The Great Society

The Great Society

By Robert Schenkkan

Directed by Bill Rauch

Originally produced at Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Ashland, OR.

July 23, 2014 through November 1, 2014

About the Premiere Production

The tumultuous beginning of Lyndon Johnson’s presidency that Robert Schenkkan presented in All The Way (2012) continues in part two, The Great Society. In the years from 1965 to 1968, LBJ struggles to fight a “war of poverty” even as his war in Vietnam spins out of control. Beset by political opponents, Johnson marshals all his political wiles to try and pass some of the most important social programs in U.S. history, while the country descends into chaos over the war and the backlash against civil rights. This American Revolutions-developed world premiere is an unflinching examination of the morality of power. Commissioned and co-produced with Seattle Repertory Theatre and developed in part with assistance from the Orchard Project, a program of The Exchange.

Artistic Statement

The Great Society fulfills a primary goal of OSF’s American Revolutions: the United States History Cycle – to support the inspirations, insights and dreams of its writers. The personal passions and artistic leaps embodied in this play, OSF’s fourth collaboration with Robert Schenkkan, are truly remarkable. Robert is not only a seasoned, Pulitzer Prize-winning author (The Kentucky Cycle), he is an American history expert passionate about Johnson, and, as a Texas-raised playwright, uniquely qualified to tell LBJ’s story. With All The Way and now The Great Society, he consciously turned to Shakespeare’s histories to find the voice and scope to tell this epic American tale. The Great Society brings sharply into focus the extraordinary personalities and powerful political forces that shaped an iconic era in our history and continue to shape American society today.


The Great Society is a powerful completion to the story begun in All The Way. While each play stands on its own, we are tremendously proud to complete Mr. Schenkkan’s portrait of one of the most intriguing presidents and important times our country has ever known.

-Bill Rauch, Artistic Director

Grant Statement

Given The Great Society’s large ensemble, extensive doubling, complex narrative structure and ambitious technical requirements, it will gain a great deal from the two weeks of extra rehearsal funded by the Edgerton Foundation New American Plays Award in preparation its July 2014 premiere.

-Bill Rauch, Artistic Director

Director: Bill Rauch

Set Design: Christopher Acebo

Lighting Design: Mark McCullough

Sound Design: Paul James Prendergast

Costume Design: Deborah Dryden

Video and projection designer: Shawn Sagady

Additional Funders:
Peter and Helen Bing, Charlotte Lin and Robert P. Porter, Michael R. Jacobson and Trine J. Sorensen, Kevin and Suzanne Kahn.