Trump appears in
Modern playwrights are now including the U.S. president in their works
By Byron Toben
Updated August 17, 2020
Earlier, I have related how Donald Trump has been presaged in classical theatre: Ibsen – Enemy of the People; Shakespeare – Mid Summer’s Night Dream, Richard III, King Lear and Julius Caesar; and Jarry – Ubu Roi.
Now, several contemporary playwrights have incorporated him into their recent works. Here is a quick rundown:
This prolific, award-winning lady has churned out 18 plays since 1998. A grad of Reed College and New York University, her plays have been staged in New York, Washington D.C. and London U.K. Her most recent comedy, Shipwreck takes Trump seriously, both politically and existentially, rather than merely as a subject for easy spoofing.
This accomplished writer, born as a military brat, went on to be mentored by James Baldwin and to work with Spike Lee and Oprah Winfrey. Along the way, she created 19 plays, including Top Dog/Underdog, which won a Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Her unpublished play (so far) 100 Plays For The First 100 Days is based on Trump’s first 100 in office.
Hard to track down who are the principals of this fringe group. But they have created Trump, the Musical, a hit at the giant Edinburgh Fringe Festival. That followed an earlier similar Boris, The Musical based on U.K. prime minister Boris Johnson.
Back to Shakespeare
Probably the most controversial of Trump-related plays was the New York Shakespeare in the Park version of the Bard’s Julius Caesar, done in modern-day dress, in which the authoritarian character, replete in a blue suit, red tie and orangey mop, is stabbed and sliced in a frenzy worthy of Pulp Fiction.
As interesting as the above samples are, the definitive Trump play is yet to be written.
Plays about other persons key to Trump era
Nancy Pelosi is the subject of Bill McMahon’s solo play The Adult In The Room presented by Victory Gardens in Chicago. She discusses with the audience matters on the eve of the impeachment hearings.
ROE, written by Lisa Loomer, focuses on Norma McCorvey, who was the “Jane Roe” in the 1973 case of “Roe vs. Wade” which established women’s right to choose but hampered by Trump’s withdrawal of medical funds to anything that hinted at abortions. Achieved rave reviews at Chicago’s leading Goodman Theatre.
Byron Toben, a past president of The Montreal Press Club, has been WestmountMag.ca’s theatre reviewer since July 2015. Previously, he wrote for since terminated web sites Rover Arts and Charlebois Post, print weekly The Downtowner and print monthly The Senior Times. He also is an expert consultant on U.S. work permits for Canadians.