To me, a Festival is best when it’s an open riff on one subject. Everyone gets to celebrate the apple in their own way during apple picking season–that kind of thing.
‘It’s powerful and simple and something that goes way back.
I love festivals that are powerful in their simplicity. And really, when I came up with the idea for 44 Plays for 44 Presidents, it felt a lot like I was starting a mini-festival. I had a title and a few parameters, but then I brought in four talented writers and we each interpreted presidencies in our own way.
And then the play got published.
In production after production we kept hearing the same things from producers: the show brought in new audiences, whole families, got people talking, asking questions, interested to learn more about the presidents and U.S. history; it was ideal educational outreach that got kids engaged and interested; voter registration drives were a perfect companion–things we had never really intended to inspire. We just wanted to make the show and never imagined the effect it would have on audiences (or how the title alone seems to sell seats.)
I started to dream about multiple productions of the show happening during the 2008 election, and wondered if we could amplify that effect–not just for each production involved but as a single, national happening as well. It took me four years to start asking for the kind of help that would be necessary to pull this thing off.
44 Plays for 44 Presidents is the perfect epicenter for a powerfully simple festival that takes place during a presidential election. It’s not a political play–it’s a history–and it celebrates our country’s story through the lens of the presidency, without being opinionless and unchallenging.
We need to throw history at the madness of the Presidential election cycle because nothing stifles temporary insanity like history. It reminds us of our power as voters and our ability to weather strife as a people.