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A Manson accomplice speaks in Cornerstone Theater's 'For All Time'

October 30, 2008 |  3:30 pm

Manson_4  In creating its new play, "For All Time," over the past year, L.A.'s Cornerstone Theater Company applied its usual documentary methods to the sprawling topic of criminal justice. That meant interviewing more than 100 people on all sides of the crime-and-punishment equation, and using their words as the raw material for playwright KJ Sanchez's script. And that's how one of the troika of women who were convicted along with Charles Manson for the 1969 Tate-LaBianca murders came to be a voice in the play.

As part of the project, Cornerstone taught its interview techniques to volunteer inmates at the California Institution for Women in Chino. One of them landed an interview with one of the three former Manson followers imprisoned there: Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel and Leslie Van Houten.

Manson accomplices Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel and Leslie Van Houten (L-R)

Sanchez and the play's director, Laurie Woolery, say they had promised not to identify interviewees; in the script, the character, known simply as “Girl,” says that she had loved swimming and surfing in the days “when I still believed in innocence and friends.” But when she committed her crimes, “I came to full recognition of what I had done: `Oh my God, how frightening. How could I be so far away from myself?’”Leslie Van Houten in 2002Susan Atkins, undated prison photo

"The dumbest question I've been asked, and I'm asked almost daily, is 'Are you one of the Manson girls?'" the character continues. "Well, I'm no girl and I'm certainly not Manson's girl! You know, in here they all assume I'm an OK person. People on the outside assume I'm evil, cold-blooded, a monster.... My biggest worry right now is dying here. And it's beginning to look more and more possible that I might."

The play runs through Nov. 23.

-- Mike Boehm

Photos: Charles Manson (top); Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel and Leslie Van Houten (L-R) return to court in 1971. Van Houten (L) at parole hearing in 2002 and Atkins (R) in an undated prison photo. Credits: Manson, Associated Press. Atkins, Krenwinkel and Van Houten in 1971, Associated Press. Van Houten in 2002, Reuters/Damian Dovarganes. Atkins, Associated Press/California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

Comments () | Archives (10)

Typical. People, who slash pregnant women to death, consider themselves as "OK persons."

Well, of course even maniacs have the right to think about themselves in the way they want to.

Of course people in prison think she's OK! No wonder they're all locked up. And who paid for the little romp to teach interviewing skills to the incarcerated, who have nothing to do but talk to teach other? Did Cornerstone get some grant?

I respect the TIMES and I know that someone at the TIMES will agree (I hope) It's about Phil Spector, Is it possible that perhaps Phil Spector was Intimidated by Charlie Manson? That's why he was so OVERLY PROTECTIVE in the 60's which lingered into the 70"s 80" 90's and present ?? isn't there a connection between Brian Wilson and Ronnie Spector? and isn't there a connection between Brian Wilson and Charlie Manson? I really think that Phils Paranoia probably began around that time?? maybe he (Phil)was sending out a message to Charlie that he was a force to be reckon with(HAVE GUN WILL TRAVEL) SO TO SPEAK?? he (PHIL) wanted his clients( MUSICIANS) to actually feel safe with him but unfortanlly it backfired. I really Phil that this needs to be investigated more remember it was the 60's and 70's alot of people can't really remember those times especially Mmm Musicians.

Well now, it's been years, and I'm sure that after years of incarceration she's at least slightly different now. I may think her kind of crimes were disgusting in every way, the poor woman was led by a completely unapologetic psychopath. She's certainly not a completely evil person.

In my opinion, anyway. Nonetheless, RIP Sharon Tate and Child

"Atkins (R) in an undated prison photo"

- this in a mug shot where Atkins ID board indicates February 16, 2001...could it be...?...nah.

Van Houten is most likely "the girl" referenced if one puts two and two together but nigh on 40 years after she, Krenwinkel and a dying Atkins are incarcerated still? THAT tells you all you need to know and indeed says more about 'human?' beings than any reference to the necessity to pay for the ancient history that's their crime in terms of legal requisite (translation: politics), those who cast that judgemental set eyes theirs no more believable than those they castigate.

If parole is but a word without practical meaning, then so too be a perpetrator's raison any for jumping through the hoops every that are perpetually reset again & again ad nauseam in this strange shell game called the parole 'system' - said is more so tantamount to a 'racket'.

Re: Fly on the wall

People are not judging them. Making a judgement implies forming an opinion from the information provided. There is no need to opine on these murderers. We know for a fact the crimes they committed and admit to. They are where they are because of their own actions. Neither the criminal justice system or society has any fault, they chose their path.

"People are not judging them"

- that via function a parole board any is an arbitrary constant entailing 'vote(s)' by the members thereof who are in principle at minimum not connected at the hip, to state no 'judgment' is in play is both incongrous and implausible, by said implication deeming parole hearing any nothing more than mere formality...a by the book connect the dots endeavor. Yup, for 40 years now, nothing but non-judgmental decisions & recommendations made by...no one, just 'by the book' - right. Justice may (or may not) be blind, but said isn't sans interpretation any - which by definition entails judgment.

"Neither the criminal justice system or society has any fault"

- how convenient (ly simplistic) - by such measure neither too do perpetrators have any (people don't kill people, nee parole boards do not pass judgment on same - guns & bullets nee parole consideration by way mindless rote does.)


The more time that passes, the more Manson's views become indelibly spot on and without question exact.

hmm...i wonder...dosn't "the dumbest question i've ever been asked is are you one of the manson girls" imply that shes NOT a manson girl?

- its also weird that of all the many many ideas and perspectives and opinions within this play "on all sides of the crime and punishment question" the author has chosen to focus on the alleged "manson-girl" even though no one actually knows if thats true....plus none of the photos have anything to do with the play, in fact, nothing about this article has anything to do with the play itself really....the author just basically quoted the whole 15 min. monologue of the alleged manson girl....
Ive seen this play- its really great, and interesting and multi-faceted and raises alot of important questions about this very large and powerful system we've established in our society- and there's much more to it than this fifteen (if that) monologue of this lady who MIGHT be a manson girl.
And who cares if she is? The point is to raise questions about who is a monster? What is evil? Who is punished and how and why? And who is forgiven?
Clearly, the author has chosen this focal point in hopes that it will attract more readers and as opposed to the actual substance of the piece, which has much more to do with our societies culture of crime and punishment and retribution and rehabilitation than with some unfortunate and sick people who killed 40 years ago.

I'm sorry, but I personally feel these women should be freed! They have been in jail for all their productive years, excelled in prison, formed support groups, counseled other inmates,and all have multiple degrees. and not a day probably goes by that they are not asking for forgiveness. The incarcerated men "of Charlie" have done the same things, and let's not forget, ALL OF THEM ARE MODEL PRISONERS!!! HAVE BEEN PRETTY MUCH SINCE THE BEGINNING!!! These people were under the drug-crazed spell of a psychopath!! Read into all of their past live's "pre-Charlie", what do you read? Football star, church goer, prom queen, etc. Sure they made the mistakes prior to Charlie that alot of young people do, but do any of you really think they would have done what they did if they did'nt fall under Charlie's spell??????They are all old now, but they obviously know right from wrong,and feel the deepest forms of sadness, regret, and remorse. Their crimes were during a brain-washed, drug-induced time of their lives. they are NOT those people anymore! No, it does'nt change the gravity of their crimes, but I truly believe Susan Atkins is'nt going to get in her wheelchair and kill anyone again!!!What is she going to do, hop on one leg in a sub-concious state to stab someone? BE REAL!!! Give them a chance to be productive on the OUTSIDE, They have already proven to be very productive on the inside!!I believe the only one that should die in prison is CHARLIE!!!

These ladies need ro be released. They paid for their crimes. It is about time this political fiasco comes to an end, We have worst criminals walking the street and nobody does anything about it. Use your common sense.


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