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Theater & art

Schenkkan’s ‘All the Way’ to kick off ART season

Martin Luther King Jr. and President Lyndon Johnson at a White House meeting on civil rights in1964. Both are characters in “All the Way.’’

Yoichi Okamoto/LBJ Presidential Library via AP

Martin Luther King Jr. and President Lyndon Johnson at a White House meeting on civil rights in1964. Both are characters in “All the Way.’’

Pulitzer Prize winner Robert Schenkkan’s play “All the Way,” about the first year of Lyndon Baines Johnson’s presidency, will open the American Repertory Theater’s 2013-14 season in September. Bill Rauch, artistic director of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, which premiered the play last summer, will direct.

The only 2013-14 title the ART has released so far, “All the Way” is a winner of the inaugural Edward M. Kennedy Prize for Drama Inspired by American History, announced in February by Columbia University and Ambassador Jean Kennedy Smith. Martin Luther King Jr., Hubert Humphrey, George Wallace, and J. Edgar Hoover are all characters in the play, in which Johnson, thrust into the presidency by the assassination of John F. Kennedy, proceeds to steer Kennedy’s landmark civil rights legislation through Congress. “All the Way” is scheduled to run Sept. 13-Oct. 12 at the Loeb Drama Center.

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The Oregon Shakespeare Festival commissioned the piece as part of its program, American Revolutions: The United States History Cycle, dedicated to nurturing “new plays sprung from moments of change in United States history.” Rauch directed it there.

The Cambridge production will be the ART debut of both Schenkkan and Rauch. Schenkkan won the 1992 Pulitzer Prize for his play “The Kentucky Cycle,” a series of nine one-acts that sprawl over two centuries of American history. “The Kentucky Cycle” went to Broadway in 1993.

Rauch, a 1984 Harvard graduate, directed Sarah Ruhl’s “The Clean House” in its world premiere at Yale Repertory Theatre as well as at Lincoln Center Theater. He also directed the play with which “All the Way” split the Kennedy prize, Dan O’Brien’s “The Body of an American,” in its world premiere last fall at Oregon’s Portland Center Stage.

Laura Collins-Hughes can be reached at lcollins-hughes@globe.com.

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