Auditorium Theatre Hosts A CONVERSATION WITH PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON Review– The President’s President is Missing

Photo credit: Courtesy of Innovation Arts & Entertainment

Welcome to The Auditorium Theatre

The Auditorium Theatre is abuzz with excitement. People are running around buying books, buying drinks, talking about recent political issues that they hope President Clinton will discuss, and there are even a couple of little kids running around with VIP lanyards who are excited-even if they don’t know the full gravity of the situation.

Upon entering the space you can’t help but take note of famous composers listed on either side of the stage. Verdi, Mozart, Beethovan, Gonaud, and so forth are immortalized in gold pulling focus from the two empty chairs under a spotlight. As people fill in ushers and supervisors run around making sure everything is ready to go. Finally the moment that brought everyone out tonight is about to happen. Two Secret Service Agents walk out and take a position at either side of the stage as the stage lights shift so the curtains turn red and blue as Bob Barnett and President Clinton come out all smiles and waves. The crowd jumps to their feet-aside from one man who stays in his seat and shakes his head.

Barnett promises us that this will not be a news interview, a gotcha interview, or a political interview. Instead it will be entertaining. “Having an event in Chicago that’s not political is an oxymoron,” Clinton interjected as the audience laughed and applauded.

The President is Missing

The interview is essentially broken into three parts. The book Clinton wrote with James Patterson (and easily segues between current events and things that still weigh on Clinton from his terms), a more direct discussion on current events, and a speed round of rapid fire questions.

The book, The President is Missing, started out as a Barnett’s idea. Clinton wasn’t so sure that Patterson would even want to work with him as “It’d be like taking on an apprentice or something.”

They worked back and forth on an outline but ultimately Patterson came up with the idea to have the President go missing. He asked Clinton if it could be to which he said, “Yeah. It’s harder than you think and no president has ever done it for any length of time." Clinton went on to tell the story of how he and a Canadian Prime Minister climbed a wall at a GA Meeting to get four minutes of freedom.

When asked about the book’s assassin, Bach, and a majority of other positions of power, being women, Clinton said, “First of all, I think historically they’ve been underrepresented in important Government jobs. As you know I did my best to remedy that [in] 2016.” Clinton went on, “I did it because I thought it would make the book more interesting and more credible because women are rising rapidly in all fields. In every one of these categories there are qualified women.”

Clinton mentions a critic who felt the Bach wasn’t credible because she was interesting and female. “Bach came out of the horrors of the Balkan Wars. Many brilliant gifted people, who were deprived of a normal childhood, deprived of normal education, deprived of career opportunities, and deeply scarred by what they went through who wound up doing a number of relatively unconventional things. I think that she could really exist.”

Clinton goes on to discuss how they finished the book and went back in because they wanted to make Bach more realistic.  Then, James added another twist.

“You will never go wrong overestimating your adversaries. If your adversary is dumb, lazy, crooked, you don’t win anything,” Clinton continued. “But if you overestimate your adversaries you’ll over prepare and you’ll have a slight advantage.”

“My one citizen objective here is this--  I hope when people read this, without regard to party, they will support a significant increase in investment in cyber security,” Clinton said.

The book has been on The New York Times Best Sellers List for two weeks and Showtime is working on a television adaptation.

Beyond the Book

The book discussion kept lending itself to cyber terrorism due to it being a major plot point, and the reason the fictional President goes missing within the novel. This naturally led to what it was like to be President when having to deal with national threats and weighing the greater good. Clinton gave numerous examples from his own presidencies and said that at the end you “Just get up everyday and do the best you can.”

After the applause died down at the mention of Hilary Clinton, he said, “She’s doing great. She’s in Dublin today. She accidentally Facetimed me so I got to talk to her. She’s having a good time in Ireland.” He went on to talk about how Brexit is jeopardizing The Good Friday Agreement that they both worked hard on twenty years ago before giving the rest of her travel itinerary.

This writer noticed that when asked about the immigrant children being placed into camps, Clinton got very serious, shedding his Southern charm and easiness.  He then said, “It’s wrong, it’s immoral, it’s not required by the law. Children should not be bargaining chips.”

Clinton encouraged people to turn out and vote in the midterm elections reminding them that “If you don’t vote you can’t complain.”

For more information on this book, visit The President is Missing website

The Auditorium Theatre has been increasing the number of speaking events on its calendar, alongside the roster of music, dance, theater and more.  To keep up with the new events the Auditorium Theatre is hosting, bookmark the Auditorium Theatre website.

Sharai Bohannon

About the Author

Sharai Bohannon is a playwright, and an avid theatre practitioner, who is very excited to write about most things but especially Chicago Theatre. She has a background in journalism and technical theatre and is excited that those degrees will be put to use in a way that gives her an excuse to leave her couch and brave this “outside” that people keep telling her about. When not on her couch watching TV, she can be found working one of her multiple jobs and/or hunting down a happy hour near you. Read some of Sharai Bohannon’s New Works on New Play Exchange.

Read more Picture this Post reviews by Sharai Bohannon here.

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