The Columnist


Writers: David Auburn


Show Information

Number of Acts
First Produced
Drama, Historical/Biographical
Period, Multiple Settings
Time & Place
Moscow, Washington D.C., Vietnam, 1954-1968
Cast Size
Ideal for
Professional Theatre, Regional Theatre, Star Vehicle Male
Casting Notes
Mostly male cast
Includes adult, mature adult, late teen, young adult characters


Beginning in 1954, The Columnist charts the public and private life of American journalist Joseph ‘Joe’ Alsop over the course of 14 years. He is a prominent newsman and an influential figure on the Washington scene. He is also a firm believer in American exceptionalism and a vocal supporter of the nation’s involvement in the Vietnam War. However, as the landscape of America begins to change in the 1960s, Joe soon finds himself becoming increasingly out of touch and isolated as public opinion turns against the war. Joe also treads a fine line in his private life, negotiating his closeted sexuality that is compromised by pictures taken by the KGB during a set up in Moscow. The threat of being publicly outed hangs over Joe’s head throughout the course of the play. Yet even his private life becomes dated when Joe’s sexuality unfolds as a dated, open secret. David Auburn’s 2012 play offers a powerful and complex character study of one of the most influential political journalists of the mid-twentieth century.

Lead Characters

The Columnist guide sections