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D.C. Theatres Collaborate to Bring Politics to the Stage


THEatrical SELECTIONs: A free, politically-charged play reading series

In the weeks leading up to the nation’s presidential election, five leading D.C. theatres will collaborate to bring politics and drama to the stage.  Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater, The John F. Kennedy for the Performing Arts, Shakespeare Theatre Company, Signature Theatre and Studio Theatre present “THEatrical SELECTIONS: A free, politically-charged play reading series.” Each theatre will host a reading of a play they feel reflects the country’s current political and social environment, and will consider political moments from burgeoning fascism in the 1930s to partisan horse-trading in modern America.

STC Artistic Director Michael Kahn said: “Theatres have a long tradition of staging performances to generate thought and discussion regarding current events. D.C. has a thriving theatre scene at the heart of American politics, so it’s essential that our artistic community should work together to participate in the debate, looking back at history and forward to this pivotal election.”

Readings will take place on Monday evenings in October and November. For further information and tickets, please visit

October 3: Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater

Watch on the Rhine, by Lillian Hellman

7:30 p.m.

With America on the brink of entering World War II, a young American woman seeks refuge in the D.C. suburbs for her young children and her German husband, a man deeply involved in anti-fascist movements. But with an Eastern European guest with ulterior motives also living in their midst, tensions rise as it becomes clear that no one’s safety can be guaranteed—at home or abroad.

For tickets visit

Arena Stage Artistic Director Molly Smith said: “This is the most important election of my lifetime.  How we vote will determine the direction of this great country. Theaters are places to engage and meditate. This is a brilliant opportunity to bring forward our best writers to reflect on this moment in time, through both historic and modern eyes. And then take action.

October 17: Shakespeare Theatre Company

The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui, by Bertolt Brecht


A ruthless, frighteningly charismatic Chicago mobster takes over the cauliflower trade, using lies, brute force, and most of all, Shakespearean acting. Written by Bertolt Brecht in 1941 during his American exile, The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui has been seen as a satirical response to Adolf Hitler’s rise. But the play’s portrait of how a bully becomes a ruler is as relevant now as it ever has been. For tickets visit:

 October 24: Signature Theatre

A Face in the Crowd, by Budd Schulberg

7:30 p.m.

A reading of the screenplay of the celebrated 1957 film, directed by Elia Kazan and starring Andy Griffith. Part rags-to-riches cautionary tale, part political thriller, and part doomed romance, A Face in the Crowd foretold how mass media, celebrity, commerce and politics would become forever intertwined, in a way that was almost incomprehensible when it was written.

For tickets visit

Signature Theater Artistic Director Eric Schaeffer said: “Signature Theatre is proud to join with our colleagues in reading A Face in the Crowd. It’s important to bring these works to the forefront of our audience’s minds as we all vote for America’s future this year.”

October 31: The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

Warrior Class, by Kenneth Lin

7:30 p.m.

Warrior Class centers on Julius Weishan Lee, a New York assemblyman who’s been dubbed “The Republican Obama.” Lee is the son of Chinese immigrants and a decorated war veteran with a seemingly limitless political career ahead of him. Then someone from his past threatens to reveal a college transgression, and Lee must decide how far he’ll go to keep the incident out of the public eye. Whatever his decision, the consequences may be costly.

For tickets visit

 November 7: Studio Theatre

Ivanka: A Medea for Right Now, by Joshua Harmon

With her father nearing the White House and his hateful rhetoric only getting more egregious, dutiful daughter Ivanka has had enough: She’s withdrawn support from her father’s campaign. In retaliation, her father vows to evict her first from her luxury apartment and then from the country itself. Can she live in exile? Where does her loyalty lie, to family or country? And what lengths will she go to, to change the story of her family’s name? From the author of Bad Jews comes an outrageous play in the form of a Greek tragedy with some very modern characters: Ivanka, Donald, Omarosa, and the Sisterhood of the Park East Synagogue.  For tickets visit

Artistic Director David Muse said: “We theatre-makers can get nostalgic about the days of Greek tragedy, when all of a city’s voters went to see the same festival of plays – contemporary themes filtered through ancient stories. This reading series finds writers from the last 75 years working through the important political questions of our time, and perhaps all times: Whom we trust, how we organize ourselves, the ways we depend on each other in a democracy. And from Studio’s perspective, there’s something both thrilling and perverse in reading Josh Harmon’s contemporary Medea on election eve.”



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