Art Crawl with Anna


Anna Clevenger

The Belasco Theater, where the one-man anti-Trump drama “The Terms of My Surrender” is performed.

It’s not uncommon to see the world around you expressed on stage. What is uncommon, however, is block after block of theaters showing productions based on political commentary.

Political messages and response to society are relatively commonplace in any art form. For example, recent Broadway blockbusters such as Hamilton have roots in the critique of themes in American history that also serve as highlights of racial diversity.

In a time when anything and everything can be portrayed in theater, it is not surprising that there is a new star of the show: Trump.

Whether it’s an obvious dig (such as casting a soon-to-be-murdered dictator as a tan white guy with a comb over and a much younger foreign wife), or a more subdued take (such as the immediate New York City transfer of the previously London-based production of 1984), nothing is off limits. Many interpretations of the harsh political climate have graced stages around the city in past few months, the more popular of which include: “Julius Caesar,” “1984,” “The Terms of My Surrender,” and “Building the Wall,” among others.

More conservative audiences view certain productions as cheap shots for publicity, a way to get a show in the spotlight to fill seats. A production of “Julius Caesar” that cast a Trump look-alike as Caesar garnered criticism for “glorifying the assassination of the president”, as stated in a post on Twitter that Donald Trump Jr. retweeted (despite the fact that the entire point of the play is to illustrate how the assassination of Caesar did not help the Romans and violence was not the answer).

While productions like “Julius Caesar” hide messages in subtleties of the plot, others are not as understated. “The Terms of My Surrender”, a one-man play written and performed by political activist Michael Moore, contains not-at-all veiled criticism of current events and the president himself. During some performances, Moore has even taken the audience directly to Trump Tower on double decker buses to protest. The implications of these productions are larger than just the impact left on the audience of 1,000 or so people, no matter how blatant the criticism.