By Alejandra O’Connell-Domenech
Sunnyside resident Jeremy Kareken is part of the trio that adapted the novel “The Lifespan of a Fact” for the stage which is now on Broadway.
The play, a New York Times Critic’s Pick, features an all star cast of Daniel Radcliffe, Bobby Cannavale and Cherry Jones and tells the story of a battle between the truth and ego. Jim Fingal, a young intern for the magazine Believer, works to fact-check writer John D’Agata’s story about a teen suicide in a Las Vegas resort. D’Agata does not consider himself to be a journalist but rather a lyric essayist who views accuracy as something that takes a back seat to poetry.
Needless to say, Fingal has his work cut out for him.
“We wanted it be accessible but still controversial and yet aspirational,” said Kareken, who wrote the play with colleagues David Murrell and Gordon Farrell. Kareken and Murrell read the book a few weeks after its release in 2012.
Murrell sent Kareken an article reviewing in the book that was so negative the two found it comical. According to Kareken, it was apparent that the author of the review was offended by the idea that a fellow journalist could be as careless about fact as D’Agata.
The pair thought it would be interesting to see how audiences would deal with the questions the novel posed.
“Audiences do have a tendency to pick sides,” said Kareken, who added that the play was more about starting a conversation about storytelling and truth and does not seek to provide answers. “We have a great deal of sympathy for both points of view.”
Kareken grew up in upstate Rochester and moved to Sunnyside in 2002. For 17 years, he worked as a researcher for “Inside the Actors Studio,” the television show where host James Lipton interviews high-profile actors. Kareken has also worked for Gary Johnson on the former New Mexico governor’s last two presidential campaigns as a writer and policy analyst.
So as a former fact-checker, Kareken was excited to further develop the story of this fact-checker’s tale which he says a bit more dramatized for the stage.
“When you go to a sports match even if you don’t want one of the teams to win you still want a good game,” Kareken said.
For more information about the play and showtimes, visit www.lifespanofafact.com.