The Players Ring presents: All the Way
All the Way follows President Lyndon Baines Johnson from the moment of November 22, 1963, right after President John F. Kennedy is assassinated in Dallas, when Lyndon Johnson takes the oath of office as President.
With the country still in shock, LBJ, mindful that he is an accidental president, moves to shore up confidence in his new administration by vowing to carry on the Kennedy legacy; in an address to congress he dedicates himself to the passage of the Kennedy's Civil Rights Bill that is languishing in the committees of Congress, surprising those who think they know him best as a polticial operative rather than an ethical crusader.
Deftly moving from assuring civil rights leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr., Roy Wilkins, Ralph Abernathy and Stokely Carmichael and stroking the egos while dampening the fears of Southern politicians like Sen. Richard Russell, Sen. James Eastland and Rep. Howard “Judge” Smith, LBJ goes from back-slapping good ol' boy to sneering, threatening egotist , shaking hands, making promises, twisting arms and even using bribery, even as the South hopes he will gut the bill just like he did with the 1957 Civil Rights Act.
What follows from January to July 1964 is a covert intrigue-filled battle as LBJ attempts to gain the necessary votes for the bill.
King and other leaders in the civil rights movement argue about what to do to secure voting rights, which is not a part of the Civil Rights Bill.
Activists like Bob Moses and Stokely Carmichael come up with the idea of Freedom Summer: to send hundreds of white and black volunteers to Mississippi to register voters. .
In addition, as LBJ is set to face election in November 1964 only months away, he is then met with a series of huge challenges.
Rarely has a president faced so much in such a brief moment of history:
A threat in the Democratic Party Primaries by the segregationist governor of Alabama, George Wallace’s run for president.
Bombings, violence and the crisis posed by the deaths of three civil rights workers in Mississippi.
FBI director J. Edgar Hoover’s attempts to derail civil rights progress by a smear campaign against Martin Luther King, Jr.
The incident in the Gulf of Tonkin which created a political and foreign policy crisis over Vietnam right before the election.
A challenge at the Democratic convention to the all-white Mississippi delegation by the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party which seeks to gain to black representation.
In these days of increased awareness of the political and legal process that shapes our country's laws and the deep divides that still define so many of us, this play not only brings to life a crucial time in our history, with all of the doubt, anger, fear and violence, but vividly reflects today's struggles for equal rights that are still being fought daily.
This story is timeless, with its central characters Shakespearean in their depth and complexity.
Neither hero nor villain, LBJ is portrayed in all of his glory, swearing and threatening one moment, and charming and cooing the next.