Alec Baldwin and Ellen Burstyn to Play Very…Relevant Political Figures in Docu-Play Reading for the Public Theater


Not long ago, Alec Baldwin said that he was thinking of retiring his SNL Donald Trump impression after the show’s season finale on May 20. He wondered if Trump was a satire-resistant president, and told the Associated Press, “If everything stays the same in this country as it is now, I don’t think people will be in the mood to laugh about it come September” — and, indeed, many were already quite ready to stop laughing. But refraining from impersonating Donald Trump doesn’t mean there isn’t a whole flock of other morally monstrous old white men surrounding him to imitate. Recently, Baldwin appeared on SNL as both Trump and the scorned Fox News host, Bill O’Reilly. Now, as the New York Times reports, he’s setting his sights on our very own Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson.

The Public Theater and the National Theatre of London are putting on a reading of the “documentary play” All the President’s Men? Scenes From the Senate Confirmation Hearings of President Trump’s Cabinet at the Town Hall in NYC, this Thursday at 8 p.m. That very long-titled play borrows verbatim dialogue from a series of recent, extended processes: testimonies from the hearings of racist attorney general Jeff Sessions, former Exxon CEO/Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, former EPA-lawsuit hobbyist/EPA Director Scott Pruitt, and Medicare/Medicaid adversary/pharmaceutical-company-bestie Health Secretary Tom Price — and nothing else. In any other year, a play comprised of senators asking endless questions would sound like the most insipid pitch for a play: this year, it sounds electric and scathing.

Oskar Eustis, the artistic director at the Public, said of the one-night-only reading:

Sometimes the most powerful theater is reality, distilled. This is a real-time portrait of the American government, and it is as riveting as the headlines and far, far more revelatory. It’s like reading the news lit by lightning.

In addition to Baldwin, the reading boasts a performance from the always-fantastic Academy Award winner Ellen Burstyn as Elizabeth Warren. (This isn’t her first venture into political drama, either: she played Barbara Bush in W, and currently plays Claire Underwood’s mother, Elizabeth Hale, on House of Cards.) And New Yorker editor David Remnick will read as Senator Al Franken. (Warren and Franken were among the senators who voiced the loudest opposition to Trump’s cabinet picks.) The Daily Show‘s Aasif Mandvi will play Pruitt, Nathan Osgood will play Sessions (sorry, no cross-dressing Kate McKinnon here), and David Costabile will play Price. Apparently, the Public Theater told both senators and representatives in the House that they’re welcome to attend.