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Arts Playlist: Delaware Theatre Co. brings Wilmington playwright's "Playing the Assassin" to stage

  Football player Jack Tatum was one of the most feared and respected players of his era.

The storied Oakland Raiders safety played nine seasons for the Raiders, intercepting 30 passes and helping the franchise win the Super Bowl after the 1976 season.

But Tatum is perhaps best remembered for dealing a devastating tackle on New England Patriots’ receiver Darryl Stingley during a 1978 preseason game.


The collision broke Stingley's fourth and fifth vertebrae, leaving the receiver almost totally paralyzed from the neck down. The play was ruled a clean hit and  no penalty was issued but many still saw Tatum as a dirty player.  

When he died in 2010, his obituary read, “Jack Tatum, Whose Tackle Paralyzed Player, Dies at 61.”

“And so therein for me was the seed of a play,” says Wilmington playwright David Robson of his drama “Playing the Assassin,” now running at the Delaware Theatre Company in Wilmington. “For me, a play is often about unfinished business and so as a playwright; in my imagination I can try to finish that business. That’s the fun part because I can fill in those gaps,” he says.

“Playing the Assassin” uses football as a backdrop but its themes of redemption and reconciliation are universal.

The two-character play aims to recognize the consequences of violence, hero worship and the power of forgiveness.

“So the stakes I hope are very high,” says Robson. “I think that’s what audiences want to see when they come to the theater.”  


This piece is made possible, in part, by a grant from the Delaware Division of the Arts, a state agency dedicated to nurturing and supporting the arts in Delaware, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts.





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