Politics & Polls #17: Art & Politics Featuring Robert Schenkkan

Oct 25 2016
By Julian Zelizer & Sam Wang (Produced by B. Rose Kelly and edited by Bonelys Rosado)

Who knew that the discharge petition—signed by members of the House of Representatives to bring a bill from committee to the floor—could be good material for a Tony Award-winning play and HBO feature film?

In this episode, Professors Julian Zelizer and Sam Wang interview Robert Schenkkan whose play “All the Way” about Lyndon B. Johnson has been brought from the stage to the screen. “All the Way” is a play and film depicting LBJ’s efforts to enact the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and his re-election victory against Republican candidate Barry Goldwater. 

Schenkkan is an American screenwriter, actor and playwright. He received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1992 for his play “The Kentucky Cycle” and his play “All the Way” earned the 2014 Tony Award for Best Play. He has three Emmy nominations and one Writers Guild of America Award.
The conversation explores how artists encourage us to think about politics beyond the scope of the media or academia and, in unique ways, teach Americans how politics work. Through plays such as “All the Way,” Zelizer and Wang discuss with Schenkkan how the arts have opened up conversations about politics and play an important role in an era when many Americans seem distrustful.

Zelizer is the Malcolm Stevenson Forbes, Class of 1941 
Professor of History and Public Affairs at Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. He has been one of the pioneers in the revival of American political history. He is the author of several books including, most recently, "The Fierce Urgency of Now: Lyndon Johnson, Congress, and the Battle for the Great Society." Zelizer is a frequent commentator in the international and national media on political history and contemporary politics. He has published more than 600 hundred op-eds, including his weekly column on CNN.com

Wang is professor of neuroscience and molecular biology at Princeton University. He is known for his books "Welcome to Your Brain" and "Welcome to Your Child's Brain" and for his founding role at the Princeton Election Consortium, a blog providing U.S. election analyses. In 2004, Wang was one of the first to aggregate U.S. presidential polls using probabilistic methods. In 2012, his statistical analysis correctly predicted the presidential vote outcome in 49 of 50 states. He has also developed new statistical standards for partisan gerrymandering. A neuroscientist, Wang's academic research focuses on the neuroscience of learning, the cerebellum and autism.