Newly minted political celebrity Wendy Davis made the rounds of several Sunday morning talk shows last weekend to discuss her now-legendary 11-hour filibuster of an omnibus abortion restrictions bill in the state legislature. For her appearance on the ABC News show This Week with George Stephanopoulos, the interview was filmed in the lobby of the venerable Fort Worth theater company Stage West.

This was appropriate for two reasons: First, Davis’ father is the company’s founder and artistic director emeritus Jerry Russell, who’s been a familiar face to North Texas theatergoers for the hundreds of stage roles he’s played over the decades. But Static also wonders if there’s another, less obvious connection between Davis’ marathon Austin standoff and her dad’s theatrical career: With his craggy face and soothing deep-rumble voice, Russell has always had a knack for playing no-nonsense crusaders defending controversial causes. Indeed, one of his favorite roles is the iconic liberal trial lawyer in playwright David Rintels’ one-man show Clarence Darrow. Russell has played the part three times –– in the 1980s, the 2000s, and just this past spring to open Stage West’s new studio performance space.

Russell earned rave reviews for his last go-around with Darrow, a bravura solo turn that calls for him to plead the lawyer’s case directly to the audience on all kinds of hot-button issues, including workers’ rights and, most famously, the teaching of evolution in the so-called Scopes Monkey Trial of 1925. Did Russell’s long-standing artistic love affair with Darrow influence his daughter’s own spirited (but considerably longer) solo performance at the state capitol last week? Let’s just say there’s a thin line between politics and theater, and both passions tend to run in the blood.



Low Blow on Wendy

Static is all about freedom of speech, passionate debate, and maintaining an open mind. For instance, pro-lifers make a good case. As do pro-deathers, er, pro-choicers. Then, everyone votes their conscience, and new laws are born. Or they’re delayed by a filibuster. Whatever.

So it stains the sanctity of the democratic process when an anonymous someone comes along and creates a website such as The Real Wendy Davis (A closer look at the Left’s new feminist superhero). Does the site scrutinize Davis’ voting record, platform, or political ambitions? Nope, it casts aspersions on Davis in the most superficial way possible: by scrutinizing her looks. The blogger compares an old yearbook photo to a current photo, claims she’s hotter now in her 50s than she was in her 20s, and theorizes that she must be on a quest to become a “superfake Human Barbie Doll.”

The blogger then wonders how a so-called feminist “posing” as a women’s rights champion could spend such an “unusual amount of attention to her physical appearance.”

With that kind of logic, Static bets the blogger must be really ugly –– on the inside.