Segment: Austin-bred playwright critiques Trump in ‘Building the Wall’

Maria Recio, a freelancer for the American-Statesman, scored a coup by covering Robert Schenkkan‘s “Building the Wall” in Washington, D.C.

Besides the obvious Austin connections — Schenkkan grew up here as part of a wildly creative family and he graduated from the University of Texas; plus his two LBJ plays, “All the Way” and “The Great Society,” recently played here at the Zach Theatre — this latest look at President Donald Trump‘s intentions to build a wall across the southern border arrives in Austin at UT later this summer.

Playwright Robert Schenkkan. Contributed


Here’s a slice of Recio’s article:

“Building the Wall” is set in a West Texas prison in the fall of 2019, late in Trump’s first term. It is an intense two-person exchange between a former private prison operator awaiting sentencing for a crime — unspecified at first — and an African-American history professor who wants to know what happened and why. It runs for 90 minutes without intermission.

The crime at the center of the play took place at a prison outside of El Paso, and “the wall” is a metaphor for what happens in a crackdown of immigrants in the country illegally — what it does to people and the fabric of the country. And it has had an intense response.

“The play is a very compelling story, a metaphor for personal responsibility and government action with immigration policy,” said Brant Pope, the director of the play in Austin and chairman of UT’s Department of Theatre and Dance. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a play that was more incendiary and more hot at the moment.”

Author: Michael Barnes

Michael Barnes writes about Austin's people, places, culture and history for the Austin American-Statesman and

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