The play is based on the life of Saul Alinsky, who, starting out from Chicago's mean streets, became a master organizer in American cities from the '30's through the '60's. With his imaginative techniques, colorful language, and wild humor, Alinsky taught communities how to win over an indifferent "establishment" and resurrect themselves. His ideas are still a force today.
We see Alinsky on the road in 1972, at the end of his career and exhausted after an off-day, weighing the worth of all his efforts. Alone in his motel room, he conjures up the trials and triumphs of past campaigns—in urban ghettos, middle-class neighborhoods, and colleges. He relives encounters with Al Capone, Mayor Daley, Marshall Field, Senator Joe McCarthy, Albert Einstein, Catholic bishops, and Vietnam vets. He revives his passion for democracy that enabled him time and again to succeed against the odds.
The next day, rejuvenated, Alinsky sets out on what will be his final campaign for a "newer world." Advocating the simplest of means to effect change, he prevails on his audience to find within their everyday lives the tools to rebuild their communities and secure "something of what we are all looking for—laughter, beauty, love, and the chance to create."