The Originalist, New Drama About Supreme Court Justice Scalia, Begins at Arena Stage Tonight

News   The Originalist, New Drama About Supreme Court Justice Scalia, Begins at Arena Stage Tonight
The world premiere of the political drama The Originalist, a new play by John Strand about Justice Antonin Scalia, begins performances at Arena Stage March 6.

Helmed by Arena Stage artistic director Molly Smith, performances continue in Washington, D.C. through April 26.

The Originalist features Edward Gero (Red; Hello, Dolly!) as conservative 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.

Edward Gero
Edward Gero Photo by Tony Powell

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 previous 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 theatre. 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 participates 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 for more information.

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