Writer’s Note on BUILDING THE WALL

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”

Several years ago I stumbled across, “Into That Darkness”by Gitta Sereny. It is an attempt to understand the bleakest of the Nazi horrors by focusing on one ordinary man who for a brief moment, found himself with unlimited power. The past is often the future and in this play I have imagined a not so distant time to come in which President Trump’s rhetoric has found its full expression. While the current political crisis is extraordinary it is not new, the authoritarian play book is well established. Create a constant state of crisis which only a “strong” leader can solve. Encourage fear, divide the populace, and scapegoat minorities with appeals to nationalism, racism, and isolationism. Smear your opponents as unpatriotic and tell the press to “just shut up and listen.” The question, of course, is not so much what the Authorities will do but how we, the citizens, will respond. Sickened by the hate, by the constant assault, will we succumb to our fears, avert our gaze, and look after our own interests? Or will we enthusiastically put our shoulders to their dark wheel? Or will we resist. To those who say that could never happen here in this country, I reply, maybe so, but that of course will depend entirely on what you do.


Pulitzer Prize, Tony, and WGA Award winner, three-time Emmy nominated writer. Author of  Fifteen plays:  All the Way, The Great Society, Shadowplay, By the Waters of Babylon, Handler, A Single Shard, Devil and Daniel Webster, Lewis and Clark Reach the Euphrates, Final Passages, The Marriage of Miss Hollywood and King Neptune, Heaven on Earth, Tachinoki, The Dream Thief, and The Kentucky Cycle (Pulitzer prize, Tony and Drama Desk nominations), a collection of one-acts, Conversations with the Spanish Lady, and a musical, The Twelve, winner of the 2015 Henry Award. The 2014 Bway production of All The Way swept the Awards season winning the Drama Desk, Outer Critics, Drama League, and TONY@ Awards, and set two box office records. His adaptation for HBO, with Steven Spielberg producing, directed by Jay Roach, was nominated for eight Emmys and the Humanitas Award. The sequel, The Great Society, will come to NYC in 2018. Films: Hacksaw Ridge (six Oscar nominations). The Quiet American.  TV: The Pacific (HBO miniseries – WGA Award, two Emmy and Humanitas Award nominations), The Andromeda Strain, Crazy Horse, Spartacus. Currently, Robert is writing a new play, Hanussen, about the leading headliner of the Weimar Republic, and a movie about the Manhattan Project for Robert Redford, and another film about the Klan for Joseph Gordon Levitt and Netflix.