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Leopold & LoebNever The Sinner:
The Leopold & Loeb Story

by John Logan

January 5-27, 2001
Directed by Terry Veal

It seems as though a "Trial of the Century" happens along every decade, but the 1924 case against Leopold and Loeb in Chicago has fascinated writers and filmmakers for seventy-five years - perhaps because it has all the ingredients that make up riveting drama - seduction, deception, and murder.

Although Mr. Logan's play is a courtroom drama, what really moves the plot is how he investigates the question, "Why would two teenagers who have it all - brilliance, wealth, youth - commit the most brutal crime, one that stands apart in its viciousness?"

Leopold & Loeb kidnapped and killed a boy from their affluent Chicago neighborhood. The victim, fourteen-year-old Bobby Franks, was a cousin of Richard Loeb's, but it could have been almost anyone as the two just wanted to experience the thrill of murder.

 

Although they likened themselves to Nietzche's "ubermensch" (supermen), a mistake at the crime scene led to their quick apprehension.

The saga is related in brief scenes that skip between the trial and the developing relationship between the two young men, which results in the crime. The scenes are intercut with reporters and newspaper accounts that hint at the media circus that enveloped the case.

Brilliant attorney Clarence Darrow was on the verge of retiring when he agreed to defend the boys. Much of Darrow's dialogue in the play is derived from trial transcripts. In fact, the play's title is a reference to Darrow's statement: "I can see sin in all the world. And I may well hate that sin, but never the sinner."

Having spent most of his life fighting the death penalty, he used the case as a forum to argue against it and save the young murderers from hanging. The following year, Darrow took on the state of Tennessee in the famous Scopes "Monkey Trial" - which provided the basis for the play "Inherit the Wind".

"Never The Sinner" premiered in Chicago in 1985 and won the Outer Critic's Circle Award for Outstanding Off-Broadway Play in 1998. Earlier film depictions include Alfred Hitchcock's "Rope", which is very loosely based on the crime. 1959's "Compulsion" dramatized a master-slave relationship between the murderers, and the 1990's version was the sexually charged independent film, "Swoon".

     

In speaking about including "Never The Sinner" in Carpenter Square Theatre's 17th Season, Artistic Director Rhonda Clark explains: "It immediately impressed our entire play selection committee. It was riveting to read and seemed a powerful piece to stage in our intimate theatre-in-the-round. Although the case occurred in the 1920's, it is a contemporary play, and we saw the relevance to current issues - teenagers committing senseless acts of violence, media sensationalism, and America's ongoing debate about the death penalty, especially for youthful offenders. The story was a vivid reminder that 'the more things change, the more they stay the same'. It's fascinating. It is provocative subject matter. It is a show that other Oklahoma theatres would not attempt. In short, we had to do it!"

In his introduction to the script, playwright John Logan says, "To say that Leopold and Loeb were 'monsters' is too easy. To say that they were 'evil' is too facile. I find Darrow's tact more relevant. Leopold and Loeb were human beings. Just like the rest of us. THey were tormented. They were brutal. They lacked any true moral, ethical compass. They could not find their way in our sunlit world, so they embraced the darkness. In that darkness, they had only each other."

 

 THE CAST


Nathan Leopold, Jr.

Scott Meek

Richard Loeb Rob Gallavan
Clarence Darrow Monty Lewis
Robert Crowe Jon Womastek
Reporter 1 Joshua Jamison Irick
Reporter 2 Deanna Gallavan
Reporter 3 Robert Curry

THE CREW:

Director Terry Veal
Set Design &
Tech Director
Tom Harrington
Stage Manager & Light Operator Bob Bates
Costume Design Deborah Heap of Birds
Sound Design & Operator Cecil Peaden
Light Design Steven Gillmore
Running Crew Lyn Bates
Jennifer Coon
.

 SPECIAL THANKS TO

Melody Harrington - Doobie Potter - Marilyn & Addie Veal - Jo Perryman - Drew Barlow/Espree Communications - Mark Edwards / City Manager of Del City - Taylor News & Books - Delores Hale at Hale Photo Supply - Darrell at ABC Furniture - Tuxedo Specialists


Produced by special arrangement with Samuel French, Inc.

 


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