Act One presents L.A. Theatre Works’ production of Top Secret: The Battle for the Pentagon Papers.
This historical docudrama, written by Geoffrey Cowan and Leroy Aarons, takes an inside look at The Washington Post’s controversial decision to publish a top secret study detailing U.S. involvement in Vietnam.
This new 2007 production explores the tension between the public’s right to know and the government’s need for secrecy in the name of national security. In 1966, United States Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara commissioned a study on the history of U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. The report was completed on Jan.15, 1969, and included information about the administration efforts to manipulate military information. In 1971, one of only 15 copies was leaked to The New York Times newspaper.
The Times published the story on June 13, 1971, and the Nixon administration quickly silenced the newspaper with a restraining order two days later. The Pentagon Papers were then leaked to The Washington Post, whose editors had only one day to read the two million-word document and determine if the sensitive material should be published.
L.A. Theatre Works brings these important days to life in Top Secret: The Battle for the Pentagon Papers. This play highlights the struggles The Washington Post faced in making the decision to publish classified documents and the legal repercussions that followed. The resulting trial led to the historic decision that re-affirmed First Amendment rights.