Reimagine American Politics: Explore TheseTitles this Presidents Day

Happy Presidents Day!

There’s no better time than today to immerse yourself in the rich history and fascinating dynamics of American presidents and politics. At Broadway Licensing, we curated a list of titles on American presidents for you to delve into!

All the Way by Robert Schenkkan

Winner of the 2014 Tony Award® for Best Play

November, 1963. An assassin’s bullet catapults Lyndon Baines Johnson into the presidency. A Shakespearean figure of towering ambition and appetite, this charismatic, conflicted Texan hurls himself into the passage of the Civil Rights Act—a tinderbox issue emblematic of a divided America—even as he campaigns for re-election in his own right, and the recognition he so desperately wants. In Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award–winning Robert Schenkkan’s vivid dramatization of LBJ’s first year in office, means versus ends plays out on the precipice of modern America. All The Way is a searing, enthralling exploration of the morality of power. It’s not personal, it’s just politics.

The Best Man by Gore Vidal

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…”

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

45 Plays For 45 Presidents by Karen Weinberg, Chloe Johnston, Genevra Gallo-Bayiates, Sean Benjamin, Andy Bayiates

45 Plays for 45 Presidents is exactly what it sounds like, but every turn it takes is entirely unexpected. In each of these espresso shots of American history, a member of the flexible ensemble dons the star-spangled coat of the presidency and the group explores a surprising aspect of that administration. The short plays run on a spectrum from elections to impeachments, from personal stories to political battles, and from funny to tragic. Whether it’s a comedy roast of Thomas Jefferson, a nuanced monologue about social upheaval during the Johnson administration, or a mini-musical about George Bush Sr., you’re never going to know what’s coming next. A unique, thought-provoking, and wildly entertaining evening of theatre.

46 Plays for America’s First Ladies by Genevra Gallo-Bayiates, Chloe Johnston, Andy Bayiates, Bilal Dardai, Sharon Greene

46 Plays for America’s First Ladies leaps from comic to tragic as it surveys the lives of the women who have served (and avoided serving) as first lady, from Martha Washington to Jill Biden. A biographical, meta-theatrical, genre-bending ride through race, gender, and everything else your history teacher never taught you about the founding of America.

Abe Lincoln and Uncle Tom in the White House by Carlyle Brown

Alone in the Executive Office, President Abraham Lincoln is struggling with signing the Emancipation Proclamation when he is mysteriously visited by Uncle Tom, the fictional character in Harriet Beecher Stowe’s abolitionist novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin; or, Life Among the Lowly. These two iconic characters from life and literature—one real, the other fiction—attempt to understand each other across a chasm of race in the midst of the Civil War. Throughout one late night and into the dawning day, they find themselves crossing over into each other’s world in a tale of suffering, self-discovery, and redemption.

Confidence (and the Speech) by Susan Lambert Hatem

On July 4, 1979, President Carter canceled an important energy policy speech he was scheduled to give the next day and disappeared to Camp David. Ten days later, he emerged from his impromptu domestic summit and gave a new speech, the Crisis of Confidence speech, which became known as the “malaise” speech. The speech garnered overwhelmingly positive responses at first and many now view the speech as unprecedented, farsighted and insightful. Others think it may have ultimately cost him the White House. Forty years later, college professor Cynthia Cooper is approached by a stranger, a young man, and asked to recall her time with the Carter Administration during the days before the now infamous Crisis of Confidence speech. If she is going to tell her story of that time—the story told from her perspective—she is going to play the president. And the young man who wants to know her story? Well, he is going to play her. This unique cross-gender experience explores the confidence of a president, a nation in chaos, and women in politics.

Hillary and Clinton by Lucas Hnath

In an alternate universe light-years away from our own is a planet called Earth. It looks a lot like our Earth, except it’s slightly different. And living on this other Earth is a woman named Hillary. Hillary is trying to become the president of a country called the United States of America. It’s 2008 and she’s campaigning in a state called New Hampshire. She’s not doing very well in the polls. She needs more money to keep the campaign going, so she calls her husband for help. He offers her a deal, a tough deal, but when she gets his help, she gets more than she bargained for. You may think you know where this story is going, but you don’t. After all, the play takes place in an alternate universe where anything can happen.

The Election by Don Zolidis

After an embattled student body president resigns in disgrace, Mark Davenport figures he will cruise to victory in the special election. After all, his only opponent is nerdy Christy Martin, who wants to eliminate football. But when a mysterious Super PAC gives her an unlimited budget, things start to get very ugly. Mark must face total annihilation or accept the services of a slick professional campaign manager with questionable ethics and a million-dollar Super PAC of his own. A hilarious and timely satire on the contemporary political scene.

The Outsider by Paul Slade Smith

Ned Newley doesn’t even want to be governor. He’s terrified of public speaking; his poll numbers are impressively bad. To his ever-supportive Chief of Staff, Ned seems destined to fail. But political consultant Arthur Vance sees things differently: Ned might be the worst candidate to ever run for office. Unless the public is looking for… the worst candidate to ever run for office. A timely and hilarious comedy that skewers politics and celebrates democracy.

The Great Society by Robert Schenkkan

The minute you gain power, you start to lose it. In his second term of office, LBJ struggles to fight a war on poverty as the war in Vietnam spins out of control. Besieged by opponents, Johnson marshals all his political wiles to try to pass some of the most important social programs in U.S. history. The Great Society depicts the larger-than-life politician’s tragic fall from grace, as his accomplishments—the passage of hundreds of bills to enact reform in civil and voting rights, poverty, and education—are overshadowed by the bitter failure of the Vietnam War. The Great Society is complemented by its companion piece, the Tony Award®-winning All the Way, depicting LBJ’s first term in office.

JQA by Aaron Posner

Complicated, passionate, and difficult, John Quincy Adams was a brilliant diplomat, ineffectual one-term president, and congressman known for his eloquence, arrogance, and integrity. This unique, highly theatrical play imagines key confrontations between JQA and some of America’s most dynamic figures: George Washington, Andrew Jackson, Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln, his own father, John Adams, and more. At once provocative, haunting, and hilarious, this power play challenges the way we think of our country, our government, and ourselves.

Frost/Nixon by Peter Morgan

British talk-show host David Frost has become a lowbrow laughingstock. Richard M. Nixon has just resigned the United States presidency in total disgrace over Vietnam and the Watergate scandal. Determined to resurrect his career, Frost risks everything on a series of in-depth interviews in order to extract an apology from Nixon. The cagey Nixon, however, is equally bent on redeeming himself in his nation’s eyes. In the television age, image is king, and both men are desperate to out-talk and upstage each other as the cameras roll. The result is the interview that sealed a president’s legacy.

Nixon’s Nixon by Russell Lees

It is the night before President Nixon is to announce his resignation, and he has summoned Secretary of State Henry Kissinger to the Lincoln Sitting Room. Kissinger arrives, expecting to find his President preparing to resign. But Nixon is in the process of wrestling with that very decision. Unstable, nostalgic, garrulous and paranoid, Nixon leads his Secretary of State on a journey through the high moments of his administration and Nixon’s past. The journey borders on the surreal as Nixon pressures Kissinger into reenacting crucial scenes: Kissinger plays Nixon, Nixon plays Brezhnev, Kissinger plays Kennedy and Mao—the scenarios become dizzying. Meanwhile, Kissinger is subtly working to convince Nixon to step down so that he can pursue his geopolitical goals—and his own quest for historical glory—unencumbered by a weakened President. Nixon, however, can’t face the lonely aftermath of such a decision; he envisions himself “wandering some hellish golf course, waiting to die.” As the evening and the drinking progress the two concoct a plan to provoke an international crisis that would allow Nixon to leave office a hero. Kissinger muses, “Sometimes I stare in the mirror. What’s happening behind those eyes? I’m astonished. Mystified.” Then adds, “I like it.” Nixon confides he no longer stares in the mirror, although he did on the way up. He not only stared, he talked to himself. “You sly dog,’ I’d say. And we’d share a secret smile. But then I fell. I fell like Satan tossed from heaven.”

First Lady Suite by Michael John LaChiusa

The first piece, the staccato, yet hauntingly lyrical Over Texas, takes place aboard Air Force One on November 22nd, 1963. Mary Gallagher, the First Lady’s personal secretary, and Evelyn Lincoln, personal secretary to the President, are trying to relax as they fly into Dallas. Mary, exhausted by the lifestyle, is coaxed into napping by the cool, collected, Evelyn. Mary’s dreams become portentous nightmares as they are haunted by a ghostly Jackie and an eerie Lady Bird. (1 man, 4 women.)

The brassy, bouncy Where’s Mamie Takes place in Ike and Mamie’s bedroom at the White House, yet quickly turns into a time-travel fantasy as Mamie, melancholic and alone on her birthday, is paid a visit by Marian Anderson. Marian whisks Mamie off to Algiers to confront Ike about his affair with his driver, Kay Summersby, and warn him of the racial strife he’ll face later in life as President. (1 man, 3 women.)

The comical Olio presents Margaret Truman at a recital trying her best to sing as she’s constantly, hilariously, being upstaged by First Lady Bess. (1 man, 1 woman, or 2 women.)

The final piece of the Suite, the melodic Eleanor Sleeps Here, is a heart rending examination of the relationship between Eleanor Roosevelt and Lorena Hickok as they’re being flown over Washington by Amelia Earhart. (3 women.)

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.

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