The Overwhelming A Play

J. T. Rogers

Faber & Faber

0865479747

9780865479746

Trade Paperback

160 Pages

$14.00

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As a middle-aged American academic who desperately needs to publish a book in order to gain tenure, Jack Exley leaps at the chance to go to Rwanda to write about his old college classmate Dr. Joseph Gasana, who in the intervening years has specialized in treating children stricken by AIDS. But when Jack, along with his African-American second wife, Linda, and his disaffected teenage son, Geoffrey, arrive in Kigali in the fall of 1994, they are not only unable to find Joseph, they are unable to find anyone who will even admit to having known the Tutsi doctor. Befriended by both a cynical American diplomat and a perhaps too-helpful Hutu political powerbroker, Jack and his family slowly, then urgently, become enmeshed in the tension and terror, the professional risks and personal betrayals, that they ultimately realize mark the start of a genocidal war—a horror  that they can sense but cannot comprehend or control.
 
In The Overwhelming, J.T. Rogers has written a play that is both a brilliantly crafted piece of writing and a tense, suspenseful exploration of one of the great human tragedies of our time. It will have its U.S. premiere off-Broadway in November 2007.

REVIEWS

Praise for The Overwhelming

"I loved everything about the young American playwright J. T. Rogers's The Overwhelming. I loved how messy the play's structure is, and Rogers’s great ambition as a writer. The Overwhelming . . . is like a combination of Wallace Shawn’s dissection, in his 1991 monologue The Fever, of the political elements that are endemic to the tourist’s way of seeing things and the poet Derek Walcott's examination of the poverty-stricken island-locked native in his 1990 epic Omeros. In each work, the Third World is seen in the harsh glare of a bare light bulb—the author's intelligence. Neither Shawn nor Walcott allowed us to fall back on the Westerner's dreamy rhetoric about the beach and happy natives, and Rogers doesn't, either. Instead, he explores a kind of anthropology of the self, making a narrative out of his own disenfranchisement."—Hilton Als, The New Yorker

“A briskly efficient staging featuring excellent performances from the ensemble, several of whom play multiple roles . . . By the time it reaches its harrowing, horrific conclusion, it emerges as a political theater of the most gripping kind.”—Frank Scheck, New York Post

"A gripping political thriller . . . captures the sense of terror when the division between political discussion and murder is membrane-thin."—Rachel Halliburton, Time Out London

"The theatre is a tribunal whose task is to present the bloody evidence and ask what you think of yourself as a member of the human race. I have seldom seen this task performed with such unprejudiced but devestating power."—John Peter, The Sunday Times

“Stop the presses! There’s finally a play in town that makes thinking a pleasure again. With its grim narrative about an American family swept up in the genocidal violence of civil war in 1994 Rwanda, J. T. Rogers’ The Overwhelming is not easy entertainment. But in this finely tooled production (originally helmed by Max Stafford–Clark for the National Theater), it makes for enjoyable suspenseful drama while provoking serious thought about American involvement in the internal affairs of foreign nations in a way that’s both unsettling and cathartic.”—Marilyn Stasio, Variety 

 

Reviews from Goodreads

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BOOK EXCERPTS

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J. T. Rogers is the author of several plays, including Madagascar, which received two awards for best play. He received a NEA/TCG Theatre Residency in 2004 and has been a guest artist or lecturer at the North Carolina School of the Arts, the University of Utah, and Truman State University in Missouri. He lives in Brooklyn.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • J. T. Rogers

  • J. T. Rogers is the author of several plays, including the award-winning Madagascar. He received a NEA/TCG Theatre Residency in 2004 and has been a guest artist or lecturer at the North Carolina School of the Arts, the University of Utah, and Truman State University in Missouri. He lives in Brooklyn.
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