Photo Flash: THE LIFESPAN OF A FACT Heads to Stage West
Can you assume these days that what you see in the media is factually correct? Is accuracy all that important in an opinion piece? Those questions are central to the timely and very funny The Lifespan of a Fact, by Jeremy Kareken & David Murrell and Gordon Farrell, which begins a 5-week regional premiere run at Stage West on Thursday, November 7.
Jim Fingal, a Harvard grad, is interning in the editorial department of a prestigious magazine. His supervisor has recommended him to be the fact-checker for an important essay by the noted writer John D'Agata, and after an interview with Editor-in-Chief Emily Penrose, he's got the job. She tells him to be thorough, noting that John sometimes takes liberties with the details, and she fully expects him to find some erroneous dates and spellings. Instead, Jim turns up with a massive spreadsheet with 130 pages of notes, which leads to a major debate about how much these discrepancies matter in an essay. John flatly says that there are a lot of facts out there, and the wrong ones get in the way of the story. Jim insists that altering facts which can be easily verified will destroy all credibility. Emily is concerned about being able to maintain a level of trust with her readers, in a time when printed publications are folding right and left. And of course, there's a deadline to meet. Does Emily run John's brilliant piece despite the inaccuracies? Or should she go with the previously planned lightweight piece?
So what's the right answer here, if any? In this age of "fake news" and "alternative facts," is absolute accuracy that critical for an essayist? Is the message more important than the factual content? Or do these altered facts damage the message? It's sure to be food for thought for audiences seeing this thought-provoking and highly entertaining piece.
Jeremy Kareken is a playwright living in New York and Baltimore. He served as a speech writer and policy analyst for two presidential campaigns. His awards include the Sewanee Conference's Dakin Fellowship for Farblondjet, and Guthrie/Playwrights Center's Two-Headed Challenge for The Sweet Sweet Motherhood. The Hamptons Film Festival Screenwriters Conference selected Kareken and David Murrell for their horror-comedy script about haunted breast implants-"THESE! Conquered the Earth!" In 2018, PlayPenn shortlisted Jeremy's new political satire about an illiterate king, The Red Wool. Born and raised in Rochester, New York, and a graduate of the University of Chicago, he has taught at NYU, NYIT, the Actors Studio Drama School, and currently teaches at the Acting Studio-New York. A lifetime member of The Actors Studio, Jeremy occasionally acts and for 18 years served as the researcher for Bravo TV's "Inside the Actors Studio."
David Murrell was born and raised in New York City. He graduated from Stuyvesant High School and the University of Chicago, currently lives in Queens, and has written a sea chest's worth of TV and film treatments and spec scripts. Access Theater (NYC) and the Cleveland Public Theatre each produced his play Ductwork. In 2019, the Outer Critics Circle co-awarded David its John Gassner Playwriting Award for The Lifespan of a Fact.
Trained as a playwright at the Yale School of Drama, Gordon Farrell received an MFA in 1986 and went from there to work with major Hollywood studios, initially as a story analyst for Warner Brothers and Columbia Pictures, and eventually as a screenwriter. He has written for hire and sold screenplays to Universal Pictures, Warner Brothers, MGM, and ITC. Gordon's first independent screenplay, "Girls Who Smoke," premiered in 2011 and won the Audience Choice Award in Seattle at the Post Alley Film Festival. As a playwright, from 2009 to 2013, Gordon worked with dozens of women on New York's Lower East Side who wanted to tell their personal stories on stage. The fully dramatized version, Girls Who Walked on Glass, was scheduled to transfer to New York City in 2020. His other plays have been produced in San Francisco, at the Alleyway Theatre, at the Yale School of Drama, and at Primary Stages in New York
The Lifespan of a Fact will be directed by Marianne Galloway, just back from directing the Los Angeles premiere of Self-Injurious Behavior. The cast features Stage West Executive Producer Dana Schultes, most recently seen as Frank Goodman in Men on Boats at Circle Theatre, as Emily, with Chris Hury, last at Stage West as Trigorin in Stupid F*cking Bird, as John. Evan Michael Woods, applauded for his role as John in Summer and Smoke for The Classics Theatre Project, will play Jim.
Set design is by Clare Floyd DeVries, with lighting design by Bryan Stevenson, costume design by Hannah Martinez, sound design by Marco Salinas, projection design by Tristan Decker, and props and set décor by Lynn Lovett.
The Lifespan of a Fact will preview Thursday, November 7 at 7:30 and Friday, November 8 at 8:00, and will run through Sunday, December 8 (NO show on Thanksgiving). The opening night reception will be after the performance on Saturday, November 9. Performance times will be Thursday evenings at 7:30, Friday and Saturday evenings at 8:00, with Sunday matinees at 3:00. Ticket prices for the new season are $35 on Thursdays and Fridays, and $40 on Saturdays and Sundays, with $20 tickets for the two preview performances. Food service is available 90 minutes prior to performances (reservations are advised). Reservations and information are available through the Box Office (817-784-9378), or on the website, www.stagewest.org.
Photo Credit: Evan Michael Woods
Evan Michael Woods