Robert Schenkkan's BUILDING THE WALL Will Premiere at Fountain Theatre, Roll Across U.S.
A new play by Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning playwright Robert Schenkkan (The Kentucky Cycle, All the Way, Hacksaw Ridge), written in direct response to the immigration policies of the Trump administration, reveals how those policies might lead to a terrifying, seemingly inconceivable, yet inevitable conclusion. Building the Wall opens at the Fountain Theatre on March 18, the first in a series of productions set to take place at theaters across the U.S. as part of a National New Play Network Rolling World Premiere.
In the very near future, the Trump administration has carried out his campaign promise to round up and detain millions of immigrants. As a writer interviews the former supervisor of a private prison, it becomes clear how federal policy has escalated into something previously unimaginable.
Multiple-award winner Michael Michetti directs James Macdonald (Mutual Philanthropy at Ensemble Studio Theatre/LA) and Judith Moreland (Ovation Award for the Fountain's Miss Julie: Freedom Summer) in Schenkkan's riveting, harrowing and illuminating cautionary tale.
"This is an urgent cry of warning from a leading voice in the American theater," says Fountain co-artistic director Stephen Sachs. "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."
In an interview with BBC Newshour, Schenkkan noted that "Donald Trump is not unusual or extraordinary... this is the playbook of authoritarianism. The question, of course, is not what Donald Trump will do. It's what we, as citizens, will do to respond."
"Audiences can expect to be very rattled by this play," notes Michetti. "Robert lays out a clear path of where we could all too easily end up if we don't change course. But the idea is not for people to go home depressed. It's a call to action. We've got to stop this from happening. We need to step up and exercise our rights as citizens to create positive change."
To that end, the Fountain will host post-performance discussions throughout the run, and additional ancillary events are currently in the planning stages.
The creative team for Building the Wall includes set designer Se Hyun Oh, lighting designer Elizabeth Harper, Sound Designer John Nobori and costume designer Naila Aladdin Sanders. The production stage manager is Miranda Stewart; associate producer is James Bennett; and Simon Levy, Stephen Sachs and Deborah Lawlor produce for the Fountain Theatre. Executive producers are Karen Kondazian, Barbara Herman and Susan Stockel.
Other productions of Building the Wall are set to take place at the Curious Theater in Denver, Forum Theater in Silver Spring, Md., Borderlands Theater in Tucson and City Theatre in Miami.
Robert Schenkkan is the author of The Kentucky Cycle, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama - the first play in the history of the Pulitzer to win before its New York premiere. He has written and published fourteen other full-length plays, including By the Waters of Babylon, Lewis and Clark Reach the Euphrates, The Marriage of Miss Hollywood and King Neptune, Handler, Heaven on Earth, Tachinoki and Final Passages. His play All The Way had its world premiere in 2012 at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, then was produced at A.R.T. in Boston starring Bryan Cranston and moved to Broadway in January, 2013. It broke two box office records and won the Drama League Award, the Outer Critics Circle Award, the Drama Desk Award, the Edward M. Kennedy Prize for History and Theater Award, and Tony Awards for Best Play and Best Actor. His play The Great Society, (commissioned by the Seattle Repertory Theatre) is a sequel to All The Way, and had its world premiere at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in July, 2013. Both plays ran in repertory at the Seattle Repertory Theater in January 2014. His television credits include All the Way, The Pacific, The Andromeda Strain and Spartacus. He co-wrote the feature films The Quiet American and Hacksaw Ridge, which is currently nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture.
Michael Michetti is co-artistic director of The Theatre @ Boston Court in Pasadena, CA, where his directing credits include Aaron Posner's Stupid Fucking Bird, Roland Schimmelpfennig's The Golden Dragon, Eric Coble's My Barking Dog, Carlos Murillo's dark play or stories for boys and world premieres of Deborah Stein's God Save Gertrude, Eric Whitacre's Paradise Lost: Shadows & Wings and his own adaptation of Oscar Wilde's A Picture of DorIan Gray. He also directed the world premiere of Tom Jacobson's The Twentieth-Century Way, and that production went on to have an acclaimed run at New York's Rattlestick Playwright's Theatre. Other directing credits include: Aaron Posner's District Merchants at South Coast Rep; the world premieres of Jacobson's Captain of the Bible Quiz Team for Rogue Machine, House of the Rising Son at Ensemble Studio Theatre L.A., and Ouroboros at the Road Theatre; Figaro, The Grapes of Wrath, Hamlet, Don Juan and As You Like It at A Noise Within; Brecht's Edward II for Circle X; Amy's View starring Carol Lawrence at Florida Rep; Noises Off at PlayMakers Repertory Theatre; A Life in the Theatre starring HAl Holbrook at the Pasadena Playhouse; Kiss Me, Kate, Carousel and Man of La Mancha at Reprise. He has received many awards including two Ovation Awards and five Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Awards for his direction.
James Macdonald has appeared on Broadway in The Heidi Chronicles; off-Broadway in Man At His Best (Playwrights Horizons); in Diphthong, Joyce Carol Oates' Gulf War and his one-man show, Big Frame Shakin' (Ensemble Studio Theatre); Steve Dietz's God's Country and William F. Buckley Jr.'s StaiNed Glass (Actors Theatre of Louisville); Camino Real (Chautauqua Theatre); and with Olympia Dukakis in The Rose Tattoo. Los Angeles credits include Nosferatu at Zoo District (Garland Award), An Adult Evening of Shel Silverstein at the Odyssey Theatre and Mickey Tiles at the Mark Taper Auditorium. Last summer he was seen in The Big Hill (written by James) and Foolish Angel in Ensemble Studio Theatre/LA's One-Act Festival, and most recently in the West Coast premiere of EST/LA's critically acclaimed black comedy Mutual Philanthropy. James has appeared in dozens of TV series and feature films, including Spike Lee's Malcolm X, John Dahl's Joy Ride, John Woo's Broken Arrow, Clint Eastwood's Space Cowboys, Joel Schumacher's Tigerland & Phone Booth, Hollywood Homicide, The Kids Are All Right, Texas Chainsaw Massacre-3D, Little Boy, and opposite Jessica Biel in Home of The Brave. James is recurring on the new MTV series Sweet/Vicious.
Judith Moreland teaches acting at the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television. She is a seasoned actress who has performed both on and off-Broadway and has worked with many theater companies including the New York Shakespeare Festival, Playwrights Horizons, Ensemble Studio Theater/LA and Shakespeare Festival/LA. Additionally, she was a company member of San Francisco's American Conservatory Theater for many years. Ms. Moreland won an Ovation Award for her performance in the Fountain Theater's production of Miss Julie: Freedom Summer and a Bay Area Theater Critics Award for her performance in American Conservatory Theater's production of Miss Evers' Boys. Her film and television credits include Dark Skies, Eagle Eye, Blackish, Parenthood, Grey's Anatomy, Parks and Recreation, General Hospital, The Big Bang Theory, The Mentalist and Castle. She has taught at Stanford University, American Conservatory Theater, the American Academy of Dramatic Arts and Oxford University for the British American Drama Academy.
The Fountain Theatre is one of the most successful intimate theaters in Los Angeles, providing a creative home for multi-ethnic theater and dance artists. The Fountain has won over 225 awards, and Fountain projects have been seen across the U.S. and internationally. Recent highlights include being honored for its acclaimed 25th Anniversary Season in 2015 by Mayor Eric Garcetti and the Los Angeles City Council; the 2014 Ovation Award for Best Season and the 2014 BEST Award for overall excellence from the Biller Foundation; the inclusion of the Fountain's Citizen: An American Lyric in Center Theatre Group's upcoming Block Party at the Kirk Douglas Theatre; and the naming of seven Fountain productions in a row as "Critic's Choice" in the Los Angeles Times.
National New Play Network (NNPN) is the country's alliance of non-profit professional theaters dedicated to the development, production, and continued life of new plays. Since its founding in 1998, NNPN has supported more than 200 productions nationwide through its innovative National New Play Network Rolling World Premiere program, which provides playwright and production support for new works at its Member theaters. Additional programs - its annual National Conference, National Showcase of New Plays, and MFA Playwrights Workshop; the NNPN Annual and Smith Prize commissions; its residencies for playwrights, producers and directors; and the organization's member accessed Collaboration, Festival, and Travel banks and online information sessions - have helped cement the Network's position as a vital force in the new play landscape. NNPN also strives to pioneer, implement, and disseminate ideas and programs that revolutionize the way theaters collaborate to support new plays and playwrights. Its most recent project, the New Play Exchange, is changing the way playwrights share their work and others discover it by providing immediate access to information on more than 9,500 new plays by living writers. NNPN's 30 Core and more than 75 Associate Members - along with the more than 150 affiliated artists who are its alumni, the thousands of artists and artisans employed annually by its member theaters, and the hundreds of thousands of audience members who see its supported works each year - are creating the new American theater.
Building the Wall runs March 18 through May 21, with performances on Saturdays at 8 p.m.; Sundays at 2 p.m.; and Mondays at 8 p.m. (dark Monday, March 20). Three preview performances take place on Wednesday, March 15; Thursday, March 16; and Friday, March 17, all at 8 p.m. Tickets range from $15-$35; every Monday is Pay-What-You-Can. The Fountain Theatre is located at 5060 Fountain Avenue (at Normandie) in Los Angeles. Secure, on-site parking is available for $5. The Fountain Theatre is air-conditioned and wheelchair accessible. For reservations and information, call (323) 663-1525 or go to www.FountainTheatre.com. Like us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/TheFountainTheatre. Follow us on Twitter: @fountaintheatre.