Celebrate America: Independence Day Title Recommendations

Happy Independence Day!
Discover the perfect titles to enhance your Fourth of July celebrations!

Abraham Lincoln’s Big, Gay Dance Party by Aaron Loeb

Illinois schoolteacher Harmony Green has told her fourth grade class that Menard County’s most beloved homegrown hero, Abraham Lincoln, was gay. When Honest Abe is “outed” in a reimagined Christmas pageant, controversy and chaos engulf the town. As the trial of the century begins, big-city reporters and Congressional candidates descend, and family skeletons are forced out of the closet. Top hats and beards abound in this hilarious, poignant, and timely look at prejudice past and present.

Bella Bella by Harvey Fierstein, from the Words and Works of Bella Abzug

On one historical night in September 1976, Bella Abzug hides out in the bathroom of Manhattan’s Summit Hotel as she awaits the results of her bid to become New York’s first ever woman senator. Known for her fearless career as a lawyer, protester, and champion of gay rights, one of New York’s fiercest feminists must collect herself as her friends, family, and constituents (including the likes of Gloria Steinem, Shirley MacLaine, and others) hold their breaths just outside the door. The clock is ticking and the world is ready—just as soon as Bella is.

Building the Wall by Robert Schenkkan

Photo by Carol Rosegg, 2017 Off-Broadway production

On January 20, 2017, Donald J. Trump was sworn in as the 45th president of the United States. Over the next sixteen months, events would unravel that test every American’s strength of character: executive actions, an immigration round-up of unprecedented scale, and a declaration of martial law. Rick finds himself caught up as the frontman of the new administration’s edicts and loses his humanity. In a play that recalls George Orwell’s 1984 and the Nazi regime, BUILDING THE WALL is a terrifying and gripping exploration of what happens if we let fear win.

The Best Man by Gore Vidal

Photo by Jennifer Taylor, 2013 Harvey Theater production

The New York Post describes the plot as follows: “…William Russell, the ex-Secretary of State, is a wit and scholar with high liberal principles, beloved of the eggheads and suspected by practical politicians. Joseph Cantwell is a ruthless and hard-driving young man, a dirty fighter who will let no scruples stand in the way of his ambitions. And Arthur Hockstader is an ex-President, who loves politics for their own sake, admires a rough-and-tumble battler more than a chivalrous one, and is determined to have the final say in the selection of his party’s candidate…The ruthless young man has got hold of papers indicating that his rival once suffered from a mental crackup, which he is all set to use. Then his scrupulous antagonist comes across some incriminating evidence about Cantwell, which he is loath to produce. The scruples don’t appeal to the ex-President, who enjoys seeing the boys fight. All of this provides the framework for some vivid and interesting scenes in which Mr. Vidal contrasts the minds, emotions and fighting spirits of the two candidates…”

Church & State by Jason Odell Williams

Three days before his bid for reelection, in the wake of a school shooting in his hometown of Raleigh, North Carolina, a Republican U.S. senator makes an off-the-cuff comment to a blogger that gets leaked on “the Twitter,” calling into question the senator’s stance on guns and God. As his devoutly Christian wife and liberal Jewish campaign manager try to contain the damage, this look at how religion influences politics and how politics has become a religion is simultaneously funny, heartbreaking, and uplifting.

Farragut North by Beau Willimon

Photo by Cameron Whitman, 2019 Keegan Theatre production

Stephen Bellamy is a wunderkind press secretary who has built a career that men twice his age would envy. During a tight presidential primary race, Stephen’s meteoric rise falls prey to the backroom politics of more seasoned operatives. Farragut North is a timely story about the lust for power and the costs one will endure to achieve it.

The League of Youth by Jeffrey Hatcher

Adapted from the play by Henrik Ibsen.

In an adaptation full of sparkling wit and cynical humor, this political comedy follows the meteoric rise of ambitious young Stensgaard, an office-seeker who’s willing to say anything to win an election. Forming the “League of Youth” to lobby against his opposition, Stensgaard schemes, romances, and manipulates in his rush to power. Ibsen’s most popular play in his lifetime, The League of Youth caused fighting in the streets, with conservatives claiming it was an attack on their party and liberals claiming it was an attack on theirs! A thought-provoking comedy that’s sure to feel shockingly familiar.

The Manchurian Candidate by John Lahr

Raymond Shaw is a young American hero, the first Congressional Medal of Honor winner since Vietnam. Decorated for saving his troops in a peacekeeping mission in the Middle East, he has returned to the U.S. and a career as a journalist in Washington, D.C. His wealthy widowed mother has married the repugnant racist Senator John Iselin, wedding her lust for power to his crude demagoguery. Through ruthless manipulation of the media, the power elite and the disenchanted masses, Mrs. Iselin maneuvers her husband closer and closer to the vice-presidential nomination. She even masterminds Raymond’s marriage to Jocie Jordan, the beautiful daughter of Senator Tom Jordan, the favored candidate for vice-president. In a series of chilling flashbacks, Raymond is shown to have been no war hero, but a prisoner brainwashed by mysterious captors in the Middle East. It was during the brainwashing sessions that Raymond killed several of his own men in cold blood, was told he saved them, and the seeds were planted for future murders using Raymond as the dupe. One of the other prisoners, and a survivor, was Ben Marco, who discovers the international conspiracy that depends upon Raymond killing a number of prominent figures. As Ben vainly attempts to find someone to believe him in order to stop the killing, Raymond struggles to understand his own dreams and flashbacks while systematically murdering the people who are blocking the Iselin nomination: the savvy editor of his newspaper, his father-in-law and even Jocie. When Ben finally unravels the final step in the plot, he races to the Republican Convention to prevent Raymond from completing the final murder: the assassination of the president, who has just chosen Johnny Iselin as his running mate. In his last confrontation with his mother, Raymond learns that she has been a part of this ongoing plot and has used him as a murdering pawn in her scheme to put Johnny Iselin in the White House. With a deep, incestuous kiss, she sends him to his fate. As these characters engage in the final battle for ultimate power, the play reaches a crescendo of almost unbearable suspense.

McReele by Stephen Belber

When Delaware journalist Rick Dayne meets death row inmate Darius McReele, the articles Rick writes lead to Darius’ exoneration from a sixteen-year murder conviction. Darius’ sympathetic past and magnetic personality make him a darling of the lecture circuit, leading to national attention and political viability. With his past and future in the balance, Darius walks the line, as Rick seeks to determine which way he’ll ultimately fall.

Opal is a Diamond by John Patrick

Again, Opal’s abundant good nature has made her the victim of another’s baser instincts, this time the culprit being an oily, unscrupulous politician who is running for re-election as mayor. But Opal, abetted by new friends and old, decides to fight back—by becoming a candidate herself! To the consternation of her rival, Opal’s appeal to the voters is embarrassingly great, and foul play appears to be the only way to stave off an upset. What ensues will keep the audience in suspense—and roaring with laughter, until an unexpected turn of events brings all to its happy, lighthearted and delightfully satisfying conclusion.

The True by Sharr White

Photo by Sara Krulwich, 2018 Off-Broadway production

When it comes to Polly Noonan, there’s no fine line between the political and personal. For her…it’s only personal. Especially now that her hero, “mayor for life” Erastus Corning, is in a pitched battle for control of the Albany Democratic Party. The True explores the bounds of love, loyalty, and female power in the male-dominated world of 1977 machine politics.

Watch on the Rhine by Lillian Hellman

Concerns an idealistic German who, with his American wife and two children, flees Hitler’s Germany and finds sanctuary with his wife’s family in the United States. He hopes for a respite from the dangerous work in which he has been involved, but his desire for personal safety soon comes into conflict with the deeply held beliefs that have made him an active anti-Nazi. In the end his conscience cannot be compromised, and he returns to Germany and the resistance movement—and to what will be, most certainly, his ultimate destruction. Told in compelling, human terms, the play is an eloquent and stirring tribute to the brave men and women who, despite all odds, struggled early on to stem the tide of fascism which was soon to spread throughout Europe and the world.

When Monica Met Hillary by Winter Miller

It’s 1995. Monica Lewinsky is twenty-two and an intern at the White House. She has a crush on the president of the United States.

A year later, Huma Abedin is twenty and an intern at the White House. She has a plan to break the glass ceiling with the first lady of the United States, Hillary Rodham Clinton.

You think you know the story. After all, you did hear it from the media, the news, the tabloids, but you might come to realize you don’t know it at all. This acerbically funny play is about mothers and daughters, ambitious politicians who are devoted wives, and, yes, the men…but they don’t have a say in how this story ends. Monica and Hillary have never met, never spoken to each other; but what if, decades after the fact, they did meet?

Included in Broadway Book Club’s College Theatre Pack

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