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Warren Gerds/Critic at Large: ‘The Lifespan of a Fact’ opens next week in Menasha

Critic At Large

Attic Chamber Theatre

Production image. (Attic Chamber Theatre)

MENASHA, Wis. (WFRV) – Attic Chamber Theatre will present the second play of its season, “The Lifespan of a Fact,” starting next week.

Performances are in Lucia Baehman Theatre of the Communications Arts Center of the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, Fox Cities Campus.

Start times are 7:30 p.m. Aug. 12-13; 2 p.m. Aug. 15; and 7:30 p.m. Aug. 19-21. Info: attictheatreinc.com.

Snapshot: Celebrated author John D’Agata has just written a sublime and shattering magazine essay. But is his story true? And how negotiable are the facts? When the world’s most neurotically precise fact-checker appears on the author’s Las Vegas doorstep and starts dissecting his work, the ultimate showdown between “truth” and “accuracy” begins. As the deadline looms, the high-stakes world of publishing becomes a battle royale in this comedy of conflict. The play wrestles with truth, what constitutes it, and who gets to decide.

Directing is Berray Billington, president of the troupe that was started in 1950 in an attic.

Performing are Alexander Cullen, Christine Geniesse and Jonathan Johns.

Advisory from the troupe: “The Lifespan of a Fact” is suitable for adults and older teenage audiences. Characters lock horns in a debate of fact versus fiction, and they drop some F-bombs in the process. Their explosive tête-à-têtes feature other mature themes, including discussions of suicide.

The play is based on a book by the same name co-written by John D’Agate and Jim Fingal, published in 2012. The book’s format consists of D’Agata’s 2003 essay “What Happens There” in black text centered on each page with Fingal’s black and red comments. The essay is about the death of a 16-year-old boy who jumped from the observation deck of a Las Vegas casino/hotel. Readers follow the essay as originally written and the fact-checking process in which Fingal and D’Agata engage. As the two discuss the various liberties taken during the composition of the original text, the discourse leads to explorations of the importance of narrative flow in non-fiction and the role of fact checking when writing creatively about true events.

The play ran on Broadway in 2018.

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