In a war of words focused on fact versus fiction, a magazine editor must mediate between a famous essayist and a zealous fact checker over an article about a teen suicide in “The Lifespan of a Fact,” which runs March 18 to April 16 at Trenton’s Open Book Theatre.
Artistic director Krista Schafer Ewbank said the show is a funny and timely show that looks at how people present facts and try to discover what is true.
“The debate over what is true and what is factual is literally raging all around us, and this tackles that with a ton of humor, while not being afraid to ask the hard questions,” she said. “It’s not specifically about any of today’s hot button issues, but can still be applied liberally to our world.”
Ewbank said her character, the editor, sees both characters’ perspectives.
“As Emily, I find myself going back and forth, changing allegiances, questioning each perspective,” she said. “There is no clear-cut answer for me, and that is how most things in life are, I find.”
She said the premise of the play may sound dry, but it definitely is not.
“I find myself laughing anytime I am offstage and can just watch the other actors,” she said.
Director Kez Settle said she is discovering the show’s humor as rehearsals progress.
“You read a script and see the humor and humanity in the story, but plays are meant to be seen and heard, so when you see and hear it come to life, the humor really comes out,” she said. “Even at the first cast reading, we found ourselves laughing out loud.”
Settle said the design elements also support the themes of the show in a conceptual way, immersing the audience and the characters in the world of the essay.
She said the show also focuses on our cultural reliance on electronics as a form of communication.
“These elements come together to support and propel this story from lights up to lights down, and my goal is that the audience will become immersed in the world of this show and take the ride alongside the characters,” Settle said.
She said the show focuses on how truth is defined.
“Do we tell a story to give a sense of something, or to convey what really happened?” Kettle said. “When is it OK to embellish a story? Who does it hurt? Who does it help? It raises so many relevant questions.”
She said she wanted to direct the show because she is excited to dig into those questions.
“The play is very hard-hitting and thought-provoking, but the characters are well-drawn, and it has a humor to it that is very humane and compelling,” Kettle said. “These people are relatable, and I think it will engage the audience and really make them think.”
She said the show is relevant on many levels.
“Can we bend the truth to serve art?” Kettle said. “When is it not okay? This play raises the question on where one draws the line.”
David Liskow, who plays the fact checker, Jim Fingal, said the play has much to say about who has the responsibility for telling the truth when others are more focused on a story and its vision.
“The play, through each character, provokes questions about which generation should be responsible for facts and how they share the truth between each other,” he said.
Phil Hughes, who plays essayist John D’Agata, said the show is timely and relevant.
“I think the characters each have a great strength and integrity, and the writing is humorous and unexpected,” he said. “It is also great to be challenged by the different perspectives John, Jim and Emily present, and I have found myself compelled by and drawn to, if not fully convinced of, their truths.”
Ewbank said the show was a hit on Broadway a few years ago.
“We are so excited to bring it to our audiences,” she said.
The show contains adult language.
Attendees must provide proof of vaccination and photo identification, and wear a mask.
Tickets are $30 for the opening night gala, and $25 for other nights, with $20 admission for seniors and $15 admission for students. To order, call 734-288-7753 or go to openbooktc.com.
SOUTHGATE NATIVE IN ‘WAITRESS’ ENSEMBLE AT THE MUSIC HALL
The “Waitress” cast coming to the Music Hall March 15 to 20 has a Downriver connection: Actress Stephanie Feeback, who performs in the ensemble and is an understudy for Jenna, the lead, was born in Southgate, where she lived until she was 12 years old, when her family moved to Washington, D.C.
“I attended St. Pius X Catholic School, North Pointe Elementary and Gerisch Middle School,” Feeback said. “I was very active in the Downriver community theater scene from a young age, performing frequently with Show Biz Kids and the Downriver Youth Performing Arts Center.”
She went on to study musical theater at Oklahoma City University.
“I am so excited to be coming home,” Feeback said. “It is a full circle moment.”
“Waitress” is a musical which follows the story of a pie-making waitress who dreams of finding a way out of her small town and her rocky marriage. When a pie making contest and a chance at change offers her a way out, she must seize her courage and seek the life for which she longs.
For tickets, call 800-982-2787, or go to ticketmaster.com or broadwayindetroit.com.
DIVINE CHILD H.S. PRESENTS ‘EMMA – A POP MUSICAL’
Divine Child High School Theatre presents “Emma – A Pop Musical” at 7:30 p.m. March 18, 19, 25 and 26 and 2:30 p.m. March 20 and 27 at the high school, 1001 N. Silvery Lane in Dearborn.
Based on the Jane Austen novel “Emma,” the story follows Emma, a senior at Highbury Prep, who is driven to become the perfect matchmaker for others – which ends up putting her own happiness at risk.
The show features the hit songs of top girl groups and beloved female singers, and includes Shania Twain’s “Man! I Feel Like a Woman,” Whitney Houston’s “How Will I Know,” The Supremes’ “Can’t Hurry Love,” Gloria Estefan’s “Turn the Beat Around,” the Ronettes’ “Be My Baby,” Pat Benatar’s “Heartbreaker” and Cindy Lauper’s “Girls Just Want to Have Fun.”
To order tickets online, go to dchstheater.ludus.com/index.php.
BERMAN CENTER OFFERS ‘THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK’ PUBLIC PERFORMANCE
The Berman Center for the Performing Arts will offer its annual public performance of “The Diary of Anne Frank” at 10 a.m. March 18 at the theater, 6600 W. Maple Road in West Bloomfield.
According to Samuel French play publisher and licensee, The Jewish Ensemble Theater has produced “The Diary of Anne Frank” more than any other theater in the world, and have presented it for the past 29 years, predominately to school groups.
Tickets are $16 for adults and $10 for students, and are available at the door. For more information, call 248-788-2900 or go to jettheatre.org.