The Tender King explores the interplay of intimacy, truth, and the boundaries of war. Set during the Potsdam Conference in Germany, The Tender King focuses on the hours immediately surrounding President Truman's decision to drop the bomb on Hiroshima. The action alternates between a fictional meeting with William Baker, a young diplomat hoping to use this turning point to further his career, and William's relationship with a French-German prostitute in Berlin. The characters of William and Melodie are fictional; Truman is obviously real. The facts of the play are derived from dozens recently declassified government documents, Truman's personal letters, minutes of high level meetings, biographies, diaries, and historical analysis. Together, they depict a war and a man quite different than the one enshrined in American folklore. It utilizes three actors (2M, 1F), and a single, multi-use set.

Charles Kruger of the called a "thought-provoking... and imaginative exploration. The effective arguments make for compelling. This is a show worth seeing." Rob Avila of the San Francisco Bay Guardian praised it's "effervescent dialogue" and "neat narrative framework... the play's well-researched and articulated detail as well as forceful conviction make it both worthwhile and generally engaging—- not to mention as politically au courant as anything on stage just now."

Performance History:

World Premiere

November, 2010 7PM

Second Wind Productions

The Phoenix Theatre

414 Mason St. 6th Floor

San Francisco, CA

Format: A full length play in one act; total playing time 85 minutes

Read the first 20 Pages

Performance rights and royalties: Rights and Contact

Playwright's Notes:

The Tender King is in the final stage of its development. About a year ago I was reminded that President Truman ascended to the position of Commander in Chief with only a high school education, and within three months ordered the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. Fascinated by the simple vulnerability of these two facts, I began a study of his life. What I discovered astounded me, first about the man-- a farmer who's first three decades of life were decidedly unremarkable and who's rise to the White House was quite accidental-- but also about the circumstances surrounding his decision. During the past two decades, quite a lot of new information has come to light, yet our understanding of the war, the bomb, and the man has stayed fundamentally the same. History, ambition, vengeance, love, intimacy, friendship, and war became the central themes of The Tender King.

In my last two plays, Meadowland and The Gravedigger's Tango, I had worked with a very big canvass: multiple story lines that spread across large expanses of time and memory, told with multiple characters. With The Tender King I was eager to get back to a small canvass-- just three characters and a story that takes its journey in a single night. As I worked, the importance of language emerged; words as hollow vessels that are filled with whatever meaning the speaker, and the listener, choose to embody them with. Language is supposed to hold meaning in the same way that history holds fact; neither are necessarily true.