The Lifespan of a Fact: Review of a Play (and Book)

The Lifespan of a Fact: Review of a Play (and Book)

The Lifespan of a Fact: Review of a Play (and Book)

The Lifespan of a Fact

A Play by Jeremy Kareken, David Murrell, and Gordon Farrell 

A Book by John D’Agata and Jim Fingal

Recently therapist Julie Peters shared with us how The Mirror Game exercise from her theatre acting days applies to our mental health. So, of course, she’s the perfect person to provide us with a review of a play (which is also a book.) If you’d like to learn more about working with Julie as a therapist, you can find out how to contact her from this interview she did with us.

The Lifespan of a Fact: A Review by Julie Peters 

About a month ago I had the opportunity to watch a good friend of mine perform in a play called The Lifespan of a Fact. This is one of the most unique plays I have ever seen because it is a stage play based on a book, and that book is based on a real life experience of two journalists. 

Plot of the Play

The book (by the same name as the play) is co-authored by John D’Agata and Jim Fingal. The plot chronicles a true story of how Fingal was hired to fact check an essay written by D’Agata entitled, “What Happens There” which was published by Harper Magazine. A lively debate ensues between these two characters about subjective truth versus objective truth: Through what lens should we view a fact? Whose perspective is accurate? Is there such a thing as an undisputed fact? 

Lifespan of a Fact Playbill.


Why I highly recommend reading this play

The book and the essay act as a kind of study to challenge one’s paradigm about the definition of “the truth.” These three pieces of writing provide a kind of dialogue with one another. Furthermore, if you get the opportunity to see The Lifespan of a Fact onstage, do not miss out. 

This play spoke to me as a therapist because I am in the business of dealing with the subjective realities of my clients. This presentation of “the truth” from a client’s past experience is never something I have witnessed firsthand. I’ve learned that the facts of our past events are not important, but the imprint and the narrative we create about our lived experiences carry an immeasurable value of the way we view ourselves and how we respond to the environments in which we live. This play reminded me of the kind of astute detectives we must become to unlock the stored meaning of our memories.

Also by Julie Peters: The Ministry of Utmost Happiness Book Review

Lessons from The Lifespan of a Fact

Lessons from The Lifespan of a Fact

In addition to Julie’s review of this play, we wanted to share some takeaways. Here are some of the themes of “The Lifespan of a Fact” that you might find useful in your therapeutic or personal growth journey:

Challenging Perceptions

In therapy, you have the opportunity to question your perceptions of truth and reality. Just like the characters in the play, you can examine how your subjective experiences and interpretations shape your understanding of yourself and the world around you. By exploring different perspectives, you can gain insight into your own thought patterns and beliefs.

Exploring Narrative and Meaning

Therapy offers a space to delve into the narratives you have constructed about your life. Together with your therapist, you can uncover the deeper meanings and emotions associated with past events. By examining these narratives, you can gain a better understanding of how they influence your current thoughts, behaviors, and relationships.

Embracing Multiple Perspectives

The play’s debate between subjective and objective truth reminds you to consider multiple perspectives. In therapy, you can develop empathy and broaden your understanding of others. This process helps you challenge rigid thinking patterns that may be contributing to difficulties in your life, allowing for more flexibility and growth.

Uncovering Unhelpful Beliefs

During therapy, you have the opportunity to identify unhelpful or distorted beliefs that you may hold about yourself. By exploring your personal narratives, your therapist can guide you in challenging these beliefs and replacing them with more accurate and empowering narratives. This process supports your well-being and personal growth.

Integrating Subjective and Objective Realities

“The Lifespan of a Fact” emphasizes the importance of acknowledging both subjective and objective aspects of reality. In therapy, you can learn to find a balance between your personal experiences and the external world. This integration fosters self-acceptance while also recognizing the influence of external facts and evidence.

Building Self-Reflection Skills

The play highlights the need for introspection and self-reflection, and therapy provides a supportive environment for developing these skills. Together with your therapist, you can explore your thoughts, emotions, and memories in a more nuanced and critical manner. This deepens your self-awareness and allows for personal insights and growth.

Embracing Growth and Change

“The Lifespan of a Fact” encourages you to embrace growth and change. Through therapy, you have the opportunity to challenge fixed beliefs and narratives, opening yourself up to new possibilities. By adopting more adaptive perspectives and making positive changes, you can enhance your well-being and create a more fulfilling life.

Seeking a therapist? Contact us today! You can ask us about working with Julie or you can browse our therapist directory to learn more about our other therapists.