This event was scheduled June 17, 2024.

A theatre director’s plunge into the 2020 presidential campaign of Pete Buttigieg is the subject of a new book and one-man show coming to San Luis Obispo on Monday, June 17 at 7 p.m.

Paul Barnes, who spent a decade with PCPA, returns to the Central Coast with Paul for Pete, a staged reading at SLO Repertory Theatre.

Buttigieg, formerly the mayor of Gary, Indiana, skyrocketed into the national spotlight when he ran for president in the Democratic primary, the first openly gay man to seek his party’s nomination. Buttigieg currently serves as U.S. Secretary of Transportation in the Biden administration.

Paul for Pete captures Barnes’ involvement in the 2020 Buttigieg presidential campaign, first as a contributor, then grassroots fundraiser, and finally as a member of the Pete for America Arts Policy Advisory Committee.

The one-man show is based on Barnes’ recent book, Paul for Pete: Politics. Theatre. Life. One Man’s Adventures (or, How I Became a Septuagenarian Fanboy). The book recounts Barnes’ first-time immersion in a presidential campaign, his cross-country travels, and profoundly impactful personal life events.

“I wrote Paul for Pete during the pandemic,” Barnes says. “The book chronicles my journey from despair to hope, and from political campaign novice to a successful political fundraiser. Interwoven are tales of my travels and work as director, and a major personal life event that intersected my involvement right in the middle of the Buttigieg campaign.”

Barnes, who currently lives in Ashland, Oregon, served as PCPA’s conservatory director/associate artistic director from 1987 to 1997, where he directed a wide range of productions, including King Lear, Death of a Salesman, Forever Plaid, and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.

Post-PCPA, Barnes went on to directing gigs at regional theatres, festivals, and training programs across the country. He is the founder of two theatre companies: the Oregon Cabaret Theatre in Ashland and The Great River Shakespeare Festival in Minnesota.

Monday’s performance of Paul for Pete, directed by Andrew Ian Carlson, coincides with PCPA’s 60th anniversary reunion. Admission is free, but seating is limited, so RSVP by June 16 for tickets.

:: David Congalton