From left, Sean Byrne (Jim Fingal), Laura Stark (Emily Penrose), and Jack Evans (John D’Agata) rehearse for Maryland Ensemble Theater's production of "The Lifespan of a Fact."

Maryland Ensemble Theater’s ‘The Lifespan of a Fact’ tries to get to the truth

In the current political climate, where fake news continues to take victims and travels quickly around the internet, it can be normal for people to reject embellished facts.

Maryland Ensemble Theater’s “The Lifespan of a Fact” wants the audience to ask themselves one question: How much artistic license can be allowed to tell a story that is more engaging and personal? Or might it jeopardize the public’s trust in the media?

“The Lifespan of a Fact” officially opens Friday, Sept. 30, at the Maryland Ensemble Theater at 31 W. Patrick St., in downtown Frederick with performances through Oct. 30. However, a special preview show is at 8 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 29, with a post-show discussion with playwright Jeremy Kareken at the newly renovated MET main stage.

“The Lifespan of a Fact” follows Jim Fingal, an intern fact-checker whose boss has given him an opportunity to prove himself using his expertise on a ground-breaking work by renowned novelist John D’Agata that explores the suicide of Levi S. Presley. But there is one small detail: most of D’Agata’s article seems to be made up and Jim won’t stop until he gets all the answers, — even if that implicates a rushed trip to Las Vegas.

What starts as a regular journalistic process with polite emails quickly turns into a contentious – sometimes physical – confrontation between the writer and the fact-checker that is as heated, and emotional as it is hilarious and full of twists.

Sean Byrne plays Jim in the MET production, Jack Evans plays writer D’Agata, and Laura Stark plays Emily Penrose, Jim’s boss. Directing the show is Gené Fouché.

“The Lifespan of a Fact” tackles what’s true and not.

“It’s about blurring the lines between facts and creative license,” Fouché said.

And because of the storyline, Fouché expects there will be some discussion afterward.

“I like a show where people feel like they have to talk about it when they’re leaving the theater. When they leave the theater and they think, ‘OK, where are we going to eat then?’ It’s not a great play, but this one I hope they will take away equating using this play as a metaphor for what’s happening politically in the landscape of fake news and the media, people not trusting the media. I’m hoping that it will spur a lot of conversation,” Fouché said.

Tickets cost $32 and students pay $15. For more information or to purchase tickets, call 301-694-4744 or visit

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