TRANSITION is a fascinating dramedy about the November 10, 2016 meeting between President Obama and Donald Trump as the fate of democracy itself hung in the balance.
It was first produced for the stage in March 2017.
I didn’t want to write TRANSITION.
But I had to.
After the election last November, I found myself in a state of disbelief that our country was about to be led by a man I considered a con artist and sociopath (to say nothing of numerous unpublishable adjectives). It produced an instant and severe funk. And then, after 36 hours without sleep and nourishment, I noticed that President Obama had invited Trump to the Oval Office for a meeting, which seemed nearly as insane as the fact Donald Trump had been elected President of the United States.
The idea of the meeting, however, fascinated me. What could these two men who so clearly loathed one another – and couldn’t possibly have less in common – have discussed. After the two men emerged from their private chat some 90 minutes later, the strain and awkwardness was more than evident during a televised, surreal media briefing.
“That ought to be a play,” I said to my wife. “Someone’s gonna write that.” I sat on this for a week or so until realizing I had to be the one to write it. Two weeks later, I had a rough draft in hand. My goal from the outset was to construct a production that is neither sketch comedy nor caricature but a rendering built on a foundation of drama, fortified by comedic elements. Its tone isn’t liberal propaganda but an authentic imagining of how it all might have gone down.
At the same time, I didn’t believe the world needed another one-note Trump spoof but could perhaps do with a more measured analysis of a prickly, confounding personality whose every tweet and impulse seems today to dominate our lives. Too, the Barack Obama we know is the perpetually composed one he’s shown us as his public face. The private man has remained purposefully hidden. I saw in TRANSITION a rare opportunity to envision how the former President might act and react when the penetrating gaze of the world was safely blocked from view.
For the audience, the experience is to ride shotgun during a genuine clash of the titans. And while TRANSITION isn’t intended to instill optimism during such a devastating and divisive time in America, it nonetheless demonstrates that the dark forces among us can never destroy hope.
Ray Richmond, May 2017