November 1 – 16, 2019
Jeremy Kareken & David Murrell
& Gordon Farrell
Based on the essay/book by
John D’Agata & Jim Fingal
A new play based on a "true-ish" story.
“Terrifically engaging….a good time.” – The New York Times
“The Best Theater of 2018!” — Variety
A demanding editor has given an eager young fact checker a big assignment: apply his skill to a groundbreaking piece by an unorthodox author on a sensitive subject. The resulting conflict between fact-checker and author casts a comic light on the intersection between truth and art. In an era of #FakeNews and #AlternativeFacts, it might seem ripped from today’s news, but the story, fresh from its successful run on Broadway, was inspired by real life events that predate even Twitter!
Contains some strong language.
Tickets are no longer available for this show.
November 1 – 16, 2019
7:00 p.m. Mondays – Thursdays Evenings
7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturday Evenings
2:00 p.m. Saturday Matinees
WES GRANTOM (Director) is delighted to be back at PTC after directing last season’s The Lion in Winter and A Comedy of Tenors by Ken Ludwig the previous year. Most recently, he directed beep boop at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Grantom has also worked with companies such as Ars Nova, Pittsburgh CLO, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Asolo Rep, Berkshire Theatre Group, Theatreworks USA, Premiere Stages, the Atlantic, New Harmony Project, among others. He also has a number of Broadway credits as resident and associate director, working alongside James Lapine, Emma Rice, John Rando, Anthony Page and Rufus Norris. He is a recipient of multiple Drama League Fellowships, a member of Lincoln Center Directors Lab, and teaches at the University of Evansville where he is also an alum.
JO WINIARSKI (Scenic Design) is a set designer and art director, and this is her first show at PTC. Her New York off-Broadway credits include L.O.V.E.R; Accidentally Brave; The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey; Love, Loss, and What I Wore; and multiple shows with the Pearl Theatre Company. She has designed for several New York companies. Credits include the Abingdon Theatre Company, New Georges, the New Group, Keen Company and Clubbed Thumb. Winiarski’s regional design credits include the Guthrie Theater, Utah Shakespeare Festival (over 35 shows), the Old Globe, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Dallas Theater Center and Geva Theatre. She designed Disney Wishes for Disney Cruise Line. Winiarski was the art director on Late Night with Seth Meyers for the show’s first five seasons. She received an Emmy nomination for “A Colbert Christmas: The Greatest Gift of All!” for art direction.
SUSAN BRANCH TOWNE (Costume Design) returns for her 22nd production at PTC, where previous designs include A Comedy of Tenors, The Tempest, Hamlet, My Fair Lady, Chicago, Romeo & Juliet, Sophisticated Ladies and Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. Other engagements include the Utah Shakespeare Festival, Denver Center Theatre Company, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Syracuse Stage, Geva Theatre Centre, Yale Repertory Theatre, Skylight Music Theatre, New York City Opera and numerous off-Broadway productions. She is based in Austin, Texas, where she is on the faculty at St. Edward’s University and designs for Zach Theatre, Austin Opera and Ballet Austin. Susan holds a BFA from Carnegie-Mellon and an MFA from the Yale School of Drama. She is a 33-year member of United Scenic Artists, Local 829. susanbranchtowne.com
MICHAEL GILLIAM (Lighting Design) Broadway credits include: Bonnie and Clyde, Brooklyn, Big River and Stand-Up Tragedy. West End credits: Gershwin Alone. Off-Broadway: Cagney, Tappin’ Thru Life, Mr. Joy, Striking 12, Blue, End of the World Party, Zooman and the Sign and Menopause The Musical. National Tours include Peter Pan, Brooklyn, Guys and Dolls and Big River. Regional: Pioneer Theatre Company, Arena Stage, The Globe Theatres, Mark Taper Forum, Seattle Repertory, Goodman Theatre, The Guthrie Theater, The Pasadena Playhouse, Geffen Playhouse, The Kennedy Center, Ford’s Theatre, Philadelphia Theatre Company, Prince Music Theater, Denver Center and Arizona Theatre Company. Awards: Los Angeles Ovation Award, Drama-Logue Award, Garland Award and the 1999 Career Achievement Award from the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle.
JENNIFER JACKSON (Composer/Sound Designer) is excited to make her debut at Pioneer Theatre Company. Previous design and/or original music credits include Romeo and Juliet (Yale Repertory Theatre); form of a girl unknown, Silent Dancer, The Wolves, Hir, Hand to God, Harbur Gate, Bull Shark Attack, Streetlight Woodpecker, Blackberry Winter, Two Stories (Salt Lake Acting Company); Twelfth Night, The Last Five Years, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Henry IV, Part I (Salt Lake Shakespeare). Her sound installations have been exhibited at the Yale University Art Gallery and the University of Utah. Jennifer holds an MFA from Yale School of Drama and is on the faculty of the University of Utah Department of Theatre where her credits include The Odyssey, Love’s Labour’s Lost, The Two Noble Kinsmen, Good Kids, and School for Lies. jenjacksonsound.com
YANCEY J. QUICK (Hair Designer) is the Wig Master and Shoe Master for Ballet West in SLC, UT. His work has been seen on stage at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, when the company was invited to perform its production of The Nutcracker to sold-out houses. He has also designed wigs and makeup for several years at Utah Opera and Utah Festival Opera and Musical Theatre. He has had the privilege of working for companies such as The Tony Award-Winning Utah Shakespeare Festival, Utah Symphony, and The Oregon Cabaret Theatre. As a member of IATSE Local 99 (the union of professional stagehands, motion picture technicians, and allied crafts) he also has the privilege to work backstage on numerous national Broadway tours. After studying Wig & Makeup Design at The University of Utah, he is thrilled to be working for PTC.
ALEXANDRA HARBOLD (Dramaturg) has served as dramaturg on PTC’s Sweat, Oslo, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, The Last Ship, I Hate Hamlet, An Inspector Calls, and Of Mice and Men. Recent projects include directing Death of a Driver and The Wolves (Salt Lake Acting Company), The Rivals (U of U Theatre) and The Night Witches (Egyptian YouTheatre). Upcoming projects include directing The Odyssey (U of U Theatre, November 8-17) and At the Bottom (Pinnacle Acting Company), and co-creating Allegory (Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company in collaboration with Flying Bobcat Theatrical Laboratory). Harbold is co-founder and co-artistic director of Flying Bobcat and Assistant Professor of Directing in the University of Utah’s Department of Theatre.
BECKY LYNN DAWSON (Production Stage Manager) joins PTC for her third season. She holds an MFA from Mason Gross School of the Arts and a BFA from Utah State University. Selected stage management credits include From Here to Eternity, Saturday Night Fever (Merry-Go-Round Playhouse), The Spitfire Grill, Chicago, M. Butterfly (Northern Stage), The Christians (Gulfshore Playhouse) and Divinamente New York 2009 & 2010 (EH Arts International). She would like to send many thanks to her family for their continual support.
MARY P. COSTELLO (AEA Stage Manager) has worked on over 60 productions during nine seasons with PTC. Favorites include Sting’s The Last Ship, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Les Misèrables, In the Heights, Next to Normal, and Rent. Other stage management teams: Indiana Repertory Theatre, Connecticut Repertory Theatre, Boston Theatre Works, Grand Valley Shakespeare Festival, and the Utah Shakespeare Festival. Proud Equity member.
EMILY NACRISSA GRIFFITH (1st Assistant Stage Manager) graduated from UVU with a Bachelor of Science in Theatre Arts with emphases in performance and design/technology. Griffith earned the Kennedy Center’s Meritorious Achievement Award for her work as the production stage manager of UVU’s Next to Normal, which received the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival national award for Outstanding Production.
EMILY BEATSE (2nd Assistant Stage Manager) is excited to be returning to PTC as an Assistant Stage Manager. She is currently a Junior in the Stage Management program at the University of Utah. Previous Assistant Stage Manager credits include: The Lion in Winter (PTC), Our Country’s Good, and Men on Boats (U of U Theatre). She sends love to all her family and friends.
JEREMY KAREKEN (Playwright) Jeremy is a playwright living in New York and Baltimore. His short plays Hot Rod, Big Train, and 80 Cards have been performed around the country and internationally. He served as a speech writer and policy analyst for two presidential campaigns. His awards include the Sewanee Conference’s Dakin Fellowship for Farblondjet, and Guthrie/Playwrights Center’s Two-Headed Challenge for Sweet Sweet Motherhood. The Hamptons Film Festival Screenwriters Conference selected Kareken and David Murrell for their horror-comedy script about haunted breast implants – THESE! Conquered the Earth! In 2018, PlayPenn shortlisted Kareken’s new political satire about an illiterate king, The Red Wool. Born and raised in Rochester, New York, and a graduate of the University of Chicago, he has taught at NYU, NYIT, the Actors Studio Drama School, and currently teaches at the Acting Studio—New York. A lifetime member of The Actors Studio, Jeremy occasionally acts and for 18 years served as the researcher for Bravo TV’s “Inside the Actors Studio.”
GORDON FARRELL (Playwright) Trained as a playwright at the Yale School of Drama, Gordon received an MFA in 1986 and went from there to work with major Hollywood studios, initially as a story analyst for Warner Brothers and Columbia Pictures, and eventually as a screenwriter. He has written for hire and sold screenplays to Universal Pictures, Warner Brothers, MGM, and ITC. He has worked with Robert Simonds (producer of The Wedding Singer, Molly’s Game, Mile 22); Neal Moritz (producer of XXX, I Know What You Did Last Summer, Fast and Furious) and Bruce Berman (producer of The Matrix, Three Kings, Mad Max: Fury Road). Working in independent film, Gordon has written for and sold projects to NYC indie producer Norman Twain (producer, Lean on Me, Boycott, My Dog Tulip). Farrell’s first independent screenplay, Girls Who Smoke, premiered in 2011. It went on to be an official selection at over a dozen film festivals, ultimately winning the Audience Choice Award in Seattle at the Post Alley Film Festival. As a playwright, from 2009 to 2013, Gordon worked with dozens of women on New York’s Lower East Side who wanted to tell their personal stories on stage. The series of monologue plays that grew out of it was called In the Red Room/Every Woman Dances For Someone. In May 2019 the fully dramatized version, Girls Who Walked on Glass, played to SRO houses and rave reviews in Buffalo and is scheduled to transfer to New York City in 2020. His other plays have been produced in San Francisco, at the Alleyway Theatre, at the Yale School of Drama, and at Primary Stages in New York. He is the author of “The Power of the Playwright’s Vision,” published by Heinemann Press in 2001. It has been translated internationally and become a standard playwriting text at colleges and universities in North America, Europe, and Asia.
DAVID MURRELL (Playwright) David Murrell was born and raised in New York City. He graduated from Stuyvesant High School and the University of Chicago, currently lives in Queens, and has written a sea chest’s worth of TV and film treatments and spec scripts. Access Theater (NYC) and the Cleveland Public Theatre each produced his play Ductwork and the Hamptons Film Festival Screenwriters Conference selected his and Jeremy Kareken’s feature screenplay about haunted breast implants, THESE! Conquered the Earth! In 2019, the Outer Critics Circle co-awarded David its John Gassner Playwriting Award for The Lifespan of a Fact.
Notes on the Play
By Wes Grantom, guest director of The Lifespan of a Fact
Throughout this process, the cast and I have been playing a game called “Two Truths and a Lie.” It’s an icebreaker exercise in which a person shares two facts about themselves that are true and one that is false. The other players have to decipher the truths from the lie. This activity has helped us get to know each other as we rehearse, but more than that, it has tested our ability to parse fact from fiction—a skill that seems increasingly important in our current landscape of deep-fake videos, disinformation campaigns and alternative facts. With this constant barrage of contradictory information, one starts to wonder if we are creating a world where the truth is no longer knowable or even important.
In the age of the internet, we can obtain essentially any information we seek. Have a question? Google it. Want to know what a person looks like? Facebook them. Need to know how to build something? YouTube it. Information is literally at our fingertips and yet it is harder than ever to know what is actually real.
Take this play for example. The central characters are an author named John D’Agata and a factchecker named Jim Fingal. John D’Agata is a real-life author who wrote a real-life essay that was fact-checked by a real-life fact-checker named Jim Fingal. This would lead one to believe this play is a true story. If you look closer, however, you’ll find the label “true story” is much more complicated. This is a play adapted by three playwrights, from a book by two authors, based on an essay by one author who freely admits he “nudged” the facts. In an interview in Electric Lit, John D’Agata says that while writing the book Lifespan of a Fact, he and his coauthor “recreated” some aspects of the story and “completely fabricated” others. And that was before three playwrights got a hold of it. This play is the literary equivalent of a tiny Russian doll nesting within different versions of the “truth.” Is one version more true than another? Is one more factual? Perhaps these writers are simply taking the same creative liberties each of us allow ourselves to take on a daily basis. I offer your latest Instagram story as evidence.
As a society, we grant ourselves license to curate facts to shape the stories we present to the world. Our news stories, art, literature, movies, and social media all present a different version of the truth, supported by varying degrees of fact. Our culture seems to have an unspoken code for blurring the line between fact and fiction, but at what point do we lose the ability to decipher between the two? Some of the characters in this play might argue that this is an instance when asking the question is more important than knowing the answer.
Two truths and a lie.
Give it a shot. Turn to the person next to you and see if they can tell which is which.
Spotlight for Learning
The Lifespan of a Fact
SYNOPSIS: Tasked with fact-checking an article by a famed essayist, intern Jim Fengel – with a passion for the truth – discovers the inaccuracies in the writer’s work. Caught between artistic expression and the literal circumstances surrounding the suicide of a young man in Las Vegas, the two negotiate and debate on what the truth actually means.
LANGUAGE: There is a fair amount of vulgar language used conversationally, and some used descriptively.
The language includes fairly liberal use of “shit” and “fuck” (in a few variations) and “Goddamn/damn” (a couple of times). A nightclub called the “Pussy Rocket” is mentioned, as well as what you might see there (“vagina,” “nipple”).
SMOKING/DRINKING: There is drinking in the show, but no smoking.
SEX: There is no sex in the play, although there are a few veiled conversations about sexual acts and innuendo that might have occurred at strip clubs.
VIOLENCE: There is a small tussle in a moment of editorial passion, but overall the words fly more than fists.
FOR WHICH AUDIENCES? The play is suitable for most adult audiences and high school students, who should attend at a parent’s discretion. Conservative audience members may be discomfited by the occasional strong language, and it is not appropriate for pre-teens.
RATING: If it were a movie, The Lifespan of a Fact would be rated “R” for strong language.