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BUILDING the WALL
by Robert Schenkkan
Directed by Joanna Godwin-Seidl
Starring: Dave Moskin & Flo Wilson
Theater Drachengasse, Fleischmarkt 22, 1010 Wien
European Premiere and Season Opening
From America’s most acclaimed political playwright, Pulitzer and Tony® winner Robert Schenkkan (Academy Award® nom.), comes a provocative theatrical event written in a "white hot fury". In a time when shocking campaign rhetoric is turned into real policies, BUILDING THE WALL reveals the power of theatre to question who we are and where we might be going.
It is 2019. Rick, a former prison administrator, now finds HIMSELF imprisoned, awaiting a possible death sentence. Having run a private prison facility in Trump’s America, new immigration laws forced him to accept an overabundant influx of prisoners awaiting deportation. The pressures in this “for profit” facility, quickly begin to pile up. Rick is on his own to “figure things out”. The situation quickly spins out of control. Who’s really to blame for what ensued?
Gloria, a history professor, is here to interview him, to hear his story and, maybe understand the man behind the headlines.
A cautionary tale about how anybody caught in extraordinary circumstances can end up doing extraordinary things – but at what price?
The Hollywood Reporter “A mesmerizing and shocking new play that simmers with of-the-moment urgency.”
LA Times “Terrifyingly plausible dystopian fiction”
Variety “A scorcher of a play with gripping storytelling”
New York Times “A must-see show!”
Read the text below on the story behind the story, a theory determined by French philosopher Hannah Arednt on "The Banality of Evil". As much as this play is about the Trump administration, it is about the people who allow him to succeed.
ABOUT RICK - Dave Moskin
Dave grew up in NYC appearing in numerous Theater and Television productions including Oliver, Gypsy, the national company of The Rothchild’s and The Grassharp and Seesaw on Broadway.
He has just returned from the Schloßfestspiele in Zwingenberg, Germany where he played Eddie/Dr. Scott in Rocky Horror
Other Musical Theater credits include Berger in Hair, Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar, The Big Bopper in Buddy the Musical, Schrank in West Side Story at the Salzburger Festspiele, Vince Fontaine/Teen angel in Grease Tommy, Footloose, Jekyll & Hyde, I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change, Charlie in Over the Threshhold, the Rock Tenor in Bernsteins Mass with the Tonkünstler Orchester.
Theater Productions include Jamie in Territory, Ben in IZ, Leon/Nick in Speaking In Tongues, Frank in How the Other Half Loves, Winston in 1984, Isaac in Disgraced, Nick in The Invisible Hand, Richard Ehrlich in Time Stands Still, Martin Sterneck in Gabriel Barylli’s Chickenshit(Butterbrot), Yvan in ART and .
In the past year he has appeared in the critically acclaimed productions of The Invisible Hand as Nick Bright and The Who & the What as Eli here at Theater Drachengasse.
Film credits include Tootsie, The Godfather, Manhattan, Im weißen Rössl – Wehe du singst!, Thank You For Not Bombing.
In 1999 and 2000 he represented Austria at the Eurovision Song Contest as the composer of the songs Reflection and All To You.
He is also the Producer of, and plays “Jake” in the touring show “The Blues Brothers Are Back”.
Dave studied acting in New York with Jack Waltzer and plays piano, guitar, and percussion.
ABOUT GLORIA - Flo Wilson
Flo comes from the UK, her credits include:
Richard The Third (Northern Broadsides); Home Is (Contact Theatre & Richmix London); House Of Bernarda Alba (Home Theatre); Brief Encounters (Freedom Studios); Black Love, Fences, Fear Of A Black Planet (Black Arts Development Project); Lisa's Sex Strike (Northern Broadsides); Aftershock (Real Life Theatre Company); Everybody Loves A Winner (Royal Exchange Theatre); Three Mothers, A Streetcar Named Desire, Love On The Dole, To Kill A Mockingbird (Octagon Theatre Bolton); Somebody's Son, Bag Lady (Hidden Gems); Aladdin (Wakefield Opera House); The Frogs (Royal National Theatre); Joshua's Egg, A Fine Example, Bretevski Street (Theatre Centre); On Thr Rock And Roll, Zinzi, Walk On The Wild Side, Angel, The Emperor's New Clothes, A Dream Of Ellen Green, Graven Images, Lilfords Mill (Pit Prop Theatre).
TELEVISION CREDITS INCLUDE:
Overshadowed, In The Dark, In The Club, From Darkness, Johnny And Inel, From There To Here, All At Sea, Moving On, Hebburn, The Syndicate, Body Farm, Waterloo Road, Survivors, That Peter Kay Thing, King Girl, Out Of The Blue, Cardiac Arrest, (BBC); Leaving, Vera, Monroe, Eternal Law, Coronation Street, DCI Banks, Scott And Bailey, Unforgiven, Wired, Bob And Rose, Fat Friends, The Last Train, (ITV); The Mill, Shamless, Sirens, (Channel 4); Hollyoaks (Lime Pictures); Emmerdale, A Touch Of Frost (YTV)
FILM CREDITS INCLUDE
42 Acres (D & Dum Productions)
RADIO CREDITS INCLUDE
Tracy, Revelations, Dad, Listen To Your Parents, Shells On A Woven Chord, Daily Service Singers,
(BBC Radio 4)
ROBERT SCHENKKAN is a Pulitzer-prize winning, Tony@ Award winning, Writer's Guild Award winning, three-time Emmy nominated writer of Stage, Television, and Film.
He is the author of fourteen original full-length plays, two musicals, and a collection of one-act plays. He co-wrote the feature film, HACKSAW RIDGE (six Academy Award nominations) and THE QUIET AMERICAN, and his television credits include: ALL THE WAY, THE PACIFIC, THE ANDROMEDA STRAIN and SPARTACUS.
Robert will be joining us at the premiere on 25th September 2017
THE BANALITY OF EVIL - Hannah Arendt
A decade after Arendt established herself as a formidable thinker with her incisive inquiry into how totalitarian tyrants take hold of a people, she writes:
The essence of totalitarian government, and perhaps the nature of every bureaucracy, is to make functionaries and mere cogs in the administrative machinery out of men, and thus to dehumanize them.
It is through this lens of bureaucracy (which she calls “the rule of Nobody”) as a weapon of totalitarianism that Arendt arrives at her notion of “the banality of evil” — a banality reflected in Eichmann himself, who embodied “the dilemma between the unspeakable horror of the deeds and the undeniable ludicrousness of the man who perpetrated them.” In a passage that applies to Donald Trump with astonishing accuracy — except the part about lying, of course; that aspect Arendt addressed with equal prescience elsewhere — she describes Eichmann:
What he said was always the same, expressed in the same words. The longer one listened to him, the more obvious it became that his inability to speak was closely connected with an inability to think, namely, to think from the standpoint of somebody else. No communication was possible with him, not because he lied but because he was surrounded by the most reliable of all safeguards against the words and the presence of others, and hence against reality as such.
The Nazis, Arendt argues, furnished this deliberate disconnect from reality with what she calls “holes of oblivion.” (Today, we call them “alternative facts.”) In a searing testament to the power of speaking up, she considers what the story of the Holocaust — a story irrepressibly told by its survivors — has taught us:
The holes of oblivion do not exist. Nothing human is that perfect, and there are simply too many people in the world to make oblivion possible. One man will always be left alive to tell the story.
The lesson of such stories is simple and within everybody’s grasp. Politically speaking, it is that under conditions of terror most people will comply but some people will not, just as the lesson of the countries to which the Final Solution was proposed is that “it could happen” in most places but it did not happen everywhere. Humanly speaking, no more is required, and no more can reasonably be asked, for this planet to remain a place fit for human habitation.
Arendt took great care to differentiate between the banal and the commonplace, but some reviewers — as those pre-bent on a reflexive rebuttal are always apt to do — accused her of suggesting that the atrocity of the Holocaust had been commonplace, which of course was the very opposite of her point. Among those who misunderstood her notion of the “banality” of evil to mean a trivialization of the outcome of evil rather than an insight into the commonplace motives of its perpetrators was the scholar Gerhard Scholem, with whom Arendt had corresponded warmly for decades. At the end of a six-page letter to Scholem from early December of 1964, she crystallizes her point and dispels all grounds for confusion with the elegant precision of her rhetoric:
You are quite right, I changed my mind and do no longer speak of “radical evil.” … It is indeed my opinion now that evil is never “radical,” that it is only extreme, and that it possesses neither depth nor any demonic dimension. It can overgrow and lay waste the whole world precisely because it spreads like a fungus on the surface. It is “thought-defying,” as I said, because thought tries to reach some depth, to go to the roots, and the moment it concerns itself with evil, it is frustrated because there is nothing. That is its “banality.” Only the good has depth that can be radical.
Eichmann in Jerusalem remains, unfortunately, an increasingly relevant masterwork as we face a world seized by banal tyrants capable of perpetrating enormous evil with their small hands. But perhaps John Steinbeck put it best in his superb letter written months before Arendt arrived in New York as a refugee from Nazi Germany: “All the goodness and the heroisms will rise up again, then be cut down again and rise up. It isn’t that the evil thing wins — it never will — but that it doesn’t die.”
Complement it with Dostoyevsky on why there are no bad people and Mary McCarthy — Arendt’s longtime friend and correspondent — on how we decide whether evil is forgivable, then revisit Arendt on lying in politics, the meaning of “refugee,” how tyrants use isolation as a weapon of oppression, and the crucial difference between truth and meaning.
Director - Joanna GODWIN-SEIDL - under the frightening spell of current events, she had a burning desire to remind, reflect and tell a cautionary tale. On a hot day in April she discovered this play in the Austrian press and is grateful to Theater Drachengasse for wanting to tell it.
The actress and director studied theatre in the United Kingdom. She has been running VIENNA THEATRE PROJECT since 2006. THE LAST FIVE YEARS was her solo musical debut at the Theater Drachengasse. German language theatre credits include directing MÄDCHEN MIT DEN SCHWEFELHÖLZERN (Ronacher Theater);, HAUTNAH (Patrick Marber) for Theaterverein Vision (OFF Theater) and MORD IM MUSIKANTENBEISL (Asst. director - Theater Drachengasse). Recent acclaimed musicals include ORDINARY DAYS and TICK TICK..BOOM! She has a solid repertoire often choosing plays with social & political content; PLENTY (VIS Theatre), DIRT (Theater am Petersplatz) and THE MEETING (Black History Month/Theater am Petersplatz) to name a few. In 2014 she directed the hit play TOPDOG/UNDERDOG, was pleased to receive rave reviews for her musical TITLE OF SHOW and starred in Sarah Kane’s 4.48 Psychosis. As an actress she has starred in a number of shows from Aykbourn to Coward, Shakespeare and back in theatres such as Vienna English Theatre, Kammeroper, Schönbrunner Schlosstheater. 2015-2016 she directed the critically acclaimed shows DISGRACED, MARRY ME A LITTLE and THE INVISIBLE HAND, the latter and her show THE WHO & THE WHAT ( 2017 Theater Drachengasse) were nominated show of the week in the national press. ,