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New Play About Escalation Of The Vietnam War Comes To Oregon


“It will devastate two countries. It will topple the President of the United States. It will kill two million people. And one man will try to stop it before it begins.”

That’s how Bellingham TheatreWorks describes “The Ghosts of Tonkin,” a new play by Washington playwright Steve Lyons. The historical figure at the center of the drama is Oregon Senator Wayne Morse. In 1964, he was one of just two votes in Congress to oppose the Gulf of Tonkin resolution, which catapulted the U.S. into the Vietnam War by authorizing military action there.


Steve Lyons says he didn’t write it with the 50th anniversary of the historic vote in mind. Rather, he began the project as the Iraq War was ramping up, because he says he saw a great many parallels between the way that war began and the start of the war in Vietnam. “The Ghosts of Tonkin” is one of a number of events celebrating the life and legacy of Wayne Morse. The play debuted in Bellingham and will open in Oregon this Saturday night at Portland State University.

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