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Directing Assassins: A Note from Bob Navis Jr

By: Near West Theatre | Jul 06, 2016

A note from Assassins Director, Bob Navis Jr:

Directing Assassins has created a shift within me, a haunting calling to consider the story behind every face that walks our planet, and the validity of every person’s unique history. All of us have our own very personal life’s journey and we share the basic need to be seen, heard and understood.

Nothing can take the place of being known and valued, at home, at work, in family and in community. When our lives are terrorized by acts of violence, we blame guns, politics, discrimination, injustice, mental illness and all the rest. But these extremist acts are often born of lives lived in extreme shame and defeat or cultural and religious superiority; desperate poverty or a fanatical sense of privilege; isolated invisibility or an addictive need to be noticed, put on a pedestal and stand in the spotlight, whatever the means, however briefly.

Our wars over ideology, religion and politics have taken the place of learning and knowing who our neighbors are. And when we don’t know who our neighbors are, locally and globally, we will constantly and regularly be “shocked” by extreme acts of violence on the news and on our streets.

In deconstructing the history of any act of violence, we come to know the stories that reveal the humanity behind the inhumanity. All violence happens for a reason, usually layers of reasons. All shootings are motivated. So, too, are the many acts of compassion and support that follow horrific events.

What motivates you? What motivates America? What motivates the leaders you vote for? As Americans, why do we think and act the way we do?

As long as the answer is “because we’re the greatest country in the world” or “because we’re right” or “because we’re God’s chosen nation,” we will suffer attacks from those who reject the not-so-subtle demeaning message inherent in that faux “patriotic” mind-set.

Assassins, the musical, asks us to have a place in our hearts for all individuals, all ideologies, all nations; to invest time in learning about, understanding and appreciating other religions, political systems, races, sexualities and nationalities; to stay curious about people’s feelings and experiences, not pontificate our way through life, assuming we “get it” when we clearly do not.

The world sees America differently than many Americans do. We need to understand that difference. We need to listen. We need to learn. Listening and learning creates an openness that breeds care, empathy, healthy perspective and loving action.

Love can heal us. Love can join us. Love can free us. Let’s open our hearts and let each other in.

I encourage everyone who comes to see our show to talk to cast members about their feelings and experiences of discovering this musical and its relevance to the times we live in. They are a complex and thoughtful group of young people who continually delight and inspire me. In their hands, a more compassionate and educated America will help free us from our addictions to extremism and violence of every kind.

In their eyes is the hope we all seek.


Bob Navis Jr
Artistic Director, Near West Theatre


Assassins opens Friday July 15th and runs till Sunday July 31st. To order tickets give our Box Office a call at 216-961-6391 Monday-Friday from 11am-4pm. Or order your tickets online here. 

And please join us for our post-show Assassins Talkback on Friday, July 29th. This Talkback is FREE and open to all, even if you do not attend the show that evening. It will begin after that evening’s show concludes. This Talkback will focus on the production itself, and its commentary on the American Dream, social and economic disparities in the U.S., and gun violence.

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