All the Way (2012)

All the Way

  • July 25 - November 3, 2012
  • Directed by Bill Rauch | By Robert Schenkkan
  • ALL THE WAY was commissioned as part of "American Revolutions: The United States History Cycle".
Run Time:Two hours and 57 minutes, including one 15-minute intermission.

Right out of Shakespeare's playbook

1963. An assassin’s bullet catapults Lyndon Baines Johnson into the presidency. A Shakespearean figure of towering ambition and appetite, the charismatic, conflicted Texan hurls himself into Civil Rights legislation, throwing the country into turmoil. Alternately bullying and beguiling, he enacts major social programs, faces down opponents and wins the 1964 election in a landslide. But in faraway Vietnam, a troublesome conflict looms. In the Pulitzer Prize–winning playwright’s vivid dramatization of LBJ’s first year in office, means versus ends plays out on a broad stage canvas as politicians and civil rights leaders plot strategy and wage war.

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On November 22, 1963, President John F. Kennedy is assassinated in Dallas, and Lyndon Baines Johnson becomes president. With the country still in shock, Johnson moves to shore up confidence by vowing to carry on the Kennedy legacy. In an address to Congress, he dedicates himself to the passage of the Kennedy civil rights bill that is languishing in Congress. Liberal Democrats, like Minnesota Senator Hubert Humphrey, are surprised: LBJ is best known as a consummate political operator, certainly not an idealist. Is this move for real? LBJ moves to reassure Humphrey, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights leaders like the NAACP’s Roy Wilkins that he is serious about passing the bill.

Southern politicians, such as Sen. Richard Russell, Sen. James Eastland and Rep. Howard Smith are also concerned. Their Southern Caucus seeks to preserve segregation at all costs, and they are startled that LBJ, a Texas native, has taken this stand. Russell, LBJ’s mentor and close friend, seeks to reassure them that the president is just appeasing the liberals but will gut the bill, just like he did with the 1957 Civil Rights Act.

What follows from January to July 1964 is an intrigue-filled battle as LBJ attempts to pass the bill. Russell and Eastland, who hold powerful committee chairmanships, try to stall it. In a series of deft gambits, LBJ outmaneuvers them. At the same time, King and other civil rights leaders are furious that voting rights are not part of the bill and argue about what to do. Activists like Bob Moses and Stokely Carmichael come up with the idea of Freedom Sum-mer; sending hundreds of white and Negro volunteers to Mississippi to register voters. Wilkins fears a bloodbath, but King supports the bold plan.

In the midst of the civil rights bill battle, LBJ also has to run for election in November—only months away. Within the Democratic Party primaries he faces a threat on the right from George Wallace, the segregationist governor of Alabama. Meanwhile, the murder of three civil rights workers in Mississippi puts him in the difficult political position of alienating Southern politicians and FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover by forcing an investigation. He must also deal with Hoover’s smear campaign against King.

Ultimately, things come to a head during the Democratic National Convention in August, when the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party seeks to seat Negro delegates as part of the otherwise all-white Mississippi delegation.

As the election approaches, LBJ tries to steer a middle course between achieving civil rights goals while holding together the Democratic coalition with Southern segregationist Democrats to get elected.

Artistic Team

Bill Rauch
Scenic Designer
Christopher Acebo
Costume Designer
Deborah M. Dryden
Lighting Designer
Mark McCullough
Paul James Prendergast
Shawn Sagady
Tom Bryant
Voice and Text Director
Rebecca Clark Carey
Associate Director
Emily Sophia Knapp*

Cast List

Lyndon Johnson
Jack Willis*
J. Edgar Hoover/Ensemble
Richard Elmore*
Mark Murphey*
Peter Frechette*
Jonathan Haugen*
Judge Smith/Dirksen/Ens.
David Kelly*
Douglas Rowe*
Christopher Liam Moore
Martin Luther King Jr.
Kenajuan Bentley*
Daniel T. Parker*
Tyrone Wilson*
Kevin Kenerly*
Roy Wilkins/Ens.
Derrick Lee Weeden*
Wayne T. Carr*
L. Wallace/M. Humphrey/Ens.
Erica Sullivan*
Lady Bird/Graham/Ens.
Terri McMahon*
Hamer/C. Scott King/Ens.
Gina Daniels*
* Member of Actors' Equity Association (AEA)
**AEA Professional Theatre Intern
  • Robert Schenkkan

    The Commission

    Playwright Robert Schenkkan talks about the commissioning of his new play, All the Way, and American Revolutions: the United States History Cycle.

  • Robert Schenkkan

    Playwright Interview: Robert Schenkkan

    Playwright Robert Schenkkan talks about his new play, All the Way.

  • Bill Rauch

    Thoughts about the play and production

    Director Bill Rauch discusses the world premiere play, All the Way.

  • Jack Willis

    Sneak Peek

    Get a sneak peek of our 2012 production of All the Way, written by Robert Schenkkan, directed by Bill Rauch.

  • Austin Chronicle

    “Schenkkan swiftly and deftly shifts scenes among the contending forces – Johnson and Humphrey, the resistant Southern politicians (including the virulently segregationist Alabama governor, George Wallace), a small band of civil rights leaders headed by Dr. King, and F.B.I. chief J. Edgar Hoover, bitterly determined to take King down – so that All the Way plays much like a Shakespearean history, with a complex, commanding monarch and competing factions embroiled in wars and rebellions. Only here, their battlefields are the Oval Office and Congressional chambers, their swords motions and filibusters.” -Austin Chronicle

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    “Few writers could craft better dialogue than Lyndon Baines Johnson spoke naturally. Few lists of dramatis personae could match the real characters making headlines in 1964…few playwrights could so successfully craft such reams of history into three hours of riveting theater. Robert Schenkkan accomplishes that, and with Bill Rauch's dynamic directing and a cast of 17 splendid actors playing 39 roles, 'All the Way' not only Shakespearean in scope but in quality, too.”

  • Daily Tidings logo

    Ashland Daily Tidings

    “Johnson's contentious and nation-changing first year in office is chronicled in 'All the Way,' a play by Robert Schenkkan commissioned by the Oregon Shakespeare Festival for its American Revolutions: the United States History Cycle…'All the Way' will have you at the edge of your seat and haunted by its images long after you leave the theater…With its powerful examination of power and morality, I wish that OSF had opened 'All the Way' earlier in the season. This play is a reminder of where this country was politically in the 1960s and why we still are fighting the same battles today."