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“Frost/Nixon” to debut at Loft Theatre

Frost/Nixon, performed by the Grinnell Community Theatre, will open at the Loft Theatre tonight. Photo by Sara Ruiz.

By Chloe Wray

“Frost/Nixon” will be opening this weekend at the Loft Theater in the Grinnell Arts Center. Put on by Grinnell Community Theatre, the play is directed by Sig Barber, a Grinnell resident and a professor emeritus of German at Grinnell College. It will run Dec. 1, 2, 8 and 9 at 7:30 p.m. and Dec. 3 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $15 for adults and only $5 for students, available at the Grinnell Arts Center, McNally’s, online at or at the door.

The play follows the story of the interviews British journalist David Frost conducted with Nixon two years after Nixon’s resignation. The interviews, which totaled over 30 hours, were condensed into four 90-minute specials that aired in 1979. Nixon had agreed to being interviewed out of both a need for money and as an attempt to redeem himself in the eyes of the Republican Party. Frost and the team of other journalists whom he enlisted for the project hoped that the interviews would culminate with an apology from Nixon and a recognition of his misconduct, essentially acting as the trial he never faced. Barber breaks the play into three distinct sections, detailing that the play “begins with the president’s resignation, and then all the negotiations prior to the interviews, and then we have the actual interviews interspersed with strategy sessions and then the end of Nixon, what really ended his political life, with no chance of rehabilitation when he said, ‘when the president does it, that means it’s not illegal.’”

Frost/Nixon, performed by the Grinnell Community Theatre, will open at the Loft Theatre tonight. Photo by Sara Ruiz.

The Loft Theater, where “Frost/Nixon” will be performed is an intimate space, seating 58. There was no set built for the play, and the locale is suggested only through a change in furniture pieces and an emphasis on different lightings.

Three of the main characters of this production are played by lawyers, with a fourth a radio host and another a professor. All these professions require a degree of acting, presenting or showmanship on a daily basis, and these actors, along with much of the rest of the cast, have been highly involved in the Grinnell acting community for years. This will be Barber’s third directorial venture.

“I knew I had some good actors, and I was looking for a vehicle to allow these actors to shine,” Barber said on how he chose the play. After coming across “Frost/Nixon,” Barber recounts that he was struck by its relevance to his own life.

“In 1974 I watched the resignation, and in 1977, I watched the actual Frost/Nixon interviews, and so it resonated with me. This is part of my history, I demonstrated as a student against Richard Nixon,” he said. “The play allows me to use a lot of music from that time, which is still some of my favorite music.”

“I’ve been asked many many times to what extent did I choose the play because I saw parallels between what’s happening currently in politics in Washington and themes that are prevalent in the play,” Barber continued, stating that although he chose it for other reasons, it is worth referencing the subliminal messages and citing their relevance today and at the time of the play’s debut during the Bush administration. “There are those comparisons to be made but I will leave it to the audience to discern.”

Barber encourages students to attend the play, not only for its dramatic value but for “the insight it offers into a unique period.”


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