History and politics take center stage as Palo Alto Players continues its 2018-19 season with the Bay Area premiere of the Tony Award-winning play ALL THE WAY. Written by Pulitzer-Prize winning playwright Robert Schenkkan (The Kentucky Cycle), the riveting historical drama depicts "accidental president" Lyndon B. Johnson's intense first year in office as he struggles to pass the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964. ALL THE WAY is directed by Peter Allas, associate artistic director of The Beverly Hills Playhouse Acting School, and features a cast of 19 local Bay Area actors, bringing to life more than 60 historical figures including Martin Luther King, Jr., J. Edgar Hoover, and Lady Bird Johnson. ALL THE WAY runs November 2 - 18 at the Lucie Stern Theater, 1305 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto. For information or tickets, visit paplayers.org or call 650.329.0891. To read more, click here.
‘Great Society’ at the History Theatre is towering, tragic
October 13, 2018
Almost exactly a year ago, the History Theatre took a big gamble, putting a big cast on stage to perform a big play of big ideas: “All the Way” chronicled the presidency of Lyndon Johnson from his tragedy-filled ascension in November 1963 to his election victory a year later. It was a master class in politics and theater.
The company reunited the major players from that cast to open the St. Paul theater’s 41st season with “The Great Society,” the second half of Robert Schenkkan’s LBJ duology. And it is, if anything, an even better piece of theater … more nuanced, more complex; with higher stakes and even more finely honed performances. To read more, click here.
BWW Review: Consummate Performance Anchors THE GREAT SOCIETY at History Theatre
October 13, 2018
Pearce Bunting delivers a visceral gut punch as Lyndon B. Johnson in THE GREAT SOCIETY. Rarely in 50 years of serious theater-going have I seen a more fully inhabited physical performance. It's masterful. Menacing and charming by turns, Bunting channels LBJ's ability to manipulate people into positions they didn't originally intend. The arc he travels is long: beginning brash and aggressive, we see him move incrementally into weariness and eventually descend to emotional exhaustion. And all of it is credible. To read more, click here.
Reading of new play, HANUSSEN, in LA September 8
August 24, 2018
As part of the PlayLA Festival, there will be a one time public reading of HANUSSEN. Here is the website for more details: playlafestival.org
Review - Building the Wall during the Trump terror - Miro Magazine UK
May 11, 2018
Robert Schenkkan’s new play offers a chilling view of the near-future that is blisteringly tangible, comments Editor in Chief Josh Brown.
"24 hours after Robert Schenkkan’s Building The Wall opened at the Park Theatre, ABC News reported that President Donald Trump had threatened to close down the US government in a new push to secure a wall along the border with Mexico to keep out immigrants. Speaking during an event billed as a tax reform roundtable, Trump said: “We’re going to get the wall, even if we have to think about closing up the country for a little while. We have absolutely no choice. And we’re going to get tremendous security in our country.” To read more, click here.
Building The Wall - Theatre News Review
May 8, 2018
Walking into the Park Theatre for Robert Schenkkan's new play, 'Building the Wall' feels as if you've taken a wrong turning and have ended up somewhere very different to everyday life. Fluorescent lights buzz and there are sounds of locks clicking. The most arresting sight is a huge glass box filling the entire stage. Inside, a lone man in penitential orange sits tapping his socked feet. Building The Wall is a gripping political thriller that examines a dystopian future. One that, according to director Jez Bond, feels “horribly possible.” And indeed it does from the outset. Schenkkan has presented the audience with a play that explores the issues surrounding immigration in America and nothing that Rick, the prisoner being interviewed, shares with his interviewer Gloria, is any more outlandish or brutal than some of the current political sentiments. To read more, click here.
Building The Wall review - Entertainment Focus
May 8, 2018
There’s danger in writing a play that directly reflects the now. It can look like a cynical land grab of the zeitgeist. Something a bit too easy, a bums-on-seats play for today that’s sure to garner plenty of media attention. It can generate dialogue that feels far too on-the-nose or worse, re-heat conversations that most of us have already grown weary of. But Schenkkan meets that danger head-on with a tightly-wound thriller that neatly pulls the rug on all these possible accusations. The setting is a brightly lit glass box, a prison room in Texas, 2019. Gloria (Angela Griffin) is the historian, here to interview Nick (Trevor White), a man on Death Row. To read more, click here.
REVIEW: BUILDING THE WALL (Park Theatre) ★★★★ WestEndWilma
May 8, 2018
Robert Schenkkan’s Building the Wallbrought the stars out for press night, with Bryan Cranston and Juliet Stevensonamong its esteemed audience. It’s little surprise. Schenkkan’s latest play is a nice little coup for the Park Theatre – an 80 minute gallop through a near-dystopian (but still bleakly Trumpian) future, which has already found favour with American audiences and gets its UK debut here in N4.
It is 2019 and President Trump has been impeached. So far, so believable. Rick (Trevor White) is incarcerated awaiting sentencing for inexplicable crimes and grants a single interview to share his ‘truth’ – with the African-American historian Gloria (Angela Griffin). Gloria’s lifelong relationship with the question of race in America brought her first to academia and then here to Rick’s cell – ‘to understand why you did what they say you did’. To read more, click here.
PLAYHOUSE PICKINGS BUILDING THE WALL LONDON
May 8, 2018
The daily headlines alone provide fertile enough material for a critique of rising populism. But Robert Schenkkan’s play forces us to look up from the daily news drip feed and reflect on where an unchecked Trumpism could lead. Not in a far-off, technologically-facilitated dystopia, but as near as next month or next year.Rick (Trevor White) is being held in solitary confinement awaiting sentencing for… one isn’t quite sure – but it’s clearly not a minor misdemeanour. Academic psychologist Gloria (Angela Griffin) has obtained permission to interview him, with the hope of really understanding how events came to pass. As the play progresses, Rick opens up to Gloria’s questioning and the true horror of what ‘building the wall’ meant in practice is bit-by-bit uncovered. Relayed second-hand in this way, the contingent nature of reality in a world of ‘fake news’ is subtly teased out, and the audience is forced to consider the limits of what they can give imaginative credence to. To read more, click here.
12 Peers Theater Presents The Pittsburgh Premiere Of BUILDING THE WALL By Robert Schenkkan
May 8, 2018
12 Peers Theater will start their 2018 Main Stage Season with Building the Wall by Robert Schenkkan. The Pittsburgh Premiere is directed by Ricardo Vila-Roger and features Tom Kolos and Lauren A. Bethea. Building the Wall examines hatred, fear, and institutional racism in an imagined 2019 in a post-Trump America and runs May 24 - June 10, 2018.
"Building the Wall is a cautionary tale, not a history play," artistic director Vince Ventura says. "We want to start discussions around the fairness of our systems, the balance of security and freedom, and the sometimes uncomfortable topic of institutional racism." To read more, click here.