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Theatre / Kennedy's Children

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Kennedy's Children is a stage play written by American playwright Robert Patrick in 1976. It consists of five intertwining monologues, given by five people, all relating their experiences during The '60s. They all gather at Valentine's day 1974. The five are:

  • Rona, a New-Age Retro Hippie, who tells in chronological order of her life as a political activist, from 1960 to 1969, and lamenting how the movement slowly decayed and collapsed in drug abuse.
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  • Wanda, a teacher of disabled children, who saw the assassination of John F. Kennedy as the pivotal point in her life, and who laments the loss of innocence in her country after the Kennedy years.
  • Carla, a B-movie actress, who wishes, more than anything else, to be the next Marilyn Monroe.
  • Sparger, a Flamboyant Gay actor, lost in the constant work on small, off Broadway stages.
  • Mark, a Shell-Shocked Veteran from The Vietnam War, coping with drug abuse and not coming free from his war memories.
  • There is also a bartender present, quietly serving drinks.

The monologues intertwine, but none of them adress the others, all of them are rambling on their own lives - but the interlacement gives a rather meaningful picture of the era.


  • The American Dream: Deconstructed, subverted and pissed upon. Wanda, the most average of the lot, states that the dream died with Kennedy.
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  • Barefoot Poverty: Rona explains why the hippies used sandals. They couldn't afford anything else.
  • Big Apple Sauce: The bar is sited somewhere on the Lower East Side.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: None of the characters adress eachother, but they clearly adress the audience. Only Sparger, at first, seems to adress the bartender. A TV production of the play had the actors looking more or less at the camera all the time.
  • Broken Bird: Pretty much all of them.
    • When you consider the five to represent five varieties of common Americans at the time (all of them white though), the brokenness might be interpreted to span the entire country.
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: Mark. His monologue often disintegrates into fragmented sentences, and he often pauses because he is losing his train of thought. Justified because of his experience. At the end, he states that his army mentor, Chick, is a traitor, because he shot a VC.
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  • Conspiracy Theorist: Touched upon several times. Robbie, Rona's husband, clearly is one. Mark likewise, being Properly Paranoid after his war experience. Even Wanda gets into it at one point, more on the question of Who Shot Jfk.
  • Crapsack World: The premise of the play is that the United States have lost something, and all of the characters feel they live in one.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Sparger, at first.
  • Determinator: At the end of the play, each of the characters decide to struggle on. Mark is the only one to get up and leave the place, insistent on building his life up again. Carla is determined on her goals, and Rona still thinks her cause has a chance.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: All of them drink the night away.
  • End of an Age: Discussed in several ways. For Wanda, the age ended with the death of Kennedy. For Rona, it ended with the Kent State Massacre.
  • Enemy Within: Mark discusses whether the VC or his own commanders are the real enemy, or whether the Viet Cong really are rogue Americans, surgically altered to resemble Vietnamese.
  • The Everyman: Wanda more than the others. She is the only one without any particular quirks or traits.
  • Flamboyant Gay: Sparger.
  • Glasses Pull: Sparger begins with his Cool Shades on, in spite of the rain outside. As his monologue progresses, he takes them off, as he slowly becomes more sincere.
  • Gorn: Sparger relates how his mentor Buffo killed himself with an axe.
  • Granola Girl: Rona. It comes with the hippie staple.
  • Gray Rain of Depression: All the time. Justified because the New York weather in february usually boils down to this.
  • Heroic BSoD: Rona and Mark in different ways. Mark snaps out of it. Robbie (married to Rona), seems to have an extreme case of it, having given up on every cause altogether. Rona, while drinking night away, still has some hope of reviving her cause. The case of Robbie is so severe that he drags her down with him, causing her to flee to the bar instead. When she tries to comfort him, his only answer tends to be:
    Whatever. Who do you wish me to be? Lee Harvey Oswald?
    • Wanda states that the entire nation invoked it for a while after the Dallas assassination.
  • Higher Understanding Through Drugs: Rona, but her husband Robbie even more so. Most blatantly when he went all the way down to Dallas to take LSD at the murder site of President Kennedy, to get a broader understanding of the incident. Robbie's antics in the period, as told by Rona, makes him much of an Erudite Stoner.
  • I Just Want to Be Special: Carla. And damn does she work hard for it as well. But she has ended up at the B-rating because she is unwilling to get laid for the sake of success, although she did it once. The memory of that experience sends her straight to the bathroom.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: All five of them.
  • It's All About Me: All of them.
  • Mind Screw: Most of the theatrical productions Sparger has been involved in, is so experimental that his re-tellings verges on this. As an actor, he is clearly on the modernist level. Thus, he works a a foil to Carla, who wishes to excel in fame and stardom. Not that anyone of them succeeds.
  • New-Age Retro Hippie: Rona, still wearing her original hippie clothes in The '70s.
  • Non Sequitur: Ever so often when one character continues his or her dialogue after another stops for a moment. Because their lives differ greatly, this is bound to happen. Also because none of them seem to be aware of the others. Sometimes, this is replaced by an Answer Cut.
  • The Paranoiac: Mark is really far out after his Vietnam experience.
  • The Quiet One: The bartender, whose only role seems to be as The Confidant, while constantly filling up their glasses.
  • Rape as Drama: Sparger, being a teenage crossdresser, was nearly raped by a couple of sailors, and then beaten when they understood he was not a girl.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: Most visible is the Kennedy assassination. Then, there is a mention of the murders of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King. Also a lot of protest marches, the Kent state massacre, the May riots in Paris and so on. Rona is the worst offender on this.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: Mark, and you can hardly blame him.
  • Shout-Out: Camelot, mentioned by Wanda. She compares the ideal picture of the Kennedy couple with the play, and the loss of the "good president" as similar to the passing of the Arthurian age. The reveals that the Kennedy couple, and the life of the president, was not so glamorous after all, does not sit well with her.
    • The play also shouts out to a lot of musical phenomena, and a number of bands.
  • Sleeping Their Way to the Top: Carla states that too many girls in her position have done this. She tried it once. If anything made her a Broken Bird, it was that experience.
  • Speech-Centric Work: This one is a prominent example.
  • The Stoner: Mark. He picked up the habit in Vietnam.
  • Stylistic Suck: Sparger admits that many of his productions are like this.
  • Suddenly Sober: Sparger comments that he has had so much to drink, he is drinking himself to sobriety. That is when he decides his time there is up.
  • Vomit Discretion Shot: Three of the characters run for the bathroom in succession, when their memories overwhelm them.
  • We ARE Struggling Together: The political situation as it evolved after 1970, boils down to this, according to Rona, stating that the Civil Rights Movement (the blacks) and the Indians both have dumped the hippies, although their cause seems to be the same. No wonder she is a little bit down.
  • Who Shot JFK?: Wanda airs some theories on that subject, verging on a massive Gambit Pileup, when considering who did it: Oswald, the Mafia, the CIA, the Cubans, the Soviets, or all of them combined.
  • You All Meet in an Inn: The setting, although the characters don't really meet.
  • You Keep Using That Word: Rona is pretty clear on this. The term "hippie" was reckoned as a derogatory term inside the movement itself, and they accepted it with reluctance.
  • You Know What They Say About X...: Rona's sister freaked out when she came home as a hippie. She had deduced from the news that the hippies beat up people because they were constantly in trouble with the police force.

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