Encore Michigan

Open Book Theatre opens ‘Lifespan of A Fact’ 3/18

Show Announcement March 23, 2022

TRENTON, Mich. – Open Book Theatre here will open “Lifespan of A Fact” on March 18. The play, proving popular in Michigan this season with three theaters so far producing it, will run through April 16.

The play, by Jeremy Kareken & David Murrell and Gordon Farrell, is based on the book by John D’Agata and Jim Fingal. This production will be directed by Kez Settle. The play is getting done quite a bit these days after being made available for regional theatre. While the story it is based on took place almost 20 years ago, directors and audiences find the subject very timely and compelling.

The question of “What is a fact?” has taken on huge importance as Republicans and Democrats catalog their own set of facts on the same issues, and echo them through compliant “news” media like Fox News, Breitbart and MSNBC, all of which have committed to political tribes. Russia’s Putin is churning out factless propaganda through state-controlled media to defend his invasion of Ukraine. Donald Trump traffics in an alternate universe of facts and information all of his own creation.

While those examples of factlessness are broad and have become institutional, “Lifespan” probes what may be considered the salad days of news media adopting a squishy or fungible definition of facts during the George W. Bush White House years. It was around that time, or during the Clinton years, that media operations began choosing political and social tribes through which to filter their “facts” rather than fact-checking the business and government power structure. Now, of course, anything someone puts on the Internet or social media has the chance to become read as factual when it is really fictional.

What makes this play so interesting is that the characters are really arguing about and fly-specking shades of fact, rather than the tidal wave of factlessness we are subjected to today. It’s almost like we are seeing the molehill that became the mountain.

Jim Fingal is a fresh-out-of-Harvard fact checker for a prominent but sinking New York magazine. John D’Agata is a talented writer with a transcendent essay about the suicide of a teenage boy—an essay that could save the magazine from collapse. When Jim is assigned to fact check D’Agata’s essay, the two come head to head in a comedic yet gripping battle over facts versus truth.

Featuring David Liskow as Jim Fingal, Phil Hughes as John D’Agata, and Krista Schafer Ewbank as Magazine Editor Emily Penvose.  Scenic design by Alexander Trice, Lighting Design by Harley Miah, Costume Design by Cheryl Zemke. Stage Managed by Samantha Silva.

Buy your tickets here: Open Book Theatre

Week of 11/28/2022

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