It's always interesting to look back on certain moments in history and wonder what you would have done. Would you kill baby Hitler? Launch Apple a few years early?
Clinton Clark's play, "The Beatles Die On Tuesday," takes an interesting trip through history, following an alternate timeline to its logical and powerful conclusion.
"The Beatles Die on Tuesday" tells the story of Johnny, a singer, guitarist and songwriter, and his brother, Alex, who is a painter. They're still reeling from the sudden death of their father and hanging out in the attic listening to his old records when they have an idea. Their father loved codes and hidden messages so much they think he might have left them some sort of note from beyond the grave.
The brothers start playing an old Elvis record backwards searching for meaning when they fall unconscious and wake up in the 1950s. Not just in the 1950s, but in the Sun Records recording studio of Sam Phillips moments before he laid down the first recording of a young Elvis Presley. Johnny acts quickly, and before Elvis can play a single note, he talks Phillips into letting him play one song for him. The song: "Heartbreak Hotel."
Johnny finds instant success with "his" song. Alex thinks what he is doing is wrong, but he accepts it and follows his big brother as Johnny keeps getting more famous, stealing songs from artists all across history. Soon he is the man known for writing "Stairway to Heaven," "Satisfaction," and "Walk Like an Egyptian."
The only deal Johnny makes with Alex is that the Beatles are off limits to his creative theft. But as the 1950s make way for the 1960s, his promise might be difficult to keep.
Local actor/writer Clinton Clark is not just the playwright and co-director of "The Beatles Die On Tuesday," but he's also playing the lead role of Johnny. Fragments and pieces of BDOT have been with Clark for years, since he took a rock history class. "I got really excited about that explosion of music that happened in the fifties and early sixties," says Clark. "Then my senior year I had just got done doing my first play, 'Taming of the Shrew,' and the next project was to write a one-act. So I wrote a 12-page, five-act short play since I'd just done Shakespeare and I thought all plays had five acts. It had all of the basic raw elements."
After many years and dozens of drafts, "BDOT's" world premiere has arrived, marking the tenth world premiere for 2nd Street Theater. Clark doesn't just want BDOT to stop here, however. "I hope this isn't the one and only production of 'The Beatles Die on Tuesday.' I hope people are excited enough about it to do it other places and put it out there in the world."
It's a strong play filled with characters existing in some troublesome moral areas. But no one is all bad or all good: they're just people looking for the best way through life as greed and jealousy grip them tight. Clark is a promising emerging playwright and "The Beatles Die On Tuesday" is a good place to take notice of his voice.
"The Beatles Die On Tuesday"
Aug. 19-Sept. 3, 7:30pm & 3pm
2nd Street Theater, 220 NE Lafayette Ave., Bend