The production, directed by Doug Hughes, opened Feb. 28 and is play No. 2 in a planned trilogy by Shanley that began with the Pulitzer Prize-winning play, Doubt (which MTC also initiated and helped take to Broadway; it's run ends July 3).
Like 2004's Doubt, the new play is an intermissionless 90 minutes long.
According to MTC, "Defiance is set on a United States Marine Corps base in North Carolina in 1971. Two officers, one black (Chalk) and one white (Lang), are on a collision course over race, women, and the high cost of doing the right thing. The play is about power, love, and responsibility — who has it, who wants it, and who deserves it."
The play raises questions of playing by the rules — and bending them— and what it costs people.
Shanley said in MTC production notes, "Doubt was about the birth of uncertainty in a person of faith set in a church school I attended in the '60s. Shortly thereafter, the country went through a cultural earthquake. The authority of most of our institutions was called into question, and a powerful cynicism took hold. In short, Doubt turned into Defiance, which is my second play about American hierarchy. I feel doubt is an important and valuable exercise, a hallmark of wisdom. Defiance is a necessary step in the life of an individual and in the life of a nation, but it is an intermediate step — that's why there's going to be a third play." The Off-Broadway cast featured (in alphabetical order): Chris Bauer (Chaplain White), Chris Chalk (Captain Lee King), Margaret Colin (Margaret Littlefield), Stephen Lang (Lt. Colonel Littlefield), Trevor Long (Gunnery Sergeant), Jeremy Strong (P.F.C. Evan Davis). Chris McGarry replaced Chris Bauer, who left the show due to a previous commitment in his schedule that conflicted with the final extension weeks.
Margaret Colin was nominated for a Drama Desk Award for playing the loving and supportive wife of an officer.