Topanga Actors Company productions are performed as staged readings using the facilities of LA County public libraries. TAC is an official partner for 2023 with LA County Library.
The Lifespan of a Fact TAC production is an enhanced staged reading based on the book by John D’Agata and Jim Fingal. Performances are at the Malibu Library September 16 & 17 at 2. p.m. and at the Topanga Library September 23 & 24 at 2 p.m.
The Lifespan of a Fact was born as an essay for a prestigious American magazine. Next it was a book, co-authored by essayist John D’Agata and Jim Fingal. Then it became a Broadway play—that Topanga Actors Company is bringing to Malibu and Topanga.
The play ponders a significant tragedy. A sixteen-year-old boy, Levi, plunges to his death from the observation deck of a Las Vegas hotel, leaving behind a myriad of questions about why he would want to kill himself. D’Agata confesses he has no explanation for this deeply mysterious event. Instead he offers ruminations about apparently unrelated “facts” that one may or may not see as relevant; does it matter to the story-at-large that down the street from the Stratosphere Hotel, someone excavated the world’s oldest bottle of Tabasco-brand sauce? Yes, says D’Agata, it matters.
Co-author Fingal, a young fact-checker intern who worked for the magazine The Believer, had scores of objections to D’Agata’s copy, some seemingly trivial, others highly concerning. D’Agata justifies them as poetic license. At one point he says: “I started with the facts, I really did. But the more you know….I let go. I wrote to Levi’s spirit, not his body. I’m not interested in accuracy; I’m interested in truth.” An exasperated Fingal taunts D’Agata by positing the “facts” point to Levi not having died at all.
It’s verbal encounters like these that make the play so entertaining, despite its dark premise.
What does all this add up to in an age where a jaded public understands what passes as news may be simply misinformation? And when AI promises to muddy the conversation further? Audiences may decide for themselves which shadow boxer, D’Agata or Fingal “wins.” It’s grand entertainment, whichever way it falls, right up to the gripping ending.
Free admission, open seating