Casting has been announced for the Off-Broadway premiere of Susan Lambert Hatem’s Confidence (and The Speech), a new play examining former U.S. President Jimmy Carter’s legacy through the words of his July 15, 1979, address to the nation.
Hannah Ryan directs the play that looks back on the context surrounding Carter’s urgent call on the American public to reflect on a growing culture of consumerism that fueled the nation’s energy crisis. Historians remain divided over the address, which is referenced as both the “Malaise” speech and the “Crisis of Confidence” speech.
The cast will feature Denise Burse in a gender-reversed portrayal of Carter, in a cast that also includes Ross Alden, Sarah Dacey Charles, Mark Coffin, Zach Fifer, Abigail Ludrof, James Penca, Imran Sheikh, and Stephen Stout.
Confidence (and The Speech) will begin previews November 14 on Theatre Row ahead of a November 20 opening night. Performances are scheduled through December 7. Anne Lambert produces the Off-Broadway premiere that commemorates Carter’s 95th birthday, which took place October 1.
“It’s exciting to have a woman play President Carter. And, it’s fun to watch a young man walk in a woman’s shoes in the 1970s,” Hatem says of the gender-swapped portrayal. “But I also wanted to illuminate what I had to say about Carter’s speech and what he was trying to do and about how we view history.”
Producer Anne Lambert adds, “We have a shared experience of knowing how incredibly challenging it was — and is — for women to have a voice. This play examines the confidence it takes to be a person speaking up in a room where your voice is not welcomed or encouraged.”
The creative team includes scenic designer Brittany Vasta, costume designer Vanessa Leuck, lighting designer Christina Watanabe, sound designer Emma Wilk, and projection designer S. Katy Tucker. Property design is by Deb Gaouette, and movement direction is by Karla Garcia.