Throughout this election cycle, plenty of commenters have remarked on Donald Trump’s less-than-adult behavior and qualities (plus his supporters’ excuses for them) ― but one Virginia high school teacher is really taking it to the next level.
Trump’s bid for the U.S. presidency recently inspired John Krizel, who teaches social studies at Oakton High School in Virginia, to write “Let Trump Be Trump,” a play that envisions the real estate mogul as a teenage mean girl.
The play, which opened at the Capital Fringe Festival last Tuesday, acts out the first six months of a hypothetical Trump presidency, which leaves four staffers trying to pass a controversial immigration bill to push Muslims and undocumented immigrants out of the country. The proposal echoes Trump’s real statements.
Trump’s character is offstage throughout most of the play. But when he finally makes an appearance, he skips onstage in a pink dress. Krizel and the play’s director, Paul Lysek, have reimagined Trump as a 13-year-old-girl who bullies her staff. Eventually, she throws up her hands, says, “F**k it, I quit,” and skips off stage.
“That plays into my idea that Trump is a child,” Krizel told The Huffington Post. The actress who plays Trump is actually 22, but Krizel wanted her to portray a teenager.
“The way a teenage girl can say the most withering thing to you and absolutely destroy you, that’s what Trump does,” he said. “He just destroys people, or he tries to.”
If he had lost [in the primaries] ... it would have been a lot sillier. But now that he’s the nominee, I had to worry about the fact that people were going to come to my play legitimately worried about this. John Krizel, author of "Let Trump Be Trump"
Krizel began writing the play in December, months before Trump gained enough delegates to cinch the Republican presidential nomination. Initially, he wrote the play to be funny, he said, echoing the general sentiment at the time that Donald Trump would never be a serious candidate for president.
But as the Republican National Convention plays out in Cleveland this week, Krizel’s play has begun to look a lot more like reality.
“If he had lost [in the primaries] it would have been a lot broader, it would have been a lot sillier,” he said. “But now that he’s the nominee, I had to worry about the fact that people were going to come to my play legitimately worried about this. And people’s reactions to the play I think reflect that. It’s like, this is too real.”
That about sums up what one audience member, Jodi Glaser, thought after she saw the play last week.
“That so much of it has actually come true is kind of terrifying,” she said. “It’s terrifying to picture what the future could actually be.”
Although “Let Trump Be Trump” focuses on a theoretical Trump presidency, it touches on real elements of American politics. The script takes a jab at politicians who are fluent in “Washingtonian” ― a roundabout way of speaking that usually leaves listeners with more questions than answers.
At the beginning of the play, Trump’s staffers need to deal with an offensive comment Trump made about a female politician. He called her a “bimbo”― an insult the candidate has actually parroted in real life. One staffer is confident they’ll be able to defuse the situation by apologizing and “walking it back.” A colleague responds with a rant about why politicians can’t just stick to what they say.
“Well, the president doesn’t exactly stick by what he says,” the staffer says.
“Well, he never ‘walks anything back,’ either,” she retorts.
The scene is a broader metaphor for how Trump has knocked down the idea that politics is only a sport for career politicians, Krizel said.
“What is the value of elites?” he asked. “What is the value of experts? What is the value of people who do this sort of thing professionally?”
Those questions are at the core of both the play and of this year’s presidential campaign. With his off-the-cuff remarks and lack of a filter, Trump champions himself as the antidote to typical career politicians like presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, who critics say has been groomed for a presidential run for years and is considered by many to be an “expert” politician.
Lysek, the director of “Let Trump Be Trump,” thinks there might be some value in the crafted political speeches delivered in the “Washingtonian” dialect.
“It puts things in perspective when you have someone doing the complete opposite,” he said. “Perhaps that’s not necessarily a bad thing ― like these crafted political speeches and people saying things the way they say them.”
Although Krizel stressed that “Let Trump Be Trump” was not an act of political protest, Lysek said theater could “absolutely” motivate people to get involved in politics, especially amid the current state of affairs.
“If it gets them to think, in any way, about what’s happening around them then I’ve done my job,” he said.
Trump’s office did not respond to HuffPost’s request for comment about the play.
Editor’s note: Donald Trump