In the late ’70s, Molly Ivins became the Rocky Mountain Bureau chief for The New York Times, but the writer was Texas through and through, and she returned to that state in 1982 to become a columnist. And she remained a columnist — an incredibly wry, insightful, hilarious columnist — for the next 25 years, until her death from breast cancer in 2007. But this week, Molly Ivins will be back in Denver — as played by Rhonda Brown, our Best Actress in a Comedy in 2012, who’s starring in the one-woman play Red Hot Patriot: The Kick-Ass Wit of Molly Ivins.
Zeik Saidman knew Ivins when he was a community organizer in Fort Worth in the early ’80s, and when he caught the play by twin playwrights Allison and Margaret Engel in Philadelphia, he decided to bring it to Denver. “She was a powerful voice and figure on the national scene,” he says. “I thought it was something Colorado audiences should see.” It took him two and a half years to put a deal together; he was turned down by at least eight theaters, he remembers, “and that’s conservative” — something Ivins never was. But once he had Brian Freeland of the LIDA Project on board as the director and Brown as the star, it took exactly two and a half weeks to raise the money for the production.
That production opens tonight at LIDA’s new home, work|space at the Laundry on Lawrence, 2701 Lawrence Street; performances continue through the weekend. Friday night’s show will be followed by an ACLU-led discussion of First Amendment issues; Saidman and former Denver Post writer Jack Cox will reminisce about Ivins after Saturday night’s show; and I’ll be joined by former Post columnist Diane Carman after Sunday’s performance, for a talk about women in journalism. For performance times and to purchase tickets, $15 to $25, go to lida.org.