L.A. Theatre Works will stage a revised 1991 play on the Pentagon Papers case

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War and secrecy are longtime companions, for reasons that can include protecting the lives of soldiers and protecting the reputation of a government that has lied about why and how a war is being conducted. When the news media chooses to break that secrecy in the public interest, a battle is often joined over the 1st Amendment, as was the case with the unauthorized release of the Pentagon Papers in 1971, a historic event that writers Geoffrey Cowan and the late Leroy Aarons turned into a radio play.

L.A. Theatre Works is reviving "Top Secret: The Battle for the Pentagon Papers," with performances at the Skirball Cultural Center today through Sunday.

The putative secrecy of the Bush administration during the Iraq war has reminded some, including L.A. Theatre Works producer Susan Loewenberg, of the continuing relevance of the Pentagon Papers case and "Top Secret." Last year, she and Cowan and actor-director John Rubenstein decided to revise the play for a new production that has been performed at 23 universities and cultural centers across the country before its last stop back home in Los Angeles.

"We've had time to work on it and think about it," Loewenberg says. "As a piece of theater it's better and more elaborate" than the original, produced during the 1991 Persian Gulf War.

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