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March 13, 2019 at 12:00 pm - 2:00 pm
$92 to $115
Aaron Posner’s new work about John Quincy Adams ($92 to $115) is the latest entry in Arena Stage’s Power Plays series, an ongoing project in which playwrights—including big names like Eve Ensler and Lawrence Wright—tackle influential figures from throughout history, decade by decade. We talked to artistic director Molly Smith about how they pick their subjects.
What characteristics make certain powerful people stage-worthy?
We give [selected playwrights] information about what happened during that ten-year period, and they’ll [often] come in with an idea of something they want to write about, or a moment in the nation’s history they’ve been fascinated with since they were young. Every single one of them has a different perspective. The only thing we’re careful about is that the idea behind the plays is distinctive.
Why does John Quincy Adams make a good subject?
I think he was absolutely brilliant, yet to many people he was ineffectual. He really distinguished himself for what he did outside of the presidency. He was a great thinker on the nature of democracy.
What do you want audiences to leave with?
Well, in this particular show, I would love for them to go out talking about the nature of democracy and what it means and how it’s changed and how it affects their lives.
With all the news happening, do you see theater as a way to escape what’s going on or to better engage with it?
This is the most exciting time in my life to be directing and producing theater—bar none. That’s because audiences are hungry to come together as a community. They’re hungry to dig into difficult and complicated situations and stories. They’re eager to sit with other people in the audience and respond as a group. That’s powerful. I mean, we’re in a moment where all of our democratic institutions are being shaken like an earthquake. This is a moment when writers in the US are interested in looking at our political systems more than at any time during my career.
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