Paul for Pete: Politics. Theatre. Life. One Man's Adventures (or, How I Became a Septuagenarian Fanboy) (Paperback)
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Paul Mason Barnes grew up in 1950s Connecticut and 1960s California, the son of loving, Eisenhower Republicans. Moving west when he was in junior high school, Barnes came to terms with his sexual identity during the tumultuous, liberating '60s, lived in San Francisco during the "Summer of Love," and eventually became a high school drama teacher. Never content with the status quo, Barnes left teaching for the professional theatre, and moved to Ashland, Oregon where he met actor-director James Edmondson, his partner of 46 years. It took Pete Buttigieg's campaign for the 2020 Democratic Party presidential nomination to catapult Barnes off the sidelines and into the Pete for America campaign, first as a contributor, next as a grassroots fundraiser, and finally as a member of the PFA Arts Policy Advisory Committee. By the time "Mayor Pete" appeared from the enveloping darkness of the catastrophic, hate-and-fear-fueled Trump years, Barnes had established himself as a versatile, award-winning freelance theatre director, sometimes referred to as "the working-est director in America," with a steady flow of projects at regional theatres, festivals, and university training programs across the country. His travels in America - to directing assignments , campaign stops, and home to Oregon - made his inaugural and well-traveled "fanboy" adventure vivid, visceral, and memorable -- particularly when, midway through the campaign, Barnes's partner experienced a stroke, resulting in expressive aphasia five weeks before Edmondson was to begin rehearsals for Tony Kushner's "Angels in America, Part II: Perestroika," one of the most complex and challenging American plays ever written. Barnes and Edmondson's adjustment to this new chapter in their lives becomes a moving and reverberant thread in the fabric of the fanboy adventure.
"Paul for Pete" has been described as a hero's journey, triggered by Hillary Clinton's loss of the 2016 Electoral College vote and spurred into action when then-Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Pete Buttigieg, appeared on the national political scene. Inspired by Buttigieg's authenticity, intelligence, level-headedness, bedrock values, progressive ideas, wit, and human compassion, Barnes leapt off the high board into the political fray for what turned out to be an inspiring, life-changing 14 months - and more.
Divided into five sections ("Infatuation," "Courtship," "Dating," "Commitment," "Trial Separation") with an extensive Prelude, Interlude, and Epilogue, "Paul for Pete" includes numerous detours and sidebars as Barnes weaves together several remarkable narratives: his own life story, his directing career, and his involvement in an audacious, unlikely political campaign, led by a dynamic and inspiring new voice in American politics.
"Paul for Pete" has been described as a love story, an anthem to taking a chance, an ode to friendship, and essential reading for our times.
About the Author
Paul Mason Barnes is an award-winning theatre director, administrator, and teacher. Inspired to get off the sidelines and leap into the political fray after Hillary Clinton lost the 2016 Electoral College vote, he turned despair into action and became a dedicated volunteer and top grassroots fundraiser for Pete Buttigieg's campaign for the 2020 Democratic Party presidential nomination. He was a member of the Pete for America (PFA) Arts Policy Advisory Committee and, when then-Mayor Pete suspended his campaign, made a lateral transfer to the Biden-Harris APAC. He executed a near-death, 360-degree spin out on black ice returning from a Pete rally in Reno, got lost on a detour during a 10 PM downpour in Louisville on his way to South Bend for Pete's formal declaration of candidacy, and ran into an almost burning building to rescue a "Pete/2020" plastic water bottle before fleeing the climate fire about to engulf his neighborhood, giving new meaning to the term "fanboy."
Barnes's directing work encompasses classics, new work, musicals, and revues. His productions have been seen by audiences from one end of the country to the other, and have been reviewed by the Wall Street Journal ("Authoritative, masterful"), Newsweek ("Superb"), Washington Post ("Lucid, compelling"), Opera News ("Profound"), Denver Post, ("Stirring, wrenching"), Saint Louis Post-Dispatch ("Vivacious, brilliant, bold, impassioned"). He has founded two theatre companies: the Oregon Cabaret Theatre in Ashland, Oregon, and the Great River Shakespeare Festival in Winona, Minnesota, of which he is an Associate Artist, and former Artistic Director. Before that, he served as Conservatory Director/Associate Artistic Director at PCPA Theaterfest-Pacific Conservatory Theatre in Santa Maria, California, Education Director for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and Director of Drama at Lincoln High School in Stockton, California. He is in regular demand as speaker and workshop leader at theatre companies and training programs across the country.
Born on the east coast, but transplanted to the west, where he has spent most of his life, Barnes makes his home in Ashland, Oregon with his partner, actor-director James Edmondson. This is his first foray as an author.