Theater: ‘Building the Wall,’ a Trump critique, strikes a nerve
May 9, 2017
The presidential campaign of 2016 was not just a defining moment for award-winning playwright and University of Texas graduate Robert Schenkkan. It was a call to action. Concerned by what he saw as Donald Trump’s divisive talk on immigration — “build the wall” — and his supporters’ chorus of approval, Schenkkan wrote “Building the Wall,” an exploration of race and a bleak warning about anti-immigrant politics. “I was so alarmed, so angry, so anxious,” he said. And that was before the election. “I wrote this in late October just before the election. I was already sufficiently upset about the incendiary rhetoric of the Republican presidential candidate and already feeling the country had crossed a line,” the Austin-raised Schenkkan told the American-Statesman. “That first draft was written in a fury in a week.” To read more, click here.
Robert Schenkkan to Talk, Sign BUILDING THE WALL at Drama Book Shop
May 9, 2017
The Drama Book Shop will welcome Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning playwright Robert Schenkkan for a discussion and signing of his work, including the newly published Building the Wall. Schenkkan will sit down with playwright Steven Carl McCasland (Little Wars) to discuss his new play and the current state of theatre in America. The Monday, May 22nd, 5:00pm event is free and open to the public. To read more, click here.
FIVE AWARD-WINNING AMERICAN ARTISTS ON HOW FEDERAL FUNDS LAUNCHED THEIR CAREERS
April 21, 2017
In the long history of man, countless empires and nations have come and gone," President Lyndon B. Johnson told Congress upon signing the Arts and Humanities Bill on September 19, 1965, which created the National Endowment for the Arts. "Those which created no lasting works of art are reduced today to short footnotes in history's catalog." In more than five decades, the National Endowment for the Arts has used federal funding to create some of the finest contributions to contemporary American culture. Many Grammy, Tony, Oscar, Emmy, and Pulitzer Prize-winning artists started their artistic careers thanks to funding from the NEA. Some of the most proud works and creators in American history were bankrolled partially or entirely by federal funds. To read more, click here.
Theater in the Trump Era: A Broadway Revival of ‘An Enemy of the People’ Is Planned
April 20, 2017
“An Enemy of the People” is the second play announced for the next Broadway season that seems prompted by the Trump presidency; the first was a new theatrical adaptation of George Orwell’s “1984,” which is scheduled to open in June at the Hudson Theater.
The Trump presidency is also leading to new theater work. The Pulitzer-winner Robert Schenkkan (who also wrote the Tony-winning “All the Way”) has written “Building the Wall,” responding to Mr. Trump’s restrictive immigration initiatives, that is being mounted around the country and will have an Off Broadway production at New World Stages beginning next month.
Building the Wall': Theater Review
April 17, 2017
This two-hander by Robert Schenkkan, co-screenwriter of 'Hacksaw Ridge' and a Tony winner for his LBJ bio-drama 'All the Way,' offers a cautionary look at how fascism can come to define the land of the free in Trump's America. To read more, click here.
A conversation with ‘Building the Wall’ writer Robert Schenkkan on the urgency of today’s political crisis
April 17, 2017
Playwright Robert Schenkkan's new work, "Building the Wall," is a hot-take play that depicts what could unfold after a terror attack in Times Square encourages President Trump to declare martial law and imprison more and more immigrants and suspects until his private prison system morphs into Nazi-style death camps. It's a metaphor for how America increasingly allows fear to overshadow public policy — and how President Trump masterfully exploits it. The play will have an off-Broadway run beginning in May. With the production nearing, I called the Pulitzer Prize-winning writer as part of a larger story on why Trump inspires artists more than other presidents, but our discussion touched on topics so vital to our democracy that I wanted to make it available. What follows is a lightly edited transcript of a conversation so blistering, so intelligent, so exciting that it could only have occurred in the New York Daily News. To read more, click here.
President Trump may have art on his funding hit list — but his antics sure inspire it
April 17, 2017
President Trump doesn't want to fund the arts — but he’s certainly inspiring plenty of it. Even as the Trump administration's first budget proposal includes not a dime for the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, there's no shortage of art aimed squarely at the 45th President. The very long list begins and ends with Pulitzer Prize-winner Robert Schenkkan "hot-take" of a show, "Building the Wall," which will mount a just-announced off-Broadway run in New York May 12 through July 9 after successful performances in Los Angeles and Denver. To read more, click here.
Pulitzer Winner’s Trump Play Is to Come to New York
Review Robert Schenkkan's 'Building the Wall,' set in Trump's America, imagines the unimaginable
March 20, 2017
How does darkness overtake a nation? The philosopher Hannah Arendt took up the subject in her book “Eichmann in Jerusalem,” which investigated the mystery of how ordinary Germans transformed into murderous Nazis. The face of evil, Arendt discovered, wasn’t a demon lurking in the cellar but the factory supervisor in the nice house across the street. Those carrying out the orders that led to the extermination of millions of Jews along with other marginalized groups became part of the bureaucracy of genocide. This startling and still controversial insight — that the Holocaust was executed not by sadists but by conformist clerks and self-interested middle managers — inspired the famous subtitle of Arendt’s book: “A Report on the Banality of Evil.”Robert Schenkkan, the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright (“The Kentucky Cycle”) who co-wrote the screenplay for “Hacksaw Ridge,” has a new play that explores the concept of the banality of evil in our own backyard. “Building the Wall,” which opened Saturday at the Fountain Theatre, imagines the unimaginable happening in Trump’s America. To read more, click here.
New Play Brings Trump Campaign Rhetoric to Life
March 15, 2017
It was in the midst of the presidential debates of 2016, and Robert Schenkkan was alarmed. Though both the pundits and the polls seemed to assure that Hillary Clinton would soon become the 45th president of the United States, the Pulitzer Prize-winning dramatist felt that the rabidly racist, anti-immigrant cant that spewed from the mouth of the Republican nominee had already brought familiar if discredited ideologies, supposedly long ago settled by war and safely consigned to the past, harrowingly close to the highest office in the land. So Schenkkan, perhaps best known for The Kentucky Cycle, his epic nine-play saga of three Appalachian families’ violent and avaricious quest for the American Dream, sat down to write. One week later, he had the first draft of Building the Wall. The playwright believed that his taut political suspense drama, which fast-forwards Trump’s immigration policy of mass arrests and deportations to the incarceration of several million detainees, would be merely a dark cautionary tale of dystopian fiction, a national bullet narrowly averted. With November’s electoral upset, however, Schenkkan’s speculative chiller had suddenly taken a leap towards becoming real. To read more, click here.