Washington, D.C., politics and civil unrest are not usually as lurid or chaotic as they currently are, but many presidents have been at the center of dramatic tensions set against historic social change. In the wake of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, President Lyndon B. Johnson dedicated himself to passing the Civil Rights Act of 1964, for which he had to corral support from liberal Democrats and conservative Southern Democrats. Robert Schenkkan's Tony Award-winning play dramatizes the effort, as Johnson (played by Jason Kirkpatrick) in his Texas drawl cajoles some congressmen and twists the arms of others. FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover spies on Martin Luther King Jr. (Dominique McClellan, pictured), who also is trying to build support, including from more confrontational activists such as Stokely Carmichael, the former Freedom Rider-turned-Black Panther. Southern Rep presents the show May 16 through June 3. Tickets $8-$45. At 7:30 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday. Marquette Theatre, Loyola University, 6363 St. Charles Ave., (504) 522-6545; www.southernrep.com.