After sold out runs in Costa Rica, El Salvador and Spain (where it won the Audience Award at the Miteu International Theater Festival), Teatro Espressivo’s critically acclaimed production of BUILDING THE WALL by Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winner Robert Schenkkan (The Kentucky Cycle, All the Way, Hacksaw Ridge) arrives in the US. Performances begin February 27 at Teatro LATEA @ The Clemente in Lower Manhattan. Presented in Spanish with English subtitles, this translation by Gerardo Bolaños G. is directed by Natalia Mariño, winner of Costa Rica’s prestigious Premio Nacional a Mejor Dirección de Teatro. To read more, click here.
Playwright Robert Schenkkan has returned to his epic story of President Lyndon B. Johnson with “The Great Society,” a sequel to his play “All the Way” which garnered him a Tony Award for Best Play and Best Actor for Bryan Cranston. “The Great Society” is running at the Vivian Beaumont Theater at Lincoln Center in New York and is directed by Bill Rauch. Schenkkan’s play is a cold, hard look at the price of compromise and how increased paranoia can turn a person ineffective. To read more, click here.
What will two Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning playwrights have to say to each other in a room full of critics about creating drama based on real-life characters and events? A conversation among Robert Schenkkan (“All the Way,” “The Great Society,” “The Kentucky Cycle”), Doug Wright (“I Am My Own Wife,” “Quills,” Grey Gardens”) and director Bill Rauch will be featured the first morning of a three-day New York City conference of the American Theatre Critics Association that begins Friday. To read more, click here.
It used to be argued that British drama is driven by a fascination with public affairs and its American counterpart by a preoccupation with private lives. On the evidence of a week’s intensive theatregoing in New York, I would suggest that hoary generalisation has been blown to smithereens. At a time of potential impeachment, political polarisation and profound uncertainty, American theatre seems to be heavily engaged with the wider world. To read more, click here.
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.
Years before the first Christmas on Walton’s Mountain, Richard Thomas was a 17-year-old taking in the shock and awe served up by the year 1968: the assassinations of MLK and RFK, the civil rights movement, the escalation of the Vietnam War. These days, he’s taking it all in again, as Vice President Hubert Horatio Humphrey in The Great Society by Robert Schenkkan, who continues his Broadway exploration of Lyndon Johnson’s turbulent presidency that began in the Tony Award-winning ALL THE WAY. To read more, click here.
I’ve been a fan of Brian Cox for years. His role as Logan Roy on HBO’s Succession has been like a master class with each installment. It’s actually given me tremendous pleasure to see the show embraced as it has. Its second-season finale two weeks back still has people talking. My colleague Roger Freidman wrote a fantastic review of Cox’s playThe Great Society at the Vivian Beaumont Theater and we caught it Saturday night. Cox is simply brilliant and yes, at times, channels his Logan Roy character on Succession. It’s written by Robert Shenkkan, who last year did the brilliant LBJ-play All The Way with Bryan Cranston. Cox plays LBJ on this as well, but with a startling cast: from Richard Thomas to Marc Kudish and the awesome David Garrison. Largely at issue in Great Society is the Civil Rights Act of 1964, initiated by Kennedy just before he was assassinated, and the hell that Johnson put himself through to get it sanctioned in both substance and spirit by African-American leaders and then passed through a fractious Congress. To read more, click here.
Turbulence takes over and a president’s ambitious domestic agenda gets derailed by overwhelming racial prejudice and an out-of-control foreign war in “The Great Society” — a long-winded but action-packed roller-coaster of a historical drama by Robert Schenkkan examining the final years of the presidency of Lyndon Baines Johnson, from his 1964 election through the inauguration of Richard Nixon four years later. “The Great Society” is a follow-up to “All the Way,” which dramatized the yearlong period between the assassination of JFK on Nov. 22, 1963, making LBJ president, to the 1964 election. Whereas Bryan Cranston played LBJ in “All the Way” on Broadway in 2014 and in a subsequent HBO film adaptation, Scottish actor Brian Cox (who is currently playing media baron Logan Roy on the HBO series “Succession”) has taken over as the 36th president. Bill Rauch, who directed “All the Way,” is also at the helm of “The Great Society.” To read more, click here.
“I could tell you,” says Brian Cox, taking a sip of his iced matcha latte, “but then I’d have to kill you.”
A few hours before going onstage to play Lyndon B. Johnson in “The Great Society,” the actor is in his dressing room at the Vivian Beaumont theater, coolly deflecting speculation about who will be the “blood sacrifice” — the person to take the fall for a corporate scandal threatening to bring down a media dynasty — in the much-anticipated season finale of “Succession,” which is set to air two days after our interview. It’s exactly the sort of thing his character in the HBO drama, a Rupert Murdoch-esque conservative mogul named Logan Roy, would say — but might actually mean. The bluntly profane patriarch — last seen smirking elusively in the closing shot of the season — has made the 73-year-old character actor into an unlikely social media darling, the subject of myriad GIFs and memes. Cox, who is active in the Scottish National Party and describes himself as a socialist, doesn’t have much in common with Logan politically, but the character has been shaped in his image: Both men are from working-class Catholic families in Dundee, Scotland, and lost parents at a young age.
Days after wrapping production of “Succession” in Croatia, Cox returned to New York to begin three weeks of breakneck preparation for “The Great Society,” trading his gentle burr for a Texan drawl he practices by listening to LBJ’s White House tapes. A follow-up to the Tony-winning “All the Way,” which starred Bryan Cranston as Johnson, Robert Schenkkan’s nearly three-hour play charts the president’s final years in office as the war in Vietnam escalates and undermines his progressive domestic legacy. Next month, Cox will appear in the film “The Etruscan Smile” as a cantankerous, terminally ill Scotsman who bonds with his infant grandson. To read more, click here.