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New play looks at real-life investigation of crack epidemic

Laura Mason


In 1996, Bay Area journalist Gary Webb wrote a series of articles in the San Jose Mercury News proving that in the 80s, the CIA and DEA helped facilitate drug trafficking into the U.S. in order to give Nicaraguan Contra fighters funding to topple the communist Sandinista government.

Webb wrote about how that drug trade helped to fuel a crack epidemic in Los Angeles. His articles were compiled into a book entitled “Dark Alliance” -- and that book helped inspire Superheroes -- a play that’s currently running at the Cutting Ball Theater in San Francisco.

Playwright and director Sean San José joined KALW's Hana Baba in studio to talk about how he translated this story for the stage.

Sean San José: We have either decided or been told that crack is about lunatics taking drugs and going insane. So, if you ever respond to it, from a personal level you are put in that category of a lunatic or a dope fiend. Whatever you want to say, those adjectives around those people, they're people.

Click the audio player above to listen to the interview.

To learn more about the play and get tickets, visit the theater's website.

Alexis Luna-Torres was born and raised in the city of Richmond. She double majored in Journalism and Cultural Communications at New York University. She has worked for social and economic justice with a focus on labor issues. With KALW, Luna-Torres hopes to tell well-researched, artistic stories about the working class and Latino and Chicano culture.
Hana Baba is host of Crosscurrents, KALW's weeknight newsmagazine that broadcasts on KALW Public Radio in the San Francisco Bay Area.