Building the Wall: The Play and Commentary

Robert Schenkkan (Author) Timothy Patrick McCarthy (Afterword by)
& 2 more


In the tradition of Hamilton and Angels in America, a powerful, politically charged, dystopian drama that couldn't be more timely.

Written in a "white-hot fury" on the eve of the 2016 election, the stunning new play by Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winning dramatist Robert Schenkkan is creating a nationwide sensation. Bypassing the usual development path for plays, it has been signed up to open in five theaters across America in a National New Play Network Rolling World Premiere, starting in Los Angeles (March) and Denver (April) and continuing in the Washington, DC, area, Tucson, and Miami, with more productions to follow, including in Santa Fe and New York City.

Building the Wall lays out in a harrowing drama the possible consequences of Donald Trump's anti-immigration campaign rhetoric turned into federal policy. Two years from now, that policy has resulted in the mass round-up of millions of illegal aliens, with their incarceration overflowing into private prisons and camps reminiscent of another century. The former warden for one facility is awaiting sentencing for what happened under his watch. In a riveting interview with a historian who has come seeking the truth, he gradually reveals how the unthinkable became the inevitable, and the faceless illegals under his charge became the face of tragedy. The play is accompanied by commentary from three prominent scholars: on the real purpose of the border wall, our dark nativist history of restricting immigration, and the tradition of political protest in art.

Product Details

Arcade Publishing
Publish Date
April 04, 2017
5.4 X 0.8 X 8.3 inches | 0.48 pounds
BISAC Categories:

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About the Author

Robert Schenkkan is a playwright and screenwriter. He won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for The Kentucky Cycle and a Tony Award for Best Play for All the Way, which was also made into a multiple Emmy-nominated HBO movie starring Bryan Cranston. His most recent screenwriting credit is for Hacksaw Ridge, which was nominated for six Academy Awards. He lives in New York City.

Douglas S. Massey is the Henry G. Bryant Professor of Sociology and Public Affairs at Princeton University and Director of its Office of Population Research.

Julian E. Zelizer is a political historian at Princeton University and a fellow at New America. He is also a contributor to CNN, where he writes a weekly column and appears as a regular guest on television. His most recent book is The Fierce Urgency of Now: Lyndon Johnson, Congress, and the Battle for the Great Society (Penguin Press).

Timothy Patrick McCarthy is an award-winning scholar, educator, and activist. He holds a joint faculty appointment at Harvard University, where he is Director of Culture Change & Social Justice Initiatives at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government. The author or editor of four books from the New Press, including The Radical Reader and Prophets of Protest, Dr. McCarthy is the host and director of The A.R.T. of Human Rights, an ongoing public conversation series on art and politics co-sponsored by the Carr Center and at the American Repertory Theater.


"A disquieting response to the dawn of the Trump era." --The New York Times

"Schenkkan has penned a dystopian peek into the troubled future of Trump's America. Many adjectives describe the play: taut, harrowing, unnervingly artful, and downright shocking. But the most disturbing word of all may simply be 'plausible.' In the current political landscape, Building the Wall is an urgent and necessary work." --Doug Wright, Pulitzer and Tony Award winning playwright of I Am My Own Wife

"This is an urgent cry of warning from a leading voice in the American theater. . . .This project is more than a play. It's already ignited a national firestorm with theaters across the country signing up to produce it." --Stephen Sachs, Artistic Director Fountain Theater

"This riveting, harrowing and illuminating drama delivers a powerful warning and puts a human face on the inhuman, revealing how when personal accountability is denied, what seems inconceivable becomes inevitable." --Playbill

"MAGNIFICENT! Building the Wall should be seen and shuddered over, if only to heighten our collective vigilance. The theater historically has provided a forum for citizens to contemplate the agonizing issues of the day, and it's heartening to see Schenkkan and the Fountain [Theatre] respond with such celerity to present dangers." --Los Angeles Times

"MESMERIZING! Simmers with of-the-moment urgency. A cautionary look at how fascism can come to define the land of the free in Trump's America." --Hollywood Reporter

"GRIPPING! Timely and relevant." --LA Splash

"ONE HELL OF A SCARY PLAY! Topical and theoretically accurate . . . a necessary wake-up call." --Edge Media Network

"A DYSTOPIAN VISION! Shenkkan executes his tale skillfully, Michael Michetti has cast and directed it well, and the two actors perform superbly." --Stage Raw