The 12 Coming to Goodspeed Opera House September '23

The Great Society

Given the trauma of the current American presidency, it’s a welcome distraction to focus on another one.   Indeed, it’s therapeutic to be reminded that things were pretty precarious in other times, too. The Great Society, part two of Robert Schenkkan’s dramatic account of Lyndon Baines Johnson’s reign, covers the turbulent years from 1965-1968 (All The Way, part one, premiered in 2014). This fact-packed, fast-paced drama plays like a historical pageant, covering the political events of that momentous era. Schenkkan focuses on LBJ the progressive, pushing his legislation called “The Great Society” through Congress with the determination of a charging bull (an image LBJ refers to, early in the play).   His platform included civil rights, voting rights, Medicare/Medicaid, immigration and education reform, and a “War on Poverty” – signature programs that proved to be the landmark of his presidency. But always in the background – ever advancing – were other forces in play. The escalating Viet Nam war and growing racial violence soon eclipsed his tremendous legislative achievements, culminating in his ultimate decision not to run again in 1968. That moment plays like the denouement in a Shakespearean tragedy. To read more, click here.