Every day is a cunty day for Bekah Walsh. The Baltimore-based theatre nerd turned prolific #TheatreTok content creator has been hitting the campaign trail hard since August 2023. But, for Walsh, the campaign trail looks a little different than it does for [REDACTED], [REDACTED], and [REDACTED]. Walsh’s trail is about POTUS; or, Behind Every Great Dumbass Are Seven Women Trying to Keep Him Alive by Selina Fillinger.
Walsh saw POTUS on Broadway. Then she saw it a second time. Because it was a limited run, Walsh wasn’t able to see it a third time. Since POTUS isn’t exactly family-friendly, the odds of the Broadway production going on tour weren’t high. Naturally, POTUS’ biggest fan was bummed. But soon the nation caught fire to what was one of the most discussed Broadway productions of the 2021-22 season. The rights became available and soon regional and community theatres across the country began announcing local productions of POTUS. Walsh wasn’t going to miss the chance to see Fillinger’s play again… and again… and again. Thus the POTUS Trail was born.
Since August 2023, Walsh has been zigzagging throughout the United States seeing POTUS at major regional theatres like Steppenwolf and the Geffen Playhouse in addition to highly local community theatres like Winston-Salem Theatre Alliance and the Laboratory Theater of Florida. As of this writing, Walsh has seen 13 unique productions of POTUS and 24 performances in all. The POTUS Trail offers a fascinating model into how theatre fans take to social media platforms like TikTok to advocate for their favorite plays, plays that often redress the pervasive Straight White Male narrative of the American theatre.
“It’s an opportunity to see the show I love,” notes Walsh, adding, “an opportunity to see the different choices that theatres make when they produce it and how audiences receive it.” While certain elements of Fillinger’s play remain throughout the POTUS Trail, artistic choices like FLOTUS’ Crocs and the pronunciation of “blushie” vary. Some productions are screwball comedies and others are more dramatic. Some theatres have multi-million dollar budgets and others can barely keep the lights on. But regardless of what resources each theatre has, POTUS is still POTUS. And Walsh is thrilled to be documenting the journey on TikTok (@broadwaybekahchica) and not only supporting the play itself, but shining a spotlight on the rich theatre communities that exist far beyond New York City.
Highlighting theatre outside of New York has always been one of Walsh’s missions. After all, as she remarks in her TikTok videos, she’s “Bekah from Baltimore” and she “loves all things Broadway.” When Walsh began making theatre content on TikTok, she quickly realized that few people were talking about theatre outside of New York City. “Once I started seeing comments about people interested in Baltimore and DC theatre, it changed everything in terms of the audiences I was attracting. It seemed these theatres also finally felt like they had representation in the social content space,” remarks Walsh. And from there the ideation of the POTUS Trail emerged.
From coast to coast, Walsh has learned several important lessons from the POTUS Trail: “The ultimate lesson here is to never make assumptions about anything, anyone, anywhere.” For instance, Walsh was curious how “red states” like Florida and Texas would receive the play. She mistakenly assumed that audiences would be mad at the play’s content, that they wouldn’t like it. But, to Walsh’s surprise, the places where audiences have been the most engaging have been in Florida and Texas and the more conservative audiences have been in Los Angeles and Washington, DC.
According to Walsh, this is precisely the magic of POTUS and the brilliance of Fillinger’s writing. The play doesn’t point the finger at any one side of the political aisle. We only know that POTUS is a white man. Regardless of what side audiences are on, they can see something in it. There are Easter eggs throughout the play that the audience can attempt to decipher, but Fillinger doesn’t outright say who the POTUS is. He could be from any political party. Because of this, audiences can trauma bond with many of the things that happen in the play. Democrat or Republican, we are surrounded by plenty of great dumbasses surrounded by legions of women keeping them afloat.
The POTUS Trail continues throughout this spring with productions at Stage West in Fort Worth, TX, Trustus Theatre in Columbia, SC, and Nashville Repertory in Nashville, TN. As Chief-of-Staff Harriet remarks in POTUS’ final moments: “There’s a cunty dawn coming.” And, for Walsh, that’s a fucking beautiful thing.
Support Bekah Walsh on The POTUS Trail here. Keep up with the POTUS Trail on TikTok or Instagram (@broadwaybekahchica).
This post was written by the author in their personal capacity.The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the view of The Theatre Times, their staff or collaborators.
This post was written by Trevor Boffone.
The views expressed here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect our views and opinions.