Building the Wall, a new play assembled by Tony and Pulitzer winner Robert Schenkkan in answer to the presidential campaign of President Donald J. Trump, has quickly been added to the coming season at four regional theatres around the U.S., with more likely to come.
As previously reported by Playbill, the play will get its world premiere production March 18–21 at The Fountain Theatre in Los Angeles, which described the play thus: “It’s the very near future, and the Trump administration has carried out his campaign promise to round up and detain millions of immigrants. Now, a writer interviews the supervisor of a private prison as he awaits sentencing for carrying out the federal policy that has escalated into the unimaginable. This riveting, harrowing and illuminating drama delivers a powerful warning and puts a human face on the inhuman, revealing how when personal accountability is denied, what seems inconceivable becomes inevitable.”
According to Co-Artistic Director Stephen Sachs, “This is an urgent cry of warning from a leading voice in the American theater. It’s an opportunity for the Fountain to make its voice heard through our art. This project is more than a play. It’s already ignited a national firestorm with theaters across the country signing up to produce it.”
Schenkkan told The New York Times that he wrote the script in a “white-hot fury” over the course of a single week just prior to Election Day 2016. The play had a developmental reading at the Lark Theatre in New York shortly after it was written.
As for the speed of writing and producing the new play, Schenkkan was quoted saying, “We no longer live in a world that is business as usual—Trump has made that very clear—and if theater is going to remain relevant, we must become faster to respond. We cannot hope to be useful if we can’t respond until 18 months after the fact.”
Upcoming productions, according to The Times:
* The Fountain Theatre production will be directed by Michael Michetti. Cast is yet to be announced.
* Curious Theater in Denver has scheduled an April 4–19 run directed by Bruce Sevy. Cast is yet to be announced.
* The Forum Theater in Silver Spring, Maryland, production dates TBA.
* The Borderlands Theater in Tucson, Arizona, production dates TBA.
Production rights to the play are being handled by Derek Zasky, William Morrs Endeavor Entertainment, and the roll-out to the regional theatres is being coordinated by the National New Play Network.
Schenkkan’s historical drama The Kentucky Cycle won the Pulitzer Prize in 1992. His portrait of President Lyndon Johnson’s campaign to enact the 1964 Civil Rights Act with All the Way won the 2014 Tony Award for Best Play. He wrote the script to the film Hacksaw Ridge, which is nominated for six 2017 Academy Awards, including Best Picture.