Michael Moore is throwing his usual playbook out the window. In response to the election of President Donald Trump, the Oscar-winning filmmaker and political activist is taking his fight to the stage with a live show entitled “Michael Moore on Broadway: The Terms of My Surrender.”
Directed by Michael Mayer, the director of Tony-winning productions including “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” the show will run for 12 weeks starting on July 28. Moore has high hopes for the production, as the poster for the show asks “Can a Broadway Show Bring Down a Sitting President?”
While that sounds extremely ambitious, it’s worth noting that no large-scale production has ever taken aim at a U.S. sitting president quite like this. Here are five important things to keep in mind as Moore prepares for his Broadway debut.
We’re witnessing the evolution of Michael Moore.
After years of sticking to documentaries, Moore recently branched out of the form by performing a live one-man show in Wilmington, Ohio on October 6 and 7, footage from which he turned into the 73-minute “Michael Moore in Trumpland.” The untraditional doc was edited in a matter of days and played in 51 theaters in the U.S. in the weeks running up to the presidential election. While “The Terms of My Surrender” is also a rehearsed show, it will feature Moore responding to the news of the day, allowing him to share his views on the latest Trump headlines much faster than his feature-length docs.
Tackling Trump requires a new approach to satire.
Taking aim at a sitting president through a Broadway show may be uncharted territory, but there’s never been a president quite like Trump. His wildly impulsive behavior and public statements can be so jaw-dropping that even expert satirists like “South Park” creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone have backed off attempting to mock him. “It’s not something you can make fun of,” Parker recently told the Guardian. The format for Moore’s show may be completely untested, but crafting an effective take down of Trump may require a completely new form of satire — and since he’ll be performing the show every night, he may be able to adapt his material to the ever-changing headlines.
Michael Moore is in the majority.
Moore may be equally reviled by the right as he is lionized by the left, but when you crunch the numbers, there are more Americans who in principle would be fans of his Broadway show than haters. “There are more of us than there are of them,” Moore said at an anti-Trump rally in New York in January, pointing out that the number of people who voted Democrat, Green Party or Libertarian exceeded the number of Trump voters by roughly 10 million. “He does not rule with a mandate….We are the majority. Don’t give up!”
Michael Moore’s attempts to bring down Republican presidents usually fail.
Fighting the good fight with Moore is often times a losing battle. In 2004, “Fahrenheit 9/11” took in nearly $120 million domestically, but it wasn’t enough to prevent a second term of George W. Bush. “Michael Moore in Trumpland” similarly didn’t do enough to elect Hillary Clinton, and all of Moore’s smaller efforts to resist Trump — like persuading Republican members of the Electoral College to vote against him after the election — have failed. He’ll have to do something we’ve never seen him do before to make a difference this time around.
However, Michael Moore knows America better than most of the media.
Whether you view Moore as a visionary patriot or left-wing zealot, it’s impossible to argue that he doesn’t have his finger on the pulse of America. Moore was notably one of the first liberals to predict that Trump would win the Republican nomination and one of the first non-Trump supporters to call the election in his favor, which he did back in July of 2016 when virtually every media organization was predicting a victory for Clinton. Moore has since predicted that Trump will win again in 2020, but get impeached during his second term.