From Schenkkan to Shakespeare, the same urgent warning

One play was written more than 400 years ago, the other last October. Both written by playwrights worried about the future of their countries. One author took months to pen his work, the other took one week.  One writer has been dead 400 years, one is very much alive, chronicling the current political crisis of his time with a dire new play now playing on our Fountain stage. Both authors and their plays have been in the news in recent weeks, igniting a firestorm of national conversation on the role of theatre to express political outrage, and its fundamental right and responsibility to do so. The Fountain Theatre is a voice in that debate.  To read more, click here.

Imagining Trump's Border Plan as a Guantánamo for 'Illegals'

  • The new play, "Building the wall" envisions mass deportations and unlawful detainment as Greek tragedy. His play Philoctetes, Sophocles tells a story of deceit: The Greek commander Odysseus wants to convince the titular exiled war hero to fight again, and he enlists Neoptolemus, a young, impressionable boy to lie for him. "I know, my boy, it isn't part of your nature to tell untruths or resort to double-dealing," he says to Achilles's son, "but victory's a prize worth gaining." Neoptolemus is persuaded, and the plot centers on his uneasiness with these double-dealings, and on the growing trust between him and Philoctetes. In the end, Neoptolemus's compassion and integrity override the Greek interest, and he comes clean, confessing Odysseus's scheme to Philoctetes. The play represents the failure of rhetorical manipulation in the face of one's own natural moral intuitions, our own sense of right and wrong. To read more, click here.

WWII hero Desmond Doss honored with two commemorative markers in Lynchburg

 A local war hero's efforts from decades ago are back in the spotlight. Desmond Doss was honored Monday with two new commemorative markers. The Lynchburg native was the first conscientious objector to receive the Medal of Honor after he saved more than 70 men during the battle of Okinawa in World War II. His story made headlines last year and put Lynchburg at the national forefront with the movie "Hacksaw Ridge." To read more, click here.

The Vital Role of Political Theater

Diane Paulus, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, and Robert Schenkkan discuss how the Public Theater’s recent production of Julius Caesar fits into a grand artistic tradition. To read more, click here.

Aspen Ideas Fest staging Robert Schenkkan’s Trump dystopia ‘Building the Wall’

Witnessing Donald Trump's campaign rhetoric about immigrants last year and its normalization as Election Day neared, playwright Robert Schenkken felt America had crossed a line. The Pulitzer and Tony winner channeled his dismay and fear onto the page and, in a week, wrote what would become "Building the Wall." To read more, click here.

They Were Ruled by Those Who Hated Them

“Is my race a problem for you?”

It’s one of the very first things Gloria says; we learn quickly that she will pull no punches. She is a black university professor, and she is interviewing Rick, a white inmate in a prison in El Paso. The year is 2019. Rick has done something horrible, presumably stemming from his militant and nationalist views. As Gloria goes through a string of questions, the nature of his crimes comes to light, and the deep divide between the characters alternately opens and closes as we listen. To read more, click here.


Robert Schenkkan first came to national prominence in 1992, when his epic play The Kentucky Cycle became the first play to win the Pulitzer Prize for Drama before being produced in New York. All The Way, his play about former President Lyndon B. Johnson, won the Tony Award for Best Play in 2014. His new play Building The Wall is a two-hander set in the US in 2019, in a country which has devolved into a society of martial law, mass incarceration and internment camps peopled with minorities. It is currently playing Off-Broadway at New World Stages. To read more, click here. 

Off Broadway Review: ‘Building the Wall,’ the Hot-Button Drama About Trump’s America

There’s a hold-your-breath inevitability to what is finally disclosed in “Building the Wall,” the powerful dystopian drama about life in the Donald Trump era by Robert Schenkkan. You hear it in the distant, unnerving soundscape. You see it as two characters increasingly come to grips with their worst fears. Most of all, you feel it in the gut, because what the writer imagines is not so much a fanciful futurist leap but a calculated cautionary tale, taking place just two years from now. To read more, click here.

5 arts picks: Matthew Bourne, 'Drum Summit,' Trump's wall and more

What to see in the days ahead? We surveyed Times critics, staff writers and contributors for these highlights to mark on your arts calendar. To read more, click here.

The Stars of Robert Schenkkan's Pointed Political Drama Building the Wall Meet the Press

This play is going to be huuuge! All the Way's Tony-winning scribe Robert Schenkkan quickly cranked out a Trump-era work that is receiving an off-Broadway run at New World Stages. Building the Wall begins performances on May 12 with opening night set for May 21. Pulitzer winner Schenkkan, stars Tamara Tunie and James Badge Dale and director Ari Edelson recently met the press prior to the play's off-Broadway bow. Take a look at the pics, and be sure to catch the play we're sure everybody will be talking (and tweeting!) about. The limited engagement is scheduled to run through July 9. To read more, click here.