Building the Wall

wall graphic with shadow and red textBy Robert Schenkkan

Directed by Brant Pope

"A must-see show!"
- The New York Times

From Pulitzer Prize and Tony® Award-winning playwright Robert Schenkkan (All the Way, The Kentucky Cycle, Hacksaw Ridge), comes the incendiary political thriller that is captivating audiences across the country.

"A mesmerizing and shocking new play that simmers with of-the-moment urgency."
- The Hollywood Reporter

Written in “a white heat” fury following the November 2016 election, Schenkkan’s Building the Wall imagines a dystopia impacted by President Trump’s border and immigration policies. It’s the near future and millions of undocumented immigrants have been detained in overflowing prisons. Now, a writer interrogates the director of a private prison as he awaits sentencing for carrying out the federal policy that has escalated into the unimaginable. This riveting and illuminating drama delivers a powerful warning and puts a human face on the inhuman, revealing how, when personal accountability is denied, what seems inconceivable becomes inevitable.

The regional premiere, directed by Brant Pope, showcases a professional cast, including Franchelle Stewart Dorn as “Gloria” and David Sitler as “Rick.”

The running time for Building the Wall is approximately 90 minutes. There is no intermission.

The play includes adult language and mature content and may be inappropriate for age 13 and under.


Preview: August 30 at 7:30 p.m.
Opening: August 31 at 7:30 p.m. 
Additional Performances: September 1-3, 5-8 at 7:30 p.m. and September 2-3, 10 at 2:00 p.m.

Community Engagement Events: September 7

Patrons are invited to a post-performance conversation with playwright Robert Schenkkan and director Brant Pope immediately following the Thursday, September 7 7:30 p.m. performance in the Oscar G. Brockett Theatre.

In addition, a series of panels will be held in conjunction with Building the Wall and its topics for the university community and public on Thursday, September 7. Attendance is free and does not require a reservation. A list of speakers and panel information, inclduing a schedule, will be announced in early August.


The University requires all faculty, staff, students and visitors to pay for parking on campus. For guests attending Building the Wall, discounted parking can be purchased online at Discount parking via Click and Park is available for purchase until 10:00 p.m. the day prior to the event.

In the News: Building the Wall

A resource for media and patrons, In the News features recent publications, reviews and interviews regarding Building the Wall and Robert Schenkkan.

About the Playwright 

man in vest in front of mountianRobert Schenkkan: Pulitzer Prize, Tony and WGA Award-winner, three-time Emmy-nominated writer. Author of sixteen plays: All The Way, The Great Society, Building The Wall, Hanussen, Shadowplay, By The Waters of Babylon, Handler, A Single Shard, Devil and Daniel Webster, Lewis and Clark Reach The Euphrates, Final Passages, The Marriage of Miss Hollywood and King Neptune, Heaven On Earth, Tachinoki, The Dream Theif and The Kentucky Cycle (Pulitzer prize, Tony and Drama Desk nominations). Also a collection of one-act plays, Conversations with the Spanish Lady and a musical (book and co-lyrics), The Twelve, winner of the 2015 Henry Award. The 2014 Broadway production of All The Way swept the Awards season, winning the Drama Desk, Outer Critics, Drama League and Tony Awards as well as the Steinberg/American Theatre Critics Award, the inaugural Edward M. Kennedy Prize and Boston's Elliot Norton Award. It also set two box office records on Broadway. It aired in May 2016 as a film for HBO, with Steven Spielberg producing, directed by Jay Roach, and was nominated for eight Emmy Awards and the Humanitas Prize. Film: Hacksaw Ridge, directed by Mel Gibson and starring Andrew Garfield; The Quiet American, directed by Phillip Noyce. TV: The Pacific (HBO mini-series; WGA Award, two Emmy Awards and Humanitas Prize nominations), The Andromeda Strain, Crazy Horse, Spartacus. @ROBERTSCHENKKAN

Photo courtesy of Joshua Schenkkan

About the Director 

""Brant Pope's work has been seen Off-Broadway (John Houseman Theatre, St. Clements Theatre) and in numerous regional theatres such as The Hartford Stage Company, Tennessee Repertory Theatre, Clarence Brown Theatre, Park Square Theatre, ArtPark, Connecticut Repertory Theatre, American Stage and GeVa Theatre. For 11 years, Pope was director of the Florida State University - Asolo Conservatory and associate artistic director of the Asolo Repertory Theatre. At the Asolo, he directed the regional premiers of Three Days of Rain, Beast on the Moon and Kindertransport, as well as 33 other productions. Since 2010, he has served as the chair of the Department of Theatre and Dance at The University of Texas at Austin and currently holds the Z. T. Scott Family Chair in Drama. He is particularly proud that Robert Schenkkan is an alumnus of the Department of Theatre and Dance.

About the Cast 

dorn headshot in front of greeneryFranchelle Stewart Dorn has played dozens of roles over her career at the Shakespeare Theatre Company, Arena Stage, American Conservatory Theater, Yale Rep, Long Wharf, George Street Playhouse, Great Lakes Shakespeare, Cleveland Playhouse, Arizona State Theatre, Seattle Children's Theatre, Chautauqua, Guthrie, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Contemporary American Theater Festival, off Broadway at Red Bull and at The State, ZACH Theatre and Austin Shakespeare theatres in Austin.
Dorn has been seen on Law and Order and as "Dr. Rita Madison" on NBC's Another World and films Die Hard with a Vengeance, Chances Are and Raise the Titanic. She can also be seen on one of PBS' longest-running series, Literary Visions. Dorn has been nominated for seven Helen Hayes Awards and has been the recipient of three. She has also won the Austin Critics' Table Award for her performances in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Mrs. Warren's Profession, Edge of Peace and Medea. She has more than 400 voice-over and on-camera appearances to her credit.
Dorn received her acting training at the Yale School of Drama and is a previous head of the acting program in the Department of Theatre and Dance at The University of Texas at Austin where she remains the Virginia L. Murchison Regents Professor. She has been named both an Academy Distinguished and Regents' Outstanding Teacher and is a recipient of the College of Fine Arts' Outstanding Teaching Award.

Sitler Headshot in front of grey backgroundDavid Sitler was last seen in The Exonerated at Florida Studio Theatre as "Gary Gauger." His career has seen him on Broadway with Rosemary Harris and Phil Bosco in An Inspector Calls, on national tour with Stacy Keach in Frost/Nixon, working with over 16 Off and Off-Off Broadway Theatre Companies in New York City and regionally from Maine to Utah in roles from "Atticus" to "Scrooge." Television credits include Zero Hour and Law and Order - SVU as well as the second season of Plant and the films The Strange Ones, Tupelo Roar, Black Dog Red Dog and The Marvelous Fishman. Proud member of Actor's Equity.