Welcome to the second play in TimeLine Theatre’s 18th season—the Chicago premiere and second-ever production of Danny Casolaro Died For You.
Playwright Dominic Orlando approaches this story from a very personal perspective. He was a cousin of the real Danny Casolaro, who was found dead with his wrists slashed in a hotel bathtub in 1991, eliciting a swirl of controversy and argument over the official medical ruling of suicide.
Danny’s notoriety as a freelance journalist stemmed from a sprawling scandal he was investigating at the time of his death—a story he called “The Octopus” due to its numerous tentacles. It’s a fitting name not only for his reporting, but also for his cousin Dominic’s script. (It should be noted that Dominic is not the cousin portrayed in the play.)
When TimeLine’s Company Members first read this fascinating, breathtaking and intricate play, we all found ourselves immediately jumping online to read more about Danny and what he had been investigating. From there, it was impossible not to dig further, getting sucked into page after page showing how deep this international cabal may have led.
It starts with a software manufacturer accusing the Justice Department of stealing its work, extends to key figures tied to allegations about the “October Surprise” of the 1980 presidential election, connects to the collapse of the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI), and even links to Iran-Contra. Danny’s Octopus is far-reaching and mind spinning in its movie-like intrigue. And it’s now encapsulated in an equally complex piece of theater.
With scandals this entangled, it’s understandable to be overwhelmed by the quest for truth. Many might give up the hunt—either out of confusion, or perhaps, because ultimately it’s more palatable to be ignorant of the grotesque details. In our age of Edward Snowden exposés, rampant government corruption, and abysmal politician approval ratings, I sense a mounting fatigue and an inclination to groan and concede that we can’t take any more. We just don’t want to know.
It’s that very concession that is at the heart of Danny’s investigation and Dominic’s play, posing timely questions for us all. What do you want to know? How much? And what lengths will you go to uncover the facts?
To arm you with resources, you’ll find greater context within the pages of our Backstory, available when you attend the show or in advance at our website. In addition, the theater itself has been designed as a maze of information to encourage your curiosity and lead you through a web of alleged players and facts related to Danny’s Octopus. It bears noting that no one was ever convicted or even charged with a crime as a result of his investigation.
We encourage you to dig in! As always, the aim at TimeLine is to pique your curiosity, hopefully giving you much to discuss and investigate after the play has ended.
We look forward to what conversations unfold.