Review: ‘The Great Society’ at Arena Stage

Lyndon Johnson’s 1964 margin of victory – nearly 16 million popular votes and a lopsided total of 486 electoral votes – is almost unimaginable today. Armed as well with a 68-32 majority in the Senate, and a House dominated by Democrats, 295-140, his lofty legislative goals seemed well within reach. How, then, did LBJ’s support dissolve so radically? How was it possible, less than four years later, that he’d lost the power and the will to seek another term? To read more, click here.

Washington comes out for the opening of LBJ play ‘The Great Society’

At the Washington premiere of “The Great Society,” a play about President Lyndon B. Johnson, there were plenty of  political plot twists happening offstage.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), who received Arena Stage’s American Voice Award for her advocacy of the arts and arts education, was honored after Thursday night’s show. And thanks to Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) tying up the spending bill, prompting a partial government shutdown for a few hours overnight, she was able to actually watch the entire play without running out early and heading to the Hill for a vote. To read more, click here.

The agony and ecstasy of LBJ is revived in ‘The Great Society’

In Robert Schenkkan’s “The Great Society,” Lyndon Johnson wins the 1964 election but loses his soul and goes to hell. American cities burn and Vietnam drags him under by the lapels of his rumpled gray suit; in Kyle Donnelly’s enveloping production at Arena Stage the flames actually lick at LBJ from below.

“The Great Society” is Schenkkan’s sequel to “All the Way,” the Tony-winning drama that showed Johnson in full wheeler-dealer mode as he navigated the Civil Rights Act to passage. Schenkkan is certainly interested in the legislative process, and the audience watched LBJ’s hardball negotiations with a double consciousness during Thursday night’s opening as the 2018 federal government shut down yet again. To read more, click here.

What Trump-Era Democrats Can Learn From LBJ

Last week, Robert Schenkkan’s new play, The Great Society, opened at the Arena Stage in Washington. This riveting sequel to the Tony-award winning All the Way,about the Lyndon Johnson presidency, is a haunting piece of theater for liberals to watch in February of 2018, when President Trump and the Republican Congress have been swinging a political wrecking ball at Barack Obama’s legacy.

The two plays capture an important lesson about presidential history: that it is possible for the country’s top leader to be an incredibly effective policymaker yet fail politically at building a governing coalition that outlasts them. The costs of this kind of political failure are severe because it leaves everything a president built open to attack. To read more, click here.

Schenkkan’s Great Society: President Lyndon Baines Johnson’s tumultuous term

If the shade of Lyndon Johnson permitted himself a small smile last night, who could blame him? The irony of having the Washington opening of the second of Robert Schenkkan’s two-play cycle about our 36th President — who presided over the enactment of Civil Rights, Voting Rights, Medicare, Medicaid, the end to the Poll Tax, and a dozen other significant changes in the way we take care of each other — on the eve of the second government shutdown in a month was palpable, and inescapable. The America of Lyndon Johnson’s time transformed itself. The America of our time struggles to pass a simple budget. To read more, click here.

“Great Society” A Larger Than Life History Lesson on Alley Theatre Stage

The Houston Alley Theatre set for “Great Society” is a marvel, a backdrop that, by turns, takes on the grandeur of the White House Oval Office, Civil Rights march infrastructure, and ever-increasing tallies of Vietnam dead. Frequently, it’s also the setting for the folksy stories Lyndon Baines Johnson was famous for, the kind of down-home truth telling that drew people to him before he circled in for whatever it was he was after. And he was always after something. To read more, click here.

The Great Society Comes to Houston's Alley Theatre

The Great Society has begun performances at the Alley Theatre.

Robert Schenkkan's follow-up to All the Way continues the story of President Lyndon B. Johnson's legacy as he champions the most ambitious legislative works in his vision for a Great Society even while the war in Vietnam spins out of control. Besieged by political opponents, Johnson marshals all his political wiles to try to pass some of the most important social programs in U.S. history while the country descends into chaos over the war and backlash against civil rights. To read more, click here.

Robert Schenkkan Goes All the Way With LBJ Sequel The Great Society

In Robert Schenkkan's Tony-winning drama All the Way, Lyndon Banes Johnson rose to the presidency following the assassination of John F. Kennedy. After a hard-fought election campaign that takes place over the course of the three-act work, the curtain comes down on Johnson's legitimate, landslide victory in 1964.

But that was just the beginning, and Schenkkan admits he would have been "very disappointed" if he didn't get explore what happened next. The Great Society, which premiered in 2014 at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, is named after Johnson's ambitious plan to fight the war on poverty. But there was another war on hand, one taking place overseas, and it was spinning rapidly out of control. To read more, click here.


Political fatigue may be setting in around the country as many tire of polarized conversations that seem to go nowhere but down. Social media allows people to be more ‘involved’ in politics than ever before, but without true access to the long-term, behind-the-scenes political processes most just get to argue about the remote tips of the icebergs, the end results that are simplified in message for public platforms. The latest play presented by Grand Rapids Civic Theatre reminds us that much is left unseen and swirling under the surface, the complicated means to get to the end results. Maybe this is what we need to break our fatigue and get us back talking to each other, that understanding better the complicated and often less than righteous space in the means will help us, together, produce more positive ends. In any event, check your fatigue at the door when you go see All the Way, the Tony Award Winning play by Robert Schenkkan, in its premiere community theatre production at GRCT. To read more, click here.

No Limits: 'All The Way' reminds us not to take our rights for granted

When we think of Lyndon Baines Johnson, 36th President of the United States, we tend to think of the Vietnam War. Not many know that just days after LBJ stepped in as president following the assassination of John F. Kennedy, he approached Congress with his first priority as president: the Civil Rights Act of 1965. The act was originally Kennedy’s work and Johnson felt it important to pass it as soon as he could. Civic Theatre’s All The Way captures this, dishing out a history lesson laced with humor. Jon March, who plays LBJ in the play written by Robert Schenkkan, said it’s important for voters to understand this point of time in history. To read more, click here.