Michael Moore Unveils Trump-Skewering Broadway Play
"I’m not just gonna stand there for 90 minutes and say, 'Donald Trump is horrible!' This is a very refined piece of satire," he said of 'The Terms of My Surrender.'
Michael Moore is headed to Broadway.
The filmmaker announced Monday morning that he will star in The Terms of My Surrender, a new Broadway play that will attempt to take down Donald Trump.
Michael Mayer, the Tony-winning director of the original Spring Awakening as well as the hit Hedwig and the Angry Inch revival, will stage the production from IMG Original Content and Carole Shorenstein Hays. The comedic show will mark Moore's New York stage debut.
"I'm in a 'take no prisoners' mode," Moore explained at a press conference at Sardi's. "We’ve seen newspapers take down presidents, TV shows bring down CEOs, books have taken down the powerful — art forms have contributed to making things better. ... Why don’t we see if every night — and twice in the afternoon for 12 weeks — if a piece of theater could raise enough of a ruckus to discombobulate a man sitting in the Oval Office? I don’t know, but I’d like to find out. Hey, stranger things have happened in the last year.”
The limited 12-week engagement will begin previews at Belasco Theatre on July 28 before an opening night on August 10. "I operate with the hope that he won’t be president for very long," said Moore. "This is a limited 12-week run, I guess I would like Trump to have the same thing. Should he not be President by the end of the run, if you have tickets for the last week, it’ll still be as good as the first week." Of the comedic tone, Moore noted, "Comedy is a very important part of our citizen action. ... We need an army of satirists — [Trump's] Achilles heel is his very, very thin skin."
Each 90-minute show will be unique, with surprise guest stars and Moore's comments responding to the news of the day. "The event of the show will actually begin as people assemble outside the Belasco Theater and will continue after the show’s over — there might be some impromptu excursions after the show to places that might be nearby. You can do the math," teased Mayer of Trump Tower. "I think everyone’s going to be having a unique, exciting and politically incendiary experience."
At each performance, the theater's presidential box will remain reserved for Trump and his family. "Every night, it will be empty until he sits there. I hope he comes to see it, or his family, or the vice president — we won’t boo him!" said Moore in reference to Mike Pence's headline-making attendance at Hamilton. “It’s not like anything I think you’ve really seen. I think there will be a subversive yet urgent tone and sense to this. People will be very surprised in a good way.”
Moore — who previously starred in a post-9/11 one-man show in London and took the stage to talk politics in his most recent film Michael Moore in TrumpLand — also stressed to reporters that the show will not only skewer Trump (“There are a ton of other things going on in the world that will be discussed,” he said) and won’t just be targeting a liberal audience. “I have found that Republicans or conservatives often will come to my films in part because I speak the language of the Midwest; the people who voted for Trump are my neighbors. I’m always excited to talk to them. I’ve noticed since the election that people who voted for Trump will stop and talk to me on the street because before the election, I was the only liberal who said he was gonna win. I took it seriously. I didn’t think it was just a joke."
Still, Moore added, “as far as preaching to the choir, it’s been rough for tens of millions of Americans since the eighth of November. Sometimes the choir needs a song to sing, and this is a necessary and important moment to provide that.”
The Hollywood Reporter sat down with a tight-lipped Moore after the announcement to further discuss his new play.
When did you start working on this?
For years, I’ve thought about doing something like this. Even if Hillary were president, the polar icecaps are still melting, we still don’t have universal healthcare, there’s still way too much talk about solving our problems through war. So this is not just about Trump; it’s landing in the time of Trump.
But last summer, when it was clear to me that Trump was going to win, I thought, what am I gonna do creatively about this? Once he’s in there, what can I do to try to stop him? At first, I did my part to try to get Hillary elected, but I had a bad feeling this was going to happen. It’s been in the works for almost a year.
What’s your biggest pressure at this point?
I don’t feel any pressure outside of the normal apprehensions anyone would have about walking out on a stage in front of a thousand people. I’m in such capable hands in terms of Michael Mayer and the team.
Will a longtime fan of yours find anything new in this?
Yes. Everything in here that they see will be something they didn’t know before they walked into the theater. I’m gonna say and do things that can only be done live on the stage, and reveal things built for this show. Without giving away too much, it’s me but if anyone thinks they know what’s going to happen, they’ll be in for a very pleasant surprise. I’m not just gonna stand there for 90 minutes and say, “Donald Trump is horrible!” This is a very refined piece of satire.
Tell me more about these post-show “excursions.”
Well, I don’t want to say too much, but you gotta give the police a little bit of a heads-up about what we’re doing both inside and outside of the theater. It won’t be [Trump Tower] every night. Things may happen sometimes, and people will be surprised on any given night. But there will not be hippies crawling all over you in the seats and trying to get you to dance onstage.
You mentioned a Trump impeachment during the press conference. Do you think that’ll happen, and when?
Don’t you believe after this last year that literally anything can happen? That used to be a cliché, but we now know anything can happen. He could resign next week. He already said this past weekend that after 100 days, he’s exhausted. [Does Trump impression] “I knew it’d be work but not this much work — I like my old life and I want my old life back.” He’s coming back to New York for the first time on Thursday, and you know that feeling after you’ve been away for a while and you’re back in your own bed? You don’t want to leave! So it could happen Friday morning. He could just turn to Melania [as Trump], “I’m not going back to work. I’m calling in sick. I like it here at home.”
I have a good amount of humility in me, but if he does resign before or during the run of the show, count on it, I will take some of the credit. I’m just saying it now.
[as Trump] “He’s at the Belasco — why didn’t they put him at the Helen Hayes where it’s half the seats? Pencey, get in here, I need you to go to another Broadway show.”
[as Pence] “No, they booed me at the last one. They’ll read a note to me after.”
[as Trump] “They won’t read a note because the whole show is gonna be a note to us. Just go. Take Ivanka — Jared can’t go because he’s in prison.”