Arts, On Campus

Contemporary Theatre Challenges Truth and Art in ‘The Lifespan of A Fact’

Boston College Contemporary Theatre’s thought-provoking and gripping production of The Lifespan of a Fact fearlessly challenges the boundary between fact and fiction while raising questions about ethics and artistic expression. 

The play transcends its narrative to tell a deeply human story, a commentary on the struggles faced by all creators in juggling storytelling with factual accuracy.

Directed by Makana Jorgensen, WCAS ’26, the play unfolds as determined intern and fact-checker Jim Fingal (Cameron Mysliwicz, MCAS ’24) clashes with legendary journalist John D’Agata (Casey Corcoran, MCAS ’26).

In the process of fact-checking D’Agata’s essay, Fingal enters a heated debate with the journalist over issues of factual accuracy and poetic license. Meanwhile, editor-in-chief Emily Penrose (Margaret Rankin, LSEHD ’25), is caught in the middle, torn between publishing the contentious piece or upholding journalistic integrity. 

Jorgensen’s direction shines in managing a small cast, allowing for an intimate, raw, and emotional exploration of each character. 

“I love a small cast because it really allows a director to give the amount of time required to fully flesh out their characters,” Jorgensen said. 

According to Jorgensen, his goal, beyond audience reactions, was to make sure the actors are truthfully having fun and learning, in order to facilitate their growth.

Corcoran’s adept portrayal of D’Agata enhances the script’s emotional depth, while Myliwicz’s Fingal captures the unwavering pursuit of accuracy. In between these two characters, Rankin’s Penrose symbolizes the struggle between journalistic demands and the allure of creative freedom. 

The play’s relevance in today’s climate of misinformation is not lost on Jorgensen.

 “The questions raised—about the role of media, the importance of truth, and the manipulation of facts—are incredibly important given our current political circumstances,” Jorgensen said. 

The intimate setting of the Bonn Studio Theater complemented the play’s themes, inviting audiences to closely reflect on the nature of art and the human experience. The set design, with a three-quarters stage thrust, effectively transports viewers into the worlds of New York and Las Vegas. 

Olivia Emerick, one of the three stage managers and MCAS ’25, said she was deeply drawn to the play on a personal level. 

“The play is about the broader struggles we all face as creators as we navigate truth and art,” Emerick said. 

Each character represents a facet of the human condition, blurring the lines between protagonist and antagonist. 

In an era saturated with misinformation and political turbulence, The Lifespan of a Fact serves as a vital reminder of the importance of journalist integrity and the role of art in reflecting the truth. 

Based on a true story, the play calls audiences to reflect on art, the status of art, and the human experience in a compelling depiction of the intersection between facts and fiction, ethics and artistic expression. 

As the curtain falls on an ambiguous ending, The Lifespan of A Fact begs the question: In the pursuit of truth, where do we draw the line between fact and creative liberty? 

April 7, 2024