Execution of Justice
Execution of Justice is an ensemble play by Emily Mann chronicling the case of Dan White, who assassinated San Francisco mayor George Moscone and openly gay city supervisor Harvey Milk in November 1978. The play was originally commissioned by the Eureka Theater Company and had an early production by Arena Stage in their 1984/1985 season.
It opened on Broadway on March 13, 1986 with John Spencer playing Dan White and a cast that included Wesley Snipes, Stanley Tucci, Mary McDonnell, and Earle Hyman. In 1999, the play was adapted for television and was awarded the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) Media Award for Outstanding TV Movie in 2000. It is also the winner of the HBO New Plays USA award, the Helen Hayes Award, the Bay Area Critics Circle Award, and it was nominated for a Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Award.
In the play, the trial itself is on trial in the court of theater and is found guilty of a miscarriage of justice, parallelling the actual case which resulted in White being convicted of a lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter, rather than two counts of first-degree murder, and sentenced to less than eight years. The play references the urban legend that White's defense strategy was primarily the so-called "Twinkie defense" — painting his junk food consumption as a significant or even in some versions the sole cause of his actions.
The highly emotional play combines live stage action, videos, taped voices and music including a video camera on stage projecting its image onto large screens throughout the performance which uses the drag nun Sister Boom Boom, an AIDS activist, (played in the original production by Wesley Snipes) as a voice of consciousness representing human rights for all marginalized groups, not just gays.
- Google Books. Samuel French, Inc. 1986. Retrieved 25 November 2008.
- "Arena Stage season listing". Retrieved December 3, 2011.
- Execution of Justice at the Internet Broadway Database
- Kim, Ellen A. (August 22, 2001). "2000 GLAAD Media Awards". Hollywood.com. Retrieved 31 May 2012.
- Pogash, Carol (2003-11-23). "Myth of the 'Twinkie defense': The verdict in the Dan White case wasn't based on his ingestion of junk food". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2007-08-10.
- Snopes: The Twinkie Defense