Michael Moore's theatre debut

Film-maker Michael Moore will perform The Terms Of My Surrender on Broadway eight times a week for 12 weeks, starting in July.
Film-maker Michael Moore will perform The Terms Of My Surrender on Broadway eight times a week for 12 weeks, starting in July.PHOTO: NYTIMES

NEW YORK • Michael Moore has brought his zeal, humour and outrage to film, television and books.

Now, he is bringing them to Broadway. The left-wing provocateur is not shy about his agenda, made explicit on a preliminary poster for the production, which poses the question, in all capital letters: "Can a Broadway show bring down a sitting president?"

His plan, he said, is to perform a scripted (but also responsive to the news) one-man (more-or-less) show, called The Terms Of My Surrender, eight times a week for 12 weeks, starting in July.

He added that the show would simultaneously be entertaining and infuriating - "a very developed piece of entertainment for people who like to think".

"It's a humorous play about a country that's just elected a madman - I mean, there's really no other way to put it," he noted.

The 63-year-old director of documentaries Bowling For Columbine (2002), which examined gun culture, and Fahrenheit 7/11 (2004), which probed the war on terror, was characteristically thoughtful about theatre, as he explained what a firebrand was doing amid the "Cats" crowd.

"We're 10 blocks from Trump Tower. We're in the corporate capital of America. We're in the financial capital of America. We're in the media capital of America," he said.

"If one was going to stand on a stage and do the things that I'm going to do, there's only one place to do it and it's here in this city and it's right here at the epicentre of creative expression and free speech."

He added that he had been thinking about trying his hand at theatre for some time, but the election last year of Mr Donald Trump as United States President - which Moore correctly predicted - provided an impetus to do it now.

"Can something like this unravel an unhinged man?" he asked.

However, he said his new project was not solely about the current president. "To say it's just about Trump would simplify it," he said.

"I think people will find themselves laughing one minute and wanting to go look for some pitchforks and torches the next."

Although Moore is a Broadway novice, The Terms Of My Surrender has immediately attracted industry attention.

The Shubert Organisation has agreed to present it in the 1,018-seat Belasco Theatre.

Michael Mayer, a Tony winner in 2007 for Spring Awakening, is the director, while David Rockwell, a Tony winner last year for She Loves Me, will design the set.

"I don't know if I would call it a play, but it is a theatre piece,'' Mayer said. "There is going to be a certain amount of rabble-rousing.

"There's a good chance we'll have some surprise guests throughout the run and some surprise post- show excursions that will vary night to night."

Moore became famous as a documentary film-maker, bursting into public consciousness with the ground-breaking Roger And Me in 1989, about his hometown of Flint in Michigan. He won an Oscar in 2003 for Bowling For Columbine.

His theatrical experience is limited - he starred in two plays in high school and tested some of his new material in London.

But he has seen a lot of one-man shows.

He was once mugged in Times Square and he clearly believes in the power of theatre to effect change.

"I've made my movies. I've had two prime-time TV series (TV Nation and The Awful Truth). I've had eight books on your bestseller lists. I've done a lot of things with the Internet. But I haven't done this."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 03, 2017, with the headline 'Michael Moore's theatre debut'. Print Edition | Subscribe