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Building a Wall

Robert Schenkken’s new play is unusual, not only for the speed with which it was written (one week), but the rapidity with which not one, but five performances are rolling out all over the country. The building blocks are already in place here.  Overcrowded detention centers can easily give way to the desert detention camps presently waiting for “guests.”  A stepped-up, round up of “illegals” for processing and eventual deportation.  People of European heritage whipped into a frenzy about their loss of status.

But that’s only the background of this explosive play.  Building a Wall has Gloria (Judith Morehead), an academic, come to a high security prison to dissect the motives of Rick (Bo Foxworth), who seems to be the fall-guy for a future administration’s genocide of thousands of detainees on American soil.  Ah, you think: an argument!  A fictionalization! You settle back, ready to be intellectually validated; at least if you’re me.

But as the fast-paced 80 minutes winds on, a far more disturbing portrait of government incompetence and lack of accountability unfolds on a scale that makes the holocaust seem minor by comparison. Schenkken’s miracle, and Foxworth’s triumphant embodiment, can be found in the sympathetic portrait of a little guy, eager to do his best, caught in the middle of powerful forces beyond his control.  Moreland’s understated but insistent questioning masks any evident distaste as the lines, and her portrayal, teases out the pressures, the small decisions, that leads to Rick’s devastation.

Just as quickly as the play came into being, the producing team at the Fountain have mounted this urgent production.  Ably staged by Michael Michetti tensions mount on the bare-bones set by Se Hyun Oh, with deceptively simple lighting by Elizabeth Harper, sound dropped in by John Nobori and no-nonsense costumes from Naila Aladdin Sanders.

Productions are also available in Denver (Curious Theater), Tucson (Borderlands Theater), Silver Springs, Md. (Forum Theater), and City Theatre in Miami.  One other production is coming to Texas soon.

Photo by Ed Kreiger: Judith Moreland and Bo Foxworth in Building a Wall at the Fountain Theatre.

Building a Wall, part of the National New Play Network Rolling Network, plays Saturday at 8:00 P.M., Sunday at 2:00 P.M. and Monday (aspay what you can) at 8 P.M. through May 21, 2017 at the Fountain Theatre, 5060 Fountain Ave., Los Angeles 90027. Tickets are $15.00 to 35.00.  Phone (323) 663-1525 or