“All the Way” (Arena Stage)

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LBJ meets w/ MLK in the Oval Office.

Johnson had civil rights. And voting rights. And Medicare. And a Constitutional Amendment which eliminated the poll tax, a device white politicians used to keep poor blacks out of the voting booth. And a Constitutional Amendment which provided a means to fill the Vice-Presidency, something we needed a scant five years after he left office. And the war on poverty. Incidentally, he appointed the first African-American Supreme Court Justice.

He was, first of all, rude, earthy, blunt and to the point, which is to say he was an American.

-Tim Treanor (DC Theater Scene.com)

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All civil rights leaders (you read about as a kid) did NOT agree w/ what tactics to use!

All the Way by Robert Schenkkan won the Tony, Drama Desk, among other awards.  It also broke Broadway box office records in 2015. The playwright is currently adapting this play as a feature film for HBO (produced by Steven Spielberg and starring Bryan Cranston). Robert’s previous Broadway experience was the Pulitzer Prize-winning epic The Kentucky Cycle (a series of plays which my mom and I saw MANY years ago at U of A).

The play tacks a ton of dialogue into the one hundred sixty minutes traffic of its stage… and to complicate things further the story is told in short scenes, necessitating the rapid movement of actors and scenery on stage and off.  This director Kyle Donnelly accomplishes with military efficiency, but sometimes the actors seem like they are declaiming, rather than in the moment (an occupational hazard, perhaps, in a play with so many speeches).  -Tim Treanor (DC Theater Scene.com)

The play peers at the leadership of Dr. King as he struggles to keep his own movement intact. Stokely Carmichael and SNCC head Bob Moses clamor to take to the streets, while conservatives like NAACP head Roy Wilkins and Rev. Ralph David Abernathy prefer a slower approach.  This for me was the MOST interesting part of the story.  This was NOT only an educational play, it was VERY funny!

 

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