Supreme Court Justice Scalia Is Focus of Arena Stage's Political Drama The Originalist; Casting Announced

Arena Stage will present the world premiere of the political drama The Originalist, about Justice Antonin Scalia.

Edward Gero
Edward Gero

Performances of John Strand's new play begin March 6 and continue through April 26. Arena Stage artistic director Molly Smith will helm the production.

The Originalist will feature Edward Gero (Red; Hello, Dolly!) as Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia; Kerry Warren (The River, Much Ado About Nothing) as Cat, the young clerk who becomes a sparring partner for Justice Scalia; and Harlan Work (The Duchess of Malfi, Charm) as Brad, an eager Scalia devotee and Cat's opposite in every way.

Here's how the production is billed: "When a bright, liberal law school graduate embarks on a nerve-wracking clerkship with Justice Scalia, she discovers him to be both an infuriating sparring partner and unexpected mentor. How will their relationship affect one of the most incendiary cases ever to reach the nation's highest court?"

"There are few other places in the country where this play could have such impact," Smith said in a statement. "Washington is home to all national politics, and no more so than the debates that happen in the Supreme Court. This is a meaty play — it does not tackle its subject matter lightly. Happily though, John Strand and his subjects have a gift for humor, so prepare to be both challenged and entertained by this piece of historical fiction."

"We're taking a risk here and crossing a boundary," added Strand. "We're creating a play about a sitting Supreme Court justice. We start with a living public figure, identify him by name and craft a fictional drama around him. We use material from his life and work, from this city, from our time. But The Originalist is not a bio play or a documentary or a law lecture. It is live theater. It has a story to tell. It has to engage, it has to invite you to feel and think, to laugh and shout and argue." For each preview performance, March 6-18, Strand will participate in post-performance conversations to discuss and answer questions about the process and politics of creating this new American play.

The creative team for The Originalist includes set designer Misha Kachman, costume designer Joseph P. Salasovich, lighting designer Colin K. Bills and composer Eric Shimelonis. Susan R. White is stage manager.

Call (202) 488-3300 or visit arenastage.org for more information.