of the world's largest free nation. He could charm birds from the trees.
Positioned as a part historical, part fantasy TED talk, Bill Clinton Hercules looks at Bill Clinton's life from the difficulties he faced in his early, fatherless years through to challenges on world and local stages that dominated his two four year terms in office. Some time is spent on Clinton's known love of Seamus Heaney's The Cure at Troy, allowing Clinton to show how he drew on the work's characters to help him solve crises in his political and personal life. We also explore how fatherless boys are forced to look elsewhere for male mentors, in Clinton's case to Kennedy, King and Mandela.
These prove interesting insights into Clinton's personality as does an exploration of his relationship with and admiration of Israel premier, Rabin. And we get to touch on one of his more unlikely alliances, that with George Bush Senior. Two people from opposite ends of the spectrum that remain voices of reason, still capable of commanding respect in America's increasingly dysfunctional political environment.
It would have been interesting to have spent more time exploring these facets of Clinton's life and perhaps a little less on a factual recounting of events in Kosovo, Iraq, Kuwait and a stream of other international and domestic crises (including the notorious Lewinsky affair). It was useful to be reminded of what happened during the eight years Clinton inhabited the White House, but most of the audience had lived through this first hand and probably didn't need reminding in such detail.
There was also a tantalising insight into Clinton's views of Alan Greenspan, Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank throughout his Presidency. Again, I was left wanting to know more about this - either through Clinton's directly expressed views or the writer's musings.
Perhaps, though, as someone with a great interest in politics and economics, I am being too pernickety. The question of balance is for the author to decide and Rachael Mariner has clearly expended considerable effort in researching this piece.
Bob Paisley's performance as Clinton is polished from start to finish and keeps the audience on the hook. Paisley's physical similarity to Clinton is an important facet in creating this impression and a lot of work has also gone into developing that Arkansas drawl which, with mannerisms and gait delivers a believable finished article. Just like the real Clinton, Paisley's mask never slips. Not even for a moment. But then all politicians are actors to a degree and it's this attribute that many political commentators felt got Clinton off the impeachment hook hung out for him by Kevin Starr.
Overall, a highly interesting seventy minutes, and a masterful piece of acting from a consumate performer." (Tim Wilcock - 14/08/14)
BRTISH THEATRE GUIDE - INTELLIGENT & INFORMATIVE
"This intelligent and informative bio-play takes as its text Seamus Heaney's The Cure at Troy. The myth gives Bob Paisley, or to be more accurate his character Bill Clinton, a series of Greek role models to identify with for 70 minutes.
During this laid-back lecture, viewers get a really good impression of the life of the hick from Arkansas who became President of the United States, via his own mouth.
Rachel Mariner ensures that very few stones are left unturned. A brief run through boyhood does not suggest that kind of background which ends in the White House, though an influential mother and strong character are apparent early.
Clinton is a man who loves role models, JFK, Martin Luther King, Yitzhak Rabin and Nelson Mandela all make a big impression.
However, Hillary Roddam Clinton and another less well respected woman, Monica Lewinsky eventually make a bigger impact on his later career.
While Clinton is generally a sunny character, he does bear grudges much as he would like not to: former close colleague Leon Panetta and his CIA and Alan Greenspan of the Federal Reserve are blamed for so much that has gone wrong in recent years.
Paisley looks and sounds right and gives a fine performance of a well-balanced play, aided by expert direction from Guy Masterson for Theatre Tours International." (Philip Fisher - British Theatre Guide - 13/08/14)
BROADWAYWORLD.COM - 10/08/14 INCREDIBLY CHARISMATIC & CHARMING
"Bill Clinton: Hercules is a play which is presented as a TED talk by the 42nd US president. The staging is simple, a single armchair and table, and it's just us and Bill as he talks candidly about his time in office.
We begin with a bit of background about Clinton. He tells the audience about his childhood and family set up. He was inspired in his late teens meeting John F Kennedy and knew that he wanted to inspire others in the same way. He discusses his other heroes and what led him to his chosen career. He also speaks about Hillary's own campaign for presidency and declares his unwavering support for his wife.
Bob Paisley is incredibly charismatic as Bill Clinton. He is undeniably charming (more about that later) and gives a very convincing performance. There are a lot of political issues covered: air strikes in Kosovo, the Iraq war and pay inequality in the US.
Bill Clinton Hercules has been so well done. The script is fantastic and the lighting is very subtle and effective. The venue choice is also excellent as it is a lecture theatre which seems so fitting for this kind of performance. There are a few funny moments in the script but the very strong message behind the piece is one of hope and inspiration.
I made the grave error of sitting in the front row for Bill Clinton Hercules and was targeted as his Monica for the performance. On my way out of the theatre I was told by other audience members that they were pretty sure that's me sorted for a date this evening.
I would strongly recommend going to see Bill Clinton: Hercules. I would also recommend that if you are brunette and in your mid 20s not to sit at the front." (Natalie O'Donohue - BroadwayWorld.com, 10/08/14)
- Bill Clinton
Bob Paisley is an award winning actor and director, working with theatres across the United States and Canada.
Favorite roles include Teach in American Buffalo
, the title role in Faustus (LA Dramalogue Award), Tom in The Glass Menagerie
, Billy in Billy Bishop goes to War
, Pilate in Jesus Christ Superstar
and Heisenberg in Copenhagen
. TV and film credits include, among others, The Rosa Parks Story, The Empty Acre, Scene of the Crime
(CBS) and General Hospital
. He is a founding member of Another Theatre Company in Halifax, Nova Scotia and the Metropolitan Ensemble Theatre in Kansas City.
He has directed productions for Theatre West Virginia, the Birmingham Children's Theatre and Neptune Theatre, Our Town Theatre Group. He lives in Kansas City.
GUY MASTERSON - Co-Writer & Director (click for additional biographical material)
After obtaining a Joint Honours degree in Biochemistry and Chemistry from Cardiff University in 1982, Guy studied drama at UCLA's School of Drama and started as an actor in 1985 in Hollywood. He returned to the UK in 1989 to study further at LAMDA.
Following a conventional start in plays, film and television, Guy began solo performing in 1991 with The Boy's Own Story and thence Under Milk Wood in 1994 and Animal Farm in 1995. He first produced/directed in 1993 with Playing Burton and participated at the Edinburgh Festival for the first time in 1994. The following 23 seasons saw his association with some of Edinburgh's most celebrated hits (see company history) and his company became the Fringe's most awarded independent theatre producer - garnering 8 Scotsman Fringe Firsts, 3 Herald Angels, 25 Stage Award nominations (including 4 wins) together with numerous lesser awards. His 2010 production of Morecambe transferred to the West End and won a Laurence Olivier Award for Best Entertainment plus another nomination for the actor playing Eric. In 2014, his epic production of Animal Farm the Tumanishvili Film Actors Theatre of Tbilisi, Georgia, won the Stage Award for Best Ensemble.
As a performer, he was nominated for The Stage Award for Best Actor for A Soldier's Song (1998), Under Milk Wood in 2003, Shylock in 2011, and won in 2001 with Fern Hill & Other Dylan Thomas. He received Edinburgh's most prestigious accolade, The Jack Tinker Spirit of the Fringe Award, in 2003.At Edinburgh 2016 he created his first overtly stand-up comic piece, Barking Mad!
His theatrical commitments have largely kept him out of mainstream film and television, however, he has made the obligatory appearance on Casualty (Christmas Special 2004) and has been the Franziskaner Monk - the main character of a premium German beer - since 2007!
Other directorial credits include; Chopping Chillies, Absolution (2016) Cinderella, The Devil's Passion, Dylan Thomas: the Man, The Myth (2015), Sleeping Beauty, Animal Farm (full cast version 2014), The Odd Couple, Beauty And The Beast (2013) Female Gothic, A Soldiers Song, Imperial Fizz (2012) The Diaries of Adam & Eve (2011); Long Live The King, I, Elizabeth (2010); Morecambe, Austen's Women (2009); Reasonable Doubt, Scaramouche Jones (2008); The Eagle Dances, Follow Me, The Mistress (2007); Levelland (UK & OZ), Cooking With Puccini (2006); The Odd Couple, Swift (2005); Borge Again!, 12 Angry Men - Oz (2004); 12 Angry Men - UK (2003); Goering's Defence, A Slight Tilt To The Left (2002); Resolution, Mom, I'm Not A Lawyer (2001); All Words For Sex (2000); Adolf (1999); Hollywood Screams II (1998) Bye Bye Blackbird (1997); The House Of Correction (1996); Playing Burton (UK 1994, NZ 2002) The Private Ear & The Public Eye.
His passion is to bring great ideas to life and new talent to the stage. He is married to Brigitta and father to Indigo and Tallulah...
RACHEL MARINER - Primary Writer
Rachel Mariner is an American expat playwright living in Cambridge, UK. She studied philosophy at an evangelical Christian college near Chicago (Wheaton) and law at Harvard. She worked for Skadden, Arps as a litigator in DC where in 2001 she was named the "DC Bar's Pro bono Attorney of the Year" and her play Baggage won the Washington DC Theater Festival Ten-Minute Play Competition. Her play Wedding at Cana commissioned by OneWheaton was performed last year in Chicago and is available on Soundcloud. She has had plays presented at Corpus and ADC in Cambridge, Edinburgh Fringe and Washington. She is currently working on a true courtroom drama with Jason Kuller called Kerching and a play about the Magna Carta called Treason.
In 2009, my ex-flatmate from my Hollywood days two decades earlier, Bob Paisley, was visiting the Edinburgh Fringe. He watched the two solo shows that I'd directed that year, Morecambe and Austen's Women, and stated that he 'would like some of that!' I thought then, with his newly-greying hair and his charming Alabama drawl, that he reminded me strongly of Bill Clinton and perhaps the 42nd President might make a good basis for a bio-play. The idea was born. Four years later, I met Rachel Mariner, lawyer turned playwright, who, while meeting me about another courtroom drama, let slip that she's been on Clinton's legal team during the Paula Jones litigation. She'd worked down the street from the White House and had lived in Clinton's world. As a US citizen by virtue of my father, I take my dual nationality very seriously, and I have always been fascinated by Clinton. His rise from poverty to president embodies the American Dream and his resilience and determination in the face of more than his fair share of challenges is very dramatic. The fact that he is still on the political scene and is now faced with the very real possibility of his wife running for President, makes him even more intriguing. Rachel and I set out to examine not just what made him who he is, but to postulate what he might do. For me, this is very interesting.
With bio-plays it is important not to attempt direct impersonation. (Thereby lies almost certain failure). And attempting likeness by wearing wigs and make up, or physically and vocally changing in order to manufacture the image is also not the way. In my experience, success with bio-plays comes through re-kindling the spirit of the subject, and from there, the audience can fill in any deficiencies. Naturally, physical resemblance helps, but when you match an actor to a famous subject, the core spirit is more important than the look. The essence of the person is essential.
My friend, Bob Paisley, has everything necessary to channel the spirit of Clinton; through the subject matter of his conversation, the ideas that he postulates, the emotions that he displays through the text that has been composed for him. By working from the inside out rather than the outside in, the audience witnesses a canvas on which the playwright's colours are carefully applied by the performer. It may not look like anything at the start, but by the end, they are be left with a vivid work of art. Guy Masterson
This play accurately recounts President Clinton's early childhood as gleaned from his autobiography My Life. He really did memorize the "I Have A Dream speech", he really did shake JFK's hand, and Mrs. Kelley had a bust of Elvis in the kitchen. The events during the Presidency and governorship actually happened except there is no evidence that the Chinese navy went to Los Angeles to take out the cast of Friends. There is an eleven-foot statue of him in Kosovo. President Carter did send the Cubans to Arkansas (but a great unsung hero of his administration, Gene Eisenberg,came and toured Barling at then-Governor Clinton's request). There was a trashed hotel suite in Iowa after a phone call with Senator Kennedy in 2008. There was a 'bearded hippy Bill' who gave a heartfelt speech in the peace rally during his Oxford days. The events of the 1996 shutdown/snowstorm are condensed except it really was one week between President Clinton going 'Odysseus' and the shutdown being over. He is close with George Bush Sr. He does not, to my knowledge, have a problem with Leon Panetta and Alan Greenspan. He has never said in public that he would do anything else but support Hillary utterly in her political ambitions. He did say some very encouraging things about Occupy when asked by reporters. He re-reads Seamus Heaney's The Cure at Troy every year.
We live in a new dark age. Governments collapse (Iraq, Syria). Cities fall into desolation (Detroit, Mosul, Gaza City). Fascism looms in Europe and America. Corporate profits replace the rule of law. Police states replace democracy. Wars rage. No one speaks for peace. But the best of President Clinton, put into Bill Clinton Hercules, is his reminder that 'Now is the time to make real the promises of our democracy.' May we all be so inspired, and in the times ahead hold on to the values that made this man great.
Special thanks: I am one of the lucky ones with excellent fathers. My work on this project is dedicated with love to my great and Christian father Martin Mariner. (Rachel Mariner)
To View or Download Specifications click here for Lighting states
(NB: This is a PDF file. You will require ACROBAT READER to read this document)
- BILL CLINTON HERCULES Requires a clean black box
- The show runs about 85 minutes without an interval
- The Set constists of a swivel and a side table
- Lighting consists of 5 basic states plus houselights
- Sound effects are provided on CD or MD & Q-Lab folder is available please contact us.
- 14 LX cues and 12 SFX cues to be operated by in-house technician
- Maximum set up and rehearsal time required: 3 hours
- Artist arrival time, between 3pm and 4pm on day of show.