Renegade Theater Company’s production of ASSASSINS opens on Thursday, September 1st! This multiple Tony Award-winning theatrical tour-de-force combines intelligent, stunning lyrics and beautiful music with a sweeping, darkly comic, and timely tale of our nation’s culture of celebrity and the violent means some will use to obtain it.
ASSASSINS takes a harrowing look at our nation’s culture of celebrity and the violent means some will use to obtain it. Unflinching and daring, the show doesn’t aim to create sympathy. Instead, it asks audiences to dig deeper, to look beyond the one-dimensional monster to see the person inside in an effort to understand why some are compelled to kill.
To prepare audiences for a musical experience unlike any other, we’re going to devote some blog time to introducing you to the Assassins, as well as to the members of the local community tackling the roles. Next up, Sam Byck as played by Matthew Smith!
Sam Byck, a high school dropout and ex-army soldier, had been down on his luck for some time when he decided to try to “take back the government” for the people, by assassinating the president. His wife had left him two years before, taking their kids as well. He also was having trouble keeping a job and recently had been rejected by the U.S. Small Business Administration for a loan to start his own business, something he was extremely bitter about.
As such, Byck decided a revolution was needed to fix the rampant corruption he perceived, with politicians being more concerned about keeping special interests happy, rather than helping actual American citizens. He also believed the government was conspiring with those special interests to keep people poor.
Luckily for the rest of the passengers on the plane, Nixon, and White House staffers, Byck’s plan was fairly poorly conceived in terms of its execution. Byck made a “bomb”, which was two Valvoline containers filled with gasoline placed inside a suitcase. Obviously this wouldn’t be the most effective incendiary device, especially since it didn’t actually include any means of detonating it.
The bomb wasn’t the only crowd control item he brought with him in his attempt; he also brought a gun. He stole a Smith and Wesson .22 caliber from a friend and pocketed around 40 rounds of ammunition to take with him in his assassination attempt.
On the morning of February 22, 1974, he made his way to the Baltimore / Washington International Airport. Once there, rather than attempt to get on the plane without drawing attention to himself, he encountered a Police Officer, George Neal Ramsburg, in the terminal and shot him in the back, killing him. Had Byck not done this, he may have managed to get on the plane without causing a scene and perhaps could have waited to hijack it until after it was in the air.
In any event, after killing Ramsburg, he ran to a Delta Airlines’ plane, a McDonnell Douglas DC-9. Byck chose this plane as it was about to depart, with passengers in the final stages of boarding.
Another police officer, responding to shots fired, grabbed the fallen Officer Ramsburg’s .357 Magnum and chased after Byck. He did not, however, get to Byck in time and when he first spotted Byck, he was already aboard the plane.
Once on the plane, Byck entered the cockpit and told the pilots he had a bomb and that he wanted them to take off. Before they had a chance to respond, he pointed his gun at the co-pilot, Fred Jones, and shot him in the head. At this point, the pilot, Reese Loftin, decided it would be a good idea to do what Byck told him to do, so he started the engines.
Byck left the cockpit temporarily and then came back and again to shoot the co-pilot a second time, even though he was already dead. He then shot Loftin in the back, at which point the pilot told Byck the doors needed to be closed in order for them to take off, which got rid of Byck temporarily and allowed the pilot to call for help from air traffic control.
This is the point when the officer chasing after Byck spotted him in the plane, with two stewardesses attempting to shut the door at the time. Before they were able to, the officer fired a pair of shots at Byck before the door swung shut, none of which connected. Upon returning to the cockpit after having the doors closed, Byck proceeded to shoot the dead co-pilot a third time and the pilot two more times.
Lucky for the pilot, who ultimately survived, Byck did not get the opportunity to shoot him a fourth time. The officer that had been shooting at Byck managed to hit him at fairly close range through the aircraft door when he saw Byck stand in front of a porthole. After being shot, Byck staggered back and the officer emptied his clip through the door.
Three days later, a letter arrived at the Miami News desk, written by Byck, stating his reasons for the assassination attempt:
It has become evident to me that this government that I love, dearly, will not respond to the needs of the majority of the American citizens.
The majority of the people in government, so called “Public Servants”, are financed by special interest groups and if they are servants, they are servants to these groups.
Now is the time! Independent-minded citizens must take back the government before their government takes complete control of them all.
I, for one, will not live in a controlled society and I would rather die as a free-man than live like a sheep.
Power to the People,
(Courtesy of TodayIFoundOut.com)