As spring approaches, Washington DC’s Kabuki Theatre plans a new production. A mash-up of Kafka and Beckett, “Waiting for Barack” will begin with a casting call on March 21 as thousands of would-be thespians, consisting mainly of immigration reform activists, are expected to descend on Capitol Hill, harboring dreams of a lead role in what they hope will be an epic immigration performance. Not since 1986 have the wonkish theatregoers of Washington been so excited. Then, “IRCA‘s Morning in America” was the talk of the town and the nation.
The new show’s producers, three well-known impressarios (optimistic, Chuck Schumer, fretful and tentative, Lindsey Graham, and indefatigable, Luis Guitierrez), have yet to announce when the long-anticipated play (originally slated to premiere in 2009) will open. Marketing for the production is modeled after the recent trend in Indie films, with bilingual buzz building in ethnic and social media and the blogosphere.
The producers, including the show’s backers from the Hispanic Caucus, as well as prospective cast members, all met recently with the man they hope will play the lead, a charismatic figure who in his early career carried the stage name, Barry, but now goes by “Mr. President.” The show’s supporters left the meetings heartened that their long-sought protagonist, who expressed “unwavering” commitment will soon conclude his latest engagement, “The Health Care Follies,” and be ready, after a now-delayed working vacation in Asia, to ascend the immigration stage. Early reports suggested that rehearsals would begin in April, but then Roll Call, Washington’s punningly-titled version of Playbill, published a clarification:
Correction: March 11, 2010
An earlier version of this story indicated that President Barack Obama told immigration reform advocates that he would push for a bill to pass in April. He never gave a specific timeline.
Some dramaturgs, however, are not disspirited. They are heartened by the prospect of modest but meaningful immigration performances on the administrative stage, and point to a poignant Chilean laboratory theatre script reading by the protagonist’s troupe, that expresses the range of power and influence that this star can readily command when he is so inclined.
Will “Waiting for Barack” ever be staged? Interested theatregoers desperately want to attend the premiere.