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The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts announces that The West Wing’s Melissa Fitzgerald and Martin Sheen will reunite to perform A.R. Gurney’s Love Letters in celebration of Recovery Month. Directed by Cameron Watson, Love Letters will be performed September 28 at 7:30 p.m. and September 30 at 1:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. in the Terrace Theater.
For more than two decades, Martin Sheen has been among the most ardent public champions of treatment courts, specialized programs that deliver treatment and recovery support to individuals in the justice system due to substance use and mental health disorders. In 2011, Sheen invited his former West Wing colleague and dear friend Melissa Fitzgerald—who had recently lost someone close to her to a substance use disorder—to Washington, D.C. to attend RISE, the annual training conference for treatment court professionals. The experience of being around thousands of dedicated public health and public safety leaders on the front lines of justice reform was transformative. A year later, Fitzgerald made the decision to leave Hollywood and move to Washington, D.C. to work for All Rise where she has spent the last decade championing treatment courts and fighting for justice reform.
In 2020, Fitzgerald and Sheen began work on a production of A.R. Gurney’s two-person play, Love Letters, to be performed at RISE. When the COVID-19 pandemic shut down in-person events, they pivoted and performed the play virtually during Recovery Month as a thank-you to public health and public safety professionals working in treatment courts. Now, the pair will reunite to perform the play in-person for the first time at the Kennedy Center.
“I was so honored when Martin asked me to perform Love Letters with him back in 2020. Then the pandemic happened, and we weren’t sure it would ever see the stage. Now, it’s the joy of a lifetime to be able to perform this play with Martin Sheen at the Kennedy Center,” said Melissa Fitzgerald. “For years, Martin and I have collaborated to advocate for expanding treatment and recovery for people with substance use and mental health disorders in the justice system and we continue to find resonance in the story of Love Letters. I am excited to finally share it with the public and so happy to do so during Recovery Month.”
“I’m thrilled to be returning to the Kennedy Center to reunite with my West Wing colleague and friend, Melissa. I can think of no better time for this performance than during Recovery Month. Love Letters is a poignant call to compassion, to empathy, to finding our common humanity through struggle and through love,” said Martin Sheen.
A unique and imaginative theater piece by A.R. Gurney, Love Letters is composed of letters exchanged over a lifetime between two people who grew up together, went their separate ways, but continued to share confidences. As the actors read the letters aloud, what is created is an evocative, touching, frequently funny but always telling pair of character studies in which what is implied is as revealing and meaningful as what is actually written down.