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 Focus on the Masters Benefit Screening & Talk Back with Peter Askin


Based on the Play by Christopher Trumbo
Directed by Peter Askin

Ojai Playhouse Theater -  145 S. Ojai Ave., Ojai
January 11, 2014 - 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

Purchase Tickets Below:

$20.00 FOTM Members
(click button to the right) 
$25.00 Non-FOTM Members (click button to the right)   
$10.00 Students - with valid ID (click button to the right) 

or call 805.653.2501

Click here to view the trailer Trumbo.
Director Peter Askin interviewed on KCLU with Lance Orozco! Click here to listen.

The public is invited to view the celebrated film Trumbo at the Ojai Playhouse, January 11 from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. as a benefit for Focus on the Masters (FOTM) arts education outreach.  Based on the play Trumbo: Red White and Blacklisted written by Ojai resident and FOTM documented subject, Christopher Trumbo (1940-2011) and directed by Peter Askin, who also produced and directed the play. Mr. Askin will be present and will offer insight into the making of the film.

Trumbo focuses on the life of two-time Academy Award winning writer Dalton Trumbo (1905-1976), and the effects of the blacklist on his friends and family. Trumbo, once the highest paid writer in Hollywood, was one of the 19 Hollywood artists subpoenaed by the House Committee on Un-American Activities in October 1947.   Ten of those who testified refused to answer the committee’s questions about their political and guild affiliations. The “Hollywood Ten” were cited for contempt of Congress, tried, convicted, and blacklisted by the movie industry.

Dalton Trumbo’s letters, archive photos, newsreels and interviews, provide viewers a compelling view of one of the darkest chapter’s in American history, during which Trumbo was imprisoned, impoverished, and sought exile in Mexico.  For ten years, under assumed names and behind fronts, he wrote dozens of scripts for a relative pittance. Christopher and Peter have masterfully intermixed Trumbo’s letters and the commentaries of experts.  The actors featured in the film reading Trumbo’s letters include Donald Sutherland, Michael Douglas, Nathan Lane, Joan Allen, Liam Neeson, Paul Giamatti, Brian Dennehy and David Strathairn, among others.

Christopher Trumbo’s decision to become a writer was a bow to the inevitable and an embrace of the familiar. As the only son of Dalton Trumbo, Christopher, in his words was “prematurely aware and hyper vigilant.” A recognized authority on the 1950's Blacklist Era, he was frequently interviewed and appeared in numerous documentaries on the subject. Chris's efforts, including this film, helped make an otherwise incomprehensible period in American history accessible to the average person.

In 2005, FOTM compiled a digital archive of Christopher’s life and work, consisting of recorded oral histories, written material, videotaped interview, photographs and various ephemera. At the time of his death, Christopher had been writing a memoir and history of the Hollywood blacklist.  Larry Ceplair, Christopher’s close friend, completed the book, which will be published in 2014.  A feature film starring Bryan Cranston as Trumbo will begin filming in 2014.

Focus on the Masters is an arts education program documenting contemporary artists.  As with each documented subject, FOTM strives to bring the humanity behind the creative process to life – both in public outreach and through cross curricular in school programing.

The History Behind Trumbo

There have been many stories written about the Blacklist and the McCarthy Era, but few directly and intimately illustrate those families' plights from the inside. Those stories are the tales of the families who stayed together while weathering the 13 year political hurricane. From 1947 to 1960, during the most formative years of Christopher's life, the Trumbo family endured extraordinary hardships.

1998 was the 50th Anniversary of the Blacklist. To commemorate this dark period in history, the First Amendment/Blacklist Project Committee was formed, to commission a public artwork by Jenny Holzer that would be a permanent monument to the Hollywood 10.  Chris’s wife Nancy Escher, a member of the committee, encouraged him to develop an idea he had for a one man play based on his father’s letters previously published in Additional Dialogue;  : The Letters of Dalton Trumbo 1942-1962.  The play raised money for Holzer's sculpture and was installed outside the Fischer Art Gallery at USC.  

Click here to see Blacklist.

Steve Martin’s reading inspired Christopher to refine the play. It was then produced for radio by L.A. Theaterworks and eventually made it its way to New York’s Westside Theatre, where Peter Askin produced and directed the play in 2003.   Trumbo: Red, White and Blacklisted, starring Nathan Lane, opened to rave reviews and over the next year, many actors jumped at the opportunity to bring Chris's play to life. Actors such as Ed Harris, Richard Dreyfuss, Brian Dennehy, Gore Vidal, Bill Irwin, Tim Robbins, Eddie Izzard, Christopher Lloyd, Michael Richards, Paul Newman, Peter Strauss, Joe Mantegna, and Studs Terkel. Brian Dennehy starred in the national tour.  In 2008 Askin adapted the play into a documentary feature film simply titled Trumbo.  “We are delighted that Peter will be present for this Ojai screening.” Nancy said.