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A Son Confronts Moscone's 'Ghost' On Stage

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As the artistic director of the California Shakespeare Theater, Jonathan Moscone has told a lot of stories on stage but never his own father's — until now.

Moscone was 14 when his father, San Francisco Mayor George Moscone, was murdered.

For decades, the younger Moscone saw a legend grow up around city supervisor Harvey Milk, who was also gunned down that day. Milk became a gay rights icon, and his story became the subject of plays, documentaries and films. Moscone's story, however, remained largely untold.

While visiting the set of director Gus Van Sant's 2008 bio-pic Milk, Jonathan Moscone decided to change that. It happened when he saw actor Victor Garber, who played his father in the film, mess up one of his lines.

"And Gus Van Sant said, 'Don't worry, this is just a montage,'" Moscone tells weekends on All Things Considered guest host Laura Sullivan.

Moscone wondered what he could do that wouldn't make his father's story "part of a montage in the life of somebody else's story."

He soon decided to create his own play. Ghost Light is a play-within-a-play, in which the lead character, Jon, deals with the death of his father while staging a version of Hamlet.

Moscone says it was through playwright Tony Taccone's words that he was finally able to confront the feelings that had remained "suppressed under the cloak of mourning and loss."

"And now that those have been uncloaked," he says, "I feel like things are in the room where things used to be in the closet. And I guess that's a good thing."

Ghost Light is playing at the Oregon Shakespeare Film Festival through Nov. 5.

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