Brave New Looks

What Rough Beast

Written by Alice Abracen
Directed by Jessica Abdallah
Co-production by Rabbit in a Hat Productions & Tantalus

A controversial professor is invited to speak at a progressive college. Debate grows, the rhetoric flares – and in the wake of the unspeakable, principles fail and families and friendships are put to the ultimate test.

April 17 - 26, 2020
90 minutes
It’s a thrillingly alive piece of work that crackles with electricity as you approach it.


What Rough Beast represents the next step in a journey that began with the Legacy Series. Through the story of seven young people, we, as a collective, look forward to exploring dialogue, division, and the challenges of compassion across chasms personal and political.

What Rough Beast engages with current debates about bipartisan dialogue, hate speech, the danger of dehumanization, and the limits of empathy and tolerance. This challenging, topical play presents a brave new look at some of the most heated questions facing our city, our country, and our world.

The question at the heart of What Rough Beast is this: how do we engage with those whose ideas we find hateful? What do we risk in having empathy for the other side, and what do we lose when we despair of dialogue? How, or should we, try to reach across the chasm?