By B. Altschuler
This publication seeks to fill a big hole within the literature approximately fictional representations of presidents by means of learning greater than forty performs, written considering that 1900, that have had famous productions on or off-Broadway or in one other significant city.
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Extra info for Acting Presidents: 100 Years of Plays about the Presidency
He declines an invitation to speak at an abolitionist rally 20 Acting Presidents because his fear of war is even greater than his opposition to slavery. How he overcomes this paralyzing internal struggle is the play’s main theme, which Abe states directly to his friends: “You talk about civil war—there seems to be one going on inside me all the time. ”73 Sherwood himself was going through a similar internal crisis at this time, having written an antiwar play, Idiot’s Delight, just two years prior to Abe Lincoln in Illinois.
118 The 2009 bicentennial of Lincoln’s birth raised the possibility of a rekindling of theatrical interest. The Rivalry had a successful limitedrun revival off Broadway. A newly renovated Ford’s Theatre reopened with a world premiere of The Heavens Are Hung in Black, a play by David Selby focusing on the five months between the death of Lincoln’s son Willie and the Emancipation Proclamation. ”119 After premiering in San Francisco in 2008, Abe Lincoln’s Big Gay Dance Party, a satire depicting a fictional trial of a teacher charged with discussing in class the possibility that Lincoln was gay, ran in the New York International Fringe Festival during the summer of 2009.
The nation’s uncertainty was over the likelihood of civil war. The play comes to a stirring conclusion with Lincoln’s speech to a cheering crowd as he departs from Springfield to assume the presidency amid fears of assassination. As in the debates, Sherwood blends material from other speeches into the actual words used that day, transforming what was a largely personal address into one that ends with a restatement of the issues thematic to the play. “I now leave, not knowing when or whether ever I may return,” he tells those gathered, but stresses more the gravity of the nation’s plight with the very ideals of the Declaration of Independence being threatened.