Director's program notes
By Dr. Brian Cook
I’ve always been a historian, and some of my earliest historical investigations had to do with American presidents. This was before the internet, and I remember getting books out of the library on various presidents. I became fascinated with the office and with politics in general. Eventually, my interest turned to theatre, and theatrical history became the new focus of my investigations. I now research and write about the process by which we remember things: events, people, places. History, in its way, is just as much of a story as any play, shaped by those who tell it.
44 Plays for 44 Presidents has allowed me to bring all of my fascinations together. As one of the characters in the play says, “This is really a bigger issue, isn’t it? About how history is written, how we get information…” The 43 men who’ve assumed the presidency are vastly different, not least in how they are remembered. Some of their names you may never have heard before tonight, and you might never again.
This play and our production of it mark a particular point of view on each of them, representing our place and our moment. Others might tell these stories differently, if they would tell them at all. From weird to poignant, and disconcerting to funny, these 44 plays explore “the history of the Presidency,” which “is in many ways the history of our people.” As we approach the next presidential election, consider where we’ve been as we work out what’s to come.